Yesterday’s Meadow,Tomorrow’s horizon

I used to wonder what I would feel like as I approach seventy. I remember when I was 69 my children smiled and said my seventieth was going to be their show, I would be Mama 70 and theywould laugh. I celebrate my birthdays. Always emerging from weeks of contemplation thankful and quiet. I rarely had a birthday party until I got to my sixties.
I remember a birthday some half a century ago. I had suddenly decided to visit my village, The oddest thing was I was a boarding student then and rarely was granted exeat like other students. The civil war had justended and my father as a former police officer had retired as a security officer fora timber company. During the civil war, he had been captured by the rebel soldiers and held hostage until his junior officers confirmed e was not Igbo and he was released withhis bosswhowas British then. For the three months, he was away with the igbos I had become an emergency head of family. Ihad gone through the harrowing experience of burying a man who was cut down in a barrage of gun fire by drunken federal soldiers in ourpresence. I slept with the sound of that gunfire for nights until my father who turnedup weeks later shared the experiences with me. When the young igbo widow roamed the streets crying and holding her new born helplessly, relief came when papa went looking for the commanding officer and ensured the woman was taken intocare. One meadow that stayed dark for ever. In the dark, I could only see my confusion, my hate. In the dark was my cry of the Western riots years earlier, when we stood on the balconies and tried which group of thugs were in the horizon and yelled ‘UPGA: or other wise in order to stay alive as #operation wetie’ ravaged Lagos. We survived the long walks , the yellingcrowds and sometimes the flames. In that meadow came the civil war. I had igbo friends had started teaching my dad some of the igbo phrases my friends taught me and I even has my first go oyfriend
The horizon? At that time, it was hazy, dark. You stared at everyone suspiciously. I learnt I was Yoruba, I had grown up in the North, the wide open dusty spaces of school, speaking Hausa with my schoolmates,folktales, Mr. Abdul andhis funny shoes. Hausa jokes barely could speak Yoruba, My step mother who brought meup could only teach me in Hausa, she was Shuwa Arab, It did not mean anything. My father’s other wives spoke a language I could not understand, until much later did I learn it was a dialect of my hometown that I visited when I was already a teenager.
I was introduced to my mother. We stared most times at each other. I was always very polite. Said all the polite things. Thank you Ma. I am not hungry ma when she offered me food.
Then she told me a love story about how she met my father,when she eloped with him to the North,the uproar and then the marriage. How she became a Christian and how I came about. Wow. I remembered and used that as a story in Nuen Yeye. It explained a bit of me and my dreams.
It was meadow that had a sun streaming light into it and gave me a glimpse of the horizon. Milky dawns tinted with song of me as writer like the fingers of the dawn streaked through the meadow and I could open my eyes to a dawn that gleamed.
I look again into Yesterday, this meadow,left fingerprints on my soul. It was meadow that yawned its boredom with my ignorance and teased janus a couple of time.
I make preparation for October as Janus slipped back several steps and opened the door to so many yesterdays.
I will share, as I peepand smiles hope like the pairs of trousers I had once given my love, my heart and dreams.
The agonies of wife, mistress, friends and life

The ultimate

Most times, I wonder how as humans we always come to a flat level. The personal… ultimately we are concerned with ourselves. I always wanted an answer..why is the human being ultimately only interested in himself? Does he carry the ability to wonder what the son’s of the Light saw as they watched us? Can we step above ourselves and see? The ant can not comprehend the elephant but is boastful of its ability to be a nuisance. Our faith or convictions we’re intended to show us a basic underlying principle…Love. Jesus must have felt some sadness when He gave us the clue..Love your neighbor as yourself. Love conquers, it heals, binds and upholds. It is selfless. It teaches us the one thing we lack, the clarity to serve. Love swings on the axis of Creation. It is the rationale for our existence. There is the joy and the pain in the garden as Jesus found our obtuse selfish greed painful. Being Love Incarnate, He could not condemn. We are Christians? How? Through our denominations? Jesus had only one. Man created the others. Some of us felt we moved and see ourselves as adherents of the Message. We are sometimes very vindictive, callous and totally merciless while we tear into tiny bloody shreds anyone who cares to have a contrary view. We kill anyone who follows the injection to search diligently. We love orchids. We lack the greatest gift that the King of the Grail gave to humanity. The gift of Maria as the consumate not that determined Creation.. Love.
Prepare your souls, the pain of dropping from your vault into the Father’s world. The agony …intense agony of serving Love…becoming a human…your birth into the cascading lights and glorious songs as you move or are propelled through the womb… to your birth and you open your eyes to Love.

Does He Know my name?

Is there an affliction for the aged? First time I saw such a prayer I hesitated to say amen. I was curious. I asked myself that question. I am tired of all types of affliction. I am in the departure hall of Creation waiting for my flights. That was another friend telling me that when he turned 65 a year ago. We laughed over it. I asked him to explain, he said anytime a human being in the world today arrives at his age, he should mentally take himself to the departure hall of Creation ingratitude. He should prepare for his flight to be called. Hmmm. Can your flight be delayed? Do we have scheduled departures? A friend told me quite firmly that he had every intention of leaving at 60. I remember him saying, he would ask questions if he had to celebrate his 61stbirthday here on terra firma. When I asked him why he said he could not imagine him being70 here on terra firma. He died at 60
Why am I writing in this vein? Wish I can tell you but I have always been known to be reflective as my birthday approaches. I find myself reviewing and checking on what I want. Some of my friends shrug and say, a birthday is not particularly different from the previous day Problem for me is, usually three months before I instinctively become reflective. I reflect on my experiences, lessons learned and sometimes make resolutions. Not, not new year resolutions, I don’t do that, make new year resolutions. Just review us as humanity and the depths we have dropped into.
Should I go to the departure Hall of creation and await my flight? When I hear the comments rest in peace, I am usually uncomfortable. Imagine not being allowed to write for all of eternity. I am horrified by the intensity of that kind of pain. I will be 70 in a matter of weeks. I still love writing.
Standing on the edge of the vast Creation, I watch and sigh, like the elephant watches the ant. It sees the ant bust building its world which can easily be destroyed by the switch of its tusk. Does the elephant know of the ant by name? Crazy thoughts. I sense a vastness I will never fully comprehend, the ego of assuming you are part of Creation, the danger of being swept off if like the ant you become a nuisance. Does the Creator know my name? Is it important? The laws are there to take care of my dreams and longings.
My best friend sighs and tells me that she always knew I have these questions. I am looking forward to completing my 70th year here. It will be significant for me. Some questions will remain unasked as I really do not want some answers? Did my activities in creation encourage love?. Will the mention of my name bring forth a smile, a shrug. Can’t even remember my great grandmother. She earned the right to be referred to as my ancestor. That is funny
These days when I remember my dad,I smile, I can still see his face and my mum, we talk in a more friendly manner now. I am sure some of her pain for loving my dad is lessened. I see her now as a woman and understand the wild love she had for my dad. Have I ever felt that type of love for anyone? I am not in the confessional am I?
I just might be lucky and turn 70. I am grateful for the number of times my love was returned, given and cherished. I feel oceans of love for some too, who might never return it in the same quantum. I have been permitted so much in this creation. Like a pinpoint of light I stand overwhelmed, enmeshed enraptured by grace and mercies. The essence of love and beauty swamps my spirit and I am absorbent grateful spirit.
Thanks for reading, a part of my experience. What is the affliction of old age?
Does the Father Almighty know my name?
Alight pinpoint of gratitude shimmering in eternal praise.?

Become a Toastmaster like me

I have not chatted for a while but quite a lot of experiences lately has made this necessary. I have a reason to share. Do you remember when I talked about being a Toastmaster? One of the interesting things I learned is knowing about the founder Ralph Smedley, the founder of Toastmasters International. What does it mean to you when you hear someone say he is a Toastmaster? The tendency is to look at the person as a smooth talker right? If you are a Nigerian and about my age, you would have heard the comment: I am black and proud. We have a tendency to be defensive and suspicious of good talkers. I have come across professionals who become tongue-tied when asked to talk on a subject they are proficient in. It is attributed to a shyness that comes over them when making speeches.
On the other side of this observation are the ones who have mastered the art of persuasion to fine art of finesse and aplomb that you are left wondering if they learned the gift of the gab someplace deliberately? I used to be that kind of person, hesitant to talk and suspicious of those who can sway with a fine delivery. I used to imagine they were politicians. I hesitated being labelled as one and was not sure until this fine evening when a Toastmaster invited me to become one. I have told you that story before.
I became a Toastmaster and through my Pathways programme learned a whole lot about how to be a public speaker. I have not joined any political party, but I have been imbued with an enthusiasm to reach out to you to become a Toastmaster.
The human word is a gift, a gift to know how to speak and reach your listener. The ability to learn how to speak in public, understand the nuances in your vocal variety, learn the points of learning how to listen as distinct and different from hearing became pivotal in my learning capabilities as a potential team leader.
There is beauty in communication, the beauty of learning the right words, right atmosphere and appropriate topics that will create a desired effect and response is the mark of a natural leader. You learn that at Toastmasters international.
It is a self-improvement class of honing your natural skills to communicate, impact and help your fellow human being. As a Toastmaster, you earn finesses, courtesy, dignity and you find you listen better and understand the power of the word. The beauty of the gift of the human word that the Creator handed over to us and your art of persuasion.
I find this educational NGO so worthy of my attention that I sincerely wish to invite you into a world of love, guide and enthusiasm to achieve a better you.
I know I can speak like Obama, one of these days and why don’t you learn how to be better than your favourite public speaker?
It is simple, visit http://www.toastmasters.org and be swayed. Learn and imbibe. You can also reach me here with your comments.

How do you count?

I am looking forward to my 70th birthday. I am confused though. How do I count? The day after my 70th I will technically be on the first day of 71st right? When a child is born he spends his first day on earth His first year when he moves from 0-1? So I am looking forward to completing the last day of my 70th year should be my consideration right?
Am I frightened by the approaching date? Am I looking forward to it in these days of COVID 19? When being old has become a cause for concern for government and relatives? Before the pandemic became a scourge on our thoughts and plans, we looked forward to joining the senior citizens club. You looked at your grey hair and reviewed your journey. Your sense of gratitude notches every day you open your eyes to gross matter and you thank the Father Almighty for the opportunity to close circles now as you prepare for your journey into the next experience. All the pains of your youth, middle-age scramble are now viewed in the beauty of the sunlit sunset of memories.
No need to sigh in regrets but to quietly thank the All-Father for the guidance, help and support that you have received. Yes, it is a review. A name comes across your mind and you either grin, frown or chuckle. What happens if it is a frown? You check and open the pages, not in pain, but in silent understanding as you try to understand those misshapen steps you had taken and attempt to forgive yourself. Were you hurt or felt used? Did you listen to the inner promptings you received and how you had allowed societal considerations to silence the thoughts?
When you see your grandchildren strut and moan about being fashionable, you smile as you remember your grandma’s concern when you wore what was a mini to say hello and she was worried you might catch cold. Fashion, you learned gradually was a circle, it repeats itself. You remember that you had been more concerned about the beauty of the soul than your boyfriend’s concern about the figure eight he raved about. Your confusion at his inability to understand the sounds at dawn and why he preferred that awful music to your recitation of the lyrics of Millicent Small..’ my boy lollipop’ didn’t like lollipops except to call you one and he didn’t understand why you objected to such a nickname. he was not Sir Galahad.
MEMORIES, AND DAYS… Your first love. When you could hardly breathe, your first tragedy as you walked into the hostel and your skin crawled and you knew your dad needed you. The urgent travel to the village to find he was ill. The mad lonely drive from the village to Ile Ife, to the hospital, his admission and as you sat quietly beside his sleeping form, you received the pictures again that he would be leaving soon. That knowledge that you could never explain, which you learned later was intuition. Your inability to explain to his wives or even to him. You returned to the village, he discussed his plans with you. You were to apply for your’ ‘A’ levels so you could make plans to go to medical school. You wanted to be a surgeon.
As you made plans to return to school he called you back and noted you were becoming a young woman, so he gave you more money than he had ever given. He gave you a long look and asked you to write to him the minute you got back to school. You were his confidant but you felt bad that you did not confide your fears
That was a goodbye from gross matter, for your next meeting was years after he had departed and he wanted to let you know he was fine and you went over to visit him.
Now you look in the mirror and wonder if you will be permitted to depart peacefully Covid19 or not. You have no intention of being a victim of Covid19 no matter the concern of the government and loved ones. Like grandma, you had asked that you be permitted to depart peacefully. Preferably like grandma during sleep.
As you prepare to conclude 70 years, you ask yourself, how many more and thank you ALL FATHER for every second.

The lesson to forgive yourself

The grave smiles and beckons. You look forward to another existence, but this has large question marks you need to answer. Your children, as you hope to feel you have done your best to give them an understanding of what life has in store. Your fears and clear knowledge that some hard lessons have to be experienced by each of them and all the intense love you have may not be the solution. You are the one who has felt the intensity. You are sharply reminded that they incarnated through you but do not necessarily need to have the kind of life you have or the one you have experienced.
The lesson is urgent and intense sometimes and your memories could sometimes be painful as you remember. You are desperate to forgive because you know if the bell goes and your flight to the next realm is announced, there are destinations you want to avoid so you are desperate to learn here and now, why you must forgive yourself so you can forgive others.
‘One day at a time’ goes the song and you repeat it in your heart as you watch your children and their children. You ask yourself over and over, did I give them all they will need? You are not thinking of money because you never had enough of that, you have been taught very bitter lessons about not having enough money. You never did have enough money. Came to that recognition, when you sadly accepted that you could not sell water in the desert. You felt the pain of watching your son die in your arms because you did not have the money to pay for the doctor to order that he should be given a drip. He had gastroenteritis and you were not taught about oral rehydration then, no mum in close communication who could have taught you how to do local rehydration, the father of the child had gone on his own sporting activity. He was not a professional, it was something he could afford to ignore, he really was not into being a father, and you paused as the next painful recognition sails into your consciousness…he had made such a big deal about his freedom to come and go as he pleased.
You watch your son as he keeps emptying a now empty bowel so you use the only money left with you to take him to the next government hospital, the doctor and nurses run around accepting your blank look of terror, confusion and pain and a very weakened boy is taken into the ward. This time you knew it was too late for that soul that had kept you company and happy. He’s always smiling face, his eagerness to breathe was being hampered by his collapsing lungs as he struggled for air. Your heart is slowly shattered as you watch him depart. You stand up and go over to the nurses to tell them to come and tidy up your son. You say it so calmly that they wonder if you have lost it too. You watch as they calmly tidy him up. The question in your head is, if you had thirty naira, he would have been saved. You remember your desperate appeal to the nurse at the private hospital where you had rushed him to at first because it was the closest to you and it was the hospital where you had given birth to him eleven months before. You remember begging them to hold you and not discharge you until you have settled the bill. As they park your dead son away, you stand up and walk from Lagos Island to your house on the mainland. It was maybe six or ten kilometres, but that was covered in a blur at three am in the morning. The buses had not started running and the bridges were quiet.
The one lesson you learnt was you did not have money. If you had money your child would have been alive. As you arrive home and take the stairs, the numbness wears off and you break down in tears. You apologize to the departed son. You weep, two days of intense misery then the father of the dead son returns from his trip and is stunned to learn the passing of his son. You watch his shock from a distance in your soul. A page is drawn over your misery. .
Just like the page was drawn over your very first child as she never made the required necessary pass to exist. In three years, you had lost two children for the same man in circumstances that were very preventable. You had no money.
Life rolled on but sometimes you woke up screaming silently helplessly seeking answers and comfort. Lonely, alone and afraid. As the years grew on, you learnt the art of sinking the pains deeper. You recognised your bitterness and anger only when you had other children. You were willing to do anything for your children within the financial bounds you found yourself.
You had silently celebrated the birthdays of your dead daughter and son, chatted with them and finally explained about incarnations, karma and missions.
Now the smile of the grave gets wider and friendlier, you have one worry, will you be given time to forgive yourself so you can forgive them, the ones who had taken advantage of you, the ones who had ignored your appeals for help… Why do these remembrances bring you so much intense pain even after? Your gratitude will only be accepted when you learn the importance of forgiving yourself so the lessons Life offered could be absorbed in the gratitude to the King of Creation.

Conversations..Covid 19

I am still on my conversation trip. The recent conversation I am having at the moment is the concept of being a human being. I ask myself, hat it really means to me to be a human being. I don’t think I am an alien but I am simply worried at the level of our thought processes.
Just before the year ended and we were flung into 2020, the news got to us about Covid 19. I think it was because the pandemic started about that time in that year that they called it COVID 19. The point is, the figures started to rise into the thousands. It looked then like a Chinese problem. Some weeks later it became the problem of other countries and seemed to have ignored Africa.
We read about the story that the African was going to be immune to covid19. I remember the discussion within family and friends. We remembered the unease of the Ebola virus. I felt that when bad things roam the world, they tend to leave the worst part of themselves for Africans to grapple with. China came all over Africa I thought to spite the Americans. I am not into the politics of racism and generally feel that the Almighty has His own reasons for making me a Nigerian. I am not against saying hello to other races but I generally always wanted my own corner of the world. I always wanted to be back home within the four walls of my own home. I went to school in Lagos, had my first set of children there, but I knew when it was time to leave Lagos as it progressed from city to megapolis, so did it become less human and I wanted to remain a human being. See what I mean?
I have worked outside Nigeria, studied outside it and once lived for a while outside Nigeria, but I always wanted to be home. I never understood the craze of my friends to relocate, I thought that if I needed another country then the Almighty Father knows and would have done something about it. Used to tell my children that, and I think they decided what was best for them. They travel out and always came back home to Nigeria, not necessarily my corner. How did we get to talking about me, I said I was having a conversation with me, my thoughts, my worries as a Nigerian with COVID 19
The earlier stories we were told was that this virus was a respiratory thing. You needed to be sure it did not get through your nose. So you needed to cover your nose all the time, particularly if you were for any reason outside your own home. Keep to a regimen of washing your hands with running water, The first joke was when they showed the video of some guy washing his hands with running water. I pictured my home town and wondered if most of them ever saw what a running tap looked like. I live in the suburbs of the state capital, I have never seen a tap running water supplied by the government. When you see a tap, it is either a rich man’s place or those boreholes that are placed at strategic places at random places. Not every street has a borehole placed for you to know what tap running water looked like. Sure, we have taps in the homes but they were generally decorative. The truth of the matter is we evolved our own technology to make running water. Little buckets that had taps fixed at the bottom. We fetched the water and filled it. Twenty seconds? No, just wash your darn hands and get out. More times the public places don’t have it. I sighed. We had bought sanitizers during the Ebola scare, I never liked monkeys and do not eat bush meat generally so I was okay and safe. Strangely though, they said nothing about monkeys this time.
They only said the virus-like Ebola, came from monkeys. Then the Italian landed and Coronavirus also came with the Italian. When the Italian left, Coronavirus stayed back. The figures of the dead started getting higher. Our doubts deepened as we knew our politicians were never known for being altruistic. Some people survived, more people got infected, more people started dying. Running water, the cost of getting nose masks, went through the roof. Suddenly you became afraid of being old. You woke up each morning wondering how many more days. Palliatives? The government just heard those words and they used them freely not understanding the words and its attendant responsibilities. Being independent of depending on your government for anything became a reality that stared at you more urgently. The supposed safety nets from the government were either politicised or non-existent.
How do you test if you have COVID 19? You do not dare sneeze or cough because your scared neighbour might report you to the authorities. Do you have COVID 19 or you had malaria? In the tradition of our herbal pharmacy, you could consult those women in the market for them to prepare herbs for you to treat your cold or malaria, but the radio announcer is hysterical with the warning that you are not to self- medicate. Funny that is how we did before get the herbal drink or soup to treat malaria or cold? You hear in the news that very important personalities had succumbed to COVID 19 and you wonder. You hold this conversation, how will the inadequacies of government, their greed, dishonesty and thieving ways help you overcome your reasonable doubt about the veracity of COVID 19?
Your fear is spiced with anger and doubt as common sense tells you to stay well away from them and ask Mother Nature to show you what you must do to protect yourself from the baggage of the visitor who refused to leave even as you tell it that it was never invited. The stench of COVID 19 is why you cover your noses and face.

Coronavirus Thomas

This is a contribution from young woman in a learning group that I belong to.

CORONAVIRUS THOMAS by Patricia Ejemeriona

Malam Bala held tenaciously onto his transistor Radio to listen to the morning news ,,
Good morning this is Sunshine 100.3 FM,, this is the morning news hour at 8.00 o clock,, my name is Amina Ameed, 10,250 persons confirmed positive for dreaded Coronavirus.,,, owing to this spike, the government has decided to put a total lockdown on the Banji emirates from tomorrow the 12th of May,,,,

Malam Bala screamed “walahi this lie faa, this is a big lie,, this is government magic,, this is a lie!!!

‘Haaha what is a big lie, who is doing magic.. why are you screaming this morning Maigida’,,, Alimotu petite wife of Malam Bala queried,,

‘I said this is a lie’ shouted Malam Bala,, roughly shoving Alimotu aside.

A bewildered Alimotu hissed in anger.

Malam Bala, middle-aged man of average height was poorly educated howbeit he loves to get relevant information of daily happenings around him. You cannot separate Mr Malam from his potable transistor Radio.

Gbammm! gbammm!! Malam Bala knocks violently on the door of his friend and neighbor Baba Risi,

‘Who is that! that wants to break my door this morning’ retorted Baba Risi.

Malam Bala went in, panicky ‘have you heard? Don’t tell me you have not heard or didn’t you listen to the news on Sunshine FM this morning’!!

Baba Risi looked at him with a frown on his face. ‘Heard what please Bala! What is the problem if I may ask you’

Bala dumped himself on the massive sofa in Baba Risi’s apartment fixing a gaze on Baba Risi. he said ‘Coronavirus cases is now 10,250, 10,250, 10,250 can you believe this’ Malam Bala shouted.

‘I believe if you must know’ replied Baba Risi giving him a mean look.

‘Look Bala it is time you drop this conspiracies of yours and let us all join hands with the government to keep safe, observe all the health protocols to ensure we flatten the curve this is important to protect ourselves and every member of our families ok’ Baba Risi schooled him.

‘Ok’ Bala replied in disbelief, ‘tell me right now Baba Risi have you used this your two corocoro eyes to see anybody that have the coro virus question number one
Question number 2? where are the people? if you can answer this I will believe you’. Bala said angrily.

‘Look’ replied Baba Risi ‘this your illiteracy is more deadly than Coronavirus, c’ommon leave my house’ he said in rage.

‘I should leave! I should leave! Me! Bala leave your house. Now I know your head is not correct’.

Bala stormed out of the room banging the door making Baba Risi to cringe. ‘Never you come here again ok. Nonsense man’ Shouted Baba Risi.

‘Sule! Sule!! Sule!!!’ there was shouts and uproar at Malam Bala’s apartment. Alimotu held unto her 18 year old son who had collapsed. His temperature was so high she didn’t know what to do. She was crying profusely at the thought of losing her only son.

Malam Bala raced inside to behold the sight of his son gasping for breath. Sule! Sule!! he shook his son. He quickly requested for an herbal concoction which he tried to force into his son’s mouth but he couldn’t get it through.

Malam Bala screamed as he watched his son give up the ghost.

The death of Sule devastated Malam Bala and Alimotu.

Neighbors were seen in pockets standing around the premises to commiserate with them.

Baba Risi came to condole with them. He sat down on the low but comfortable sofa,, take heart,,,patting Bala on the shoulder. But what happened to him.. Alimotu replied ‘he just returned from from my sister’s place two days ago coughing, he also said he is feeling pains on his body’,, cried Alimotu shaking her head in pain,,, calm down, calm down Baba Risi replied becoming apprehensive ,,,’ please these are some of the symptoms of Coronavirus’, ,,
‘Coro what’?A screamed Bala and Alimotu simultaneously.

‘Yes ‘retorted Baba Risi. ‘I suspect Coronavirus’,,,
‘Are you mad! It is not possible for my son to have coro’ replied Malam Bala.

‘Well you will have to take the test, , let me wash my hands and get my face mask as you too can be a big risk to everyone of us here’.

‘Coro what coro faa’ Malam Bala’s neighbors all scrambled out of Bala’s apartment for fear of contracting the virus. ‘Sule has coro,,sule has coro,,, Haa coro ,,,

Baba Risi called the health authorities in Banji’s emirates to report the death and suspected case.

The health authority came immediately geared up to take samples and investigate.

Malam Bala was diagnosed with Coronavirus after his samples was collected and taken to the isolation center in the Banji district for treatment,,

He was put on the bed, he cried when he saw other infected persons. He regretted all his carefree and careless actions which led to the death of his only son Sule.

Conversations…Gerry Huntman

Some ten years ago, I gingerly came on Facebook. I came determined to learn a few things but also I was fearful. I made my first trip to an online writing circle. I wanted to learn more about writing. I started writing while I was in secondary school. You know that mushy romantic stuff from my reading of Denise Robins, Barbara Cartland. Oh, I read other authors. Crime, like the 87th precinct, and even high brow books like Plato, Kafka, And Jean-Paul Satre. I had to learn to like my own company for a lot of reasons. I am not telling you my life story, just sharing with you what brought me into online lessons.
I already had a presence in my corner of the world as a dramatist and producer on intervention series like I Need to know, the intervention series that was sponsored by UNFPA and later caught the attention of CIDA. I could call myself a star you know and preen myself. However, after those intervention series and fame, I wanted a bit to expand my horizon. I had self-published two novels, had a book launch of the books. I had been part of anthologies of poetry. So why did I want to go online? Simple. I said to myself I was at best a fish in a pond and wanted to know what went on at the other beach. It was the reason I had suspended my television broadcasting world to go into print and books so I came to Facebook after joining an online writing forum. At the writing club, I had started writing my first novel, That I wanted to use to introduce myself to a larger world. I met a couple of friends, but three of us became what we called The CHORD. we shared our stories with each other, tried to be honest about how we felt. I was the only black, and Nigerian. Those two became my closest friends online. We would chat for hours. It was always about our writings. Then I met someone who became almost a part of me. I met Gerry Huntman.
Gerry Huntman, how do I write about someone I spent the first few months trying to understand? I had heard so much about online fraud, the contempt in which the white race particularly Americans held blacks particularly Nigerians? This was online and I had no reason to trust anyone but I had not counted on the personality that was and is Gerry Huntman. IFWG publishing company took me in as a family member. Gerry personally edited my first effort as an international author. He retained my voice for me. He allowed me to tell y story my way. He became not just my publisher, but also my brother and friend. I have never met Gerry in person, but I feel very personal about him and his family.
When other publishers suddenly gave me recognition and wanted to publish my works, they were puzzled when I will insist that I will wait until Gerry tells me he does not want to have anything to do with this Nigerian old woman. In my conversations with myself, I would ask why and how I got to be so lucky to have met virtually Gerry Huntman and how come he trusted me. He gave me authority backed economically to have Nigerian prints of my books when the world moved on from me. When I was being sold up the garden path by those who took copies of my books and would not send me returns, he asked me to collect the books and sell as best as I can. He is one that I want to give this tribute for reaching out and treating his writers as a member of his extended self.
It is my prayer and longing, that one day, I might be able to thank Gerry Huntman for being so special. He has remained a guide and friend and yes brother. I normally salute him with a greeting that is unique in my village. It is a greeting we normally give to someone we respect deeply and by age has earned that, it is a single word greeting that members of my village who read this will recognize and would be curious in learning I say that in greeting to Gerry. Since I explained it to him he will generally greet me that way as his African sister. So, Gerry, as I thank you for all you have been to me in the last ten years and more I will end it this way:
Ake!!

Conversations

Sometimes you never know the end of a relationship. Sometimes, you also never know the content and depth of one. Today, I will be starting a series which I want to call simply Conversations. It is real conversations with my understanding of life, experiences that look like there were pre-ordained to happen and some that are definitely a gift of grace.
I will be discussing friendship today. You know when you start a friendship, you are sometimes permitted to understand why that friendship subsists. We understand the Eternal laws of the creator and one of the important ones states that birds of the same feather flock together. So for years, I wondered what was the same feather about me and Azizat. She was a whiz at maths and the sciences. I fancied myself as a surgeon and because of Mr Gadima my physics teacher, I always failed Physics. When Azizat and I met, I was already the mother of a young boy and going to the library to read for my A levels. I was very poor and she came from the middle class. What was the similarity? She was still in school at FSS(Federal school of science) and I was a young confused mum. Azizat could talk a horse to stand still. She was a magpie, I was always silent. We are friends. We have been friends for some forty-nine years. I am still the quiet one, still poor and learning about the confusing human being. Azizat is very rich, very vocal and successfully married to the love of her life. I could decide now that the similarity between us was our interest in spirituality. I hated churches and pastors, she was indifferent to them. Azizat has remained a trusted friend and support in all the years we have been together. We are still together. What is the implication and lesson in that? If you look at your fellow human being as a fellow traveller in life, you might work on your differences and learn how to give.I learned how to listen to her, I learned how to see that her enthusiasm also includes being helpful. She calls me a funny name, that I am indifferent to finances but she appreciated it later and would ask for my opinion in financial issues or on her staff sometimes. We are real friends that still maintain our individual identity.
I have another friend, as completely different as my girlfriend Azizat. I have never met him physically but I trust him completely. It is the craziest form of friendship. I know what is similar about us and why we are friends. Bobby wrote a book on rape survivors. I almost did not read the book because, at about the same time, I had been sent a book on Financial policies of America. My friends laughed because that was the last subject on Earth I could speak on let alone review. When Bobby asked what I thought of his book I tried to answer as politely as I could that I do not review finance much less the financial policies of America. He stunned me by replying that he did not write such a book. I went back to my stored documents and came across his name and his book. TO THE SURVIVORS BY ROBERT UTARO. I was stunned. He opened a room I had kept under firm lock for years. He streamed a light into a darkened furnace and released me into the dawn of springs, laughing brooks and I could take a walk again. I adapted the stories to a radio series in my community. People called, I did interviews and had a group of young persons who told me their own stories of abuse. An aspect of my life got enriched through this. I felt humbled each time a girl or a boy walked up to me, tears in eyes and shed their own abuse. I felt very small and very grateful. Bobby became a confidante and friend in the way I could not share with anyone. My friendship with Bobby is almost telepathic for he can pick my thoughts and sense my pain. There is a favourite saying he gave me that has been deeply helpful. A very simple statement ‘Strength from Above’
I will talk about these two friends today. I will still talk about some others. Like I said I wish to share with you my conversations with myself. My gratitude for permission to have met these friends and how they had helped me in certain phases of my life. When things get very rough, you can always be sure to receive strength from above only if you ask.
Thank you Azizat for learning that it is not the money but what good you can do with it and recognizing that I gave you my honest friendship each time never impressed by money
Thank you, Bobby, this is for you. I will always continue to write, see if my writing can be helpful and be grateful for strength from above.