Mystery Musings


*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.


“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!


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


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.



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


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.


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



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,

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,


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 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 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?


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

Odyssey – 22


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.

Odyssey – 11


There are things that happen that define your entire life. You start to think of yourself in terms of before and after that event. You try to pick yourself up and move on because shit happens and it is part of life and dwelling would do you no good. You know all those skirts or dresses that refuse to stay down when it gets windy. You take a step forward and the wind hits you and your skirt is up in your face. Then you have to stop whatever you are doing and hold the skirt down to cover your nakedness. This is probably not the best analogy but it is what comes to mind. What has happened has happened, and you try to move on but the wind blows. There are things that remind you, take you back without your permission. Then you find yourself stopping to put yourself together when all you really want is to forge ahead and get on with your life.

    I will be old and grey and still have that scene playing in my head. I want to know what changed, when it changed and why it changed. Was it something I did or said? How do you go from laughing and talking about how you had such a nice time to fighting for your life? If as I lay in my bed one night, my family had been woken up by the workers of violence and in the process of robbing us an armed robber had taken me aside I would have chalked it down to a senseless act of violence by people who live by violence. I still have not been able to put this in a box, to understand it and put it in one corner of my brain forever because I have finally figured it out. I was nineteen and I had known him for fifteen of my nineteen years. My earliest memory was of him carrying me on his neck to see what was happening in front of church. I remember the pink dungarees I wore; it had this big white rose in front. My mom said I had owned it since I was about four years. Fifteen out of nineteen is basically all my life right? So you can understand why I did not think twice when he called and told me he was in town. I called a cab and paid the cab my own money with my own hands to take me to my nightmare for life.

   He is the last born and he always told me I was the little sister he never had. We met in church and he became inseparable. Our parents became friends because of us. Whenever I was home on holidays from the boarding house he was the first to come visiting. Never, in all our years of friendship did he even hint that he wanted more. Not even when I had a crush on him and I used all the versions of my name and his name to do flames till I finally got lovers. Be careful what you wish for right?

  It was a Wednesday and I wore a black skirt and a black blouse with green flowers on it. The blouse was a new one. I remember how giddy I felt. I had not seen him in two years. He was waiting for me outside his house. I alighted from the car and jumped on him with abandon. The first thing I told him was that he was fat and he said my head was still big. Thinking back now, I tell myself maybe I hugged him too tightly. I have questioned every detail of that visit because I want to know why. When I entered the first thing I asked was where his mum was. He said she went to see her sister. Even the house girl was not home, she just left to the market. Now I ask myself why the bells in my head did not go off. I mean we were home alone. Was I just determined to not see all the signs?

  You are lying down on the long chair laughing and watching something being described to you then the next minute you are struggling to lift what feels like dead weight off you. No warning, no time to prepare or even negotiate. Oh I screamed and shouted and cried and begged. I reminded him over and over again who I was. I said my name in case he had forgotten. We fell off the chair, rolled on the floor. I got away once and raced to the door. But my legs felt like lead, I couldn’t get there fast enough. He got there first, locked the door, slid open the window and threw the keys down stairs. That moment when you realize you are doomed. I looked into his eyes, hoping to see something of the person I knew, a flicker of conscience. There was nothing. I did not know those eyes. Lying on the floor, my legs trapped beneath me by Daniel’s, hands tied together above my head with his belt. I still cannot recall how the belt got there. Time that day seemed to leap like an antelope. I phased in and out. I remember even begging him to let me come back prepared the next day, that it did not have to be this way. I could almost see the wheels in his head turning as he contemplated whether or not to let me go, and I prayed in my head and begged God. The he said “No, I don’t believe you”.

    I asked him why. I was tired of fighting and I could barely see through one eye and I just wanted to know why. He said “You have been asking for this for as long as I can remember. Do not act like you do not want it.” I want it, I like it; those lines echoed in my head over and over again. I do not know if it was the fatigue or what he said but I gave up. I stopped crying, I stopped struggling, and I stopped trying to free my hands from his belt. I just gave up, accepted my fate.

   I had withdrawn into my head, wishing I had not worn my new shirt. Scolding myself for not eating, if I had maybe I would have had the strength to fight. I was thinking about basically everything else but what was happening at that moment. I thought I had hidden away safely in my thoughts when I felt pain. It felt like my brain was split into two and I actually saw red. Then everything went black.

   I woke up to someone crying. It was that slow kind of waking up when you become aware of things one at a time. You feel your feet then wiggle your toes, then you flex and extend your fingers to make sure they are still there. Then just before you open your eyes you try to remember who you are and where you are. I opened my eyes and asked Daniel why he was crying. I was lying on the long chair; where it all started. He was kneeling on the floor and I can remember feeling sorry for him. He looked broken. He cried and said he was sorry; he had a little to drink before I came and he could not believe he did this. I comforted him. I told him I was alright and it was okay. He called a cab for me, gave me a white t-shirt and blue shorts to wear. I insisted on taking my torn clothes with me. He said he was sorry over a million times before the cab man came and for each “I am sorry” I responded with an ‘it is okay’. I do not know how to describe how I felt; in fact I think it would be safe for me to say I felt nothing. It was like my system had a sensory overload and then shut down.

   I still remember the song that was playing when I entered the cab. ‘Shout out’ by Whitney Houston. I had not heard the song before but I recognized her voice. I asked the driver to put the song on repeat. I listened to Whitney give shout outs to the people who made her who she was all the way to school. On getting to my hostel, I met a classmate of mine in front. He saw me and asked if I had been in a fight, and I told him I had just got raped. He laughed so hard and told me I was such a clown. I found myself laughing. That was the day I realized human beings do not like the truth or recognize it.

      I honestly had no intention of hurting myself. Or maybe I did. I just wanted to take a hot bath. The water was smoking hot but I did not care, I needed to stop the things that crawled on my skin, I needed to wash away the imprints his fingers left on my skin. I mean what else to wash me clean if not hot water? My sponge became a weapon; I scrubbed and scrubbed till I saw blood and even then I did not stop. I had to wash it away. After scrubbing with the strength I had left, I rinsed with hot water. I wonder if my mother or anybody else believed the “I changed my soap and the new one burnt my skin” story I peddled.

  Describing in detail the months that followed would turn this into a book. In summary, I was in darkness. I am not saying that because I think it sounds fancy; the pit of depression I felt, I wouldn’t even wish it for my enemies. Every single thing about me changed, up to the way I dressed and the music I listened to. Don’t get it twisted, I did not start covering up more after, I started covering up less. I was too shy to wear tank-tops without a jacket before but after, I could trek the length and breadth of my school in bumshorts, and I still cannot explain it. My attitude was in direct opposite to how people raped are supposed to act. I went clubbing for the first time, drank alcohol for the first time and made a habit out of it. I became promiscuous too. I was supposed to be scared of boys and freak out whenever a boy touched me but I went down the other road. I meet a guy and I am thinking “don’t try to act like you are interested, let us just fuck and say bye-bye.” I got so angry when they called after sex; I could not understand it because in my head it went ‘you got what you came for so respect yourself and shift.’ The trail of broken hearts I left behind me was unbelievable. Every guy I met then wanted more but I did not have more to give. Never in my life have I attracted so many men, they came from all corners, with all sorts of promises and it nigh drove me crazy.

  I stopped going to school, I just stayed in my room and watched series after series. Read novel after novel. My friends were worried about me but as far as I was concerned I was more alright than they were. My explanation for locking myself indoors was that I did not ‘feel like’ going anywhere. I did not attend a single lecture in four months. I had no problem going out at night; going during the day was another ball game. I remember waking up to my wet pillow and telling myself it was sweat because the night was so hot. I was so much in denial that the tears only came out in my sleep and even at that I still denied they were tears.

  Then my period refused to come. Two months of no menstruation. I knew I should do something, a pregnancy test at least. But that would be admitting that something happened so I just sat on my ass and watched more Criminal Minds. I told myself I was ‘almost’ raped.  Google became my friend, I googled and read everything I could find about rape. Then one day I came across some statistics, one stood out. It said victims of rape have an 85% chance of being raped again. There was an explanation after but I cannot remember it, I just read that one line over and over again. 85%? Was it cancer? Does it mean after being raped the first time you emit ‘please come and rape’ me rays? Is there not a God? I was scared and angry at the same time. It was like a sentence, a reassurance that it would happen again. I was barely surviving the first one then I was supposed to go out the next day knowing there’s an 85% chance of my world falling to pieces again? My world was already in pieces.

   That was the first time I cut myself. It was the same blade I had just loosened my hair with. It was there on the head side of my bed and I was crying and I couldn’t stop and I just wanted to stop. It was like I was two persons, the person that picked the blade and slashed her thigh and the person that was shocked and asking “why did you do that?’. I stopped crying and I looked at my blood. I thought about my whole life as my blood seeped out, I realized then that I was a ticking bomb. I did not want to self-destruct. I picked up my phone and called Daniel, I asked him if he had ejaculated inside me. He said “I started but I realized you had fainted so I did not finish.” I do not know why I found and still find this funny. I mean you started and you did not finish? Na sack race? I went to the pharmacy and bought a pregnancy strip. I begged God and made all sort of deals, I even involved blackmail.

The test was negative, that time.

I would be a liar if I say things took a turn for the better and my life went back to normal. Some days were good and some bad and on some days I seriously contemplated standing on the express, but I am still here. That counts for something.

  In case you are wondering, I never told.   


Odyssey – 0


     The home in which I grew up was a happy one. Five siblings, strict and loving parents. We were not rich then; my dad was a lecturer and my mom taught in a secondary school but they did the best they could for their six children. We went to the best schools and what we lacked in possessions my mom more than made up for in stories and kisses. The point I am trying to make is that I had a good childhood, I was not maltreated or anything. My parents openly declared their love for each other and although I saw them fight time and time again, I also saw my proud mother kneel and apologize when she was at fault and I saw my dad rub my mother’s back and pinch her cheeks till she smiled; that was his way of apologizing I guess. My home was balanced, my parents weren’t scary. My mom especially was and still is very approachable. Why I chose to keep secrets even as a child I cannot explain.

   I was not a child for long. I realized early on in life that not all smiles were genuine. I met my dark side very early. I was the timid child. I would spend minutes behind doors crying when I was told to go and greet the guests in the parlor. Give me a book and I was happy, I did not see the point in relating with anybody that was not my immediate family. I did not want to be seen or heard. So whenever Uncle Emma came to visit and he lined up my sisters and I and told us to dance for him, you can imagine the buckets of tears I cried. Thinking back, I think that was why he picked me, I was the least sharp and he somehow sensed I would be too scared to tell. Or maybe there was something I did that made him see that I would be the one most likely to hide advances.

  In 1997, I was seven and my fourth sister (let’s call her Anita) was about six months then. She was such a troublesome child, all she did was cry. Even then I had a way with kids; I pick up a crying child and dance a little and the child goes to sleep. Babies don’t cry in my arms. I somehow knew how to get Anita to stop crying so I understand why my mother always felt more at peace leaving her at home with me whenever she had to dash to the market. Besides I was too fragile, my immediate younger sister was more useful to her in the market. I don’t know if I have forgiven her for never taking me to the market with her. Every time she had to go to the market, I cried and cried and ran after her blue Volkswagen beetle till I lost sight of it. Then I walked back to my house knowing what was waiting for me. Could she not have sat me down one day and asked why I cried so hard? Why I so badly wanted to go to the market? Maybe then I would have explained that I did not give a damn about where we went, I just could not be in the house with him alone. She thought I was being jealous because my younger sister got to go and I did not.

     Uncle Emma was my mom’s step brother. He was studying to be a lawyer then and my mom was putting him through school. He was in my house a lot. In as much as I loved ice cream, nobody understood why I always rejected the Jamil yoghurt he was fond of buying for my siblings and I. Or the biscuits. I knew what awaited me the minute he got me alone. I remember the first time clearly, this brain of mine never forgets. I had just rocked my sister to sleep; I placed her on my mom’s bed and lay down by her side. I was drifting in and out of sleep when I heard my name. I stood up from the bed and went to meet my uncle. He asked what I was doing and I told him I was about to sleep. He said I did not have to sleep beside Anita, that I was spoiling her and she had to learn early to sleep alone. You are not to argue with your elders so I obeyed and went to lie down in the parlor. After about ten minutes he came to sit on the sofa I lay on, he lifted my head and put it on his laps. I knew then that something was wrong. My seven-year old mind knew it was not right. I lay still, maybe I stopped breathing. He reached inside my shirt and rubbed my back. I closed my eyes and shouted for my mother in my head, I prayed that somehow she would feel me or hear me and rush home. For the first time since she was born, Anita slept for two hours without making a sound. I lay down there, my head held in place by one hand, the other hand rubbing my back rhythmically for the longest two hours of my life.

   I could feel it; the hardness beneath my head. As he rubbed my back, he made these sounds and pressed my head harder to the hardness. When I squirmed and tried to shake free, he held me in place more firmly. The sounds he made intensified, like he was gasping for breath, then I felt wetness beneath my left ear. His hand on my back stopped moving. After about two minutes he lifted my head off his lap and stood from the chair. He walked away without looking back. It was four pm.

   That was just the beginning. It progressed. It was like my silence urged him to do more. I remember him telling me to say I liked it. He would make me say it over and over again. “Uncle, I like it”. I wanted to tell, I practiced how I was going to say it, I wrote countless of letters to my mother. Then I tore them. If I told, he was going to tell them that I enjoyed it then everybody would see how dirty and evil I really was. I just wanted it to stop. I prayed every night, I cried. I prayed to God, when it became clear that God had not answered me then I prayed to Jesus, then to the Holy Spirit, then to Mary. I ran out of options so I started praying to Angel Gabriel, asking him to help me beg God to help me. Help did not come and I was too scared and insipid to help myself.

Rubbing my back progressed to pinching my nipples. I was as flat as a dining table, so I still wonder what he was pinching. From there he graduated to massaging the mound between my legs, then one day his finger went in. this went on for two years. The closest I came to telling was writing “Help me” on the walls of my primary school toilet. I wrote it on the wall every day for two years, every single day.

When I was nine, my mom got a house help (let’s call her Maggi). Maggi was bad in many ways, lazy and what not but in a way she was my super hero. I followed her everywhere. The only time we weren’t together was when I was in school. Heck, when she bathed I cried till she left the door slightly ajar so I could see her and we could talk as she bathed. My uncle hated her. With time I confided in her, told her how Uncle Emma touched me and I did not like it. Maggi told my mom, even after I had expressly told her not to. She did the right thing; she did what I had been too chicken to do for two years. I cannot explain the sense of betrayal I felt and still feel. She had promised not to tell. Things had changed, primary school had ended and I was going to the boarding house the next month; I had this perfect plan in my head that took me away from my uncle forever. The fact my family now knew my dirty little secret made me feel all the more dirty. My mother’s tears and the confusion in her eyes as she asked me “Are you scared of me? I thought we were friends why did you not tell me?” made my head drop closer to my chest. The shouting, anger, tears and then the quiet filled with grief that followed. My parents never looked at me the same after. My sisters never looked at me the same. Maybe it is my overly vivid imagination but I could have sworn the space on the bed between my younger sister and I got wider.

   The next day my mother called me to her room. She told me to lie on the bed and pull down my skirt. I knew what was coming next. I do not know what made me cry, the impact the cane had on my bare bum or the fact that my mom cried harder with every stroke of the cane or my confusion. After ten lashes she told me to stand up and go. I looked at her and I asked “Mommy why?” She said “You have to know that what you did was wrong.”

  I did not need her to flog me to know what I did was wrong. I knew that already.

In the Belly of the Whale

My first memory of the airport was a dim one. My mum was clutching my hand tightly while holding a serious package with her left hand. I suspect the “package” to be my brother but the memory is too dim to recast now. It was dark (my memory? Or the night? Not sure). I think the tightness with which my mum held me was because she was afraid I’d run off towards the plane then approaching us slowly and steadily. I was conscious that it was very windy. This memory doesn’t have any record of me entering the plane, just the runway.

The next time I got on a flight I was nine. My grandfather’s 70th birthday was in two days and the road trip was cut short when the car developed a serious fault on the outskirts of Kano as we had begun our journey to Delta state. My mum had the birthday cake so abandoning the journey was not an option, neither was waiting for the car to be repaired. So my dad took the flash decision to use all our money from the recent sale of the second family car to put us all on a flight to Benin. We kids were excited at the prospect of a plane trip and jumped up and down when the announcement was made. Sadly, all I remember from the trip was the way my stomach rose and fell as the plane took off and landed, just like the elevator at the  hotel we had gone to visit our uncle at the year before.

So when at age twenty-eight, I was to enter a plane for the second time with my conscious mind, I was brimming with excitement. I didn’t show it though, but I paid attention to every engineering detail as if I were going to report to the president.

The plane was a modest Airbus 737, the largest I’ve entered since. The legroom was anything but large in the economy cabin anyway, and my knees pressed against the seat of the person in front of me. I fiddled with the in-flight entertainment but found it unresponsive until the flight took off. I think they wanted everyone to listen to the air hostesses demonstrate safety procedures. I eagerly buckled my safety belt and observed my nearest exit and waited calmly for takeoff.

The plane taxied like a silent, sleek whale to the end of the runway. Through the window I could see the other planes ahead of us take the stage and execute their takeoff like graceful swans with stationary wings, lights blinking at the edges and tips of those wings, with a long row of yellow lights lining the side of each plane just as I’d seen it in the movies. My excitement was silently mounting.

Finally it was our turn. The cabin was deathly silent as everyone listened to the sound of the engines rev for takeoff. The plane inched forward, slowly for about three seconds, before exploding in a sudden burst of forward speed. My engineering mind could hardly contain it. I read later that jet engines burn about fifteen thousand litres of fuel every hour. I wasn’t surprised. My back was pinned to my seat in the way I’d desperately sought to accomplish with my dad’s Mercedes on the expressway without success. The engines became a windy roar as the buildings of the airport silently moved past, observing us and oblivious to my excitement like jaded spectators who had seen it all a thousand times over.

The smooth runway did not seem so smooth after all. It suddenly was a bumpy, gripping ride as the plane roared towards the edge of the runway. I saw the flaps of the wings of the plane dip downwards as the plane suddenly ascended from the ground. All the bumps ceased immediately as I felt the sinking feeling in my stomach again from many years back. Before I could recover, the plane banked suddenly to the left and I saw the lights of Lagos rise to the view of the windows on the other side of the plane. I saw the long line of car headlights in  traffic jams in several parts of the city. I noticed there were no highrise buildings anywhere on the horizon, unlike what I’d seen in movies.

I didn’t allow that slight disappointment in the view subtract from my excitement anyway. The plane stabilized and we all settled in our seats, fiddling with the small touchscreens for movies in front of us. I was in for a six-hour journey and I was already seeing more movies than I could finish before the end of the trip. The flight was at night but sleep was for the weak. I intended to watch all the recent movies I’d seen in trailer ads but been unable to watch because I’d never lived in a city with a cinema theatre. The air hostesses came by with their strange refreshments (I think I saw mushrooms for the first time then) and I accepted out of courtesy, hoping to selectively filter them according to my bushman African taste. The rule was simply not to try anything new.

What was this?! The person in front of me suddenly reclined his chair, cutting my already choked personal space to sardine box-like proportions. I didn’t know how to protest. He’d totally disrupted my movie view. He was settling to sleep for the night flight and was assuming I would do the same. I looked left and right for help. There was none coming. I noticed sharp men and women occupy full rows of seats and stretch out to sleep. Why hadn’t I thought of that earlier? Well, I intended to watch my movies anyway so I adjusted the screen and reclined my own seat to restore my previous space boundaries. Who cared about the man behind me? I was only doing unto others as they had done unto me. I felt a little sorry for the man at the end of the line though. If he had no space to recline his seat, that would be sadly hilarious.

The flight statistics intrigued me. Flight speed 800km/hour, flight altitude 5 kilometres, flight time remaining 3 hours and 18 minutes. I compared them to other situations I’d been in and marvelled. How did one fall five kilometres from the sky? How did the plane feel so calm while blazing through the atmosphere at almost the speed of sound? I shrugged and continued observing the clouds sail past while we zipped through the clear nighttime sky.

All too soon it was time to land. Funny enough I had noticed the gradual descent before the pilot announced it. Small drops in altitude that caused my stomach to feel weightless. I loved the feeling. I focused on the window as we approached the airport. There was hardly anything to see but tall buildings with few lights still on. We were landing in London early in the morning and the city was too dark to observe anything. So I settled down and we went through the reversal of all my experiences at the flight takeoff. I felt the wheels or landing gear come out of the belly of the plane as we passed through the clouds and approached the earth’s surface. I wondered how strong the suspension of the wheels was to take our impact with the ground but immediately dismissed my thoughts.

When the plane hit the rough runway, the brakes came on and the engines reversed thrust to assist. The flaps of the wings went up this time as we were thrown forward slightly, held back by our trusty seatbelts. So this was what it felt like to fly! I would definitely enjoy doing this again.