Dusk: Tomilayo

I never thought I’d do this, but here goes..

January

     I started the year very frustrated. My lecturer wouldn’t just leave me alone! This man sent me out of class four times so I’d miss the 80% limit for attendance and not have scores for that course. All this because I refused his advances. There was no way I could have reported because I was at fault on those occasions (no i.d card, was talking while he was teaching, etc.). I cried everyday. I was confused. Anyways my exams came and they were very easy. Thank God.

February

My father screamed my name at 11pm one night. They had just sent my result to him. “Why do you have 18% in this course, didnt you write exams?” I had nothing tangible to say. I couldn’t tell him the truth. I had never seen my dad so angry in my entire life. My night was ruined, I was up all night crying and blaming God for everything.

March

Finally resumed school for the second semester. I started having problems with my friends, I got angry with them for no reason at all. I’d insult them at the slightest provocation. I was frustrated. They were going to graduate in a few months. I wasn’t.

April

The first chapter of my project finally got approved after several months. I was so happy. Then I strolled into my next class only to find out Mrs A wasn’t the one in the class, it was “Mr lecturer”. He sent me out of the class again because I was late. I was confused. I later learnt that he would be the one taking the course because Mrs A left the school for reasons no student knew. I was so angry, I told myself that I wasn’t going for any of his classes again. And I did it.

All this while, my friends didn’t know what was going on, it’s just my secretive nature. I couldn’t stand be jugded, I didn’t know what would go through their heads if I did tell them. So I kept quiet. I would just pour my frustrations out on them and after trying to make me go to class several times, they left me alone.

May

I was alone. I needed to talk to someone, but I just couldn’t. Then I met a friend. He was like an angel, he knew how to make me laugh even when i was angry. We’d go on and on talking about nothing in particular till late at night. I got so attached to him in less than one month. He was so different but as usual, as the stress of mr lecturer got worse, I started taking out my frustrations on him too.

June

What I was most scared of happened: he started withdrawing; he got tired i guess. For the first time ever, I begged. I couldn’t stand losing the only friend I had, how was I going to do it? Where was I going to start from? Who would tease me and call me sweet names just to make me laugh? The good morning messages, all of that? Then I realised I had already fallen for him. I was totally unravelled.

I had exams in a couple of days. I cried a lot while studying, went about my exams with such a lackadaisical attitude. For Christ sake I was heart broken! Midway into my final paper, the invigilator called out my name “You had 20% attendance, submit your paper and leave the hall now.” Ehn?! I thought I was going to die, I don’t know i managed to walk back to my hostel till today.

July

Holiday..my mom had had enough of me. I was rude to her every other day. I bailed out on chores and just stayed in my room the whole time ignoring everyone. Then the text message on results came again. This time I wasn’t suprised. My father didn’t even have to give me any look, he told me outright “you are a disappointment”.

August

I tried that praying thing again. But it didn’t work. Everytime i got on my knees to pray, I ended up crying, saying nothing at all. I cried because I had disappointed my parents, because I lost the ones who cared about me, because nothing was going the way I planned it. I cried because I was alone.

September and October

My extra year had started, I was ashamed at first. But I had to be strong. God helped me. Sometime in october, my birthday precisely, I met my birthday mate :D. Then Goodnews. Mr lecturer had left my school because my school is moving to a permanent site! Whoop!

November and December

I reconnected with an old friend. She told me that after she graduated, she lost her dad and her mom didn’t have a job so they couldn’t her brother’s fees in a private school, so he had to forgo his admission. They also couldn’t pay their rent and had to move to her grandmothers place.

And there I had been, crying and being ungrateful; I didn’t even see the blessings I have. A family. I have parents who can afford to pay my school fees and even an extra year which is not exactly cheap. I had instead let my anger and frustrations get the better part of me. I was ashamed.

I had to thank God there and then for everything, the extra year, the ulcer, the keloid on my ear, the friends that left me. Most of all, for second chances. I also prayed for that ability to remain thankful even in difficult situations. Because like the Bible said in Romans 8:28 “All things work together for the good of those who love God who have been called according to his purpose..” and he has assured me in Isaiah 9:1 that “there will be no more gloom for those in distress”.

  So 2014, I am ready.

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You see, you’ve solved half the problems of 2013 already. I do hope 2014 is the springboard for the rest of your hopefully successful life. Go girl!

Day 22: Greg

2013? LOL!

Ok, seriously, it was not so funny. It stressed every fibre of my being, but I have grown tougher.

Rude Shock. 2012 ended with me sort of stranded. My cousin whom stayed with had decided to move to a far end of town. There was no way I was going to survive staying so far away. So I had been on a house hunt for a couple of months, and if you have ever gone house-hunting in Lagos, you’d know it’s literally a job for El-Shaddai. In the end, I had to move back with my mum. It was a humbling period. She was glad to have me, but I was not glad to be back on a square I had willingly stepped off in 2009 shortly after I started this journey to run a Tech-StartUp with my buddie from school.

My Crib. Finally, I found a place, it was pricey but, hey, I needed it badly, so I almost wiped my accounts out to make the payment. Beyond the costs, it has been a bitter-sweet experience. Everyone that’s come visiting concede it’s a cute place – it’s pretty cool to live in the cutest house in the swankiest part of town. But the issues are endless and somehow I had been anointed the property supervisor. The Landlord doesn’t stay here and our Caretaker hardly shows up.

So when the power is cut off, guess who they call. Greg! When the pumping machine quits working? Just call Greg. The security man is rude to you or your guest? Find Greg to caution him. LAWMA refuses to move the waste? Send for Greg. The Landlord had accumulated tons of debts and we ignorantly moved in to face the wrath of the Utility folks. I get the bills, split and sort them, make the payments, liaise with the authorities, etc.

Supervisor of The Year. In all of this, fellow tenants are still the most trying part of the ‘job’.
Neighbours that knock on my door at 3am after a night at the club asking if I have CDs. The height!
How do I cope? I ask myself, “Greg, if you stayed here alone, would you not do all of this?” Of course I would. And so I go ahead, reminding myself daily that everything I do is a seed and that I would not be here forever. I’m moving out once my rent is due. Recently, I told the security guard I would soon build a house, dude looked at me squarely and said “Quickly finish am, me I go follow you. I go work for you.” This really touched me.
People notice the things you do, folks.

Moving right on……

Birthday came in May. May the 10th. I was blown away with the kind of PMs and tweets I read about myself. Stayed home all day. Cooked two full pots of rice. Guys just kept popping in. Before all of that, though, a friend dragged me out of bed at about 7am am with call saying she was at my door. I’m like “My door?!” Its a work day, she’s all dressed up for work with a huge box full of stuff for me. Never gotten that quantity or variety of gifts at once ever! That got my day started jolly good.

June 16th I flew out to Benin excitedly. It was my 2nd trip in the year and I was glad to be out of town again. Last year, I was barely around, always out of town, so 2013 was kind of low on trips and I didn’t like that. The 1st trip had been to the Angolan Embassy in Abuja, but we’ll get to that soon enough. Stay with me.
My colleague and I were to be in Benin for 2 days, fly to Kaduna, then stay another 2 days before we returned to Lagos. Short trip, but it was a welcomed one for me. Benin was a breeze, its home. Did my job, saw my naughty nawti cousin and got to meet Kovie Parker; that babe is tall!

First Bad News – There was no allowance to be paid, just refunds on expenses. Shiiiiiii, right?

Second Bad News – The only way to get to Kaduna from Benin was to fly to Lagos, layover for 6 hours and then fly to Kaduna. No way, yeah? Yes way, I’m afraid. So we had breakfast in Benin, lunch in Lagos and Dinner in Kaduna. Those 6 hours in the Muritala Muhammed Airport were something else. There, I mastered the art of People-Watching. We had fun profiling fellow travellers and Airport Officials. If People-Watching is ever introduced at the Olympics, you’ll find me flying the Nigerian flag with a gold medal around my neck.
It was my longest layover ever, even on international routes. Lagos traffic discouraged us from thoughts of going home and coming back.

Third Bad News – I fell ill on the 2nd day in Kaduna. It was real bad, my body just suddenly seemed to be failing. Had to succumb to an admission. Managed to catch my flight the next day, while being assisted by my colleagues (Dipo O. & Yemi F.) and and Airport Officials. It was so bad they had to move me in a wheelchair from Departures to the craft.  My ticket and seat even had to be changed.
I am thankful to the friend who came to get me at the airport and drove me home after I was delivered to her on a motorized stretcher (I refused to get my folks involved). The next few days were dark ones.

The Ex called it quits while I was recovering. Too long a tale. I smelt that one coming months before. Like harmattan, you can smell it before it rolls in and if you are wise, you prepare. Basically, she didn’t like the fact that I had a life outside of the relationship. On my part I could not stand the negativity with which she approached everything in life. That ish is caustic. I let the blame for this one lie squarely on my shoulders, though. A mutual friend (who knew her better than I did) tried to warn me, but I thought we’d be fine and went ahead to commit to a relationship.

The Angel at the Airport has been there for me still….. Omowunmi, only God can reward you, love.

Angola and Angolans! They refused me a visa. The project, which has been the toughest I have handled so far, is still unfinished because it needs someone to get on ground there. I hope the clients find a way. The Project-lead on the client-side was a particularly difficult dude to work with. His mind changed daily and he seemed to forget the requests of each day by the next day.
In the whole mess, I made a slip and basically blew $18,550 of Company earnings into a furnace. My CEO took it well. Elsewhere, I could have lost my job. We tried addressing the situation, but the other party would not budge claiming he was never made aware work went on for that long, blah, blah. Its history now and we still out here grindin’. I did have a core lesson re-emphasized to me by this – 90% of a PM’s job is communication.

My blog. I started and completed a 15-episode series on my blog. It was an awesome journey. I want to thank all of you who supported the drive in some way. Much love. I’m sorry Joe had to die.

Accra. 3rd official trip. Stayed there for a month. I didn’t believe I would enjoy it at all. I was wrong. It was a company retreat and I had a lot of fun despite the ‘No-Visitation’ rule. My colleagues and I (3guys and 1babe) finished Diablo III. That was some feat. LOL!
If you have sometime, do visit Accra, people.

Marriages. Three of my close buddies got married this year. I could only attend one. I recall the first one saying a wedding was not as financially tasking as one would think. He threw figures around and mentioned the key things. “Once you have those, what else? You don do wedding be that.” he said. I believed him until he called me a few weeks to his wedding needing a financial push. I quietly sent it to him and took the lesson to heart.
The second one (who has a hottie for a wife, by the way) said in the presence of the third and his bride that “Greg is not married because his standards are too high”. [NOTE: He is 2 years older than I am]

Ripeness. A few Sundays ago, Pastor Gbolahan starts a convo with me, in the presence of my pal Dipo, which he ends with the statement “You are ripe for marriage”. Dipo is laughing hard and Pastor Gbolahan adds “Over-ripe dey worry am sef!” I am slain. Same day, Pastor Jimi says “Greg, when do you desire to be married?” Pastor Boye (who knows me more than all the others) is smiling at me, then Pastor Jimi says, “Sorry, let me rephrase; Do you desire to be married?”. Now Pastor Boye is laughing hard. I can only smile.

Success Stories. This year, my boy Dipo just jumped to a high rung on the corporate ladder. Dude is going to be a big shot in a bit. Time to prepare those proposals *winks*
My sweet Beryl has built a name for herself. One that huge corporations want backing their products. Forget me not.

Dami got the bank job. Now she wants Oil&Gas. SMH.
Sally is doing great with the man of her dreams. She’s building a clothing empire. She has now forgotten me, but, still I am happy for her.
OOO had her surgery, made that business trip, and is having a ball.
OW aka Yemi My Lover, got her man too and the miracle MSc admission with the unbelievably low fees in a cool country.
My Sister got a promotion and more property. Keep going ma’am!

Joan and Mr. Tayo, I’m looking forward to meeting you guys.

Funnies. This year, got talking with Wemimo again. She swore I never asked her out to drinks when she was in Nigeria, I swore I did. Guys, who do you believe?
Yemisi has not stopped loving and hatting me. I appreciate it all.
SO has barged in once again. She suggested moving in with me. The babe is a clown. “Greg, do you see me as your wife?” Na so them dey do am? Park far, madam.
EA could not see beyond my tribe. A Bini boy had called it off with her after the wedding hall had been booked. So every Bini boy was a terrible being in her books. I gladly let her go. I was not about to spend the rest of my life paying for the sins of a kinsman. No. Jesus already paid for all of mankind’s sins.

The office closed for the year on the 13th after announcing an exciting bonus. It has been our most profitable year yet. It is also the year we turned down an offer from one of the biggest Online Retail Stores in the country to come join them with offers that were 4times our salaries.  Today, the CEO was in my house! He brought me a book on Negotiation Strategies and we had a lot of interesting conversations. In D’Banj’s voice “Its about to go down…”

My health. Hmmm. I still trust God for my healing. I have been on and off this path since 1999 (3 surgeries done, lots of money spent) and if you have had to bear pain for that long, you’ll know it has a way of getting all of your attention and resources, especially when you have a daily dose of it. There was a sudden improvement at one point in the course of the year and then a relapse. I’m still analysing that period in search for the key. But I learned this year that God remains God, whatever we think He’s done or failed to do. “Blessed is he who is not offended because of me.” Jesus said these words when John The Baptist (His cousin) was imprisoned [Matt. 11:6 NKJV]. It’s all too complex for words. Bottom line? Still, I trust Him.

Thank you. God, for everything and helping me take a step closer to You.
Victor, for reminding me there are those who love me in my imperfections. Pastor Boye, for the pointers. The two Lekans, your are both far too kind. Gbadebo, you are not well, but its ok. Kovie, for the words. Efe, for this opportunity.

Thank you, 2013.

2014, let’s dance.

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*tunes Ekoloma Demba*