A Wonderful Surprise

This post originally appeared on my Medium, which is a wasteland now, but I decided to post it here as well, just because.

Oh, I never saw the writing prompt challenge through, but then no surprise there.

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{By my calculations, this is going to be my 7,481,873,236,171st attempt at writing with the guidance of prompts, of which I have failed 7,481,873,236,170 times. Yes, this is really going to be my seven trillion, four hundred and eighty one billion, eight hundred and seven three million, two hundred and thirty six thousand, one hundred and seventy first attempt. A lie, obviously.

I was going through Boro’s Medium (see here – Boro’s Medium; Oh, she has a blog too. Check it out here – Boro’s blog) and came across an entry that was influenced by a 30-day writing prompt challenge. While it was an interesting read, I checked out the prompts (see here) and they appear encouraging, soooo, I’m going to try my luck with it/them/whichever works. It’s mainly supposed to be a learning process, so please, bear with me. Salute}

Day 1

Take us through a written walk down your street and to your favourite place through the eyes of somebody else.

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You see, when I moved to this city, I expected I would have a very uneventful time- following routine, the occasional splurging on food and goodies, and bulk of my time spent with my laptop, the internet and my quite impressive collection of movies and TV shows. Boy was I wrong.

It started off how I earlier predicted. For some, routine consumes, messing with their sanity. For me, it’s comforting. Knowing what I would be doing per time is calming and the accompanying peace of mind soothes my generally anxious self.

We met and hit it off. Unfortunately, this isn’t a narration of how we met.

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He always walked me home, after every date; after every time we saw really. He never came in though, and every time he had been on my street, it was dark outside. He stayed quite far away from mine but he made sure I was home safe before he left me. ‘I need to be sure you’re okay’, he would say. I knew he was just really into me and tried to extend whatever time he had my company.

Unfortunately, I have left. I have moved away. Even more unfortunate, he’s still in that city.

He’s such a case. When we speak, he tells me about how he’s bored sometimes and wants to gets dressed then go to my place, even if I won’t be there. Hmm, I would reply.

I can imagine how it would turn out, if he ever decides to go through with it. I hope he remembers how to get there, because getting to my street is like a GTA San Andreas cheat code; that’s how giving directions to my street sounds.

To get to my street, he’s going to get to a very popular bus stop. Then make a right, a left, a right, a left, then a final right, after which he would be standing at the foot of my street. The name of my street is a four letter word. It has three vowels and one consonant, the alphabet ‘r’. There’s a certain way I pronounce the letter ‘r’; he loves it.

When he finally gets there, an elderly Yoruba man will tease him. He would call him ‘Olowo ori’; as he does every time he sees us. After shrugging off the elderly mans jokes, he will walk quite a distance.

My street is conventional, for the most part. It’s a stretch of asphalt that curves at the far end. Rough around the edges with a few patches, the road is fairly comfortable to walk on.

Photo by Safiyyah

I hate how boring it is. We have nothing, as it’s fully residential. No one ever comes out, except on Sundays when if you’re lucky, you get to see families get into their nice cars and head to their respective places of worship. I am of a different faith so Sundays are an off day for me. He’s going to find it boring too. There’s really just house, more house, a sprinkle of house and a lot of house.

The best part of my street is, as he would discover is……..my house;

Because in my house lies my room

Because in my room lies my bed

Because on my bed, my sheets lie

Because in my sheets, I lay

Waiting for him

A wonderful surprise

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My Very Efficient Alarm

This past year has been one of my most challenging years. There have been times I found myself in situations that kept me up at night thinking ‘What if?’ ‘How?’ ‘Why?’. There have been times I made mistakes whose consequences would heavily affect my life negatively. Somehow however, things got better every single time by the grace of God. On the flipside, there’s been proper positive things that have happened. While the bad outweighs the good (by a lot), I’m still very thankful cos things could really have been worse. Random but isn’t it funny how many of us are going through shit but act like everything is alright because you don’t want to disturb anyone with your problems?

There’s so much to be thankful for. I have learned a lot, but one thing I’ve come to realise I’m most grateful for isn’t something that happened within the past year.

I’ve been away from home for the most part of the year, thanks to NYSC and It has been an eventful experience. Very. Very. Eventful. Got myself a cozy place to call home for the year which seemed to be in a potentialy drama-free location.

I have alarms set on two devices I own. Both go off in the morning to wake me. But you see, this whole time, I’ve actually been ‘using’ three alarms.

What is this third alarm? My third alarm turns out to be my neighbours. On days where the alarms on my technological devices fail to wake me up from my slumber, my neighbours come through; and for this I am thankful.

The best part of this alarm is it’s never the same sound. I’ve been here for roughly 10 months and they’ve probably only repeated the same alarm soundtrack at most 7 times. On days when it’s not Mother Neighbour shouting so ‘awon ara Ile le lo kirun’ , it’s eldest child neighbour doing the shouting. These two were the most common alarm soundtracks during the early days. Until… April.

Not to sound like an African grandma but I feel something came into this place around that time. The sound tracks changed. I still remember the first time. Alarms one and two had blared but I ignored and went back to sleep. It was only few minutes neighbour alarm came through.

It sounded like a stainless steel pan connecting with something but I couldn’t quite place it, until I went to my window and from the ongoing dialogue, one of the children was getting his/her ass beat with a whole frying pan. Mind you, the person doing the beating gave birth to the victim. The beating stopped and I went about my day as usual.

Over the next few days, I got to hear new soundtracks. The weapons changed. Sometimes a broom, sometimes a stick; sometimes a bucket, and other times a fist.

I feel bad cos I’ve gotten used to this consistent domestic violence. These children in my honest opinion may never be happy while they’re inside that house. Yeah, there’s times they laugh together and stuff but ah. While many would defend this nonsense and call it discipline, I personally feel that would be a garbage opinion.

Another neighbour lives with her daughter. 7 times out of 10, she’s insulting this daughter of hers. The other 3 times, she’s beating the shit out of her.

Morning, afternoon, night, it doesn’t matter. The violence is good to go. One afternoon, on my way back from work, alarm neighbour is beating her son; I’m talking MMA beating here, uno fists, kicks, the whole lot. I try to beg her to stop and come between when she insults me in Yoruba, tells me to mind my business and fake reaches to strike me. I didn’t flinch but I was proper scared cos 1. I don’t know how to fight and 2. I wouldn’t know how to react. Anyway, I take my leave and go about with my life.

Just this evening, for about half an hour, lives-with-daughter-neighbour spent the whole time insulting her daughter while punctuating the insults appropriately with nice slaps. She even went as far as telling her daughter, and I quote ‘you are not worth prayers. You are useless’. I’ve tried to talk to said daughter but everytime I want to, I change my mind. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a bit scared, or because I don’t know what to say. Also, there’s the fact that she’s younger than me and, well, I don’t want trouble.

I’ve been here for a very short time; at least from the perspective of all these victims. From the look of things, they grew up under these conditions and are used to it now. It’s quite sad. I’ve been trying to imagine what kind of adults these kids would grow up to be. It’s a given that they’ll be proper violent. But what worries me most is how I can’t see them not abandon their parent if (and I hope they do) they make it. I mean, if I was in their shoes, there’s no way I would genuinely love my parents.

Sigh. In the end, as it has been made clear, it’s not my business.

If you grew up in a loving home, you should be really thankful. As I’ve come to realise, loving homes aren’t commonplace. The occasional ass-whopping is okay though, just to be clear.

I’m really thankful for the parents God gave me. Wasn’t much of a stubborn child so I was beaten very few times (It was mostly ordinary belting though), but there wasn’t a single time any of my parents said anything outright hateful or emotionally damaging to me; can’t remember a single occurence. I can imagine how sad I would be if my Dad or Mum said I was useless or wasn’t worth a prayer.

Anyway, I really just think we should be grateful if we were privileged to grow up in loving homes. I mean, there’s many of us who relate with our parents like they are our close friends. Be grateful.

Also, if anyone has any idea how one can help these victims, I would love to listen. Cos I really can’t think of a way to come to these perpetrators as a woman.

Oh, I should really use the word ‘proper’ less.

NYSC SZN: Actually Serving – Part 3

It’s quite clear that the time you spend going to your Place of Primary Assignment (PPA), going for CDS on Thursdays or whatever day of the week your Local Government (LG) decides and living in whatever city/town/village said LG is located makes for the main part of the whole NYSC scheme; after all, this is the part you spend the most time on.

For me, I got to serve in Ibadan (‘got to’ as in past tense because my mind isn’t  here again and left to me, I’ve passed out ). If you didn’t know, Ibadan is basically BTEC Lagos. Arguable since there’s probably many other cities across the nation that share more semblance to Lagos but I say this mainly because of the close proximity between both cities.

Ibadan is actually okay. I expected way less but  having been here for close to a year, I’ve come to realise it’s a decent city. It has it’s meh qualities like

– I’ve noticed my English has been heavily affected. I use terms I never would’ve thought would come out of my mouth; also, I have frequent ‘h-factor’ slip-ups (although, it’s likely it’s  just the Yoruba in me manifesting but let’s blame Ibadan)

– Drivers are equally as mad as the ones in Lagos, if not worse even

– The city sleeps way too early. I mean, ordinary 10pm and most places are deserted. 10pm that is like 8pm in Lagos

– At least once a week, I see two men and a goat on a bike

It also has it’s cool qualities like

– Transportation is cheap. There’s legit cab rides that go for N20/N30

-Traffic isn’t  crazy. There’s days this doesn’t  hold but generally, especially when one is used to Lagos. …well

– I want to say things are generally cheap but I’m  still not so sure

Anyway, I’m  more interested in giving a personal primer of the place. By the way,  whatever kind of personality you have, or whatever you define as fun, there’s something for you.

So, personal. I’ve had a whole lot of experiences here, so far. Been to quite a couple of places, had weird experiences with locals, some proper ridiculous things even; basically seen a lot. I should mention that the things you do and the places you go to would be heavily dependent on the people you roll with most; unsurprising anyway. While preparing to move here, my friends who were also going to be here as well and I swore we would hang steady but, LOOOOOOL. I mean, we still saw many times but not as frequently as we expected. A lot of factors contributed but that’s by the way. 

For me, I got to meet someone and we spent literally all our free time together. And so, it’s no surprise that most of the places I went to were with said person.

There’s a whole lot so I’m going to split the content into different parts: one for nice places I’ve been to and the other for the ridiculous experiences and relevant tips. 

NYSC SZN: Redeploying – Part 2

Personally, staying in Kaduna wasn’t off the table. I considered the idea when I saw my state of deployment. My mum however, well… Half considered actually since I had things I needed to do that required  me being close to Lagos. 

Even though redeploying was definitely in my future, we didn’t actively seek out methods or plugs to make it happen. We just prayed and asked that God let His will be done.

Clearly, God’s will was for me to not stay in Kaduna because I got a call from my Dad on my second day in camp asking me what state I wanted. I answered yes (obviously) and asked him how we was planning to make it work. I mean, I was going to apply for redeployment officially at camp so. It so happened that an old friend of  his reconnected after many years and conveniently, said friend was th…. let’s  just say he’s one of the top ranking officials in one of the states in…a part of Nigeria. During  their conversation, their children came up and my Dad mentioned I was in camp. Said friend offered to help if I wanted to redeploy and that was how I got my redeployment settled. Didn’t have to pay a dime, or fuss over a plug failing cos, I mean, this guy is a whole St.. high ranking official. I’m still not sure if it was that particular connect or me officially applying that secured my redeployment but we thank God all the same.

Enter Oyo State

Barely 30 minutes into registration (Yes, you go through the entire process of registration again) I was tired. A part of me wished I had just stayed in Kaduna. Repeating the process of sweating, standing in long queues, dying inside and more sweating was definitely not what I bargained for. I like to think the sun in Ibadan is different from the sun everywhere else, and that’s saying something since Lagos sun is Satan’s own torchlight.

If you redeploy to one of the high demand states, I advice you prepare your mind. And work out. You’re going to need proper mental and physical strength. 

The worst part of the entire registration process was having the NYSC officials tell us to go home and return days later. This happened about 3 times. I went to Lagos and returned to Ibadan each time because I don’t  have sense. 

Completing the registration took me roughly 2 weeks, I shit you not.

After I was through with it, these people posted me to some remote village I’d never heard of. This defeated the purpose of redeploying in the first place so I had to change it. Which resulted in an additional week of stress.
I like to think I’m  quite blessed, and favoured. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t sinning a lot at the time. Somehow, I found myself having multiple plug options to change my Place of Primary Assignment (PPA) 😂 I was on my own and one man came to me and asked if I wanted to change my PPA. He was definitely an angel because he didn’t ask for a single kobo and he saw the whole thing through. I had to complement his help with my other plugs tho, at least at the initial stage. 

When I got a new posting letter, it was for a school close to where I plan me to stay. But because I had the luxury of a proper plug, I asked to change it again. I should really stop sinning cos remembering the great graceI enjoyed during that time is making  me smile. This man really made it happen even though one of the heads at the secretariat didn’t like the request letter I brought which meant I had to do a lot of running around. Agodi to Felele multiple times, tears.

I finally got where I wanted, glory to God. In retrospect, staying at the school wouldn’t have been such a bad idea but that’s that.

The next post will be about the main part of my NYSC experience, or my stay in this state, which turned out somewhat better and at the same time worse than I expected. 

NYSC SZN: Camp – Part 1

It’s NYSC szn!!

Scrolling down my Twitter timeline and seeing people celebrate getting their desired states, others crying because they got states they didn’t know were real, and the commonplace requests for survival tips, advice and general information, brings back memories. I was there just under a year ago.

I won’t bother with the political side to NYSC, you know, the never-ending argument about it being a beneficial scheme or it being useless. My only comment on that is, great idea, poor execution.

So NYSC; this time last year, many of my friends were preparing to go to camp. Unfortunately, I had been pushed to stream 2 which meant waiting almost two months before my turn to serve came. Finding out I wasn’t going with the first stream wasn’t funny because I had stopped work the week before in anticipation.

But I wasn’t going to waste my time so I spent the next two months learning stuff, hitting the gym and not getting results, spending time with my friends and eating.

I never finished this challenge. Stopped at day 18 or so ✌
I never finished this challenge. Stopped at day 18 or so

Fastforward two months later and the stream 2 posting was out. Imagine my shock after waiting two whole months when I saw I was posted to Kaduna.

I had never been to any part of Northern Nigeria and so I saw this as an opportunity to see that part of the country. I found out a couple of friends I had made at different points in my life were posted there as well; and conveniently, a number of them had booked the same flight as me. We met up at the airport on the day of said flight and shared our collective depression about our posting, complementing it with sprinkles of faux enthusiasm for what the convoluted fuck we would be meeting in camp.

My first introduction to Kaduna state was sand. Sand, heat and cold. Yes, I know it doesn’t make sense but trust me. From the second our aircraft broke the clouds till we landed, all we could see below was sand, patches of grass, and more sand. Not a single vehicle, or human being, or animal. Tragic.

Few minutes after landing, we got a cab to our camp, Black Gold Camp. I think it was in Chikun or something.

Kaduna. The heat. Christ.

This was me after an hour

Stop pretending you never knew I was ugly. Was never anon, smh

Everyone and their mum swears camp is hell and registration is stresssss. Everyone and their mum is right. The first day was hell. A lot of queuing, sweating, dying inside, dying outside, weak legs; oh, have I mentioned sweating and dying? Registration was a draggggg. It was one procedure after another, and every step involved waiting in a long line. Finally, around 9pm, I was done with most parts of my registration and decided to give up. I had one more stage to go but my entire being was tired; hadn’t even taken a proper meal all day.

My first night wasn’t so bad. Having been a boarding house student all through secondary school and well, university too, kind of, sharing a room with strangers wasn’t going to be tough. Thankfully, my roommates were proper guys so the atmosphere was cool. Oh, I’m guessing someone may be reading this for information so I’ll try to include a few tips and general info about the NYSC camp in Kaduna.

Living conditions were decent. We were provided mattresses thinner than a slice of plantain but they were manageable. The rooms were okay. You would think packing 12 guys into a tiny room would mean heattt. The reverse is the case however because the weather in Kaduna is something else. More on that later. Bathrooms were cool. I didn’t have to bath outside once throughtout my stay. The toilets were….usable. Ideally okay but there’s always going to be animals that mess the place up. I would advise you take enough Flagyl (ordinary drug abuse 👀) .

Somehow, I never had camp food. The ‘Mami market’ was up to standard and provided me proper meals. There’s this particular spot that has fire jollof, for real. I had the same thing for breakfast 80% of the time with my camp squad; bread and akara. Generally, the market is proper. Only sad memory is that I discovered amala late. Oh, no booze; unless you find a plug. Our State Coordinator was highly religious so many things you would hear are part of the ‘full camp experience’ (booze being just one of) weren’t available, neither were avenues to perpetrate them; but then there’s always a way to cut corners 🌚)

It’s impossible to talk about Kaduna without addressing the weather. Please, take lip balm and oil based moisturizers with you. Please. In the morning, it’s soooo coldddd. To give you some insight regarding just how cold I’m talking about, I came out every morning wearing first a vest, then a white tshirt, then a sweater (which is quite thick), then my khaki shirt. Yet, my entire being still shivered. Had just white shorts on and my socks and shoes bottom though. The cold never leaves. Even at 1pm when the sun is soooo hot, you’re sweating, but not sweating, cos while it’s really hot, it’s still cold. I really can’t explain but if you get to experience it, you would understand. It’s basically cold all day, and night to be honest. Really cold, but like, still hot. My lips suffered 😭 Oh, I always took a bath with boiling hot water, but then, I generally like my bath water boiling hot, when I use hot water so I can’t exactly say if this was because of the cold weather or my scary ways.

I remember my first night. I was taking with a friend and I think I said ‘So this is the Kaduna they say is cold. Where is the cold?’ before proceeding to ‘off my shirt’. Just under an hour later, your boy was wearing a sweater and under his blanket while praying to the god of heat to please show up.

I should mention that it’s really dusty so face masks are your friend. We used to dress like we were going for some covert op 😂 After some time, you get used to it and can survive without the masks though. Never had any chest issues, funny enough.

Be like SWAT

Have I mentioned the dust? There was this morning they made us sit on the parade ground while they searched cos someone lost their phone or something. I will never forget that day, not because of the dust, but because it was DefCon One in my rectum. I was holding mad faeces and mandem were wasting my time. Eventually couldn’t take it anymore and had to beg a soldier.

Grown men and women o

One of these guys is your MCM

If there’s anything that will make you hate camp, it’s the lectures. Ughhhhhhh. Total dragggg. The lectures were still okay since we were seated (if you got a seat) but the ones where we had to stand on the parade ground for hours and listen to some address? Criennn. And they always lasted hoursss. Your boy has god-level sleeping skills so when I wasn’t womanising, I was sleeping. The naps are more fire when your whole squad takes one at the same time. Social nights on the other hand can go two ways. They’re either lit or dead; no inbetween. Make for cool womanizing time though.

When you’re less busy, you’ll spend your time chilling somewhere in the market. I should mention that there’s going to be a lot of manizing™ and womanizing depending on your preference. Feelings will be caught, flings will occur, if you’re scum, there would be a plethora of candidates to practice your scum ways on; and if you’re the type, youll probably fall in love. There’s always that one guy/babe, smh. Be safe though.

Generally, camp is actually a lot of fun. You meet people, meet some characters (shout out to Nekede individuals), play a bit, laugh a lot; fun. You’re going to hate the first few days but half way through your second week, you’ll be enjoying life. I think advising you to hold funds goes without saying.

The soldiers are cool guys. They won’t stress you. The drills aren’t so bad. You won’t die.

I redeployed sooo I didn’t get to spend time in the state proper. Got back home and I found myself appreciating Lagos heat.

I’m going to be discussing redeployment details and PPA information in my next post. Have fun, if you were posted in Kaduna. Have a safe trip and good luck!

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