Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Sickle Cell and other Stories

Hey all,

I have figured out why it is so difficult for me to blog these days: Twitter!
It is called micro-blogging for a reason. It allows me to articulate all my thoughts instantly in 140 characters and it is quite frankly my favourite social media platform. But I will try not to let it affect my blogging (2 posts already this year :-)) anymore. Anyway you can follow my twitter ramblings @naijadaydreamer

In other news, I am sure you all know that I am passionate about Sickle Cell Disease. It is something that affects me personally and alot of my close friends and family members. Sickle Cell is not a joke, it has moments when it seems like the worst thing in the world. I have seen it create untold difficulties and hardship for people, and as much as it makes me feel truly blessed that I have had it easy, it always saddens me to see others go through pain.

I joined the Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (@scaf_nigeria) in Law school in 2011 and it has given me the opportunity to make a difference in my own small way to raising awareness about sickle cell. I have gotten the opportunity to meet so many people living with sickle cell and everyone has their own story of their daily struggles. The one thing they all have in common is that it makes them stronger in character. There is something about being weaker physically that makes people more resolute mentally. 

Unfortunately, we lost one of our members Awele a few weeks ago and it was heart breaking. I am only able to write about it now, but it affected me alot more than I was willing to admit because that could easily have been anyone of us. Awele was such a vivacious and greatly loved person and she had so many complications from sickle cell but never let it wear her down. She was very vocal about her battles and eager to raise awareness about it. She won an award for capturing her struggles with sickle cell in a documentary called Awele's Diary. I attended her funeral in London, which happened to be my first funeral, and it was so tough emotionally to watch another person I cared about loose the fight to sickle cell.





But it ultimately renewed my faith and reenforced the importance of doing something worth while with your life while we have the chance. We sometimes get so caught up with daily life and forget to actually be passionate about something. Sickle Cell is my passion, and whenever I leave the world, I hope to have left my mark in advocating for it in my own small way.

To mark World Sickle Cell Day 2015, we had an awareness walk in Awele's memory as well as a blood drive. The founder of SCAF was recently honoured by the Queen of England and David Cameron for being a Young Achiever and it has really validated our work and given us the drive to keep up our advocacy in our own little way.

To every sickle cell warrior, family, friends and supporters of people with sickle cell, we know your pain and we wont stop working until every one does! 











RIP Awele.


xoxo


Miss B

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Growing Up Is...

Hello world,

My last blog post was on Monday the 12th of August 2013. Alot has happened but I have decided to start writing again. I will be back to my fiction and short stories but today, let me start with my ramblings so here goes:



Growing up is ridiculously hard work. Nothing and no one prepares you for how hard it is. The educational system is designed in a way that hard work merits rewards, usually in short periods of time with few other elements being measured. You go to class, listen to your teacher, do your homework, study for your exams and you get a grade usually tantamount to the efforts you put in and or your talents.

Your grade determines your position in class, which determines if you will move on to the next year. If you get good grades you are often praised by your teachers, peers and family, assuring you that your effort/talent alone will take you far in life.


This starts from how we are taught as kids in kindergarten. It is reinforced that good behaviour gets you sweets as a reward and misbehaving gets you punished, also with almost instant consequences for all actions. This is fair and just.

Adult life is anything but just. There are so many other factors that determines rewards in adult life. Money, family, friends, social class, relationships, level of education, determination, saviness, social skills, cunning and a great deal of luck.

There are books on how to be successful in life that explore most of the major factors. I am not a fan of self help books as I find them patronising. Offering generalized advice to a non-specific group of people seems redundant on its face. The few I have perused emphasize determination, hardwork, taking risks etc which are key components of success in any field.

I much prefer reading biographies which tell a person's success story from a very individual perspective. They often detail their rise as well as their falls including bumps in the road. But even these rarely assign the importance of luck in people's life.

Simply being in the right place at the right time has done more for creating success than most people would care to admit, or could even contemplate. Knowing the right person who can refer you for a role, or refer your company to a client is the cornerstone of building yourself or your business. The saying "Your network is your net-worth" doesn't take into consideration how much luck plays in meeting the people that make up your network.

Success in personal relationships more than any human endeavour is not based on the quality of a person's character. Too often we see genuinely beautiful people ending up with horrid friends, family and life partners. One's love, devotion, and commitment to another will not automatically be reciprocated even though they work as hard at the relationship as they possibly can.

Being African, most things have a religious explanation. Luck is often referred to as "finding favour" or "God blessing your hustle" while avoiding negativity that can "Pour sand sand in your garri".


This is not to take away from hard work and being a good person. They are traits that often bring a type of contentment that in itself can be a reward. But they do not impact on success as much as we are brought up to believe it does. You don't get what you deserve in life simply by following the prescribed path. That is why the hereafter exists in all religions. To keep you motivated that doing the right thing will yield the desired effects, if not now then maybe after you die.




xoxo
Miss B

P.s- Thank you Omotee for pushing and pushing me until I wrote this. You are a true friend.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Palmgroove Letters Part 9

Nafisat twirled around in her office chair slowly, and in precise angles, swinging her black Jimmy Choo pumps from her toes and wondering where she could get suya so late on the island.

 It was 11.15pm and she was still at her desk, with the bright lights of various Lagos businesses still shining bright. The rain was pouring down outside and there were intermittent sounds of thunder, immediately drowned by the sounds of hundreds of generators growling to power the business hub of Nigeria. She looked out of the window, watching the raindrops fall slowly down the window of the 18th floor of Gloval towers. The window was ajar and the strong winds blew little drops of rain into her office, bringing the sweet smell of moisture and the salty taste of the Atlantic ocean. 

 Her work life was intact, she had just submitted the preliminary report on the deal with the Chinese investors brokered by her uncle, and she was due to travel to Beijing with her boss to start the first round of negotiations. Nafisat had left the office no later than midnight over the past three weeks trying to get all the background financial information to get the negotiations going. She loved every minute of it, not just because of the excitement of starting her first project from the initial stage, but also because it had distracted her from her catastrophic love life.

 It had been over three weeks since she wrote the letter to Bayo and she had not heard a word back from him. Although she had emphatically said that it was the end of their relationship, she was still hurt that he had given up so easily. She missed him dearly and during boring meetings she sketched his face on her note pad, scared that she was forgetting what he looked like. 
She wished she could capture his smell, the Tom Ford smell mixed with old spice shower gel. She had deleted his number and messages from her phone so she would not be tempted to call him. They had no friends in common and with her current work schedule the chances of running into him were very slim. 

More surprising however was the fact that Nuhu had not contacted her either. Since she had walked out on him, neither him nor Farida had called her or sent her so much as an apology. She initially figured they were happy living out their fantasy and would eventually drive themselves crazy. Both their personalities were too strong to co-exist for a long time. 

 As the days turned into weeks, it dawned on her one morning in the shower that she had been replaced. She had gone through several stages of feelings. Her initial anger had worn off and had been replaced with hurt and disappointment. She had not spoken to anyone about it and the one person she usually confided in was the reason behind her problem.
 Wonu walked into her office as she was lost in her thoughts and jerked her back into reality. 
 “Naf, we are ordering indomie from the mallam downstairs, would you like some?”
 “You are God-sent, I am starving.” She replied 
"Alright then coming right up” he said as he picked up his phone to place the order
 “Have you figured out how to use the 3d graphs software?” he asked, taking a seat opposite hers and stretching out his whole body, stiff from sitting in one position for hours 
“Yes, thank you so much for showing me. I am almost done. Why are you still here anyway? Doesn’t your wife nag you about your late nights?” Asked Nafisat

 “She’s stopped nagging me about anything long time ago. She understands that I need to put in work in order to be able to afford the life we both want. Have you seen the rate of college fees lately? Assuming the rate of inflation remains stable for the next 20 years, our kids will need millions of naira to even get the most basic degree. Besides, I bet you she is still up, working herself. Need to give her a call now actually, excuse me Naffy” said Wonu as he stepped out of her office to place the call. 

Nafisat smiled at how cute he was, and marvelled at their unity. She was claustrophobic and she couldn’t contemplate living in the same house with her husband for years without plotting his murder. She needed someone like Nuhu who travelled often to give her plenty of weeks off the relationship. She flashed back to when they first started dating. 
He was in University in Nottingham, and would come over to New York to see her every other month, or she would come to spend her vacations with him in his family’s Hyde Park home. The first time they had been in the same country had been ten months ago when she had moved back to Nigeria. This marked the beginning of the end of their relationship. 

Although they were not in the same city, the whole country seemed too small for the both of them. They fought incessantly and disagreed on almost everything. He had moved back a year before her, and had changed. He was bossy, misogynistic and extremely arrogant. He had a sense of entitlement, and actually believed he was better than others. He disliked non-hausa people and felt his family belonged permanently in the ruling class. She tried to let him know several times that things had changed, and just because his family had ruled for decades, did not mean they could continue to exploit their people. Every time she criticised his view on something, he would get offended and warn her to drop her western ideas.

 She jumped suddenly at Wonu’s gentle touch. Her chair had been facing the window, lost in counting the droplets of rain sliding down the window. She twirled her chair around to watch him facing her. 

‘Wow, I hope its not Nonso’s graphs that’s got you this lost.’ said Wonu, stretching out a little plastic bag to her 

‘Oooooo yesss please! This smells divine.’ Said Nafisat as she took off the foil cover smiling at the steaming noodles, brightly coloured with diced peppers, onions, chicken and sweet corn. She wiped her fork and laid a napkin on her table and carefully began to pick out the onions at the surface. They both ate in silence, loading up on the carbohydrates they had burned during the day. Nafisat finished first, with a stack of onions neatly arranged on her serviette and a huge smile on her face. 

‘You look like you had a makeover, food is glorious’ said Wonu chuckling at her 

‘Oh boy, hunger won kee person’ said Nafisat
 ‘Hahahahahahahahaha! Please say that again. Oh my God, I think I need to record that’ said Wonu 
‘Whatever dude, Mr Segun says my broken English is improving. Infact, we listen to Wazobia fm in the mornings now’ ‘
Well my dear, you still have a long way to go. Just a little pointer, only Bourgeois people call it Broken English’ 

'Na you sabi. Na God dey tear ticket’ said Nafisat, laughing at herself ‘So, why haven’t you gone home either? Its a Friday and you are technically still a corper, its not like you can get fired.’ 

‘Honestly, I don’t have that much to go home to. I live in my uncle’s huge empty house and I don’t really have a lot of friends here. If I go home, it’ll be to paint or to sleep. I should probably pick up some hobbies. Monitoring the stock markets doesn’t count as a hobby right?’  

‘Ermm let me check my book of cool, nope nope I was right, that is in the book of losers.’ Said Wonu with a sarcastic drawl. ‘What about the love life? I mean you are stunning, you must be chasing them away’ he said matter-of-factly 

‘Again, honestly, it seemed like I was about a month ago. But right now, I could not be more alone’ said Nafisat
 ‘I find that really hard to believe. But assuming, without conceding, that you are alone, what have you tried to do to amend the situation. I mean yes you are gorgeous, but you need to mingle. How else do you plan to meet someone? Or is it a Northern thing? How do y’all meet people? Said Wonu 

‘I really don’t think I can be an authority on anything Northern. I could ask my mum for you though’ she said with a chuckle 

‘Ok then, you should come for a party with me and my wife on Saturday. Don’t worry no one will be speaking broken, so you can fit right in.’ said Wonu. 

'I am socially awkward. I don’t do well with small talk to strangers Wonu’ she said 

'That explains why we all disliked you when you first started’ he replied 

‘Haha I am not surprised. A corper that bags a huge office with a great view to herself is never going to be popular’ said Nafisat 

‘Well its hard to be mad at you because you work so hard. I must confess I have always had this stereotype about you Hausas as being lazy. Especially the women’ said Wonu honestly 

'You are not misconceived. Like I said, I am not a good yard stick to measure any stereotype. I love this job, and I will be sad to leave it.’ Said Nafisat 

'Leave ke? Where are you leaving to?’ asked Wonu in surprise 

‘Back to Kano. The plan was always to be in Lagos for a year. I doubt I can convince my parents to allow me stay a day longer than my service.’ She said

‘Really? Have you got a job waiting for you back there?’ asked Wonu curiously

‘Err well, something like that. I am supposed to be getting married. But I’m not too sure that’s going on anymore’ said Nafisat 

‘Wow, sounds complicated. Well I hope you find a way to stay. Not sure how Nonso will cope without you on this project.’ Said Wonu 

‘He always finds a way. Well now that I am full, I am craving my bed’ said Nafisat as she stretched out her whole body. She started her routine of cramping in her Macbook, Ipad and Iphone with their respective cables into her oversize black Prada bag. She walked out with Wonu, to the Elevators and waited in front of the big gold Gloval Oil sign. She hated the corridor and sign because it was ostentatious and over the top.
 The walls were gold marble and a small fountain surrounded by fake flowers sat underneath the sign. It reflected the pomposity of the company CEO whom she had only ever met once. He only wore white with gold accessories and personally decorated all his offices. They got into the elevator and walked to their allocated parking lot to find Mr Segun sitting next to the car with a frown on his face. He did not appreciate her current late nights especially on a Friday as he usually went to visit his family in Ikorodu at the weekends.
 ‘Oh wow, your driver is still here. Lucky for some’ said Wonu with awe. Nafisat felt bad that she had kept him so long, especially on a Friday. It was already past midnight and the driver’s lodge was completely empty. He did not even smile at her as he started the car and pulled it towards her. She climbed into the car and said goodnight to Wonu who bade her goodnight, still with fascinated at her luxurious life. Mr Segun drove her home in silence, not even turning on the radio. She began to nod off during the ride home as she normally did, and his anger softened, she was clearly overworked.

She tipped him handsomely on arriving home, and this seemed to wipe away his anger. She walked to the back of the brightly lit house, past the light green swimming pool and into the kitchen. The volume of the Hausa movie on in the Kitchen was extremely high in an attempt to drown out the sound of the Generators which were directly behind it. The chef did not hear her walk in and she clicked her heels quietly behind him upstairs to her room. She yawned continuously and couldn’t wait to shower and have a lie in for the whole weekend.

She pulled out the keys to her room and put it in, but it did not turn as it was already open. She walked in, surprised to see her lights were on. The maid was becoming careless she thought. She sat on her bed and took off her shoes, massaging her aching feet. She took off her head scarf and let her hair fall down to her shoulders. She ran her hands through her hair closing her eyes momentarily, until she was startled by the sound of the toilet flushing.

Nafisat jumped up, scared that a robber was in the house. Before she could think of her next move, Farida walked out of her bathroom, drying her hands on the back of her jeans as she always did. She looked just as surprised to see Nafisat, as if she had not been sitting in her room waiting for her for the past five hours. They stared at each other in complete silence for what seemed like a full minute.

Farida wore a branded polo top made by one of her designer friends and slim fit jeans. Her clothes clinked to her every curve as always. She wore minimal make up and her hair had full curly extensions. She looked casual but still gorgeous. Farida seemed once again lost for words, a rare feat for her.

 ‘Hi Naf’ said Farida quietly

 ‘Hi’ she replied, sitting back down on the bed

‘You look exhausted. I hope you have eaten’ Farida said with concern

‘Lets skip the chitchat shall we? Spit it out’ said Nafisat, suddenly wide awake

‘I really don’t know what to say Naf. I know it sounds clichĂ©, but it honestly just happened.’ Replied Farida more quietly, almost a whisper

‘Is that it?’ Nafisat replied coldly

‘I understand that you’re upset Naf. I mean it’s the ultimate betrayal. I am not proud of it but….’

 ‘When did it start?’ asked Nafisat quietly

 ‘About 5 months ago.’ She replied taking a seat at the opposite edge of her bed. When Nafisat did not reply, Farida continued nervously ‘I was styling his step-mum when he came into her room. I said hello to him, and he ignored me because he thought I was part of her help. You know how rudeness irks me, so I said hello to him again. He nodded a response and didn’t bother looking at me. Once his step mum stepped out of the room, I told him exactly where to shove it. He told me he did not notice me, and apologised. He seemed sincere so we laughed about it. I dressed his step mum a couple of more times because of the First lady’s Conference that was going on, and that’s how we got talking. We exchanged details and it sort of progressed from there.’ Said Farida

‘Well that’s a great ‘how we met’ story except you skipped the part about him being your best friend’s fiancĂ©’ replied Nafisat sarcastically.

She thought how proud Bayo would have been of her appropriately timed sarcasm and she momentarily smiled. Farida misinterpreted her smile and sighed.

 ‘So when were you planning to elope? Did you feel good making me feel like a fool? Listening to me complain to you about how he had changed and you giving me advice on how to mend our relationship? Remember how I told you that we had not had sex in months, and you told me maybe it was what we needed? Oh wait, remember when he travelled to Paris for work and you were also in Paris for Fashion week, was that also unplanned?’ asked Nafisat looking directly into her eyes, her anger starting to bubble

Walahi ba haka ba Naf. We started off as just friends, we just had a lot in common and….’

‘Nabil does not have any female friends for a reason. And you don’t have any straight male friends either. You are a slut Farida. You sleep with everyone, from bosses to uncles and teachers. There are no boundaries with you. You hurt people in the process and do not seem to realise that your actions have consequences. I guess its not your fault, after all your mother is a slut who slept with rich married men…’ said Nafisat maliciously

‘Haba hold up Naf, I hurt you but do not bring my mother into this…’ said Farida, her voice rising from her whispers

‘Why shouldn’t I? All of a sudden we have boundaries? I will talk to you like the low life prostitute that you are. Your mother is a whore and you are following in her exact path, if you look at it through nature or nurture, the apple doesn’t fall far…’ said Nafisat her voice getting louder in response

 ‘You self-centred bitch’ said Farida getting up from the edge of her bed ‘You know what, I am so fed up with your arrogance and self riotousness. You are a fucking hypocrite and I will not sit down and have you belittle me. You have had every single thing in your life handed to you. You have not had to want or struggle for anything, yet you somehow think that you are better than people who have had difficult cards dealt to them and have managed to find a way. You think you are better than me because I have used what I have to achieve my goals? You think my mother is a slut because she was abandoned by my father and chose to stay with a married man who liked her despite her having a child out of wedlock? A man who had enough money to change our lives forever without blinking? A man who cared enough to take care of another man’s child? According to your ‘principles’ she should have chosen instead to be upright and poor right? Let me educate you since you do not know, there is absolutely no dignity in being poor. In wanting everyday, in begging and in perpetual struggle. You cannot even begin to fathom what it is like to have to make the choices that people make. I may not get along with my mother for several other reasons, but don’t you dare call her any names. She is twice the woman you will ever be Nafisat. And for your information, I know that you are sleeping with Bayo. You did not tell me because you did not want to admit to me that you are not as principled as you make out to be. You suddenly realised that all the judgement you have been passing on me applied to you as well because you are a cheat. A lying, hypocritical cheat for that matter.’ Farida busted out her, voice getting louder as she progressed.

 Nafisat stared at her in utter disbelief. She had wanted to hurt Farida with her words, but Farida’s outburst had knocked her out.

 ‘Get out of my house Farida, and don’t you ever come back’ replied Nafisat coldly, looking directly into her eyes

 ‘Gladly. I am really sorry about Nabil. I genuinely did not set out to hurt you, but I love him and we are going to be together’ said Farida as she picked up her black Prada back to leave the room.

It was the exact same as Nafisat’s and Nabil had also bought it for her from their trip to Paris. Farida walked out of the room quickly, and shut the door firmly behind her.


 Xoxo Miss B

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Palmgroove Letters Part 8

Dear Bayo,
            I have read your letter over and over and each time I find something new to make me smile. I have made a game trying to find how many spelling mistakes there are and I have so far counted 27. Your punctuation also leaves a lot to be desired. What would Prof say if I showed him this letter? The money spent on your overpriced education is more than required to start up most viable businesses. The least you can do is not mix up ‘their’ and ‘there’.  I am convinced that you must have somehow bought your Oxford degree. And don’t you dare hit me with that Dyslexic excuse. You are simply so spoilt with auto correct that you have forgotten the art of writing.
Like you, there is also a lot you do not know about me, mostly because I did not give you the opportunity to.  I was brought up to be private and growing up, my mum scolded us for getting emotional in public or showing affection to people we did not know. The people we knew were so limited that I grew up withdrawn and shy, usually interpreted as cold.


 I also have a plan for my life. I am ambitious and have a restless spirit. I love my job at the moment and I am great at it. Given the chance, I could rise to be CEO some day, even my boss knows that I am a threat to his job. Its marvelling how smart you are and yet you cannot calculate how much change is owed to you. I on the other hand can solve complex algorithms in my head in seconds. I probably should have been an engineer, but my mum thought that the course sounded too intimidating for a girl so I decided on Economics. That was when I still listened to my mother’s opinions.
I see you battle with your dad regularly and struggle with the burden of trying to be a better man but secretly trying not to disappoint him. I am also in this constant struggle with my mother, except ours is a silent war. We do not raise our voices in my family, do not have confrontations and always put on a show of unity. Left to my mother, I should have been married three years ago to Nuhu and settled in Kano with a baby, being a socialite and running a series of small businesses guaranteed to fail because I do not put in any real commitment into them. My main job will be a wife and mother ensuring they achieve their dreams. I will support Nuhu through his political aspirations till he eventually buys himself an office and I will play the dutiful first lady with a series of charitable organisations focused on women and children.


Fortunately for me, I have the most untraditional father, having been raised by a single mother himself, and he is my rock. I know you think I get my temper from him because he is a General, but it is the exact opposite. He is gentle, good natured and always has a smile on his face. He is also extremely disciplined, hardworking and intelligent. He has only one weakness as far as I know, and that is my mother. She makes every major decision regarding his career since they have been married, and he runs everything by her. She knows more about the military than any civilian should. And no matter how much we do not get along, I know she is the reason he is so successful.


That is part of the reason I have stuck with Nuhu, because my mum has a way of being right all the time. He is good for me, known to my family and will always take care of me. What we have is steady, safe and assured. I respect him and he is the leader in our relationship. I know he loves me, in his own way. Not the Hollywood type of love, there are no butterflies or skipped beats with him, it is pragmatic and realistic. He might take another wife down the line, but I don’t mind because I have never had him all to myself anyway. I am not sure I want to actually, I prefer him in small doses.
Do you know the ironic thing about my mother is that she married the love of her life. Her only love actually. They met while he was on mission in her tiny village which was plagued with regular rebel fighting where he rescued her and her uncle. She spoke no English or Hausa actually, only Fulani, and had never left the walls of her village. He rescued her from what was sure to be a life of abject poverty and misery and she still worships him for it. But for some reason she does not seem to think that I could get so lucky to find my knight in shining armor.


Before I met you Bayo I was also sure this was as good as it gets. I don’t know how we got in this deep or that it was even possible for one person to stir up so many feelings in me. I like, respect, admire, loathe and crave you, sometimes all at the same time. Every time I am with you, time seems to slow down.  I want to lay with you and take mental pictures of your delicate features over and over again until I have memorised every intricate pore of your face. I understand the feelings of passion you describe so well because you stir it up in me.


 I have often fantasized about us running away together, to Monaco or Barbados or Tahiti, somewhere by the beach with a great view. You could start up a restaurant and I would sit by the beach all day sketching landscapes and selling it to tourists. We wouldn’t have a lot of money or nice things, you could definitely not afford your convertible on a restaurant income, and I would give up most of my heels. But we would be so drunk on our love, or passion as you say it is, that we would never notice.
But as we both know, this is just a daydream. Even if we decided to follow our naija daydream and be together, how far could we go? You are a devout Christian, even though you try to come off as relaxed. I am a muslim, even though according to my brother Bello, what I practice is not really Islam. Although I appear to have a non-chalant attitude, I do care about what they feel.  As modern as your parents are, they would not approve of us. My parents, brothers and whole community will reject us whole-heartedly. We are fighting the world before we even begin. Our culture and language are also worlds apart. But more importantly, we would both be breaking commitments we have made to people.

Yesterday I found out that my boyfriend Nuhu has been having an affair with Farida. I like the word “affair” because it resonates how dramatic the whole escapade felt last night. I was so upset that I walked for 30 minutes on the side of the motorway until I got picked up by a stranger called Mr Koffi who took me home. Trust me, no one was more surprised than me about how the night panned out!


Never in a million years would I have guessed that Farida would want Nuhu, she does not even like him because he is egotistical. The few times we have hung out together, Nuhu had let her know that he thought her career of dressing up rich people was a joke and she had called him names a lady should not even know. In retrospect, they do have two important things in common; the love for the finer things and an ability not to care about what people think about them.
I felt hurt at their betrayal but regardless of this, I will take Nuhu back because we belong together. I know he will send me extravagant gifts, usually shoes at first, and when this doesn’t work, he will blackmail me with his mum because he knows I have a soft spot for her gentle nature. I know that most marriages cannot be happy. People simply co-exist amicably in order not to grow old alone. Passion is for liberals like you, I am conservative.

In case I run into you in Lagos, please do not be surprised if I completely ignore you. I do not know how to pretend and we can certainly not be friends. Too much has happened between us to even try.

Thank you Bayo for allowing me to experience feelings I thought I was not capable of feeling. Thank you for putting up with my temper and teaching me the benefits of being friendly. Thank you for giving me a glimpse of a life filled with days longing for passionate nights. Thank you for being gallant enough to try and rescue me from my life. I love you for it.

Your letter can be classed as a declaration of love. Mine is a farewell. I think we have come to the end of the road.

P.s- Thank you for loving me.

Pps- I know you were married to Cynthia.

Lots of Love
Nafisat 

Since I cannot send you a poem, here is a sketch I did of you the day you fell asleep on my rug. I did it in pencil because I did not want to wake you up. 








Friday, 14 June 2013

Restaurant Review:My Old Dutch


Hello blogworld, 
    As you know I love food, not as much as Jen, but enough for me to class it as a hobby. I love eating out, but in Nigeria it is a very expensive hobby. There are a lot of really great places to try here if one has the means. 

I was in London a few weeks ago and went to this restaurant called My Old Dutch in Holborn. It is a Dutch pancake house that offers a great variety of sweet and savory pancakes as well as salads etc. The pancakes are served on this huge plate and are absolutely delicious and very affordable. (www.myolddutch.com). The restaurant is quaint with minimalist decor and plenty of Dutch influences.  

I had the Savory Smoked Duck pancake which is made of smoked duck breast, mixed sweet pepper, spring onions, mushrooms & hoi sin sauce. For desert I had the American style pancakes with cinnamon, maple syrup and banana. I also tried this sweet strawberry Dutch beer called Fruli. The portions are huge so make sure you come with an apetite as I had to take mine home. 

If you are ever in London its definately worth a try. 




xoxo
Miss B

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Palmgroove Letters Part 7



Palmgroove Letters Part 6 can be found HERE


Dear Naffy,

            I bet the first thing that came to your mind as you saw this letter was to toss it in the trash. I am really glad you decided to open it as my biggest fear was that you would not give me a chance to explain myself.  I remember how much you loved the letters Abu wrote to you so I decided to try it.
There are a number of things you do not know about me, just like there are numerous things I do not know about you. I have always had a plan for my life as I have told you many times, I hope to be the youngest Senior Advocate of Nigeria, extremely wealthy and philanthropic all at the same time, yes I want to have it all. That is why you see me busting my balls all the time. I have also toyed with the idea of academia like my father, but I am way too restless and love the finer things in life a bit too much to accept a salary. Every time my father tried to pressure me into starting my Phd, this was the only excuse I could give. My mum would like me to do it as well, but I know deep down she would rather I wasn’t in a working environment full of young over enthusiastic students.
The older I get, the more I seem to make the same mistakes I resent my dad for. I have actually researched how much of a person’s social behaviour can be attributed to genetics( I know I’m geeky) because some of the choices I have made over the past couple of years resonate so much of him, that he might as well have made them himself.
Because my mother has accepted my dad’s indiscretions and still loves him, I looked for someone who would love me despite mine. That was the initial reason I fell for Moyin. Although my mum and her do not get along because they are very different, they both have the unshakable ability to love unconditionally and forgive repeatedly. I do try to be a good man to her in most ways, however I think my constant infidelity will eventually break her because she is not as strong as she makes out to be.
I made a decision to commit once I moved back to Nigeria as I have pretty much seen it all. It had not been very hard, especially because I find girls in Lagos to be of very little substance.
That was all until I met you. You do not fit into my life plan. There is something about you, I am sure there must be a word to describe it but I have not come across it yet. It is that ability to not care at all and to care so much all at the same time. The way you appear so cold and are yet so warm. The way you fit into the box of ‘a bad girl’ but at the same time condemn Farida for being one. The way you refuse to drink alcohol and yet smoke everything that grows. The way you are so brilliant with numbers and yet have never finished a novel. The way you never apologise for who you are. The fact that you don’t realise just how beautiful you are. The pride you take in being you.
Every minute I have spent with you has stirred up feelings of passion I never knew I could feel. Not lust, because I have felt plenty of that before. Not love, because I have felt that too. But pure, unapologetic and unparalleled passion. I remember the first time I saw the movie Troy, I thought to myself how do people go to war over love. I felt love and I didn’t think it was worth going to war over because you can love and love again. But I now understood that they went to war because of the passion they felt. That passion for your cause, for your country, for your woman is what makes a hundred man army defeat an army of thousands. Passion is what makes a couple fight one minute and make love the next. It is what makes you stay.
I am so glad I met you, because before you, I was so sure I had it all. I now realise that the reason Moyin has stayed so long with me is because she feels that passion for me. I feel that passion for you. I know you feel it too. You don’t have to say it, I see it when you stare at me ramble on about things you have no interest in. When you hold me close and tell me not to leave. When you allow me into your closely guarded world.
 This passion is so strong that I don’t want it to end. I want to fight for it, to keep it burning as life throws us curveballs. I want to fight for you. I want to fight for us.
I know we have both never discussed the possibility of us being together because neither of us are single, but the real reason is because we are both afraid of stepping out of our comfort zone. I am not afraid anymore. All I need is for you to say the word and I am yours. I don’t want to hide any more, I want to show the world that you are mine. I know I cannot promise to always make you happy but I can promise to always try.
Give me a chance to try Naffy.
I found this poem online and thought of you.
"Did you know that your smile saps all my energy and makes me tremble beneath my feet?
That my heart recites your heart’s linguistic tongues in silence, because spitting may taint it?
That my fears are the only thing restricting me from allowing me to share my body’s every thought?
Did you know that I like drawing your face with every corner of my brain?
That I fantasize about your laugh and correct myself when I get the tone of your voice wrong?
That my heart radiates at the slightest thought of you?
Did you know that I know you wonder if I ever think of you?
That your thoughts give you away and you find me sitting there at the centre of your dreams?
I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but I bet you didn’t know that I could write a story about how you make me feel; that my heart is brave enough to feel for you but my lips too cautious to whisper the words.

Bayo

P.s- (I probably should have typed this because on reading it over I realise I rambled, as I usually do, and there are a number of spelling mistakes)
P.p.s- I realise my handwriting gets worse as you progress. Feel free to call me to explain anything you do not understand J

Footnote- I know you know about Cynthia. I will explain it all when we talk

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Palmgroove Letters Part 6

Palmgroove Letters Part 5 can be found HERE

 

Nafisat sat in silence for what seemed like minutes. It felt like a scene out of a movie. Actually the past 24 hours could have been the script of a melodramatic nollywood movie. Unfortunately, she was the protagonist in this movie and was not in the least bit entertained. Farida stood perfectly still, her eyes darting from hers to Nuhus, who had also not said a word. Farida was wearing a loose blue Kaftan which that exposed her soft shoulders. Her full breasts spilled out of the top of the dress and she was barefoot. Her hair was pulled up in a messy bun and she was wearing no make-up. Farida always wore make-up until 5 minutes before she fell asleep when she would cleanse tone and moisturise religiously. She had never forgotten for the 7 years they had been friends, even when she was drunk. There was something about her look that made her seem more vulnerable. Her perfectly put together look made her seem unapproachable which was something they had in common. However Farida was warmer and always had a smile on her face. She was a natural sales woman and could talk to anyone about anything.
‘Hey Rida, fancy seeing you here’ said Naffy with a soft smile breaking the silence
Farida stared back in silence, and she seemed lost for words. She turned back without a word and walked into the kitchen, closing the door firmly behind her.
Nafisat turned to Nuhu and said ‘Guess you didn’t really want me to come to Abuja did you?’
‘I will not insult your intelligence and make up any stories. It is what it is’
Nuhu’s honesty was a quality she usually admired, but it meant he was insensitive if he felt he was telling the truth. He had the most absurd opinions and they once had an argument that poverty was necessary in order for there to be balance in the society.  
‘But why Farida? You can have anyone else, why my best friend?’ she asked quietly, staring intently into his eyes.
‘Nafisat, it wasn’t a calculated move or something....’ he said, reaching out to hold her hand
Her skin crawled at his touch and she moved away from his reach.
‘I cannot honestly say I am surprised. Maybe this is why I decided not to call first.’ She replied, almost to herself
Nafisat got up and walked towards the door, with Nuhu right behind her calling out her name. Her head was suddenly spinning and she felt dizzy. Nuhu watched her miss her step and reached out to steady her. She caught herself in time and gave him a resounding slap across his cheek.
Ifiok who had been standing in the corridor watching the drama unfold shouted ‘Ahhhhhh’ before he put his hand across his mouth to stop himself. He knew his oga fired people for much smaller transgressions.
No one paid him any attention, and Nuhu followed unshaken. He pulled at her hand again and this seemed to make Nafisat loose control. She screamed all manners of profanities at him in Hausa as she walked towards the gate. Nuhu stopped following her, because there was nothing to be gained, and watched her walk out of the gates. He did not really know how to beg.
Nafisat walked hastily down the badly lit roads, not sure exactly where to go. Tears rolled down her eyes, and her heart raced. She had a splitting headache and was overcome with exhaustion. Nuhu could have been with anyone else, she had resigned herself to that faith. She knew her marriage was one that would be fraught with infidelity. After all she was not exactly Holy Mary. But Nuhu was never one for small scale scandals. He had to pick the one person he knew she would bother her. She did not have a lot of friends, so his chances of hurting her with infidelity were slim.
Nafisat walked on the sidewalk of the poorly lit legislative quarters until she was back on the main road. She walked on the sidewalks of Apo in the direction she had come in until she got to the motorway and she could not walk any further. She stood there, pondering where to go. She did not want to go home but there were few people she wanted to see in her current state. She wished she could see her father but he was away at an ECOWAS meeting in Mali.
A black car suddenly pulled up next to her. The tinted windows came down and she stared into the car with a curiosity. A dark middle aged man with a pot belly flashed her a huge smile and asked
‘Where are you headed, can I give you a ride?’
Normally, she would respond with a purse of her lips and keep walking. She could not remember the last time she had been offered a ride actually, as she rarely walked anywhere. But tonight was not like every other night. She thought she had nothing to lose and the man looked harmless.
She hopped into the car before replying, ‘I am heading to Maitama’
‘Oh ok, that’s  funny because I am just returning from the Hilton, but I could take you’ he offered smiling sweetly. He immediately began to indicate to make a u-turn.  He spoke with an accent, although she could not make out exactly where it was from. He drove very slowly and carefully, like he was not in any hurry. She was a speed daemon, and everyone in Lagos was always in a hurry.
‘My name is Kwame by the way, what is yours?’ he asked smiling sweetly
‘Nafisat, So you are Ghanian?’ she asked, uncharacteristically forward
‘What gave me away? Could it be my extremely unique Ghanaian name?’ he asked with a loud laugh
He seemed to be in a great mood and had a loud voice that echoed in the car.
‘So what brings you to Nigeria?’ asked Nafisat
‘Well I am a consultant, and I use that term loosely, there is an Aviation Safety Workshop that I am running with the Nigerian Government so I am here for the next month…’
He spoke slowly, with his accent seeming more pronounced now that she could place it. She listened to him talk about aviation safety records in West Africa with incredible passion. He seemed to enjoy having someone listen to him, despite the fact that Naffy barely understood what he was talking about.
‘Well enough about me and my boring obsession with aeroplanes’ he finally said. ‘What do you do?’
‘I am also a consultant, but a Financial one’ she replied
‘Ahh I see, and can I ask why you are walking by the motorway so late at night? It is actually quite dangerous you know, especially when you are walking the same way as oncoming traffic, safety statistics show that most accidents with pedestrians occur because they are not facing oncoming traffic, especially in dimly lit areas such as here’ said Kwame
‘Well, I did not exactly plan on walking tonight. I just found out my boyfriend has been sleeping with my best, actually my only friend. So I was not exactly left with many options.’
‘Oh wow, I am really sorry to hear that’ he sounded genuinely concerned and Nafisat marvelled at how some people could care so much about a stranger’s problems. Bayo was the same. He handled so many cases for distant relatives for free and gave it as much commitment as he did anything he worked on.
‘Matters of the heart are a delicate thing my dear, one must really proceed with caution’ said Kwame in a fatherly tone
‘I think all those emotions are greatly exaggerated by too many Hollywood movies and love songs. Love only exists for a tiny percentage of people’ replied Nafisat
‘I am afraid I must insist we have a drink and talk about this. I would like the opportunity to convince you that Love is the greatest thing on earth’ replied Kwame with a smile
‘Money is the most powerful thing on earth. And the love of money is the greatest love there is. Just take a look at these people hawking at this time of the night in such fast moving traffic, it is the pursuit of the ultimate love.’
‘I completely disagree my dear, you will be surprised how much money each of these people earn is given to a loved one. Their families are usually the reason they work so hard. How did such a young privileged girl such as yourself get so pessimistic? asked Kwame with surprise ‘You are clearly not poor because you are so well spoken and put together’
‘Maybe that is the reason I am so pessimistic’ Nafisat replied ‘I am a product of money, I spend more on my nails than most people here earn in a month. I cannot pretend that I do not want to continue this lifestyle, like I want to know what it is like to not have options or to want something and not be able to get it. I cannot apologise for this. Love is all well and good but it does not pay the rent or pay for holidays. This undying never ending love that we seem to advocate for is not a realistic.’ Nafisat was surprised at her outburst, but now that she had started, she could not seem to stop.
‘Since you don’t believe in love then it should not hurt you that your boyfriend and friend are having relations…..”
“You see that’s the thing..” Nafisat interrupted speaking louder “I am not asking for a 100% commitment or anything, I am not unrealistic, everyone cheats at some point or the other…”
“I actually beg to disagree..” interrupted Kwame
“but what is actually hurting me right now is the fact that Farida is my closest friend here, and for her I know this was not an accident, it was a careful scheme she plotted to get him because she wants to get back at me. She has her pick of men because she is sexy, and Nuhu rarely chases after women because they come too easily to him. I really don’t know why I am so surprised, she has done worse things to other people since we’ve been friends, I guess I somehow thought I was an exception, clearly I grossly overestimated her.”
“Why do you seem more angry than hurt?” asked Kwame
“Because I am so fucking angry right now. I am angry at Farida, at bloody Nuhu, at Bayo and mostly at myself for getting caught up in this crazy web of lies and deceit in the name of love.” Replied Nafisat with tears in her eyes, her voice shaking with emotion
Kwame did not reply to her outburst, he drove through the sporadically lit motorways to Maitama. She seemed troubled and he felt sorry for her and responsible for her at the same time. He drove back towards Hilton as she ranted about the problem with trusting people. She had a lot on her mind and it seemed easier to vent to a complete stranger who did not know her or her flaws.
Nafisat suddenly noticed that they were already in Maitma. She had been talking for the whole ride which was well over thirty minutes. She gave him directions to her house and they took a turn past the Farmer’s Market which was still bustling with lights and activity despite it being past 8pm.
‘Ahhh so this is the place my colleagues speak so fondly about’ said Kwame
‘Oh the market, yea it has quite a lot. I would recommend the fresh smoothies’ said Naffy
‘Should we get some?’ asked Kwame
‘Ermm sure why not. My house is only a few minutes from here actually so I could walk home’ replied Naffy
‘You seem to like walking’ replied Kwame as he parked the car next to the market
‘I actually rarely walk. I usually drive, but I also do not usually get into a stranger’s cars or talk about my personal life. Tonight has been an exceptional night in many ways.
‘Well I hope that is partly a good thing.’ said Kwame
Nafisat smiled as they got out of the car. They walked into the stalls amongst aggressive traders selling little bits of everything. She lead him to the stall which was filled with the loud groans of overworked freezers.
‘So what’s good here?’ asked Kwame looking around
‘I always go with the Banana and Mango’ said Naffy
‘Well I don’t like Bananas, what else would you recommend?’ replied Kwame
‘I have only ever had that, but I am sure they are all good’ said Naffy
‘Oh I assumed you came here often’ said Kwame
‘I do. Every day when I am in Abuja’ replied Naffy
‘And you have the same thing every single time? Asked Kwame with a look of complete shock on his face
‘Err of course. I like it, why would I want to change it?’ asked Naffy equally surprised at his apparent shock. ‘It is consistent’
‘Yes, consistently boring’ he laughed in his characteristic loud voice
‘It is safe’ she replied
‘When has anything remotely exciting ever been described as ‘safe’? he asked enjoying her getting defensive
The traders watched them banter not exactly sure what the argument was about.
‘We get plenty plenty flavours oga’ said the trader. Apple, Mango, Pineapple, Coconut, Banana…’ he ranted on pointing at each fruit as he mentioned their names
‘Can I have pineapple and coconut’ he ordered
Nafisat ordered and insisted on paying as a thank you for the ride. He graciously accepted and sipped on his smoothie as they walked back to his car.
They drove the few meters to her house and sat in the car sipping their drinks. ‘So you somehow know everything about my love life, what about yours?’ asked Naffy
‘Well I am married with two kids’ he said with a smile. He pulled out his phone and showed her a few pictures of his family. He had two beautiful girls aged 11 and 7 a plump wife with warm eyes and dimples. 
Nafisat watched him as he flicked through the pictures, he was so animated as he spoke about them and had a story to tell about each picture. She felt a pang of jealousy at how in love he seemed.
‘You are a very lucky man. You seem to have it all’ said Nafisat quietly
‘Well for a long time, I did not have anything at all. But sometimes, the thing you crave the most is right in front of you, but you are ignoring it. Because you are looking for something grander. Nafisat I have only known you for less than two hours so this might be completely premature. But unlike most people, your problems seem to me completely of your own doing. Everyone has a shot at happiness; you just have to take it. Get rid of people around you that are toxic. Starting with your boyfriend and best friend. Make new friends. Don’t hold on to the old ones because you’ve known them for a long time. Most relationships run a natural course. Find someone who makes you happy all the time and don’t let that person go. Life is too short to be unhappy my dear, especially for someone as young and as privileged as yourself.’ said Kwame. He spoke very slowly stretching out his sentences and laying emphasis on certain words.
Nafisat listened in silence at his speech. She felt like she was back in her principal’s office in JS3 when she was called in for calling her teacher a ‘hairy baboon’.
‘Thank you for that. I actually listened to you. Again exceptional night.’ Nafisat got out of the car as the security guard knocked on the car window to tell them they could not park there.
‘And you were right about the coconut and pineapple. It was lovely.’ She said with a conceding smile
‘It was nice to have met you Nafisat. You made an otherwise dull evening interesting’ replied Kwame
Nafisat walked up to her house sipping the last of the pineapple smoothie. It was much nicer than hers and after Kwame forced her to try it, she ended up taking his. The house was quiet and Adamu jogged ahead to open the doors. She walked into the room as he turned on all the lights and the air conditioning. She told him not to bother as she was going upstairs to her room.
He called out to her ‘Aunty, akwai letter daga Lagos’
She wondered what documents her boss could have sent her so soon. She was surprised that no one from the office had called her all day. She had not given a thought to when she would go back to Lagos, and wondered if the letter would mean she would have to go back the following day. She could not afford to be idle with so much on her mind.
Adamu handed her a blue envelope. She was surprised as all the company documents usually came in their official white envelopes. She could not imagine who it could be from as no one knew she was in Abuja. As soon as she flipped it, her heart did a little skip.
She had teased Bayo incessantly about his illegible handwriting. He had written her name boldly and his attempt to make it legible made it worse. Naffy sipped the smoothie as she walked up the stairs contemplating weather to open it.
For some reason, tonight’s dramatics could not seem to end. She sat at the edge of the bed and took off her mum’s shoes and rubbed her sore feet. Her mum’s heels were not really meant for walking, especially not on concrete sidewalks. She knew her mum would never wear them again once she saw the state of the bottoms.
Nafisat pulled out a cigarette from her bag and smoked it slowly while staring at the letter. She was not sure she wanted to open it. A part of her really wanted to know what Bayo would say. Her muscles still ached from their marathon love making the previous night and felt genuinely hurt by him because she trusted him. It was ironic that she trusted him knowing that he, like her, was a cheat. Nafisat always knew Nuhu was unfaithful, theirs had become more of a relationship of convenience more than anything else now. They understood what was expected of them and acted accordingly.
With Bayo all the rules just seem to fly out of the window. Nafisat thought about Kwame’s little speech a couple of minutes ago. She decided to give Bayo a chance to tell his story and tore up the envelope to read his handwritten letter.