Mystery Musings

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*dusts cobwebs*

The first time I read this so many thoughts ran through my head. I was sad (read, depressed, for my country and the people it produces), overjoyed (for my friend the author) and scared (that it could just as well happen to me).

Please enjoy the story before I type any more spoilers.

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“What is time but a necessary manmade construct, as a measure
that could keep one in a box if he allows it,
to think he runs out of it in hours or months or years.”

I made my first million today.
A little over a million plus or not so little, but a million is a benchmark.
I couldn’t write about my 2013 last year, I was much too dispirited to do so, plus I believe every story should have a happy ending; if it’s not happy then it isn’t over. So for me, today marks my December 2013 end in reality. I’m mostly writing this for my benefit, to express myself. Writing about my 2012 really did something for me; I go back to read it from time to time for comfort, encouragement, reference or to just put situations in context. And after a while (this year to be exact) I could openly share it with my friends just because. I couldn’t at the time. Same will happen for this too in the future but in keeping with my modus operandi, I will write anonymously to begin with. So here goes.

“In the realm of ideas, everything depends on enthusiasm.
In the real world all rests on perseverance.”
~Johann Non Goethe~

2013 was a mentally tough year. I had just started a new company in late 2012 with some two other people. Everything looked promising and of course I knew it was going to be tough, but alas I wasn’t ready at all. The bane of my experience could be rolled up in one word DEBT!!! Debts and more debts, jeez my God! Before 2012, I had lacked nothing and had always been a champion of ‘pay your debts’, ‘don’t borrow if you can’t pay back’, ‘how the hell do you live with yourself owing so much’ etc. Now I’ve lived the experience of being on the receiving side of my ‘expletives’ and I’m much more understanding especially for genuine folks, if you can tell who is one. Running a new company requires funds, more so when you don’t have Angel investors, and sometimes you run out and need to borrow with honest hopes and plans of paying back, but things almost never pan out the way we projected them to.

According to the Omidyar Network stat report benchmark: Only 4% of African entrepreneurs manage to get angel capital for their business. I’m sure it’s even less than that, so often times an entrepreneur is mostly trying to survive the present, while keeping an eye or half an eye on the future.

First we had a ready structure for project financing but needed to stay afloat before the projects, to keep operations running and more importantly, to pay the Due Diligence fees that would land us the said funds. We went in search for equity or debt investors for 10m naira. Money is so difficult to secure, and people promise and fail blatantly. We’d make arrangements and decisions off promises that would lead to further disappointments to others, in a seemingly unending horrific game of dominoes.

The first potential promised us payment in Dec. 2012, but by February he was still toting about with loads of stories. We built hopes upon hopes but eventually he disappeared and couldn’t be reached. The heartbreak was real because we thought we would hit the ground running in 2013; still there was more in store.

We embarked on more vigorous pitching. After a while we found a corporate group who gave us a million but that wouldn’t go far, so we applied that and kept up the hunt pitching up and down. Sadly the finance houses and ‘monied’ folks are not willing to invest in newbie companies that haven’t done much, however promising the venture seems; they’d rather invest in popular folks, brands and establishments who might end up owing and not paying back because they took no collateral from them. The very same investors send you packing for not presenting collateral. I don’t totally blame them, they have some cogent reasons.

We kept on pitching and another seemingly serious potential came up, but he was also a time waster, in fact a farce. This one went as far as creating a nonexistent ‘angel’, (as far as I’m concerned that’s what it was, lol) who would invest and kept us in a never ending circle of fake meetings and lies. This is the only way I can make sense of what happened in retrospect, because even though we did all that was requested and ran around for months, it was all for naught eventually and we ended up with even more debts we couldn’t settle.

It’s pertinent to note that since 2012 when we started, we weren’t earning any stable income. We were putting it back in the business instead. Pay yourself from where? I had family taking care of my basics while I survived on 10 tablets of hope and faith each day, on the really bad days of frustration, 20 tabs for resuscitation and revival lol.

It was on like this and half the year was upon us, nothing had gone as planned, and we had lost money instead in the process. One guy even duped us of 300k in the process and we were already defaulting on our brand new first potential business/client. In all of this a late virtual acquaintance, left words, (not to me personally but it felt so) before he passed that were of consolation to me, and I’m grateful because they really put things in context when I needed it badly.

“No one deserves anything; God is in control of all situations.” “There is a time for everything, every person… Don’t be angry with people who desert you at difficult times, they can’t help” “People who help are people who will, not people who can”. (RIP NAMO)

These words helped me a lot to cope with the disappointments and not stay mad at some of these people.

After these sordid encounters, and all the pitches that didn’t yield fruit we decided to go another route, do some odd jobs (i.e. jobs below what we actually set out to do) to earn some money, then use the earnings to unlock our project funds. It was setback after setback.

We got a 12m naira contract on a site for borehole drilling and water treatment; we were to be paid 70% upfront and 30% upon completion. We went ahead to borrow some more monies to get us what we needed to mobilize for the contract. Our first problem was the Project Manager (PM) cutting down the 70% in half, saying we’d get the other half when we got to a particular level. As desperate people we went ahead without seeing that as a red flag, got the materials needed and began the job. We got to the point where we needed the remaining half and requested for it… GBESE!

Meanwhile, we hadn’t returned any of the monies we borrowed before now, so everything was riding on us cashing out so we could take care of all our obligations, but the PM refused to pay us saying we had to do more, this dragged on for weeks. Eventually, he demanded we get some materials on site for the next stage before he’d release the funds. We went ahead and sourced the materials on credit, gave the supplier a post dated cheque based on the contractual promises with the PM. After doing as requested, more stories ensued and finally he flat out refused to pay, refused us entrance to site (with police threats and all) and got someone else to finish the job from where we stopped. Now the supplier whose cheque had bounced by this time wanted his materials back or the money, and of course we couldn’t immediately provide both, so he took us to the Police and my business partner got locked up.

At this point I was asking God what was left, giving up wasn’t an option because there were real debt obligations in my name screaming to be paid. I dreaded my phone so much as it had become a source of worry; unknown numbers made me skip a heartbeat or have heart palpitations, having to explain the situation over and over again to creditors was emotionally exhausting, because it always seemed like we were lying. I was so pensive at this point, tears weren’t faraway at any point in time.  I cried after almost every call shouting down my neck – oh the embarrassment and fear – but obligations are obligations so I couldn’t give up.

When you pray to God for a job, ask also for reasonable and sane people to work with – Freegoodadvice.

We solved our police issues somehow. The honest truth is that one who can’t HONESTLY pay up, can’t do so. I cried so much from the mental stress, cracked under pressure and suffered a mini depression. Depression and I don’t mix well so I got back up and trudged on. We gathered some monies after another 1m naira was loaned to us by a friend, to meet our financiers to pay the Due Diligence fees at least, so we could have our funds finally but regrettably even Boko Haram affected us lol. Nigeria had become a high risk area for investments and the DD fees shot up by over 50%, so the figures we had in mind in January were no longer applicable by September; we were told this happened after we had applied it, but fortunately for us we would have a spot held for us, instead of losing the connect entirely.

Finally, by the end of October, an earlier not so viable option called us up and was talking business again, ready to invest for equity. They came down for a meet, after some back and forth were ready to sign an agreement with us, some hope and breather after all and I could now answer my creditors in a more confident voice. In December, they wired some funds as agreed and that made the year not to be such a horrible and unbearable one.

HALLELUJAH! Finally we could pay off most of our old debts, but the big ones were still staring me in the face, 3M to be exact. Despite all the hypertension they gave me, I remain grateful to those friends (creditors) for lending to me at the time when I needed it, especially the patient and understanding ones.

In January this year, I got a debt call and for once in my life I answered without trepidation, calmly and without fear. I had to pinch myself after the call to be sure it was I who had just taken that call. After going through all that mental torture class in 2013, I had graduated and could finally control or manage my emotions towards debt. As long as I was really trying my best to pay back and kept acknowledging the debt, I felt less guilt. I couldn’t kill myself about it, it’s not the end of the world to be in debt.

I don’t want to discuss this year, but 2013 ends today because funds are finally here, and those debts are on to being repaid and the company is finally on course to stability. I am thrilled when I look at the big picture that is about to unfold, I’m on my way to building something out of nothing, to create a miracle and greatness.

Finally I’m debt free. OH HAPPY DAY! :-D.

If you had the patience to read all of this, thank you and do say a prayer for me. I pray and hope my 2014 ends both technically and otherwise right. This year alone has shown me again, why God’s timing is perfect! So we are never really running out of time. To anybody else out there having a tough time, especially entrepreneurs, I send heartfelt positive energy your way to weather whatever storms it is you face.
I pray we all have favourable opportunities that will lead us to where we should be according to our abilities. Amen!

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Based on popular demand, this article has been reproduced from its first publishing here.

Any defining moments/lessons/advice from your experience with debt? Do share below in the comments section.

 

The Warri Mentality

Area!!

The rallying cry for hostile support among the homies rings out at the construction site of the fence of the new market. The contractor has been mobilized by the government to finish this abandoned project but the resident youths of the town have a grouse.

They have not been paid their cut of the mobilization fee.

You see, one does not simply wake up and decide to develop an area in Warri. You have to pay a development levy to the youths of the area, a sort of protection fee, known as “deve” for short. It is assumed that you inflated the contract and used the community name to make money for yourself and thus the community has to receive their share of the booty. Anything deviating from this is akin to copyright infringement.

Welcome to Warri, the land of banter, aggression and drama.

I had a course recently with majority of the students coming from Warri and it struck me how their behavior was so different from that of the people in my current town. They were being themselves but I had not noticed these nuances because while I was in Warri I had become blind to them, accepting them as normal and ordinary. Now, five years after moving out of the city I could look at the inhabitants with fresh eyes and observe what I had not observed before. It seemed like a mini culture shock.

How do Warri people think or behave?

The Warri mentality can be summarized in one word: respect. Funny but true. “Who you be sef?!” is the standard challenge thrown to anyone trying to assert himself or “show himself”. You might be dressed in affluence but really, what have you done to warrant our respect? What gives you the right to strut into this workshop and talk down on us without “showing working”? Have you “blessed your boys”? Have you “mobilized” us? Who made you a ruler or a judge over us?

I think that’s respect even though it seems like the opposite. In Warri respect is earned! You have to be generous and show your contribution to “community development”. You have to be a pastor or an Imam. You have to be a native doctor or have a reputation for strong “jazz” (voodoo). You have to be a scholar (guru) or a doctor or something. If you have these things, your “boys are loyal”.

Loyalty is highly regarded in Warri. If you play your cards right in any of the above respects, especially in “community development” you will have the loyalty of the people. This is one reason some traditional rulers in Warri are no longer respected. You can’t keep stealing the money meant to go round all of us and then expect us to “dubale” just because you wear a crown and fancy robes. We won’t respect you just because you’re older either. Respect is earned and Loyalty has to be paid for. Get with the Warri program.

Respect is even paid down the social ladder to younger people and women who are exceptionally gifted in banter and verbal jabs. “Nor toush Mama Ejiro plantain oh. She get bad mouth.” If you can hold your own in banter you will receive the adulation of the crowd. If you get beaten as a result by the object of your bants, you will at least walk away with your badge of honour in bants tactics.

Another thing highly respected as part of the Warri culture is the culture of hard work. The hustle in Warri is real, perhaps lending precedent to the popular sayings “Warri no dey carry last” and “At all at all na winsh” (something, anything is better than nothing or being the worst at any endeavour). Shoemaker? Small chops seller? Wheelbarrow pusher? Driver? Gardener? Hairdresser? Barber? Vulcanizer? Okada rider? Great! At least you’re not a beggar. Begging is not in the Warri culture (I don’t see Warri people sidle up to your car window to solicit handouts in traffic). At all at all na winsh.

The sex talk that goes on in Warri is another point of note. Perhaps this is not peculiar to Warri but best believe your sexual exploits or failures are already the talk of the town or beer parlor or marketplace. You can quickly earn the reputation of being an “ashawo” (unisex term for slut) just by sleeping with two or three people in the neighborhood. Even those who have just hugged you will chime in around the kerosene lantern sessions about how wack you were in bed. Watch your rep.

The sad part of the sex talk is the resultant sexual curiosity of the teens. Most times they eavesdrop on adult conversation and begin to eye the exclusive fine babes in the neighborhood. The talk normally does not involve contraception (what’s that?) and so you’re likely to see more than the odd pregnant school dropout teen. At that stage, “water don pass garri” and “shakara don end”. (Things have fallen apart and your pride has been shattered)

I’d like to end this with a correction to a common myth. People from outside Warri always react when I say I grew there with an exclamation of disbelief because according to them, I’m too quiet. Not all Warri people are aggressive and loud. Warri is such a volatile place that many times you have to learn how to fly under the radar and take cover when the bullets start flying. “No be by gra gra” and “the rat wey get bia bia no mean say e be senior” (or as Wole Soyinka put it, a tiger does not go about shouting its tigritude). When push comes to shove though, you can be sure the Warri boy or geh will not be so easily trod upon.

Area!!!

Tired!

My friend Bolu came by 19th Street today. (Inspired by a really nice song by Kelly Price with same title.) Enjoy

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Pain in my heart
My soul bleeds
I need to free the thoughts in my head
Yes I’m tired

TIRED: Of The Guilty Feelings

Yes I cheated
Don’t blame me
If you were around more often, I won’t have had the space to let it happen. And yea, it kills me. Managing all these guilty feelings.
But I’ll rather leave them at that. Feelings. Of guilt.

TIRED: Of The Sleepless Nights

Tossing. Turning. All night long.
So restless and unsettled.
Awake. A little nervous. It’s quiet. Creepy kinda disturbia. Like a disease in my mind.
I get up, pour myself a drink. It should calm my raging nerves and help settle my thoughts.
My thoughts: where are you at? Who are you with? Are you at a spot we frequent?
These thoughts run through all night. With a pinch of my paranoia. The nights don’t bring me sleep.

TIRED: Of The Baby Mama.

Ghetto. Hood. Street. Ratchet. Whatever.
She’s drama.
Calling you at 2am under the guise of reminding your daughter’s medicals are due next month. Next month? Seriously? Tryna piss me off is she?
She’d better get it together. I could bring out my street side and bust a cap in her ass but no.
I”ll rather maintain the class and poise that made your momma love me. Laugh it off and say it’s fine even when it kills me within.
I’m tired of taking it. Baby mama drama. Ugh!

TIRED: Of Faking It

Acting like I’m happy to be hated by the tons of girls dying to be in my shoes.
I’ll rather be without that attention.
I’ll rather be with a regular guy.
Not one who has to be so private because of who he is.
Tired of being wrong and acting right at times when we argue.
All cos I want you to flare and call it off.
I’m tired of behaving like it’s all so under control from my end or pretending I’m not scared of what we’d be 20 years from now.
Why do these thoughts come up? Do they have anything to do with how real we ought to be?

That’s it!!! I’m calling this off at noon when we meet up for lunch. Tick Tock. . .

I pull up at the restaurant and walk in straight up to your table.
I’m greeted by your wonderful smile as you pull out a chair. The gentleman you are.
“How’s my girl doing? The wedding planner called. She needed you to decide what kind of flowers you wanted on the sides of the aisle”. **pause**

You take my hand gently and say in a mellow tone; “your efforts appreciated booboo. I couldn’t have wanted anyone else. Thanks for not giving our love away”
I quickly gulp a mouthful of wine, lean over and kiss you tenderly.

What’s in my head?

Uh Oh! Break-up postponed.

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One ring to rule them all

Not Like This (2)

So our friend Jibola decided to reply the Not Like This letter we all enjoyed here. Happy reading

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Majekodunmi,

I chuckle as I write your name in full because I remember. It’s funny, this thing called memory. You think you have a hold on it and are able to put a dam on it and move on with your life. I chuckle because, I remember the first time I’d teased you about the innuendo that your name is. I told you that it sounded like a virgin’s plea for her lover to be gentle: Don’t let it hurt me. It’s crazy because I remember how you threw your head back and laughed, and then you wrinkled your nose still giggling, calling me a pervert. I laughed with you and knocked my Big Stout back. I remember the chill of the glass and its sweat running down on my hands. I remember because it was at that moment, watching you be happy with me that it hit me. I always wanted to be the reason that you laugh.

You know, I always thought having palpitations for reasons not medically inclined was just hogwash and the stuff for M&Bs. My God, how my heart fluttered when I immediately recognised the cursive that is your handwriting. I’m glad you wrote. I am. I am also glad you broke the dams I’ve taken years to build. Ok I lie. I’m not. I am mad at myself that I still feel so strongly for you. I am angry at myself that one letter from you; all 672 words in it (yes I counted), can take me back. All the way back.

You came into my life as an ear, a shoulder and an arm when I so desperately needed you. I was mourning ‘Motunde leaving me and you were there. Nobody else could understand how I could be so pained over someone who had brought me nothing but pain, but you did. You listened and you never once interrupted my going on and on. I remember how you told me it wasn’t wise for me to go and try to beg her to come back. I remember how you tried to reason with me, and tell me the way of women. God, in retrospect, I realize how crazed I must have looked. When I insisted, you seemed pained but bade me well. It’s what I loved about you, your quiet resilience and support.

Our people say that when a child sees a bushrat, he kills it. When he sees a pigeon, he kills it too. But when he encounters the insurmountable, he beats a hasty retreat to the safety of where he calls home. I made a beeline for your arms when she rejected and humiliated me for the last and final time. You didn’t laugh at me. Dear God, I deserved to be laughed at. You told me I was a great guy that she didn’t deserve. 

You always do this thing, this back and forth, this push and pull, and I hate you for it. I gave you everything, and I was ready to give you even more. I remember how I lowered that glass of the rich dark brew, and I looked straight at you. The laughter dwindled out and you looked at me puzzled wondering what. I told you that first time that I loved you. You smiled and looked away, but when you looked at me again it was with a resolve. You didn’t want to be a rebound. Oh God how I ached to shake some sense into you. You always teased me about being the Giacomo Cassanova nobody knew. You compared me to how he always loved deeply and… Why the hell could you not understand that I wasn’t joking when I said those words? Are you in my heart? Why could you not just believe me? You told me I was everything. You told me I was the best man you had ever met in your life, but why was I not enough for you? I know I was broken into a million pieces and you had helped me pick some of the shards, but why couldn’t my shards be sufficient for you? Didn’t you know they were all I had left to give?

It became harder and harder for us to hang out knowing that how I felt for you meant nothing to you. But I held on. If I couldn’t be your man, I’d be your friend. I knew you’d come around. I knew the comfortable silences and the random cuddles as we watched movies together weren’t for naught. I knew. Ashey, I was wrong. And then like a debutante arriving on the social scene, you seemed to suddenly have a crowd of suitors. They meant nothing until Tunde. I remember him, with his sleek manner. You once complained about how sleazy he was and how he only wanted to jump in your panties and be gone. I snapped that day. I asked why you always spent so much time with someone you knew wasn’t worth your time, when you had someone to love you without condition. I couldn’t understand it.  And just like that, we fought. My pride didn’t let me extend the Olive branch. And when I finally came to my senses I couldn’t reach you. It killed me, everyday. Do you know I googled you? I pined and pined until time eroded the pain. I tried to fuck away the pain, and when that didn’t work, I started to see other people. No woman measured up ever since. And after a while, I stopped comparing other women to you. What did you care anyway. Then I began to hate you. If you loved me like you said you did, why didn’t you choose me like I did you? Why wasn’t my love enough for you?

My life was fine till you waltzed right back in with a message on Facebook. I was on the train but I whooped without a care in the world. I composed and recomposed my first message in reply to you. My world was right again, well somewhat. It was just like old times, and I was like the desert lily receiving its once-in-five-year rains. I bloomed. There was a glitch but I debated whether or not to tell you. Looking back I wish I had just fixed things without giving you a chance to reject me again. Fisayo had already made me content, and that was it. Until you came back that was all I needed. I foolishly told you about her and then you shut down on me again. You said you couldn’t be with another woman’s man. As always, my love was not enough. I begged you, I told you all the things I’d never said. I can love no one like I do you. I told you that much.

Fisayo is due in a few weeks, and I am naming the baby Majek not because I want to be tormented with your name all my life but because I want her to be an epitaph to all that we once were. Loving you like this hurts. And I don’t want to hurt anymore. For this reason, I’ll just let you be another memory in the dusty library that is my life. This is me letting you go like you did to me twice. I won’t love you any less, unfortunately. I’m afraid that my heart is forever bound to yours but I can’t let my pain be forever bound to you.

Good bye my love. Please be happy all your days. You deserve that much.

Love always,
Olamide

Not Like This

Dear Olamide

Hey, I was going through my old laptop and I saw the folder I created for us back then in 2009. So long. The pictures you sent me, the emails I saved in there, the poems, yes, the poems. the erotic and the romantic ones, I still have them. I know it may surprise you knowing how nonchalant I was about you then. About us. I blame myself for it. You showed me love like no other, talked to me and with me all through my sad times (had too many of those didn’t I? Lol) I write to you today not to beg you to come back to me but to explain to you why I gave us no chance to grow.

That year she broke your heart, she made you cry. Tore you apart and threw your love back in your face and just then we met. You opened up to me and told me everything you could never tell any other person. I comforted you as a true friend should. I saw how good a man you were to her and wished someone could love me as fiercely as you did her. I wanted you in my life so bad but you always, always talked about her (just so you know, it hurts) I accepted you’d never get over her and I encouraged you to go back to her. You tried, she rejected you then you came back to me. Few weeks after, you said you were in love with me. I rejected you. It broke you but it broke me more. I felt you wanted to use me to get over the love of your life. I could never take that. I was angry you turned out to be a typical man. I was angry you couldn’t just love me naturally but as a rebound. You promised to love me till the end of time and sent me the best poems to back it up seeing as you communicated better through them but I could never be a replacement girlfriend. We had a fight, a petty fight and we stopped talking then I left Nigeria.

January 2012, I saw your name online, for more than three years we’ve not talked. I lost all contacts (and so did you I assume) I sent you a private message and we started talking again. I was so happy and still very much in love with you. We caught up so quickly, the chemistry was surprising. You said you never stopped loving me and I said “me too”. We talked about these feelings and basked in them for so long. Just when I was waiting for you to just formally ask me out, you ‘fessed up you were now engaged.

It’s been three years I know, but my world came crashing before my eyes. I cried for every night we talked (which was everyday) I wanted you in my life so bad. You told me you wanted us to be together. You asked if I was ready to love you again, that you’d leave your new woman. I couldn’t have that again because not only would I be causing another woman pain, but I’d be the replacement girl again! I wanted you to love me naturally. You said I was the only person that could love and understand you in the way no other woman could. I know that too because we are soul mates. We’ve cried together, laughed together, I helped you grow as you helped me grow. The only person I respected, the one I jokingly (but seriously) asked to father my unborn babies. The most intelligent man I’ve ever met. The calmest lover ever that complemented my fiery attitude. The man I still long to hold and call mine forever (sigh)

Although now we have accepted our fate to be best friends forever I want you to know I still love you very much…the one that got away. The one I’d never have.

Love always,
‘M.

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So Temisan was walking by 19th Street and decided to drop by and tell us how she felt about her man. I’m hoping he can reply the letter.

Full Disclosure: Yay or Nay?

Do I need to introduce myself? Lol. My name’s Sanusi. I’m a scientist…in every way. I blog about tech at TechSuplex. I wanted to try my hands on something totally different and challenging, so…well…this is the result. If my writing’s poor, please refer to the “I’m a scientist” reference above.

My first try is a touchy subject, one I’m not even sure I’m qualified to debate about, but I had a talk about it with two different people in the past week and apparently, my views are very different from the norm…so I thought this might be a good place to take the plunge with regards to this experiment.

So Full Disclosure with your partner when in a relationship…Yay? Or Nay? I say yay and I’ll explain my reasons, but let’s first consider reasons why it could be Nay for some.

The three most popular reasons I hear are:

1. The need to protect one’s self from harm/hurt that could result from divulging certain details about one’s life or past.
2. The need to maintain some form of mystery, to keep the other person interested.
3. The need to forget one’s past (probably due to shame) and not empowering someone else to remind you of the past you so keenly want to forget.

The above are all great arguments, valid points, the importance of which shouldn’t be lost whichever side of the argument you are on. However, there are a few things to point out.

Humans are going to hurt you regardless of whether you give them details or not…Why? Because we are human…it’s built in our DNA…try as we may not to, we will eventually…again and again. The degree of hurt may vary depending on your relationship with the person, but that’s a function of YOUR mind. The person responsible for assigning how hurtful an experience is, is YOU…. Life get’s loads easier when you accept that humans will be humans. You can try to avoid them, and avoid hurt (not sure that works practically, but there’s a theoretical chance of it working), but at what cost? You miss out on so much of life to avoid so little. (Maybe next post if I can get around to it, I’ll discuss this concept).

Here’s something else to think about: WE ARE ALL SINNERS. Every single religion is built around that concept. You and I were filthy with sin before we were born…”Everyone’s nyash was opened thousands of years ago“…so I already know you are a sinner, what are you then hiding? Something that’s public knowledge? I don’t get it.

We all need to accept the fact that we aren’t perfect…no one is…the moment you do, becomes the point where you start being able to live with your past…and own it. If you own your past, you can’t have problems sharing it with people you care about.

Notice till now, how we haven’t even talked about relationships with your partner. I’m no expert (in truth no one truly is…so stop buying those books and read your Holy Book..lol). But let’s go there.

The basic goal of any genuine relationship is to become one with someone else. (I’m talking about the ones that sail towards the altar…corny joke, I know…but it isn’t mine..so I can’t take credit (un)fortunately). If the above goal rings true, then not divulging info to your partner from the unset presents two problems:

1. You can’t be a complete one with someone when parts are missing.
2. You also can’t be one if you take the decision to withhold information on your own, seeing as both of you are in it together.

So the very foundation of the concept is flawed (if you consider it the way I’ve laid it out).

Again, I’m not experienced, but I think the idea of having someone in your life, is for that person to accept you as you are, past and present…anything short of that is selling yourself short. If the person wants to be with you because of the impression(s) (that you give him/her), the person really is into an idea in his/her head and not you. Ideas, rarely last for long…till they are replaced with others.

That’s about it. Before I run off and duck for cover, out of curiosity, what’s the worst thing you have heard happen to someone because they were totally open in their relationship?

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I think the views on this will be interesting. Views in the comment box please! 🙂

Odyssey – 22

ODYSSEY 3

The caption of this blog (19th Street) is ‘let’s explore memories of life’s experiences’. It is not enough to just explore, we should also learn from the experiences. I did not type all these words so people can comment on how sad it is. This part is a “moral of the story’ piece and I am confused as to how to start.

We all hope to be mothers and fathers one day; some of us already have kids. Permit me to generalize and say parents (especially Nigerian parents) are too dismissive of their kids. Your son is scared of Aunty Bola, have you taken your time to ask him why? Do we actually listen to our children or we just hear what they have to say and pen it down to an over active imagination. Children see things and we often underestimate their ability to understand these things. They know more than we can imagine. Asking questions and listening actually goes a really long way. I cannot help but wonder what would have happened if I had been asked why I always ran after my mother’s car whenever she was to leave the house. Listening to your children does something else; it makes them find their voices and gives them the confidence to use it. I am not going to say do not let relatives live in your house or do not leave your daughters with them. The truth is I have some pretty awesome uncles and cousins and I know I have friends that think the world of their nieces and nephews. Being cautious is good but asking your kids why and meaning it goes a long way. I read a story about a girl who cried every school morning; her parents thought she did not just want to go to school. If they had taken their time to ask they may have learnt that she was scared of a classmate of hers who kept threatening to kill her. Listen to your children, even when they say the most ridiculous things like the house girl turned to a snake. I mean you will be shocked. Recognizing that they have something to say and taking your time out to hear them shows clearly that they matter and you can see them. Not listening is equivalent to not seeing them.

Our former gateman was always reporting my little sister to my mother; he said she was always rude to him and refused to greet. She was nine and a generally pleasant child. When asked her explanation was that she did not like him. Do not blame me but in my eyes everybody is a pervert until proven otherwise so I kept on asking her what the problem was. Finally she said she did not like the way the gateman looked at her and he was always ‘talking rubbish’. Early one morning I peeped through the window as she tended to my mother’s birds. The gateman made several comments on how big she was; he said she “just dey grow like agric fowl”. That statement some may say is innocent enough but not to a nine-year old girl who is the biggest in her class and is growing faster than her age.  The transition from being flat chested and having no worries is hard enough. But your entire body changes too and all of a sudden you always have to wear a shirt and then the alien bra comes along. This stage is very delicate; uncles and family friends and the likes that never fail to point out how you are growing do not make it easier. We all see the growth, shut up about it. I don’t take all those ‘my wife’ jokes kindly, call it paranoia or whatever but I have quite a number of younger sisters and it is my prayer that they do not see half of what I have seen. Call any of them your wife in my presence and you will have to explain to me when you paid the bride price.

Child molestation is horrible and difficult to imagine but it is real. It happens more often that we care to admit. I think boys get molested more but somehow they find ways to joke about it.

You may be reading this and you have a similar story or you know someone who does. There is nothing to be ashamed about. It even has to be a sin for you to take the blame for this. It is not your fault, you do not emit freak pheromones; there is nothing that you could have possibly done that makes it okay that this happened. Guilt kills. Trying to understand it is like gradually digging your grave, you would never understand why it happened and accepting that is so hard.

Rape has to be the most hidden crime of all. The victims do the hiding and please do not blame them. Proving rape is hard. How do you explain getting raped in a boy’s house? These days going to a boy’s house is synonymous with asking for ‘the D’. It is sad that people think this way. I wish there was a way there was a way to get people to come out. The need to keep it secret is like admitting guilt, you cannot tell anybody because you did something bad and you are ashamed. I wish I could preach the sermon of go to the police, report to whomever will listen but that will be hypocrisy on my part. Honestly, if I get raped again I don’t think I will do anything differently.

This is hard because on so many levels I am not past it. I want to say be careful because every boy is a potential rapist but that sounds bitter even to my own ears and it is the height of generalization. Well, maybe I am bitter. Just be careful, listen to yourself, and never ever ignore your instincts. Never. When it comes to physical strength, except the Lord saves you, you are no match for a man in a state of testosterone-induced madness. It is best not to get there. If this has already happened, can you please forgive yourself and move on? I am speaking to myself too. Your life is not over and it is not based on this. It is impossible to forget so do not act like you have. Remember it and find a way somehow to use it to your advantage. Somehow.

Daniel went to South Africa three days after he raped me to start his masters program. He said he was in love with me and the thought of being so far from me drove him crazy. He said since sex was out of the way, we should just date so he could prove his love to me. I see him in church whenever he is in the country and when he is not I see his sweet mother every Sunday. She sends me plantain through my mom and gives me twenty naira every Sunday. Every Sunday, even though I smile as she ‘chooks’ twenty naira inside my purse for offering, I lose a little bit of my sanity. I have all the twenty nairas stacked somewhere and I think that is crazy.  This year Daniel sent me a long letter though his mother about how he has not had a good night’s sleep since it happened and that he needs my forgiveness. To prove that I have forgiven him, I am to give him a call since I never pick his.

Uncle Emma got married three years ago. I was at the wedding and I smiled and shared rice. Now the doctor says his sperm count is zero so he can never father a child. His pastor says that someone he offended in his past has not forgiven him. So my uncle literally stalks me now, begging for forgiveness. I have said in all the languages I can speak that I have forgiven him. He says I have to lay hands on his head and pray to show it. That’s when I pause. If I have forgiven him why won’t I pray for him? Why won’t I give Daniel a call? What does it mean to forgive? Do not let me get started on how I feel bad and somehow want to carry the guilt for this.

Be careful how you treat people.