Category Archives: Experiences

A TALE OF 2 ATUNBIs

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I had just taken my truancy a notch higher. This latest act sealed my fate as a budding outlaw. Big Cousin had instructed me to torch the school building. Apparently, it reminded him of his failings. I started from the chemistry lab; setting fire to a jar of unknown chemicals. The commotion thereafter pumped my adrenaline into overdrive. The guards were on my tail but their motivation was no match for mine and I left them Continue reading

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April 4th, 2008

I had even forgotten about it- momentarily though. But the belated message, despite being cryptic, twitched my memory.

Nothing seemed out of the routine. The camry V20 had seen better days but it still delivered satisfactorily. Engaged with my phone in the passenger seat, nothing I d me for what was to follow. My heart nearly 4e my cyhest. My life literally flashedj before me.

Ehen! So this ees how e use tu happen!

It was a rainy Friday afternoon. There were 4 occupants in the car, including the driver. Descending the slope, just before the statue of the Three Wise Men of Lagos, the road wet, all was set for it to happen. Just like that, we collided with another vehicle, got pushed forward but restrained by the seat belt, momentum made me hit head on the glass, car swerved to hit the culvert and bounced back to the main road. Apparently, the steering wheel had lost connection with whatever it was supposed to connect with. Brake seemed not to work at that moment too. The exclamation of yee! yee!! from the driver did little to assuage the situation.

Me: So this is how I end?! 

All within less than 10 seconds. We drove for about another kilometre before pulling over at a fuel station to access the damage. Rain wasn’t going to stop anytime soon.

Day wasn’t over yet, the bridge had gotten flooded to the extent of vehicles wading through it like a regatta. A journey of less than 7 minutes took close to 4 hours to complete. Many stopped working when the floodwater invaded their engine. Survival of the fittest couldn’t have been more apt. Well, the good old camry waded through like a veteran, while revving like a roaring lion.

Got home to the warmth of my bed before shutting my eyes after an eventful day.

The Pilgrim at the Airport 

Her complexion & her disposition weren’t like the rest. She seemed different. She didn’t have the air others had- no family members accompanied her- or maybe I didn’t look hard enough.

Dad didn’t want me to be in the team, but he got convinced otherwise. It was November, 2008 and time for the pilgrimage to Mecca. After hours of waiting idly, it became apparent that prospective pilgrims weren’t getting airlifted that day. Or the next.

It was getting dark and the thought of where to pass the night crept in. Certainly not on the curbs of MMIA. Hotels were out of it because Hujaj- as pilgrims are called in Islam- are enjoined to stay together. Eventually, the airport mosque,  about 70 metres from the terminal, turned to our sanctuary for the next few days. That’s where I met her! 

Just about 5 metres from us, she lounged. She must have been in her 3rd trimester. With hundreds of Hujaj cohabiting, waiting for the announcement, it was easy to get apprehensive and bored- even for well wishers who came to see them off. I would stroll near the airport terminal to watch planes take off and land and sometimes, read the book, Hajj Mabrur to fend off the ennui. That was when she asked if she could read that book whenever I was done!

My life had mainly been triangular, but had been linear for the previous few months. I saw the same faces and had the same good discussions everyday. What I lacked in physical activities, I made up for in mental exuberance. Giving her that book sparked up a conversation. Having just finished secondary school, it wasn’t everytime that I met new people. I guess being a twin endeared me to her. She would rather call me Taiwo- only Mum calls me that! 

There was a feeling of trust. Maybe it was from the concept of tabula rasa– the immunity that being a stranger confers. There are only a few who’ve had such effect on me. I felt comfortable discussing with her. Felt like I could divulge some of my thoughts about anything to her- empty my mind in her front.

Then on that afternoon on Thursday, about 5 days after living in MMIA, the aircraft was ready to leave for Saudi Arabia, with the Hujajs onboard. The chaos- for me, ambivalence- that followed the announcement can only be imagined. Hundreds of pilgrims and an ocean of well wishers besieged the terminal, with a corresponding number of luggage. In the midst of this, she saw me and bade me farewell. 

‘Take care of yourself, Taiwo!’

The next few hours, while waiting to be driven home, can be summarised in one word- saudade.

Her name was ‘Tanwa.

Image: source

His Name is Omran Daqneesh.

Even though he was surrounded by the bright orange colour, it was a heart-wrenching sight. He should never have been in the vehicle. He didn’t utter a word, not even a whimper. He looked on, dazed. Those eyes tell a story of despair, of helplessness, of hopelessness, of trauma, of war.  When he looked down, like one shy, I lost it- tears streamed down my face. Legs outstretched, in the midst of the chaos around him, he touched his dusty bloodied face. No, it wasn’t because of an accident in school or during a visit to the mall. Minutes earlier, his home had come under a military airstrike.

What did he do to deserve this?

His name is Omran Daqneesh, a 5 year old boy in Aleppo, Syria. While his mates in other parts of the world wake up to the caring touch and sonorous voice of their parents, urging them to prepare for school, Omran wakes up to the horror of blood, rubbles, gunfire, ear-piercing noise, death. While his mates openly play on the park and complain about the taste of the berry, Omran plays in the midst of rubbles, with the sound of gunfire in the background. His innocence, blemished. No, he did not choose this life. He just found himself thrust into it.
But Omran is lucky. There are several thousands of children, his age or even lower, whose lives have been tragically cut short in the Syrian War. Sadly, Omran won’t be the last victim of this war. His 10 year old elder brother died from injuries sustained in the airstrike. Watching Omran sitting helpless in the ambulance, I genuinely wished I could hug and assure him everything would be alright.
Lonely and war-weary in the back of an ambulance, Omran stares helplessly at the world and the world stares back, leaving him at the mercy of the next airstrike.
See the video of his rescue here

I Will Commit Suicide!

@abc tweets ‘Life sucks. Is it even worth living? The dead ain’t got to worry about shit’

@zyx responds ‘Lol. Is that a song lyrics?’

@ghi retweeets and adds ‘You this girl aff come again. Lol’

But an ostensibly lively ‘abc‘ is actually sending an SOS message. Her friends and colleagues see her everyday with a smile planted on her face. Ask them of her & they’ll tell you she’s chatty. Yet, this beautiful, athletic lady is actually suicidal.

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You beautiful noose!

That’s what depression does.
It can be easily masked with a cheerful face. One can be the life of the party but in solitude, cut a sad figure. Some nights ago, a tweep tweeted some disturbing thoughts; while some were worried, some believed the lady was being dramatic. Who would blame the Doubting Thomases though? On Twitter, hoaxes have been shared. Nevertheless, people rose to find out what @LJ_mymusic was on about. I remember, vividly, how a lady shared the same worrying tweets years ago and ended up taking her life. In our society, problems like depression receive minimal attention. Heck! Some even see misfortune as a race.

‘See ehn! Your own trouble is even small sef. Me that I lost both of m…’

I’ve had several bouts of depression and its attendant mood swings. I still do. The most recent was on February 13, 2016- after the lively get together held at the Botanical Garden, all was vain again as soon as I reached home.  Even though, it hasn’t reached the suicidal phase, it came close in the later months of 2013. I was always sleeping. My parents suggested I saw a doctor for my sleep patterns. The subsequent one year really helped in relieving the pain. A major contributor to that is my O@TT. We had a great work relationship. I’ll forever relish my time there.

Even those with riches and fame and are believed to have it all have fallen to this monster. I watched a documentary on Basketmouth and he confessed to taking pills to deal with depression. Christian Bale, Halle Berry & Alicia Keys have had their shares. Depression no dey look face o!

Sometimes, I just feel like talking to a stranger- one who won’t judge; who I’ll talk to, without holding back. Repressed feelings are stacked up in my mind and they’re looking for escape routes. Maybe I’m conservative, but I still believe in the ‘problem shared=problem halved’ saying.
Cautiously though.

Image credit: Google Images.

Hakeem.

#TheHakeem

The time is 10:54pm; the day is October 27, 2015. Just a few hours before I add another year. Lying down here in my room, memories rush through my mind. One leading to the other like a chain. Inexhaustible memories. Nostalgia setting in. While some evoke smiles, others bring sighs. I’m just here trying to reconstruct my life since when I could differentiate my right from my left. Apparently, not all will be captured- some will be left out of the frame while some are conspicuously staring at you. Have you ever passed through a path, perceived a smell, seen a logo or listened to a song & feel nostalgic? Remember your time in some places/situations and/or your actions and you think to yourself ‘Was It Really Me In There? Was I Really That Stupid?’ . Where do I even start from? No other place than my years spent in Osogbo.
Even though I spent my first 10 years in Osogbo, events there still remain evergreen. I can still feel the chirps of the birds in the nearby bush, the distant noise of the grinding machine & the texture of the entrance door. Can such simple life be replicated? Life there was triangular- school, Ile Kewu, home. Even though I left Omolewa Nursery & Primary School in primary 4 when I was 10 years old, I still remember the faces of school mates- Kunle Odeleye, Seun Oyelami, Godwin Akpan, Bisi Akande, Yusuf Sodiq, Wunmi Amusa, Dare, Monisola. I remember how I used to cart away the first position prize every term. And I would wear my oversized brown coat, with my black shoe. I remember my first crush- her name was Islamiyyat. A very beautiful girl. Cynosure of all eyes. Her mother sold cosmetic products. Friends were always jealous because she was Hakeemat’s friend which made me kinda close to her. Dad was working in Lagos and came home during weekends. Weekends were always looked forward to. How I was usually punished almost everyday because of football. Playing football on sawdust then was bliss. An incident that keeps coming to my mind was when my N70 was stolen. Money I had saved for weeks meant for turning up during Ileya. I had a small blue purse I had bought from Sodiq. Both purse and money were stolen …*sniffs*. I still haven’t forgiven the thief.
Aged 8, I experienced my first and only funeral prayer, Janazah. Grandma died on August 5, Faizat’s 2nd birthday. With fondness, I recall going on ruku’u after the 2nd takbeer. On that day, armed robbers invaded our house in Osogbo but we were away in Ode-Omu. Unfortunately, they met my cousin at home. The blood spatter was on the wall for years.
Then came September, 2001. It was time to move to Lagos. Lagos was like heaven. The journey itself is an unforgettable experience. The longest distance I had travelled was Ogbomosho to Osogbo. Getting to Lagos on a Sunday night, there wasn’t much time to rest before resuming at a new school the following day. A new environment, a new state, a new school, a new lifestyle. Heck! I’ll now be entering school bus. This is a fucking first. Firstly, I want used to wearing socks; now I have to wear them everyday. Secondly, I wasn’t used to speaking English in school. Even though, Omolewa was a private school, our language of choice was Yoruba. Now in Pelade, no one would converse in Yoruba. That was a rude awakening. It wasn’t as if I couldn’t speak English or I didn’t know my tenses, but coming from an environment where Yoruba was spoken 80% of the time to where Yoruba wasn’t welcome. Arggh!!
January 27th, 2002- I was at Ile Kewu when The Explosions started. The memory is still crystal clear. Was it the end time? An uncommon coup d’etat? Invasion of Lagos? No one knew the answers. We all just kept going nowhere.
There are some memories we gladly share while there are some we ain’t glad of- like that year in Osogbo wh…

Hey! Look at a unicorn!

Secondary school will be the most memorable though- for obvious reasons. That’s where we are moulded and where the teenage life is spent. The pranks, the exam formations, the beatings- yup! I was a friend of Mr Bello’s cane because, Maths assignment, the hymns. I remember how Udensi used to compete with me in CRS exams because a Muslim shouldn’t get more than him in the subject. While some secondary schools claim to have more fun than the others, fun is relative & subjective. Memories from secondary schools are encyclopedic. They come in trickles. Each with an accompanying giggle.
Now, as I go to sleep, I’ve learnt that some strangers become friends and return to being strangers; some strangers become friends and remain friends while some strangers become friends and thereafter become family. I see me as a museum. Each scar and wrinkle, an artifact telling its story. And I, the curator.

And the evolution continues!

Hakeem.

2015 Nigeria Elections: Iriri Mi

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See ehn, if I don’t write about my experience during this election, posterity will not be pleased. I didn’t plan to write this as I had something different on my mind before but the temptation to share my experience was too much to resist. The political atmosphere before the election was already charged but that isn’t even my point. I’m here to talk about the election itself.

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