Day 29: Batarhe

Project 2013!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a year this was….. In the company where I earn my bread, there’s this best practice of doing a look back session at the end of a project. So this is akin to that, a look back session on the Major Capital Project called 2013….

At the back end of 2012, I already knew one thing for certain. After all said and done, I’d flown half way round the country to ask the most amazing woman in the whole wide world to marry me. We’d consequently set an April date for our planned small and intimate wedding ceremony. Little did I know this was gonna be a helluva year, my toughest year ever and I mean I’ve been here for well over three decades, so you know I know what I’m talking about.

So came January 1st, and as it is my family’s tradition, we all rolled into the new year in church in Warri (my dad is a Baptist). I was so excited because it was gonna be a big year; after all it’s not every year one gets married. The excitement continued even when I left Warri on the 3rd of January, as I was finally moving into my house, my very first home paid for with my own money (btw, by my projections in 2011, I thought I was gonna be moving into my own property not a rented one but alas we can only dream). The plan was to ensure I got the house ready before resuming work on the 20th of January. Boy, the day I got to Lagos was the day I knew this was gonna be a long year and that this marriage thing wasn’t gonna be a walk in the park. Anyways as a result of the mood in my mum’s house, I had to fast track my moving out and so on the 10th of January I finally moved into my own lovely apartment I mean c’mon this wasn’t like others.  You know in school that ‘selfcon’ was paid for by my parents and in Lokoja the apartment was my previous company’s apartment, so yes I was pretty excited. We tried to make it a beautiful home, a place we could both return to after the world out there might have contrived to beat us and feel at peace with ourselves.

Family Troubles

I’d given y’all a hint at the top. Anyways January and February came with a lot of wahala especially from my mum. At a point my best mate couldn’t help but say ol boy this one na only African magic we dey see am o. Let’s just say our relationship deteriorated to the worst ever levels, In fact it was below sea level. She made it clear to me that I was only going to get married to my then fiancée over her dead body. All attempts by other family members to have her come round failed spectacularly. Several trips back and forth Warri just to find a way out proved futile (e hard pass the Mid-East peace plan). Bisi and I literally went through fire and brimstone, but through it all we stayed committed to each other, we truly wanted to be together and in the end I stood my ground and had my way.

Money, Career, Depression

Now, I work in a Fortune 10 company (just to give perspective on what this paragraph is gonna be about). I couldn’t fathom why I was perpetually living from hand to mouth; it was tough, really tough. It was as though I was in a labyrinth or sinking sand; the harder I tried to balance the books the broker I got. OMG!! Every time we planned to go on a proper holiday, something would just come up that was far more urgent and needed. ‘Fiam’ the money go just fly. ( mehn, I kid you not money does have wings).. Even Seychelles gan we couldn’t make it happen, mind you the Mrs. would always go to great extents planning these trips (I have to apologize to her and hope to make it up to her in 2014).

At work, I was so dissatisfied with the company and my job, I felt as though I wasn’t adding the required value to the team. Now as an engineer I like to have complex stuff thrown at me,  I like to feel pressured (I thrive under pressure), but here I was managing rather simple stuff, my brain was merely in gear one while I needed to be on gear five. As a result waking up in the morning to go to the office became a sore chore. No one could understand why I felt the way I did. All they could see was the fat check they perceived I was getting. The lesson I have learnt in all this is that it’s not so much about how much money you earn cos if you had a job that paid you $200m per annum you’d still feel empty and useless if you weren’t happy and fulfilled doing that so called job, unless of course money is all you care about.

In April I got passed up on a position I’d been authoritatively assured I was gonna get based on my performance in the interviews. To say I was heartbroken is an understatement; I was so depressed I couldn’t function at work I had to take a forced vacation from work for half a month. In 2013 I had plans to enroll for an MSC in Risk and Reliability Engineering; mind you in the last 3 years I’d consistently had offers for higher studies, first it was Subsea Engineering then Petroleum and Environmental Engineering and finally Civil and Engineering Management. So in 2013 I thought to myself this is the time to finally get it off the ground but alas just like the years before I failed spectacularly. I couldn’t even go ahead with the application let alone start the program.

On the personal development front I didn’t grow at all whereas in 2012 I got a professional certification in the bag this year nothing. I’d also thought I would be able to start my own small firm this year but like everything else I failed to even decide what it is I wanted to do. Oh did I mention that there was so much uncertainty at work this year? There was what came to be known as business optimization, our partners cutting down on funding, long and short was that a lot of people got severance packages. The wait did take a toll on one, but glad I still have a job on 29th December albeit as unchallenged as I sometime feel.

Marriage, Faith, Humility

So after all of the wahalas we went through, we finally tied the knot. I must say that when two people are determined to be together, throw a mountain at them I bet my top dollar they will survive it. Bisi and I are survivors. it takes more than love to weather what we did, there were times it seemed one of us was gonna give up but then the other would be so much of a rock of strength that it would often be enough for the two of us. But one thing we both took away from this is that we got our baptism early on and survived and now we are even better placed to survive any other storm that may come in future.

Marriage is the best thing that could happen to a young man (Bisi would have to speak for women). If I wasn’t matured before, I am now so matured and really responsible. I love my wife so very much, sometimes I wake up in the middle of night just to stare at her and wonder what she saw in this ordinary me. She has been my absolute rock of Gibraltar, my best friend, my No 1 fan and critic; she makes me wanna be a better person. Yes we know it’s a journey and so we understand we both have shortcomings and we both help each other to get through those weaknesses, we are both people who know gold when we smell it. 

Faith? What faith? In 2013 I lost communication with God, the funny and bad thing about people like me who were raised in church who have never really been bad, is that it’s difficult for us to ever admit that we have strayed or to even determine how far lost we are (after all I don’t have any of the vices, no alcohol, no gambling, no smoking, no drugs, no partying, no womanizing, no killing, well unless you think football or sports is a vice), and so it’s easier for us to stay lost. Boy even going to church was a chore, my wife would occasionally literally drag me to house fellowship.. I still read the daily devotional (open heavens) but it was more of ticking the boxes than actually having a communion with God. I still knew the bible, I could still speak in tongues, but I know I am not the same with God. Hopefully I will find my way back to him this 2014 (where do broken hearts go? Can they find their way home back to the open arms of a love that’s waiting there)

Oh humility! Well I’ve always been a really humble person (so a lot of people tell me anyway) but some time in December I got a dose of humility from a man who is so high up one of the top 5 energy companies in Africa. After the chance meeting my wife and I had with him, I was so enthralled by his humility, so much so that when he demanded we stayed in touch I couldn’t even say a word. That’s how I wanna be when I grow up. Actually that’s how you know how humble someone really is when you give him a few millions of USD and he still stays grounded.

October 25 2013

What a day, the day before I’d returned back from work like all other days teasing my wife, asking if she wasn’t ready to bring forth yet. Hehehe, she could be in the bedroom by herself and every time she called out for me I’d immediately start teasing her all over. So on this particular day we’d both gone to bed as usual, and then some time around 1am I got THE CALL, for a split second I was dazed, anyways I quickly gathered myself, and off we drove to the hospital. You won’t believe I almost passed out at the sight of blood and all, but as time went by I became more composed, through it all I was in the delivery suite with her (well over 13 hours before the procedure), holding her hands until she was wheeled to the OR for the procedure and I was asked to wait in the waiting lounge.

Sometime around 4:30pm I heard the cry of a baby. Trust me when you hear your baby’s cry you’d instinctively know. I quickly rushed in to see the PD and the matron cleaning her up. She was so tiny and lovely to behold, and so I became a daddy: Efe Serena, my beautiful Serena was born. She is the most adorable, pretty, charming, sweet little girl in the whole wide world. Despite the difficult pregnancy that saw my wife having to quit her job in the first trimester because doctors said she had to be on complete bed rest, despite the several challenges, our baby was born healthy, and you can tell she’s gonna be a star. Ain’t nothing like being a daddy, for those of you who don’t have kids as yet you just won’t understand how I feel every time I look at her, even when she keeps us up all night (she seems to be operating on Australian time) I can’t help but drool. The way she listens when I sing the Lionel Ritchie’s Ballerina Girl to her, like she knows yea this is my daddy. Yes my life may have changed forever with her birth, but I absolutely love it. I once had to travel out of town for a few days, boy did I miss her and yea she threw a tantrum when I got back she had to let me know she wouldn’t accept an absentee daddy; the way she holds my finger with her tiny hands, or how she tries to smile at me or how she trains her eyes on me as I leave home. For everything I’ve passed through this year, Serena’s arrival has made the year a glorious one.

Twitter Writing & the Rest

So at the start of the year I’d promised I was going to try and write a couple of pieces. Thankfully I was able to do this. An amateur I am but writing those posts made me believe if I really did put in some efforts, It could become a useful hobby. Thanks to Nedu for making me deliver on my promise and yes Efe for having me write this review. For those of you who follow me on twitter, you must all agree I am a twitterholic, matter of fact I was an addict. I was so engaged on twitter that the first thing I usually did in the morning was to get on the site, last thing at night as well. One day I just woke up and realized I needed to check this trend otherwise the addiction would affect other aspects of my life, especially after they went public. And so began my journey of curing the addiction and to the glory of God I have not even been on the site for a record 6 weeks. For someone so addicted this indeed as an 11th world wonder and modern day miracle. I did make some good friends on twitter this year, people I’d probably never have met but for the site. For someone who had such a troubled year, you’d never guess from my time on twitter.

Overall Report

It was a tough project, I failed at a few things, was too lazy to start some, but the year ended on a high for me and mine (my younger sister got married, my cousin had twins, another cousin got married, yet another cousin got married. I got married and had Serena. Hopefully I’ve learnt a few lessons that will stand me in good stead to manage project 2014 better.

Bring it on 2014.

Have a Prosperous 2014 Y’all

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I think the most touching part of this review was your baby. I’m also flushed that she’s my namesake. I’m also proud of Bisi for sticking and standing with you. Kudos

Thank you Batarhe. May your strength equal your days. Happy New year in advance.

Dusk: Shade

2013 has been great I won’t lie. 

Started in January when one fantastic woman looked at me and said, “Shade, hope you don’t mind my saying this, can I pay Erica’s first term fees?”

Ehn? Mind ke.

My name by the way is….you already know my name, Erica is my daughter, I’m a single mum, and a hot photographer.

How I met this woman OGT and how she blessed me a lot financially and otherwise is something I will forever be grateful for. She helped give me a push in my finances early in the year and I was able to get my camera and some lenses. I pray for her everytime.

In my church…well one of my churches -___- at the end of year service, we are made to write down our goals for the new year. Looking though that list, I would say I accomplished over 50% AND THAT IS HUGE.
Basically I’ve learned a lot this year. I remember telling God that I would want to be the Shade from secondary school. The sweet, always smiling, never gets angry Shade. I think it’s working. 🙂

My year has been full of smiles, joy some tears, a little patience, a few angry moments, lots of fish, fruits, ugwu and chicken.
I’ve made decisions I won’t say I regret, but would say I learned from….or not.
My birthday this year has been the best in my 30 something years on earth. I got gifts! Lots of gifts. I love gifts abeg don’t give me that look. I got stuff I didn’t even dream of getting this year at all.
One of the best gifts for me this year was my daughter’s academics. I made a good decision to change her school and I’m so glad I did. The joy I felt in my heart when she asked me after telling me some of her scores ‘Mummy, are you impressed?’
Wow. I was just short of words. It was one of those moments I knew I was doing something right.

By God’s Grace, I did not struggle with finances this year, not for one moment!

Towards the end of this year, I learned patience. A little bit. I learned to accept some behaviour that will otherwise have made me blown a fuse or two. Like right now, typing this, a woman was just rude to me at the bank, na look I dey look am, I no talk. 😐
I smile more now, I took myself out a lot this year because I deserve(d) it. I also developed my shoe and cloth fetish. Dear Lord please don’t let me go bankrupt.

Above all, I have learned to let things go, I still hurt and cry over little things, but I have learned not to hold on to things unnecessarily to things…and people no matter how painful. To let go and let God.

The one thing that has kept me excited a lot this year is fitness. I finally attained my dream dress size, clocked one year in fitness, challenged myself to insanity by Shaun T and was super glad when people kept referring other people to me for weight loss and fitness and some of them telling me how my journey inspired theirs.

I go soon open shop! 

Oh by the way, I caught a bouquet at a wedding, so get ready ladies and gentlemen….

I go soon marry! 

But the ‘koko’ of the matter is, I still don’t have friends and I’m still single…..and hot…and single.

LOL

My relationship with God has been errr…ok. It could be much better. I promised my self that it would be fantastic. Sigh.
But at least I’m glad I started morning prayers with my daughter. I laugh when she prays, she uses the same words EVERY morning, that child. I can recite her prayers like the Lord’s.

In all I know that I am very ready for 2014, lots of expectations and high hopes. Training I did this year will be business(es) I’m opening next year.

I know I’m ready for God and He’s ready for me. Whatever you do, write down this name ISHOLA FOLASHADE JANET and also remember the name SAZZYE. I know these two names will be mentioned a lot next year so help me God!

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Amen sister. More than your success I’m so happy for your daughter Shade. Much love to Erica. And when you find love, we’ll be there with our canopy at your wedding  gbedu. LOL

Day 28: Preye

2013 started on an all time low for me. There were so many ups and downs, twists and turns, but despite all God came through for me, and for this I have come to testify on 19th Street.

So late last year I was with the hubs partying and having plenty fun when my mom called with the news that my dad was ill. I asked to speak with him and she said he was too weak to even talk on the phone! That call threw me off balance, so many thoughts ran threw my mind. No I wasn’t ready to lose my dad.

The next day we were back in Port Harcourt. I watched my dad slipping away while we searched frantically for a donor with a  matching kidney. Those days were dark. Fast forward to January 14 when my elder sister called from yankee that she and her hubby of 10 years were going through a divorce. She said she would be fine but I should not tell our parents as she wanted to do it herself. My heart broke again as I wondered what the hell this year had in store for me.

Momsy volunteered a kidney for my dad. After all the confirmation tests here they left to India for the surgery, only to be told by the medical team that my mom’s kidney does not match dad’s. Travel money wasted, hopes dashed. We returned to Nigeria to continue the dialysis and resumed the search for a donor.

Meanwhile hubby had told me about taking a loan from the co-operative at work to assist his friend and best man that was going through financial challenges. I said yes please, because that guy had been there for us during the hubby’s 2 years of joblessness. He had even placed us on monthly up keep and was such a strong support. Weeks later in March hubby called me to tell me that the guy’s tugboat and products were hijacked by militants from the high seas. We were now in debt to the tune of some millions. The monthly pay back deductions meant there would be no luxury for a while just basics for survival. This was so hard seeing that we were both still trying to find our feet financially. At this point I had to drop the plan to go for my Masters. School fees were looking impossible. I have given up like “look 2013 whatever. Do your worst.”

On another angle my 3 year old then was having difficulties breathing. He would go to bed and wake up choking. The doctor said he had a very bad case of tonsillitis. He was not taking in enough air as a result of growths on his airway, so he would have to undergo a corrective surgery. Who would put a surgical knife to the throat of my 3 year old baby?! My heart could not take it; I cried and cried, did all the tests, made arrangements for the surgery and then entered my room. I cried, prayed to God to please heal my son. He healed loads of people in the bible, He should heal my son was all I asked of him. I cried till I dozed off.

I woke up feeling so light and refreshed felt like my burdens were all gone; I had this unusual calmness in face of all my challenges. I experienced first hand the peace of God the bible spoke of that surpasses all human understanding – having peace in spite of  daunting situations.

Finally my younger brother’s kidney matched my dad’s. On the second journey to India the surgery was successful! Whooop the joy! I was happy for the first time this year. Seeing my dad was well and strong again, I focused my prayers on my son’s surgery.

Then my childhood friend and dear sister Mrs. Pepple passed on. She had a two month miscarriage and died during the evacuation. I had gone to see her in the hospital while she was alive. There God had reminded me of how ungrateful I was.

He had saved me from a 6 month miscarriage earlier in my life. I bled from 8pm to 3pm profusely non stop; my hubby, mom, sister in-law all donated blood for me and the doctor said if by 6 pm the bleeding didn’t stop, they would take out my uterus abi womb out to stop the bleeding and save my life. I prayed and said God please let this  bleeding stop and it stopped. I was induced and the foetus came out.

When I remembered this, I knelt down in the clinic I told God I was sorry for my ingratitude and I thanked him profusely. I’m always about the things he hasnt done but forget to thank him for the ones he has done.

In June, we had to go for medical tests at UniPort teaching hospital in preparation for my son’s surgery. The Dr. said he wanted to see me. I was so scared. I got in to his office and he said he was confused. The results were all negative and there were no growths. I was shaking. I didn’t believe him so I took him back to Prime labs for tests. Again there were no growths. God healed my son. I had just experienced firsthand the miracles I read in the bible.

My joy knew no bounds. I was so happy! No more surgery! My faith rose. I learnt how to thank God for challenges, instead of whining and complaining. 

Weeks later my elder sister called to tell me that her husband came back home. He had found Jesus, and came back begging with his pastor.

I was blown away! I was like God, is this how you work?! I wasn’t even done thanking him for my elder sister’s marriage when the hubby called to say NDDC had paid his the outstanding 3 years debt they owed him. His friend just paid in half of the loan my hubby took from the cooperative. Jesus!!! This could not be happening!

My sister also called me to say her hubby got a job and that they were renewing their vows on his birthday, whoop!!! Another beautiful thing that happened was that my favourite cousin got married and sealed an international job, after 5 years of being unemployed.  That marriage was like Christmas for my entire family.

Suddenly I fell in love with 2013. Loads of answered prayers, things that seemingly looked impossible became possible. God came through for me, he spoke peace to my worried soul, he calmed all the raging storms of my life, wiped my tears and put a smile on my face.

2013 was designed by God to bring me closer to him, to teach me gratitude and how to trust him wholly and completely. Not all my prayers were answered but I now have peace knowing that God knows best.

I like planning and having my stuff in place and well figured out. God LOLed at me this year sha. I’m sure he yimu-ed at my plans several times. Yes because even after praying I would try to figure out how he was going to do it and ask Virgin Mary kinda questions “seeing I’m (insert life problem) how can these be?” forgetting that what God promised he would do! (Luke 1:45)

I learnt to let go and let God do his thing.

My 2013 review would not be complete without my weightloss. After trying out so many short cuts to lose weight I discovered Delatarre on  twitter. They made it look so easy and appealing, I consulted  with them and the journey to eating clean  and training dirty began. I registered for the shred challenge and went down from a size 20 to 14. I was shocked and proud of my achievements! My twitter family was such a strong support system. My twitter clique is cooler than yours *shines teeth*

“I love the peace you exude lately, I love the woman you are becoming , I love your calmess in the face of difficulties, I love this woman please never lose her.” These were the words of my boo, my king, my crown of life to me this year. Shege jagwa!!! Coming from a man who knows me better than anyone else meant so much because I CAN WORRY FOR AFRICA. I worry way too much. Now I have learnt to lay it at Jesus feet and leave them there. And my hubby loves it!

I’m so happy that everything life threw at me made me better. Come 2014 I’m committing an unknown future into the hands of an all knowing God. In 2014 I shall not need to fight I will just sit back and see the salvation of GOD because if he said it he will do it. my Heart shall be still.

Selah

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*bows* Sister Preye’s testimony hasn’t even started. Trust me this was the short version! Sister! Testify!

Dusk: Mam

I’m not the only one that thinks this year was so fast right? I’m overwhelmed by how much has happened in such “short” time.

I began the year in very low spirits. I lost weight, confidence, sleep, and a bit of myself. I was still coming to terms with how last year ended and I was still searching for whom to blame. Still felt a need to end my life and trying to act like everything was okay. And after these episodes, being truly happy was a task.

2013 started with my friends and I organizing a fashion show. Very stressful and I swear the emotional meltdowns on TV are real but It was a success. The night my modeling career started and ended. It was one of the highpoints of my year.

2013. I went on IT in April. I started in an HIV lab. It was a very depressing place to work and I had nightmares for a while. You take blood samples throughout the day and you’re just being so cautious the whole time and there were some angry patients and others you have to pet because their pain was so obvious. Working there, seeing people who had to be on drugs their whole lives, others on the verge of giving up, the innocent kids *sigh*. You just have to be thankful. It was a very educating experience both school-wise and life-wise.

I presented a seminar at the end of my 3 months at the HIV lab. I had only 2 days to prepare and I really didn’t expect to perform as well as I did. Even after I left there, my presentation is still being praised. I have left my mark in the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF PHARMACEUTICAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT guys! I have never been more proud of myself. I can do anything after all.

Another achievement was getting the lead role in a play I auditioned for. I couldn’t take it because it was going to take so much of my time and I didn’t want to be in a situation where my priorities were misplaced. But it’s good to know I still have a career in acting so… yay!

I lived out of home throughout this year and I learnt to live with people, adapt even if it inconvenienced me a little. Sacrifice ay. I even had my first shot at being an elder sister. I lived with an aunt who has a daughter. Never have I felt so much responsibility over another being like I have with her and she’s made me be a better person. I love her very much though she got on my nerves more often than necessary but that has taught me patience. You have to be patient with children.

Plenty firsts this year and the most exciting remains being present at an IVF procedure (I now work in a hospital). I was there from the extraction of the eggs (which yielded none sadly) to the insemination in hope they can swim to the eggs we assumed were still there. Not the most enjoyable way of baby making I must add. Yikes!

First “Love”. In summary: Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m not heartbroken, and truth is sweeter than you. I’m sorry.

Music played a major part in the beginning and end of what seemed to be a very uncertain journey for me. That’s all I can say.

My least exciting first is the sugar daddy proposal. *pukes* I went to see my sister at her office and her boss hit on me; her really old boss. I felt molested by just the way he looked at me. That was the last day I went there. I don’t know how these girls do it! I don’t know how someone older than my dad can look at me lustfully. I felt filthy and insulted and demeaned. If I had the chance I’d punch him in the face and just…. Kill him over and over again. Anyway, my sister quit. Love her.

2013, my communication problem escalated. Sometimes you just want to be alone because you’re tired of hearing “sorry”. We all know how well sorry does with fixing problems. Maybe the best thing to do is be with someone in their time of grieve and hurt and not talk at all, but you can’t “not talk at all” when your only way of being with each other is over the phone yea? Not my best decision this year, I admit. On the most part it was sort of selfish but we all have our way of dealing with things and it must not really please everyone. I think.

2013 felt like a break from my life. I have never been out of school for so long since I was born! I know there are still things to be dealt with that I ignored for the most part of the year and they’re beginning to rear there ugly heads as school is about to begin again. I have no plan on how I’ll cross that bridge when I reach it. Actually, I have no plan about anything regarding my future. Seems like I’m approaching it facing backwards and it is constant falling and bruising and just uncertainty. Still I managed to grow this year even in my courageous-cowardly acts of facing challenges and leaving my comfort zone. Not bad at all.

Most important growth for me this year is my faith. It practically didn’t exist last year and though I’m still waiting on my miracle, I have no doubt. I’m alive, aren’t I?

I learnt to lower my expectations. People will disappoint you and sometimes it isn’t their fault. There are people who would cut an arm and leg for you if they weren’t already doing that for their PRIORITIES.

There are things that remain the same; my love for books, internet, music, comedy, and friends and of course, my awesomeness.

2013 has come to an end for me with new friends, -1 Family member (RIP Amelia), stronger friendships and an awesome playlist.

I still have fears to conquer. There are scars I have to erase from my heart and mind. I still need to learn to forget after forgiving. Learn to be selfless. Learn to accept things I cannot change. Learn to allow people to love me. It is an endless impossible list, but “poco a poco”.

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Miss Tarfa is full of joy. Much love sister.

Day 27: Olumide

“…and the doors opened, and I beheld, as in a glass, the beauties that lay ahead, and I was overwhelmed, and I gave thanks.”

The year of our Lord 2013 has been a beautiful year for me by and by. I do not even know how to start.

I just read the 2012 review I did on this same platform last year (HERE) and even I am amazed at how different things have been thus far this year. A smile crossed my face when I realized that at the beginning of this year, I sort of thought things were perfect, but I was going to be shocked by even myself.

You know how you go into a new year hoping that it brings good tidings, and then you get in and observe that it isn’t anything like you imagined, even in your wildest dreams? That was 2013 for me. The year kicked off on a slow note; the first day found me in church, then extremely bored at a joint, eating ‘point and kill’ and, in the cacophony of noise, and cheerful banter of friends who were partly drowned in bottles of beer, my mind wandered into my head, and I recollect that I was so worried as I began to subconsciously project and turn my expectations for the new year around in my head. I had all kinds of questions – What will the new year be like? How will I cope?

With the benefit of hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have.

The year 2013 started and slowly gathered momentum. Work was going to be more this year because, towards the end of 2012, I’d agreed to take on some extra responsibility with little remuneration but very good prospects, and I eagerly looked forward to it.

The months have breezed by, the days have sped past. I must say, this year, I made impressive improvements in my relationship with my immediate family. I hope it continues to improve.

I’ve worked with an amazing team this year! Even the new people I’ve had to work with have been awesome. I think I learnt a lot too. I’ve broken new grounds, faced obstacles, studied and understudied. I’ve traveled more and slept in more hotels this year alone than I have in my entire life! I’ve learnt to tolerate people, to calmly think through situations and events, to smile, even when I’m in extreme pain, to let go and just swing in the wind; to believe – that, even when everything seems impossible and futures look bleak, to hang on and just trust.

Yeah, I’ve also strayed very far from God this year, more than I ever have. I miss the relationship I had with God, and I constantly pray that, one day, I’ll be able to retrace my steps and find myself back in a place where everything is just perfect. I’ve also learnt to get past hurt; both personal and impersonal. To give second chances, to admit when I’m wrong and make amends. I’ve also learnt that, falling hopelessly in love sometimes is as good a thing as it can get. I’ve also learnt to detach myself from dead wood; even when it comes in the likeness of friends.

I’ve worked on more projects this year, than in any other year. There has not been one moment that I haven’t had something on my hands. This year has been rewarding. I’ve made and lost friends, tried to live right by everyone, turned blind eyes, tried to be a stand-up, trustworthy guy, tried to explore more. I’ve also learnt that I have a definition of fun that’s different from my friends’, and that it’s okay, as long as we can all enjoy together.

I’m hoping and praying that I am able to finally summon up the courage and pull the resources to start a project that I’ve always had in my mind in the new year. It promises to be extremely busy for me and I’m planning to ride that wave happily.

And, again, please raise your glasses with me – Here’s to the new year – as it brings with it endless possibilities, boundless successes and incredible, amazing friendships. Here’s to love, to hope in the face of the greatest of doubts, to belief in the face of the greatest of odds, to arms that will be there for us to run into, to hearts that will continue to beat for us, even when situations and conditions say otherwise, to faith in the face of hopelessness, to triumph in the face of supposed imminent defeat, to two different but united hearts that will always and hopefully forever beat as one.

Cheers! *clinks*.

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Young man, you have a lot to celebrate! And we are here waiting to continue celebrating with you from now on. Bless.

Dusk: Toyin

When I wrote my 2012 review (HERE), I was so looking forward and very excited about the new year. However with the arrival of 2013, I was in what I would call a “bleh” mode. I couldn’t be bothered about the new year because it was already looking hopeless from day one. I just wanted to remain in my dark place away from the world and the troubles around me. However this year turned out to be better than I expected. 2013 can be summed up under the following God: family, love, personal goals.

2013 showed me that God actually listens. Made a random list at the end of last year of things I wanted in the new year, before mid year. Guess what, He came through before the first quarter was over. I call this year my year of pleasant surprises because He surprised me countless times and really made me understand that he cares and is always there no matter what. I might not be where I want to be spiritually, (my fault, asking for grace to perdure) but I have come to know how priceless having a relationship with Him is.

The love I had for my family got tested a lot this year. It was strained to the last inch of it. Love my folks a lot but they really pushed me to the edge this year. I felt so weighed down at some point that I considered running away. I had to pick sides at times, and somehow I hated each one of them at one point or the other this year, my father and brothers especially. It seemed my family was going to be torn apart and I didn’t care because I felt it was for the best. But as always we got through, as we have been doing for the past 27 years of its existence.
My mum, I love you with my whole being. Thank you for the love, trust and responsibilities you bestowed upon me this year, it has gone a long way in building the woman I am today.

The highlight of my year has got to be my love life. Last year, Efe commented on the lack of this in my review. I didn’t mention it then because it was not existing. It had crashed and didn’t look like it was going to be revived in the nearest future. After giving up on love and abandoning everything that has got to do with it, it sought me out – Via twitter. (He who says twitter is a joke knows not what he says). I have never known so much happiness could exist with one person. The last 9 months+ have been the best days of my life. You have being the best brother, friend, lover, teacher and companion any girl could ask for. Can’t believe that long distance could work for me, this has being the true test of my character. (It still sucks by the way, *rme) I pray God gives us forever because I would love to spend it with you because my life without you is a life void of warmth (don’t want to ever know what it feels like). Thank you Ayanfe for believing in me, us and our future together.

I hoped to achieve a lot this year. Probably would have started my fashion business, written a couple of exams, carried out a couple of personal projects, had a particular amount saved up this year. To be honest I didn’t achieve any of this. Infact not even close in any way.

However, I learnt so many other things. In so many ways I feel I have grown and matured this year.
I learnt that no one is and can ever be equal to God in my life and now I always have to acknowledge Him.
I learnt that family is EVERYTHING. Enlarge your heart to accommodate their mistakes and shortcomings, forgive and forget easily, and relish the good times you have together. Life is too short to hold grudges.
I learnt love takes a lot of commitments, responsibility and dedication. However it is so beautiful, that you will do your best to keep it if it is genuine and mutual.

I learnt I have no strength of my own, no connections that matter, therefore I have to depend on HE who holds the keys to the hearts of kings to do what only he can do.

I have no high hopes for 2014, just to be a better woman, stronger believer, better daughter, sister, girlfriend. Also hope to start drinking more water, and live healthier… Lol

Cheers to a good year….

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Everything you said about enlarging your heart to accommodate and love your family and friends is true. Toyin, we love you too. Thank you very much for this

Day 26: Jennifer

January
My year began with the worst menarche cramps I’ve ever had. I couldn’t even leave my room to enjoy the cooking and eating frenzy.
I visited an old friend days later. We were walking out of the estate when I saw the obituary of one of my childhood friends on one of the walls. Ocheme Stephen Ocheme, 20. 
I tried not to lose composure till I got home and told my mum. Ocheme’s family and mine had lost touch when we moved from our previous residence.
I never got a chance to see him again, all grown up. It hurt so much. Lots of memories came rushing back. We later heard from his mum who told us that he’d suffered so much from a disease that even the Indian doctors didn’t understand.
Days passed, sleep was scarce. I only slept when I’d worn myself out crying.

News reached me that the school Mgt didn’t plan to give accommodation to students who weren’t in either first or final year. I started to worry almost immediately I heard. My only option was to go to school a week before resumption to search for bqs in the living quarters of lecturers.
While getting ready to leave for Ibadan, I received a call from my friend Oluchi whose only words were : “Jennifer, Itunu is dead.” I was distraught. Too hurt to even cry. Too hurt to believe it even. Why were my friends dying? Too young. The sadness got worse.

My best friend and I combed the entire school for bqs, but to no avail. I paid about three housing “agents” inspection fees so I could see the places they said they had.
On those occasions, I walked with them in the hot sun only to see horrible places. I knew I wasn’t prepared to live off campus.
My school doesn’t condone squatting and the punishment for defaulters is dire.
I cried, complained, prayed, yet no place came up.

February.
I finally found a place.      
I was so stressed from my search. School had started fully. Most of my 80 leaves notes had gone past their middle. I hadn’t even reviewed my first pages.
I was taking classical physics. I didn’t understand anything. Every single day while taking notes in that class, I rued its examination which was still a long way away. I tried attending tutorials, study groups, to no avail. All I did at these tutorials, was to stare at people who were way ahead of even the lecturer. Whenever someone asked “So which part don’t you understand?”, I’ll just point to some random topic. But in truth, I didn’t understand any part at all.
Meanwhile, my relationship with my best friend was strained. Superficial discussions and all. I noticed, from the beginning, but I was afraid that if I spoke up, it’d sound like an accusation and things between us would get worse.
Something I didn’t understand was happening to me. I was sad, really sad. But surprisingly, I wanted to stay that way. 
Negative thoughts about my future pulsed through my mind. What if you fail and have to be withdrawn? What if you fall ill mysteriously and die? What if you finish school with ‘flashing credit’ for a grade and you never get a job? Jennifer what is the hope of your calling? Where in the scheme of things will you be when you’re 30? I didn’t want to let anyone in, because I felt they’d see how sad I was and all the negativity whirring inside me, and they’d flee.
I trudged on that way.

MARCH
Birth month.
The night before my birthday, I had this short conversation with someone:
“I hear tomorrow’s your birthday.”
“Oh yes, it is.”
“So how old will you be?”
“19”
*frown* *silence*
“What is it?”
“Well It’s that the nineteenth year of my life was the hardest. I’m not being pessimistic, but you’re in for a difficult year. I wish you God’s wisdom though.”
“Wow, thanks”
He didn’t lie. It was a difficult year.
I didn’t like my birthday. My best friend didn’t call at midnight. My roommates screamed, my neighbors joined in. I smiled, laughed, but I really wasn’t there. I kept staring at my phone, waiting for Chinwe’s call. But nothing. She showed up with a cake for me, but it was in the air and on our faces that so much was wrong.
I wished I didn’t have a birthday. 

APRIL-MAY
Exams, tears, fear, all-nighters.

JUNE
School break.

JULY – DECEMBER
The worst and best months in the year.

I waited a month from the start of the strike(July 1st – August 4th) in Ibadan, hoping that it would be called off. It wasn’t. I planned to stay longer, but I got a call from my mum on the first day of August.
“Come home first thing tomorrow. Your daddy is very sick.”
She was trying not to cry.
I was scared shitless. She said his blood pressure had risen to 220.
I was crying and forcing my rumpled clothes into my bag while I was saying “God please don’t let my daddy die”, over and over.
The ATMs messed with me for two whole days almost as if to raise my own BP.
When I got home days later, he’d returned from the hospital. The pressure had miraculously found its way down to 160.
The doctor said he was very close to a stroke and was lucky to have escaped it. Ordered weeks of rest.
My mum called her school and explained that she might not be present for a while, and why.
My dad was swallowing pills upon expensive pills.
He got better fast. Everyone was happy.
My mum returned to work. She got a query. Infact, was fired, and called back days later. It turned out that the person she informed of her absence and its reason, denied ever even hearing from her.
Days became weeks, weeks, months and I was home, being the domestic help.
I started to have misunderstandings with my mum over the most trivial things. And like most African mothers, she’d talk for hours unend.
I was frustrated.
In October, my best friend and I finally sandfilled the gulf between us. It was the bestest feeling.
I was grateful to God for another chance at my most valued friendship yet.
Bouts of depression came and I couldn’t tell anyone. I’d just sit and think of my dead friends so much that even my body would ache.
My surprise was the way I concealed it so well.
Any time happiness tried to steal in, my sadness would knock it out.
I discovered that I’m not as social as I thought I was, the way I turned down hangouts I’d previously agreed to, without any reason. 
One day, the depression and sadness I felt about the loss of my friends disappeared like fog. Slowly. 

In all, 
I’ve learnt that the prayers our mothers say for us, go farther than we can imagine.
I can now say I love my mother, with the full knowledge and understanding of what it means.
I’m learning to be more social and to extend an arm of friendship first.
I’m grateful for my family and my friends.
I’m learning to build a strong wall around my happiness, finding calm no matter how stormy things might be around me.
I’m learning to not over think and over analyse things. To not be my own enemy.
I’m calmer about my future, with faith that nothing beyond God’s control can happen.
I’m trying to stop being lazy about sharpening my abilities.
I’m forgiving myself and people who’ve offended me. Great load off my back.
I’m learning to share more than give. (This is because you can give to anyone even an enemy, but you can’t share with an enemy.) Sharing shows more love than giving.
I’m learning to accept responsibilities, to cast away the fear of not being ‘good enough’.
I’m learning that hearing a ‘no’ to a request isn’t so bad.
I love and value myself more. I can see the wonderful person I’m becoming.
And I’m thankful to God beyond words for everything.
Even choosing to write this review, showed me that things were getting better.

The best thing is, I’m positive about the coming year 2014. All that matters really.

Happy Boxing day! Have a wonderful year ahead!

*plays Khona*

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Thank you for being so upfront with us. Thank you Jennifer

Dusk: Mudiake

image

Come gather round people wherever you roam,
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it, that soon you’d be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth saving
And you better start swimming or you’d sink like a stone
For the times they are a changing!

Bob Dylan. It’s become a hobby of mine to get songs from those old artists – the ones who wrote and sang songs when your Dad still had a mustache and a fro, and wore tight stretch pants and impressive heels (to facilitate the boogie woogie) – and just listen to what they had to say to whatever generation it was they spoke to. I happened to be listening to this particular song while I took a 15 minute walk from the cabin where I slept the night before, to the cabin where I was meant to work for the day. The walk was on a quiet graded road though what looks like secondary forest-growth – this walk tended to provide me with some quiet time to contemplate issues, or to simply let my mind wander without any focused or serious thought. The day before my Bob Dylan-day I had walked without music, because I wanted to think about what I would write when I finally had to summarize my 2013. I didn’t get very far. Nothing seemed to standout for me in 2013 really. I resorted to listening to the various bird sounds and entertaining myself with imaginations about being chased by some small slouching, furry, forest beast with sharp teeth. On the Bob Dylan day however, it came together for me – what my 2013 has been about. Maybe it was something in his song lyrics. I really am not sure. Now I would love for this to be some free-flowing writ of epic and dramatic proportions. It is not. It’s just me sitting at a desk, finding a quiet spot in my mind, and reflecting. So I offer apologies in advance. I usually think in short sentences. And I wrote it down just that way.

2013 for me was a year of people. I like taking pictures. While going through the ones I took this year I was amazed at how many people I met in 2013 that became part of my everyday life. I mean like really close friends who came to understand me quite well. I’m not sure I could possibly effectively summarize all I have taken away from the process of meeting new and different people, getting to know them at close range, and seeing their thoughts and experiences and histories played out in their actions and decisions. All I can say is: People are just people. They are not perfect. They misunderstand. We all like to appear strong, but we sometimes hurt inside and even manage to hide this from our conscious minds. We all have standards. We break them. At our most dishonest moments we berate those who fall short of our proclaimed standards. In out moments of truth, we admit we are just people – trying as everyone else to find our way. This year it struck me how much energy we expend on trying to please people who we don’t like, who care nothing for us, and would not ever come through in any sense if we found ourselves in trouble. We reserve our brightest smiles for them. We put on our most charismatic performance and even go ahead to devote a good portion of our time and money to the general “audience” we imagine is watching.

In 2013, I realized one thing. They are not watching. Not really. They do not care. You’re just spending all your time “pushing on a pull door”. They would most likely never love you back. I have it reinforced right now, that I have to try to pay attention and take care of mine. God has placed everyone in a context. If you are fortunate to have people that love and genuinely care for you, do not neglect them. If it seems that you don’t have any, evaluate yourself for starters and then follow up with a prayer about this perhaps. Do not let the heart become slow to respond due to years of bias or unforgiven details between you and those who genuinely care for you. Try to forgive those who have always been there for you and with you, and take care of them with all that is within reason. Mudi, pay attention. Not to sound preachy (I am more like speaking to myself here), but please pay attention and do not let that good woman or man get bent until she or he cracks and altogether breaks down, whatever the relationship be – married couples, simple friends or lovers. People are not metal. They do not live forever. When the times are “a-changing” it is my sentiment that we all would need some sense of stability: God and faith (absolute), family and true friends (relative). So care, when you have the chance. You won’t always have it. I say this to myself, for my parents, siblings by blood and by situation, and true family and friends. I thank God for them, and hope 2014 sees me doing more in this direction.

My birthday this year was different from the more recent ones I’ve had. My dad remarked on the phone when he called saying something to the effect of: “you’re pretty much a man now. Do you feel old?” I replied: “Oddly enough, I feel younger than I felt at my last birthday.” It seems at my last birthday I felt like an old boy, whereas now I feel like a young man. I hope that did not elicit a round of eye-rolling – but I really felt and feel like there had been some sort of transition; like a different phase of life was beginning: one that I was yet young to. I guess I could say that in 2013, I began to think in terms of the beginnings of things that would reflect what I eventually want to be remembered as and for. It was the year to begin partnerships I have a really good feeling about. I get the growing sense that life for me would change in the near future. Maybe I won’t be so carefree with little to think of besides just going to new places and chasing new adventures. Maybe I would actually have to be in a position where others actually expect me to provide some inspiration of a more direct kind. I guess when I write again in December 2014, we would find out about that.

Love, love, love. Did I fall in love? Yes: I discovered this capacity was still there. It even “appeared” to happen more than once in succession. I’m not sure I understand the dynamics of that. Did it, or could it possibly produce anything? I honestly don’t even know. The important thing is that I’m relieved that I did not become some cynical dude who carries over all the baggage of previous not-so-nice experiences to color and taint every new person he comes across. I just want to be happy, and to spread that happiness. I will say no more, and will entertain no questions -___-.

There is one curious, trivial thing I discovered about myself. It seems for some obscure reason, I have the knack for dancing to Latin American music: salsa, bachata, merengue etcetera. Now you need to understand that this boy does not usually dance. Well, we all dance, but I guess the question is whether we dance well or not. I usually dance only to make people laugh. It doesn’t matter how serious I am or how hard I try. It comes off as sort of awkward and the effect is people laughing. At least that was one plus. I stopped being embarrassed and I just go ahead to entertain when I feel like it with my funny waist wigglings from side to side. Well, in Latin America, I discovered that for some reason, I seem to dance to the local stuff pretty good. It’s that notable, believe me please. Notable enough to command a paragraph in a length restricted essay about my 2013. La Pasión things people!!!!!! ( Manos Arriba!!! \\(^_^)// (“Hands up in the air!”). They say I have it in my blood. But I am a Warri boy. I’m pretty certain none of my ancestors went beyond the hinterlands and creeks of the Niger Delta. So well, it appears that I have one more hobby, in addition to my love for “all things flying”.

Wrapping this up then, I can say in general things got better. I have a pretty good and constantly rising profile career wise; I’ve gotten a bit healthier, travelled yet more, had successes in dealing with difficult situations and personalities, and I lost no friends while gaining some pretty good ones. I however feel like I have lost my way spiritually – not that I have lost faith or hope, but I just need to find my way back there. The one thing about this aspect though is that I have little tolerance now for pretend religion and hypocritical sanctimoniousness – the very things that have eaten through all the religious expression that fills Nigeria – rendering all our dressing up and churchgoing useless and ineffective in doing anything to make things actually better. Looking back now I realize that I have been like that in some ways. The hope for the future is to be indeed true. Faith has to be true. How is it faith if it isn’t?

I hope 2014 brings me more internal unity, more purpose, more reaching out to those that matter, and more in terms of being a source of healing and inspiration to others, not just in word, but also in deed. I am truly thankful for all that I am and have today, and look forward to step changes in 2014. I also send out a prayer for all who are in pain. A prayer for healing. We are just flesh and blood and weak and frail, but we are made more than we are by love – the Love of God for us, and the love we give to one another.

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I love my brother Mudi. He wrote that poem and I feel this review is so close to my heart state that I can claim it as my favorite. Much love bro. Stand firm on the Rock.

Day 25: Jumoke

Write on me, 2014. I’m ready. Paint your art on me… No. Wait a minute or wait 7 days…

2013: A Season Of Seasons

When everyone shouted Happy New Year, I shouted, “It is sorted!” And ran into 2013 as prepared as a ready circus for the finale showdown. I ran in with my sewing machine and my high spirit. I was getting good with my fashion designing and tailoring, and people were advising me to start my own outfit and all. But no, I had other plans. After all, sewing isn’t the only thing I’ve come to do on earth. Did I say I was a freelance editor, too? Oh lovely stuff. Only that here, freelance meant most jobs were done for (yes you guessed right) freeeee. So I wanted a job. No, I needed a job. Thank God I got it. Summer came early. April.

After exactly 5 years (minus one month) of graduating from university, I got my first real job. Poor pay, but hey! I got a job! Three weeks into training, I got another job, out of the country. Joyful confusion. What do I do? What do I not do? Do I take it? Do I not? Decision making was a battle of some sort and before I was able to put my choice to paper, I got a third one. Now the training was to be out of my comfort zone too but who cares, I’m miles closer to my dreams and it isn’t even a dream at all. Finally my heavens had opened, and the sun had pierced the dark clouds. The wait was over, the year was high, and everything was rainbowy.

I had never been out of Lagos for more than two weeks. Training was supposed to be for a month. It was supposed to be a summertime kind of fun, with none of Lana Del Rey’s sadness. But was it? Well, maybe it would have, if the person I was meant to stay with didn’t send a text that she was heading out of town indefinitely as I got off the plane. Maybe it would have, if I didn’t have to stay in that over-priced hotel room on my first day in town, pray all night, and then strategize all morning so I could find an alternative accommodation. Still, maybe it somehow was, because a kind-hearted someone, technically a stranger, gladly took me in. Maybe it was, because B even took me to work most mornings and sometimes took me back home. Training started in earnest. It felt good. Summertime was mine once again.

But while still in summer, winter snuck up on me when I wasn’t looking, and froze my smiles. Someone I thought I maybe had found without really looking, suddenly became an ‘almost had’. All the ‘don’t worry, it will be okays’, the little laughters that were so inconsequential, the expectations that I wasn’t even aware of vanished in one phone conversation. Was it my move to Abuja or the job or the timing or someone else? “You are too old.” That’s what he said. Honestly it didn’t sound crazy strange at first because it was a familiar line in some of the many job interviews I had attended. Sadly, this wasn’t a job role. Or was it? Maybe. “You are too old, blah blah blah.” He repeated it several times, punctuating it with some so-called logical statements. I didn’t really understand his rationale still. I mean, in my mind, I’m as fresh as a foetus; in the mirror, 19 would suit me just fine; my dressing, as fashionable as I could afford; my lifestyle, fits into a wide range of ages. Shrugs. I really didn’t understand. Then he said love wasn’t enough. Then he said he didn’t love me enough and he wouldn’t even try, because of the timing. Like, who sent me to come to the world so close to the time he did? Like I should hold my feelings and take a long stroll into oblivion. Like, what was I rushing to come do on earth anyway? He said I should have been borne at least 2 yrs later than him so that we won’t almost be age mates. That was our only snag, yet we couldn’t even try.

Feelings and their finiteness. It cut deep but it was fine. For two consecutive nights later, I stood under the shower and scrubbed and scrubbed, I don’t know what I expected but neither the water nor the tears cleansed my ache. I really didn’t know how people fall from great to zero without a warning. I only know that I couldn’t not be there for him when he suddenly lost someone. In the same season, for different reasons, hearts were breaking left and right. I was tending and mending. Really though, it was fine, till I started waking at about 3.45am, sweating, yet shivering. It wasn’t cold but I was. I was properly draped, yet I was uncovered. The MP and Widal tests I did stated I was physically ok. The bout didn’t stop. I decided I’d see a doctor, and then decided against it. What would I say? “Doctor, a man I was crazy about said I don’t meet his age cut-off, or catchment area, or whatever, and we are unable to talk about it because he lost someone”. Sighs. I don’t know.

It just ‘snowed’ and ‘snowed’. I was alone, without money or family, in a new city with people more comfortable speaking a different language. All I had was faith. I’d find myself looking hopelessly forward to the tea-break and lunch-break we had at training. I’d keep the apple we were given every day so I could give it to Purity, B’s baby. On days when she wasn’t interested in it, I’d eat it just before the moment I have to bargain with my belly to kindly accept the yellow garri I was about to drink with lots of sugar, tears and faith. You see, B took good care of me and tried to feed me well but I wasn’t paying for the accommodation, or rides to work and I didn’t want to deplete her food supply. I let my weight take the fall instead and I fed on faith. Suddenly, B was to relocate and I was to move out. Life decided to exercise its right to be torturous. I had no money! I saved every kobo of my nothingness because my organisation is one of those that don’t pay the first salary on time. The search for an apartment went on for a long and undulating time. Sometimes, I was all out, sometimes, not so much. My head ached all day; at night, my heart took its turn.

Advil. More Advil. I’d start praying so I could stop crying, hoping so much the fogginess would break into rain, because after the rain, comes sunshine. So, did it break? Not so quickly. Did I do anything about it? Yes. I fought it how I could. I struggled not to reach out. Then I struggled to reach out. Autumn. Falling leaves. Sometimes it got better, and I’d be an inch gone in the direction of euphoria, throw my hands up to whatever and revel in the moment. Other times I felt life was spinning, but I was at a still, like a clock with a dead battery. And for fear that it would all go tumbling downhill, I kept on praying. I launched my body and spirit into rigorous prayers. Days. Nights. I fasted and prayed without any answers I could see. Sometimes I couldn’t pray, I sang. Don Moen. I will sing. I grew lean, I prayed still. Tears, tears, scares, scars. I wondered with shaky surety. “Is God up there chuckling at me now or is He just sniggering like ‘what a mess!’?” A few weeks, some salary, some borrowed money and two tired, red eyes later, I became the proud owner of an apartment.

I became the proud receiver of countless phone calls, too. Mammii, with her unbelievable thoughtfulness. Friends that erstwhile seemed to have been left in another world. Men. Gasshh! So many men, too many men. Pappii, giving challengeable orders from another city, sending me inspiring dps he had saved from his bb contacts. Smiles. People and their steadfastness. But I was really busy, so I couldn’t initially answer many of the calls. I was busy trying not to look like a moving fountain by applying dollops of foundation. I was busy trying to stop being so low and so high at once. I was busy trying to be sure. Because I wasn’t sure where to find the bridge between being hyper bubbly and super troughed. I wasn’t sure it was the best to sit for hours, by the door, on my bedroom floor, in that spot that had become my refuge. I wasn’t sure why there’s such a long line outside who all think they deserve me or I, them. I wasn’t sure if I was listening for a certain footstep or not. I was just really busy trying to be sure. Some stayed, others left. Steadfastness.

While I was busy being busy, I got a call that a family friend got separated from her 5-years, 2-kids marriage; and another call that an old friend is separated from his 1 year, 3 months, and 1 kid marriage. God. There were hours of ruminating on what went wrong, and days of counselling for humans to be wise. As the apartment got filled with things and my office desk piled up with tasks to be done, my eyes emptied out the saline in its bags. I kept on, holding everything together but in time I realised that my hands, my arms are indeed too small to even wrap around myself. So instead, I stretched my hands out to others who needed someone. And when I tell those people it will be okay, I’m telling myself it will be okay. When they tell me thank you, I tell them thank you. My ‘busy’ had a new meaning. Work was excellent and I stayed back so late partially taking care of the company’s interests, partially taking care of people who required it since the network in my house was so poor. Sometimes I’d have a couple of drinks here and there afterwards. I loved every minute of it. I’d get home so exhausted that I forgot about my corner in my room.

If there’s anything to take out of this year, it is that, of the two uncertainties the entirety of life is doused in, ‘maybe not’ is the wiser choice. Pessimistic? Maybe not. Will your numbness dissipate into thin air immediately you immerse yourself in people and activities? Maybe not. Will anger settle comfortably in the heart of someone who cares for you? Maybe not. Will love stay on the blank pages of your diary waiting to be inked? Maybe not. Will the one that refused to choose you be chosen by the one they chose? Maybe not. Will that realisation make you happy? Surprisingly, maybe not.

There’s the occasional impulse to be mean or rude or downright reckless, and I gave in to it sometimes, it made me feel invincible for a while but not for very long. It’s other things that got me through most of the time, like dancing to Selebobo/J.Martin’s Yoyo after running 4kms in the mornings, like music, solemn or bubbly, like the sound of mammii’s laughter as I complain they took the light (which they almost never take), like pappii’s emotional nature of ordering me to do something all the way from another city, like Purity asking very seriously why animals don’t wear clothes, like my cranky, domineering boss no. 2  finally admitting he needs my input on a matrix, like Charlie offering to send me her cooker so I don’t have to buy, like watching an EPL match with Yewie at Hootas after walking fruitlessly round El-Rufai Plaza trying to locate a free manicure shop, like my neighbour’s son banging on their door when I turn the key in mine and smiling so brightly when he sees my face.. And @iamsupervillian’s body after the Delatere Roulette! Did you see his new abs? Man! I was inspired! Yes indeed, everything can and will get better. Yes indeed, there’s hope. Those little things remind me that God is not unkind. Those little things remind me to have depth enough to know joy is mostly ingrained in the silliest moments; to be perfect enough to listen when people tell me about my flaws; to be foolish enough to know my wisdom is not enough to sail me smoothly on the streams of life. And because of all these, somehow I believe the grass on the side of 2014 must be greener. Spring.

This was certainly the quickest, longest year ever and now that the mess around me has finally cleared, I almost feel the same way now as I did a year ago. I’m sorely pleased that the firewood jollof rice I and my aunt-in-law cooked turned out delicious. It’s been 7 months since I’ve been shuttling Abuja and Lagos but it doesn’t feel that way at all. I’ve been home for 2 days now and it feels as though I never even left here. Time and its magnitude. The calendar keeps saying a lot of time has passed. But when did it? When really did it? For the seconds took forever to become an hour during all the painful days and today came so fast I can hardly remember yesterday.

I don’t want tomorrow to leave me behind now, so, cheers to the meantime.

Have yourselves a very Merry Christmas with lots of clarity & serenity & the hope of an Iron-Board flat stomach.

Jk.

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Merry Christmas everyone!

Dusk: Bunmi

It was 2013. A new year. New yes, but that wasn’t new. New years happen, it wasn’t novel. It was just another new year.

But for a newly minted not quite an adult who ended 2012 ranting and lying on a bed of disappointments and shame, it was going to be different.
So she decided, it would be new, she would be.

There’s all them dreams and aspirations at the start of the year…all them uncertainties plaguing her soul, the fear of the unknown, and the somewhat overwhelming need to just get it right this time.

Then came the end of the first quarter. Her birthday was done and dusted, things were all rosy. Although, exceptional couldn’t describe the 90 days gone by, there were 9 months more and she heaved that first sigh of relief.

Second quarter, smooth sailing still. She had designed a blueprint for the year and the building was coming along quite nicely. Couple of ripples here and there but nothing she couldn’t get by. Or so she thought.

Then came the third quarter, and with it unforeseen, uncontrollable circumstances that stalled everything and unravelled the fabric of all her plans. Still she tried to make something of the setback. What she got was something that was okay on the surface but when probed was more or less nothing. Underlying all the banality that filled those days was the persistent nagging feeling that she was behind in everything that mattered …music, books, places, people – Life. She tried for a September to remember (as cliché as it reads), wanted it with every fibre of her being – a flagship month where everything changes. She learnt it’s never enough to just want.

Then it was the final quarter and she went into October still rallying to make something of the year. She put it all aside to be Omotoyosi to her mother and Oluwafunmilayo to her sister. Although she got to the 11th hour before ‘re-learning’ to focus. She’s saying better late than never, for, she found peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding. It’s the best thing that happened to her this year. It became her 2013 keepsake.

I had clearly envisioned this year at its start and in the manner of best laid human plans and a higher being up there…I didn’t get what I wanted or thought I needed, I got the things that truly mattered!

Bye 2013. Hey 2014, let’s see the stuff you’re made of.

Merry Christmas in advance peoples.

P.S: :* 016 for all the laughing, planning and living we did this year. Senilore ({}) for being there.

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Such a coded post. Merry Christmas to you in advance too.