Silver Linings

Yesterday,
Commute back home

My friend buzzed me on Skype with a link to a video comparing Siri, Cortana and Google now. Attached to the link was “Since you seem to like these things”.
My first real smile broke out.
Then he asked “How are you?
And this one time it felt okay to say “I’m not okay”

I’m not.
They say the first step is awareness and the next is acceptance, yes?

OK.

***

When I got to the bus stop, a random girl walked past me and said hello with a really cheerful smile.
I couldn’t ruin her day, so I gave it my best shot and said hello with a good smile too.
We ended up in the same Keke.

When she got to her bus stop, I took it further. I smiled and said “Ba-bye”
She gave me that irresistible smile again, walked back and paid my fare.

I didn’t get a chance to say thank you.
I got extra money to buy Chipsy!

***

I got my favorite seat on the bus – by the window.
Didn’t get a good sitting partner :(

I spent the entire journey trying to ensure his clammy skin wouldn’t rub against mine.

Still, I didn’t miss the sun setting in the sky!

 

Silver Linings - Sunset

<3 <3

 

***

I’ve been seeing some really huge mangoes everywhere, recently.
They’re literally as big as my head  and my head is very big.
I stopped over to make enquires.

A small girl walked up to me, said it was a hundred bucks and asked how many I wanted.
I said one, and asked what kinda mangoes they were
She said they’re called “Jekoyo”
Transalation: Eat and be filled.

I had the heartiest laughter in that moment

 

Silver Linings - Mango

She was right! I couldn’t finish it!!!

***

There’s this woman on the way to my house who sells the most unhealthy puffpuffs. Like they’re so oily and sweet at the same time, you’re literally crying about your fat destiny while you eat them. :(

With our fists held up with grit, my sister and I said “We shall indulge”
We hop on this bike and we (the bike guy and us) had the best convos ever! (see in following paragraph, this paragraph is dedicated to the puffs yo!

The puffpuffs were oily as ever, but they were good, so good. <3

P.S.: That woman is probably the only person who sells puffpuff at night. Freaky!

 

***

So, to the bike guy;

While my sister was buying the puffpuff (I’m too posh to be stretching my hand to buy that stuff flicks hair), the guy was peering intently at something.
I venture; “What are you looking at?”
He says; “That paper, I think say na 100 naira, I wan go take am”
I’m like gasp “But it’s not your own, your money isn’t lost!”
He says; “If you see money on the floor, you no go take am?”
I said; “No really. The only reason I’d pick money off the floor is if I am stranded and penniless. Somehow, I’d think it was God’s intervention” (No, I didn’t speak all this English to him
He said “Ah! Be there! Even if I get 10 million naira, if I see 1000 naira on the floor, I go still carry am! So far I no slap somebody collect am or break inside someone shop take am, I go carry am! Na Lagos we dey o!”

insert inspirational quote about these things, ‘cause I just can’t find the words right now

***

Still on the bike guy;

We bought him puffpuffs too (yeah, we is nice kids)
He was holding the nylon of puffpuffs and riding his bike yeah, and suddenly at some point, he flings his hand –the puffpuff nylon hand – in the air to shout at some other driver.
I had a mini panic attack. I’m like – in my head – oh no! If you do not want the puff puff, give it to me!
So he wouldn’t do it again, I said “What if someone snatches that nylon?”
He laughed and therein begun this speech; (pay attention)

He said he never locks his bike when he parks it for the night and that no one can ever steal it.
That even if he put dollars in a nylon on his bike and walked away, he’d meet it intact when he returned.
He’s like; “You no fit go to a mad woman say you wan check wetin she dey carry, so nobody fit touch my thing.

After a moment of silence, he said;
“That thing wey I dey talk, na like this you go get am.
Find female dog, when she born, one day after, carry one of the pikin, kill am. You go put the blood on anything/anywhere wey you no want make anybody steal”

He then proceeds to swear by the name of my Heavenly Father!
The chump!

(Thank you God for your merciful kindness!)

***

I got a call from a friend I had promised I’d call and didn’t. While I was going on and on apologizing, he says “hush, just wanted to check you’re fine” :)

 

There’s a lot of beauty in the world, it’s up to us to find them and make them our happy pills, our own silver linings,  no matter how hard it gets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parable of the Talents – Retold

This isn’t clear-cut “retold” like Maleficient or Cinderella, it’s how I picture the scenario every time I walk by…

I use the overhead bridge in CMS at least 3 times a week, on my way to work. I’ll walk you through the journey.

I’m walking from Marina road to the other side of the road where CMS bus stop is.

From the moment a passerby hits the path that leads to the stairs up the bridge, you’re faced with 5 to 6 or even more small children. They’d swarm around you like little ants to sugar, arms stretched upwards begging for alms.

If you’re able to walk pass without budging, there’s more ahead.

On the filthy bridge, filled with unexplainable liquid sipping downwards by the side and wrappers of all sorts of junk eaten by pedastrians, there are no less than seven adult beggars. Their disabilities are mostly “unspottable”, blind and one; obviously crippled. The kind of crippled that has limbs smaller than arms and has his butt permanently on the ground as his fixed position. He’s the servant with ten talents.

He sits on the bridge with a broom in hand and a yellow plastic bowl somewhere close. He sweeps the bridge to make it comfortable for us to pass and for him to sit. He moves with his hand on the floor to move his body and he sweeps the dirt off the bridge to the end of the stairs. He feeds himself off the proceeds that come from his yellow plastic bowl.

The first time I saw him, my heart thud with something I can’t explain. I walked past and kept turning back to look at him. No, he’s not sitting there to beg to survive, he’s working for it. I see people file up the bridge with something in their hands already, waiting to drop it in the yellow bowl. There are at least 6 others on that bridge, none of them look as sorry and helpless as he does. And none of them do anything extra to make a difference.

Call me sentimental, but seeing him makes all the difference for me. I said good morning to him today and he responded with the brightest smile and added “have a good day”.

He spoke clean english :)

Read the Parable of the Talents here… I’m suddenly not sure there’s a connection x_x

Of Tyres and Death

The funniest thing happened to me this morning.

Let’s take two steps back.

Few weeks ago, I was at Obalende, en route home. There was a little fiasco afar off, people gathered, chanting different things. Some were stuck on “Ole” (that’s thief in yoruba) others on “Kill him” and some others again begging silently for mercy. I asked some passerby what he stole, he said gala. You know gala? That hard supposed sausage roll we consume in traffic that goes for fifty bucks. Yeah that. That dude was about to be sent to his grave for it.

I’ll move on.

I took a bus to work this morning. I was in front next to the driver. See ehn, I live at the end of Lagos and I work on the Island, so I leave my house in the middle of the night – 5 a.m. – to beat traffic and get to work in good time. It’s the life of a hustler, I know.

I’ll move on, again.

I spend the commute sleeping, as expected, so this morning, I was asleep. Unusually sound asleep too. Suddenly the driver taps me and hands me money, I hold it and sleep back. He taps me again and hands me more! It was at this point I realized passengers were passing their fares to him from behind and he was handing them to me so he could concentrate on driving. After everyone had paid, he said to count the money, the expected sum was 5,500, I had 5,400.

He shouted “Who never pay o!, the money never complete” I drifted off again.

I woke up when I realized the bus had stopped moving.

I woke up to angry shouting passengers.

You see, from the 5,400 accumulated, two passengers were gonna collect change summing up to 900 bucks!

ONE WHOLE THOUSAND NAIRA WAS MISSING!

Oh, the bus was filled with angry people, I say.

We spent the next twenty minutes tryna find four people who hadn’t paid. Everyone swore they had. The driver said he wouldn’t move an inch till he got his complete sum. They all continually screamed in frustration.

I sat still, blank eyed, wondering why I woke up in the first place.

Someone suggested we help the situation and contribute 50 bucks each for the guy. I dipped my hand in the side zip of my bag – where I put my change – to contribute my quota.

I found a stray 1,000 naira note.

You know the rest of the story.

A series of unfortunate events

2005

It’s was the period after break. I was in SS2. Someone hit the table in the rhythm every QC girl knows, to usher the teacher in.
“Good AAAAAfternoon ma!” we all chanted. To which she replied “Bring out your new practical English textbook and open to chapter  ‘x’”.

I do not remember the chapter now.

“Let somebody read to us”

Odunola began.

“May your roads be rough…..”

There was a pandemonium as we all shouted “God forbid!”

***

April 2014

Thirty minutes ago

I walked with steady strides oblivious of the happenings around me, clutching my nylon to my chest like my life depended on it. Horns blaring, bikes swerving, people cursing. It was too short a distance from the bus stop  to my house to have all this fiasco, I thought. But I didn’t care much. I had been numbed. Momentarily. Till I found a safe place to break – My dad’s room.

Last week

I had realized that my seat of dissatisfaction lay in my lack of activity. I made a list of interests and promised I’d pursue them, one after another. It was photography this month. I bought a camera.

One hour ago

I boarded my last bus home. I was on the seat next to the open door where the conductor hung – in the typical Lagos way. I had my handbag, a nylon containing my newly acquired camera and an umbrella, all on my lap. The conductor, with his armpit over my head, asks for my fare. I reach into my bag to get my wallet out to pay, and somewhere in-between avoiding his under arm and getting the money out; the driver swerves and his sharp turn sent my nylon flying in the opposite direction, outside the bus. It was seemingly a short moment between when it fell out and when I got the conductor to run back to get it, but in that little moment, tires had run over it. Tires had crushed my camera.

20140410_230126 (1)

Twenty minutes ago

I rushed into my dad’s room and I broke down. They weren’t tears streaming down silently, they were deep racking unending sobs from a soul that’s known to much grief in the last seven weeks. It just went on and on, and my dad – amongst other things – said: “It’s life, things always happen, you have to learn to bear it” (How does anyone even learn that ?!)

Now

I’m learning that my roads might have to be rough.
I’m also learning that halcyon and breathing might be a long way off.

“Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them”- Epictetus

 

Passing Faces

I work. I suppose you know that already. Of all the many nerve racking things that come with working, commuting to work is the absolute worst for me. I’d go on and on telling you how depressing it is, but that’s unnecessary. It ain’t my flow.

You know the Yin yang theory? In my oh-so-dark-depression every morning, there’s this little shimmering light that makes all the difference. Brings some strange sorta peace in a very weird way. It has come to be the best part of my mornings.

I do it every morning. Have conversations with myself. About them. :)

From the moment I’m dropped off and I walk the rest of the journey to work, there are specific people I expect to see. I’ve seen them everyday since I started taking that route. I’ve watched them. I know them. But they don’t know me.

I do not know their names but I’ve named them in my mind and I wonder about them.

I walk pass tons of people everyday, but these 7, I look out for. They have come to be my light in all the dark.

There’s the first woman. I call her Iya Titi, for no reason in particular. It just fits. She’s there every morning. As early as 6 a.m. She faces me as I get out of the car. She sells fruits, as the seasons come. It was mango once before, and then tangerines, bananas at some point too. It’s agbalumo now. I bought a few from her some days ago, just because. She looked up and smiled at me and said thank you, I smiled back and walked off with agbalumos in my bag and a name for her. We’re friends now, if only by a smile.

Next up are the two beggars who sit in the path I thread by with laminated A4 papers around their necks. I’ve never stopped to read what they have on, neither have I stopped to drop a few bucks. I’m not mean, I just wonder about them. How long would they sit out to beg, what amount of money would make a difference to them. What do they want out of life? Even I cannot fathom what it might be.

I walk just a few steps more before I start to hear the clinging sound from afar off. It’s where the next two are. I think they’re sisters. In my mind they are. The elder one fries puff puff, the younger one hits a fork on an iron tray to get the attention of passersby. They’re there everyday too. We don’t smile at each other – yet – but it’s satisfying seeing them support each other in the early hours of the morning, trying to make ends meet as people swarm by to face their daily businesses.

I walk only a little more, and then I’m on the street that leads to the back gate of the estate my office is. I take a bike from this street. There are tons and tons of bike men who chant “Sister come” when I get here, but I never budge. I have a chosen one. He’s the sixth. He wears a thin faded blue shirt everyday and has a fixed sad smile. He’s old and I have no name for him. I take no other bike when I do not see him, I’m always early anyway, so I have enough time to spare. I do not want my N50 to go into anybody else’s pocket. I want it to be in his alone. And he knows it. When I get there and he isn’t there, immediately he’s back, he comes to me and says good morning, with that fixed sad smile, only a little wider. I give him the brightest smile I’ve got and say “Good morning, sir”. And then, I get on the bike and we zoom off in the ambiance of our silence and peaceful friendship. On random days, I want to pay him N100 instead of N50, just because, but I wonder how he’d react. I wonder if he’d be excited or if he’d feel insulted. I wonder about him. Every single time.

The seventh person is a lot like me. She’s a young girl. She lives within the estate. She’s always leaving for work when I’m walking the last mile to my office. I envy that. She’s very pretty :) We pass by each other without a word but we give each other a placid stare. I know when she’s happy and when she’s down. I know when she had a good night rest and when it was frustrating. Yesterday, after we passed by, I turned around to look at her again and she had done the exact same thing. We smiled and turned around. I planned to ask for her name today :)

I’m glummer than usual today. My little lights weren’t there today.

Iya Titi wasn’t on the bridge today chanting “buy your fruits, fresh fresh fruits”. The beggars weren’t on the street. I didn’t hear the clank of the fork on the tray from afar off. I got there and saw the elder sister alone struggling to fry the puff puff, get people’s attention and sell them all at once. I stood out for almost thirty minutes, my bike man never came. And when I walked in, she didn’t pass. I couldn’t ask for her name.

I walked by looking worried, wondering where they all went and what could have happened to them. I saw too many people look at me like something was amiss.

I walked on, finding my path in the dark wondering if my lights would be back to light up the way tomorrow.