Wednesday, 31 May 2017

ROMANCE IS IN THE AIR...



He had kind eyes; deep set and piercing; the kind a girl could get lost in. His skin was the color of ebony; dark and polished.
He reached across the table and took my hand in his, his thumb stroking the
back of my hand as he said, "Whatever will make you happy. Any thing at all,
just say the word".

My heart thudded in my chest as my bewildered gaze clashed with his. He meant every word, I  realised. Sparks flew, my breath caught in my throat.

Then just as my lips parted to say something, my alarm blared rudely in  my ear.
It was another Wednesday morning and Ebony had been a dream. 
Sigh. 
Aluta continua...

Monday, 29 May 2017

PEOPLE OF THE EARTH SERIES: SHERINA AND THE ANGRY LITTLE MAN (PART 3)

Now I don't know about you,  but in my book, every good story needs a villian and a hero. Apparently,  Volcano was more than happy to be the former and my seatmate was the self-appointed heroine. And I? I was the faithful observer of  yet another comic relief, a role which I was vastly beginning to enjoy.

Until she had called Volcano "crazy" I had almost given myself whiplash turning my head this way and that trying to keep up with the torrents of insults flowing from both of them.  Did I mention that New Bride (see part 1), was my seat mate? So evidently she was young enough to be Volcano's daughter but that didn't faze either of them.

Volcano's eyes bulged so much I was almost afraid he was going to have a heart attack as he grated, "You called me crazy?"

New Bride met his gaze head on and even though she was silent, you could practically hear her thoughts; "If the cap fits".
"You called me crazy!!!" Volcano boomed again.  He was stark, raving mad by now.

As he turned around to shout, he unbuckled his seat belt to allow himself more range of motion. I actually thought he intended to leap right over the back of his seat to attack New Bride.

He was more inclined to yell, "This rat! You called me a crazy man? I will curse you today. I will put witch (sic) on you."

The irony of that statement didn't escape me. Here was a man who few minutes ago had called a woman a witch, now threatening someone else with a witchcraft hex. Takes one to know one I guess.
Volcano wasn't done, "I will deal with you. Go and ask of me; they all know me. My wife is a mighty dibia!"
I exchanged a look with my seatmate.  Now I've heard a lot of things in my life but I've never,  in all my years of sojourn on God's green earth, heard a man boast about his wife being a dibia/witch doctor. My seatmate's comment about Volcano's mental state was beginning to make sense.

He began to dial furiously on his phone. Someone picked and he barked an order at the person, "Meet me at Peace Park now!"

My seat mate laughed at that one, rolling her eyes as she taunted him. But I did notice that she instantly became more chatty and friendly with other passengers. My heart went out to her; violence against women in Nigeria is such that no woman truly feels safe in a public place especially where no one seems inclined to lift a finger to save her from attack. The slight show of vulnerability affected me and certainty settled like lead in my stomach.  Volcano would not lay a hand on her if I had any breath left. Yes I know, I always have been a sucker for the underdog.

As though he had read my mind, he turned around in the midst of still redialing a number on his phone and said, "You don't kmow who you're messing with!I work in Federal High Court"
When he said that, my calm increased ten-fold. A civil servant then; and a court staff to boot.  Well if he really worked in Federal  High Court, i mused, one petition would see him shown the exit most disgracefully. All I was waiting for was for him or whomever he was calling to lay a finger on her.

Next thing, the person on the other line picked and Volcano erupted, " How dare you? I've been calling and calling. How many times must  i tell you to use this your brain? How many times must I tell you to always pick my calls? What is wrong with you? Anyway meet me at Peace Park now there is something you will do for me."
The person at the other end must have balked because Volcano almost broke the phone in anger. " Are you controlling me or am I controlling you? Meet me at Peace Park!!!"

At this point I wasn't the only passenger wondering who the poor employee was who was saddled with such a man for a boss.
He turned to us with a triumphant smile and I'm ashamed to admit that in just that second I thought he looked like a gloating toad. He announced to our collectively shocked faces, "That was my wife! Wait she'll meet us at the park and deal with this witch for me."

I was aghast.

His wife? He had spoken so rudely, crassly and disparagingly to his better half? He had spoken to her as though he were addressing a house boy or slave.
By this time I was shaking with anger on behalf of his unknown wife.

To my shock, as the bus arrived Peace Park at Obollo Afor, Volcano got down,  looked around and summoned a bike man to carry his garment bag. Then he slid away with his tail between his legs like an illegal fart at a conference.
As I watched him climb the bike without so much as another word, I was amazed.

What an anticlimax! And yes, I was as disappointed as you probably are.
 After hours of anticipation all Volcano did was disappear when he saw the park empty of his reinforcements.  Well what did you expect? A man who hides behind his wife's skirts and behind his 'boys' is probably more mouth than action.

Anyway, for the rest of the trip, Volcano's antics provided ready humor. When the driver opined that New Bride should be grateful none of the people Volcano had called up had shown because she would have been detained at the Park; a wise old man in the bus informed the driver that it was he who should be grateful because the bus would have been detained right along with her.

The lessson? In a world of crazies, sane people stick together.

Thanks for reading.




Learn the lesson and share the story

©2017 by Sherina Okoye

Saturday, 27 May 2017

PEOPLE OF THE EARTH SERIES: SHERINA AND THE ANGRY LITTLE MAN (PART 2)

'Volcano' was decidedly unhappy; you could tell by the even deeper grooves at the corners of his mouth and the frown etched onto his forehead. He couldn't believe that he'd not gotten a rise out of anyone by calling a co-passenger an ogbanje, bright and early on a Thursday morning.
Yours truly continued to observe his mien with glee and by the time we got to Lokoja, Volcano was positively foaming at the mouth, spoiling for a fight.
Now if you've ever undertaken the long journey from the North to other parts  of the country, then you probably know that the buses usually stop at Lokoja.  Anyway, once we arrived the designated park at Lokoja, we all disembarked to eat, use the convenience or just stretch our legs. I spotted a guy selling suya and I made a beeline for him; yes, I love red meat. Sue me. 😚
Anyway, just as I drew level with the suya man, someone shoved me rudely from behind and almost tossed me  right onto the hot suya thingy to join the grilled beef. I looked around, in surprise and my gaze clashed with the culprit's; it was Volcano! Without planning to, I threw up both hands in the classic symbol of surrender as I muttered 'sorry' with the sole intention of keeping the peace. He cast me a superior look and then took himself off, apparently pleased with himself. I glared at the back of his head but my mind cautioned afresh, DO NOT ENGAGE.
Hours later, we had left Lokoja far behind and were just exiting Benue when our driver obligingly halted for everyone to relieve their bladders. Any woman would tell you travelling with a full bladder is one thing,  finding a private enough spot to relive oneself is something else entirely.  The menfolk scattered around, doing their thing willy-nilly but the ladies had to wait for privacy. Upon returning to the bus, I witnessed my hitherto amiable seat mate hotly exchanging words with ... guess who? Yep, that's right, the angry little man; Volcano!
The man was in his element; underneath his anger, I could see his glee that he had found someone to give him an opportunity to blow off steam. All his veins bulged as he screamed at the lady beside me. He told her that he thought she was a local champion, illiterate bumpkin, unkempt and ill-mannered so-and-so. She was an upstart and not worthy of his attention. Of course he tossed in "Do you know who I am?" a few times to let us know he was the typical Nigerian.
I tried to intervene as I tried to find out what had gone wrong. My seat mate, shaking with anger and apparently uncowed by Volcano told me that he had referred to an albino woman in the bus as "a witch". He had further declared that she resembled the sort who "flew at night and sucked the blood of children" simply because like the rest of us, she had waited for the men to finish before going to relieve herself to ensure her privacy.
Am I a prophet or what? Told you we hadn't seen the last of Volcano. First he called someone an Ogbanje and now we also had a witch in the same bus? Boy, it was quite a gathering.
Volcano turned from his seat beside the driver to yell once more at my seat mate. In his ire, his already big eyes bulged so alarmingly that for a crazy moment I wondered what would happen if the eyeballs popped right out of their sockets and rolled across the bus.
I stifled a horrified giggle at my weird imaginings and tried to calm my seat mate again. She stared right at Volcano and in the clearest terms informed him that she thought he was crazy.
And that's when the shit hit the fan...

To be continued...

Learn the lesson and share the story

©2017 by Sherina Okoye



Thursday, 25 May 2017

PEOPLE OF THE EARTH SERIES: SHERINA AND THE ANGRY LITTLE MAN (PT1)

So today I boarded a bus traveling out of Abuja and I had an unusual experience with a man who made such an unsavory impact on us all that I'm dedicating no less than 3 blog posts to him; you'll  see why.

He was short at a mere height of 5"4 with weathered skin that had seen a lot of sunlight, harsh conditions,  and a lifetime of frowning. His mouth told its own story of constant displeasure evident in the grooves etched into both sides of his mouth. His eyes were bulgy and angry behind his thick bifocals and stared out with ire at a world he obviously thought owed him something. His over-sized pinstriped suit hung drunkenly upon his body like a reluctant and unwilling co-conspirator as he surveyed the rest of the lowly mortals around him with thinly veiled disdain and contempt.

He positively vibrated with angry, negative,  energy, and as we waited for the bus to get filled up, I instinctively gave him a wide berth. He reminded me of a Volcano about to explode as he strummed with negative energy.

But Volcano was not to be avoided.  He suddenly jerked from his seat which was beside the driver's at the front of the bus and hustled over towards my own seat which was right behind his and close to the door.

He had crazy, don't-mess-with-me eyes as he reached across my knees without so much as a 'by your leave' and inelegantly yanked his cloth garment bag from the seat beside mine as though it contained dollars rather than an ugly looking suit.

Now this may come as a surprise to some of you but I'm the very soul of tolerance... alright maybe that's an exaggeration; but my point is, I didn't say a word at his rudeness. My mentor would be proud. 😃

Fast forward three minutes later,  a hapless gentleman who had all the glow and besotted attentiveness of a newly married man came to write down his wife's name on the manifest. The manifest had been placed on the front seat, (Volcano's seat) because all the passengers,  Volcano included,  were still milling about buying this and that for their journey. Something about the new groom must have set Volcano off because upon sighting New Groom, Volcano suddenly erupted again from his spot beside a kilishi seller. He moved with such speed that Mai Kilishi almost fell off his rickety bench in surprise.  Volcano grabbed New Groom and shoved him away. He picked up the manifest and thrust it against the surprised man's chest before slamming shut the door of the passenger side of the bus. New Groom exchanged a shocked look with his bride but before he could open his mouth, I gave him a speaking look: DO NOT ENGAGE.  Thankfully, he backed off.

The driver appeared and we all clambered aboard and shut the door. As the bus began to pull out of the park, someone belatedly recalled that she had forgotten her phone with her boyfriend who had obviously realised the same thing and was already racing after the bus, screeching at the top of his lungs for the driver to halt. The driver obligingly pulled up short and thereby committed an offence which earned him a stern glare from the angry little man beside him.

Volcano hissed so loudly he would have done a fishwife proud and then he proceeded to wonder aloud why "that ogbanje" had not collected her phone long ago.

Everyone ignored him. Again. I gave a silent sigh of anticipation as I settled in and prepared to be entertained on the four-hour long journey.  I mean, it wasn't even 9 o'clock yet and we already had an ogbanje in our bus.

Who knew what the rest of the journey would offer right?

To be continued...

Learn the lesson and share the story

©2017 by Sherina Okoye


Monday, 22 May 2017

A WORLD WITHOUT CHILDREN?

Yesterday evening, we were hit with one of the impromptu Abuja rains and luckily yours truly got a ride home with a couple of friends. As we tried to navigate our way out of Karu, back into town, all three of us were chatting,  laughing and generally reminiscing about the day's activities.
Suddenly,  he came out of nowhere; he seemingly fell from the sky right in front of our bumper, both hands slapping onto the hood of the car as he tried to keep the car from running him down by sheer physical strength. He was thin,  wiry, and probably 8 years old if he was a day which means the driver's foot on the brakes and not his Clark Kent's prowess was the only reason he wasn't eating pavement. His eyes were wide and bright with childish innocence and fading adrenaline as his horrified gaze met ours through the windshield of the car.
Even though the driver had managed to stomp on the brakes fast enough to keep from running him down, the car had come to a stop a mere inch from his little body!
We had all screamed involuntarily upon his apparition and the shock had barely worn off before Sky Kid stooped down, yanked a green veil from beneath the hood of our car and promptly dashed back to the sidewalk to stand beside an eerily calm woman. In a flash I understood: the slight wind had yanked the veil from her shoulders and he had almost followed a scarf to his death beneath the wheels of our car in a bid to please Veil Woman!!!
I'm still furious as I write this and of course I have an opinion.
It is the rare mother of a particularly stoic composition who would watch her kid practically  run beneath the  wheels of a car without having a bit of hysteria. I'm willing to bet three shoes and a hat that Sky Kid wasn't Veil Woman's biological  son. Which brings me to my question: why harbor a child you can't love and protect as yours?
These little beings are God's gift to mankind. They preserve the balance of this world; they teach us what it means to be responsible for another human life; they remind us not to take ourselves too seriously.
A world without children would be absolute chaos because we would all be too busy frowning at laptops or planning corporate mergers to go to Disneyland. We would be too busy strategising at work like drill sergeants to wish upon eyelashes. We would be too busy being practical and soaked in reality to keep our fallen teeth for the tooth fairy. We would be too realistic to believe in magic and miracles.
Children are not an accessory to make you look good nor are they an achievement for your resume. They are the tiny humans that make this world go round. They are the force for good that balance all the evil we adults pollute the world with daily. They are angels that dwell the earth.
So if you've got one or you're training one, know that the pitter-patter of little feet is the sound of angels walking in your home.

Learn the lesson and share the story
©2017 by Sherina Okoye

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

"THE 90 NAIRA SHOP"

Okay so a friend asked me teasingly today if I had any weekend experience to share with the beautiful people of Facebook. Turns out I didn't. All that had happened to me over the weekend was I ate way too much protein and paid dearly for it: story for another day.
Frankly I wasn't really looking for a story because my day was packed with back to back activities.
Fast forward few hours later, I was out and about minding my business today when suddenly I had to meet someone within the lovely city of Abuja. Incidentally, he wandered into a men's clothes store and absently began to price the clothes on the rack as we talked.
Now this was the eye-popping part: everything he touched was Ninety thousand Naira. You name it, blazers, suits, shoes, everything! At a point, he turned and looked at me with a wide grin, his eyes twinkling at me as he announced, "This must be the 90 Naira shop".
Frankly at that point I was wondering WHY he was smiling because I failed to see the humor in the situation. I didn't feel like smiling at all. I felt like racing for the door and calling the nearest policeman to come look into this scam that was being perpetuated against the innocent members of the public. N90,000!!! Sheer daylight robbery!!! 90k can probably buy enough foodstuff to last ten families for a month; (Allow me the bliss of daydreaming and wishful thinking.)
Okay let me confess; my real pique was because essentially the cost of one little blazer in that shop rivalled the cost of everything I had on my person at that moment; from my lovely gown, to my flat court shoes and maybe even my weavon!!! It was a very humbling thought.
I picked my slackened jaw off the floor and stabbed an angry finger in the direction of a pair of trousers as I demanded to know the price. I was calmly advised by the perspiring shop clerk that Ninety thousand Naira was the name of the game. I triumphantly jerked out an ugly blazer hidden in one corner of the shop and asked for the price. It was too ugly to be expensive, I reasoned. The sales girl informed me that that one had been hidden away because it was special. It was one hundred and twenty thousand Naira!!!
Now you didn't hear this from me but I've never really appreciated the cost of male fashion. I usually just look at the simple lines and assume the price is in the realm of normalcy. Today, I learned differently; and now I have a very healthy respect for the masculine wardrobe. Female clothes are expensive all right, but you would have to do some real fast talking to sell any lady a pair of shoes at Ninety thousand in a roadside shop!!!
As we left, I cast an angry glare at one unoffending pair of boxers hanging on a rack and demanded in my haughtiest tone, "How much is the boxers?" The sales girl cast an apprehensive look at my angry features and swallowed as she wisely squeaked, "Ten thousand Naira."
Good. If I had heard Ninety thousand Naira one more time, I'm afraid i might have decked her!!! And that's how the fight would have started...
Anyway, my point is, if you are a guy and you're my friend and i look suspiciously at your shoes or clothes any time in the nearest future, you can rest assured I'm wondering if you are wearing four bags of rice on your feet. Apostle Kingsley Freeman Ogbonna, now you know why somebody was scrutinizing your shoes today.



Learn the lesson and share the story
©2017 by Sherina Okoye

"MY PARENTS ARE IGBO"

So I thought I had heard everything until I ventured out among the beautiful people of the earth the other day. I observed a couple close to me with a friend of theirs in tow. Anyway, the girl saw someone speak Igbo to her boyfriend and she chirpily asked if he was Igbo. His response? "My parents are Igbo." I filed away that piece of information and watched in silent glee as everyone else in the vicinity (which unfortunately for him consisted mostly of thickset, Igbo trader-type uncles) proceeded to give him serious lectures on the need for him to identify with his tribe.
The next day, I had to pick up something from the market. I got to a shop manned by an Igbo man and the shop was filled with a lot of Kano sisters tearing Hausa as easy as you please. Of course, in a bid to feel kinship with my Igbo brother (and admittedly get a slightly better price) I proceeded to speak Igbo to the man. He informed me in the direst tone, SPEAKING IN A THICK IGBO-ACCENTED ENGLISH mind you, that the price could not be reduced and what's more, I was wasting his time. I picked up several other articles to inquire as to the prices but was met with rude silence. My offense? I had dared to come into his shop and speak Igbo to him. Issoright. I strode away from that shop with my hard-earned currency safely in my pocket and like the Jewish Passover, I mentally placed a permanent mark of DO NOT ENTER over his shop for myself for future reference.
I am one of those people who on a normal day, see the need, and indeed advocate for a detribalized Nigeria. Igbo, despite being my mother-tongue, was not my first language; but I speak it very well thank you very much. I have friends from virtually every tribe in Nigeria and as most of my friends will tell you, I don't even know where 95% of them are from because in truth, tribe matters little in the grand scheme of things: personality is what moves me. WHO ARE YOU, AND NOT WHERE YOU ARE FROM. You could tell me you were from the moon and I would still like you if you were a decent, likable human being.
Regardless, I must admit that it is most worrisome when we try to disown our roots because nature has proved again and again that anything without a source must surely die.
Igbo tribe, like most Nigerian tribes, has a very rich heritage and has produced so many sons and daughters that posterity can always be proud of. Our Zik of Africa is still been commended and taught about in universities all over the world; our Chimamanda Adichie is setting the literary world on its ear with each new novel; our Buchi Emecheta died leaving us proud; our Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart remains unparalleled till date; our Okonjo Iweala is Internationally recognized for her economic prowess and let's not even mention 'the Nigerian Nightmare,' our Christian Emeka Okoye and his football skills and the scores of sons and daughters of Igbo race all over the world doing the planet proud.
Igbo culture remains a marvel in its complexity and sheer beauty.
It's alright to want to be a Nigerian by tribe but in the absence of such a tribe, I think being a self-hating Igbo or self-hating Yoruba or Hausa person is pathetic and unnecessary. If you don't know who you are you will always be at war with yourself. Tribe does not define you; what you do with it does.
Whatever your race or your tribe, there's no need to apologize for it; own it with pride because the world will never celebrate what you do not first celebrate.
As for me, I am Proudly African, Proudly Nigerian and Proudly Igbo and anyone who has a problem with any of that can go jump in a lake for all I care!!! My parents are Igbo and so am I!!!

Learn the lesson and share the story

©2017 by Sherina Okoye

BLACK GLOVES, MURDER, AND AN OVERACTIVE IMAGINATION



Okay this time, I really WAS minding my own business; not my fault everything seems to offer its own story these days. Bright and early this morning, I was waiting for a bus to convey me to work. This driver pulled up and said he was going my way. Given that my bag was heavy (lady's prerogative huh?) I hopped in immediately and sat back with a palpable sigh of relief as I smugly contemplated other road users still awaiting transportation. Did I mention I was the only passenger in the bus? Next thing, the driver puts up his hand to signal more passengers and as I looked over at him, I saw 'em! His hands were completely covered in ugly, black, leather gloves despite the sweltering heat of the day. Maybe I'm out of touch with the times but sincerely I've only ever seen black leather gloves on television or in novels; and even then, only in cooler climates.
Now I wouldn't have worried but if you're a fan of thriller novels or movies then you know that the bad guy always, always, always wears black leather gloves! You know, the killer who murders the co-ed in her bed; the friendly neighborhood burglar who breaks the door when no one's home; the kidnapper who steals up to his victims from behind and yanks them off into the bushes...You get the picture!
At this point my mind was already working overtime as I sized him up. He was a big, burly guy; well over six feet with ham-sized fists. I wasn't too eager to be seated next to him for the next 45 minutes. I'm mean I'm all for girl power and all but that guy could probably smash every last one of my bones with one hand without even breaking a sweat!
So I conveniently 'remembered' that I had forgotten my keys at home. As soon as he slid to a halt, I couldn't get out of that vehicle fast enough.
The morale of the story?
1. What you wear does matter.
2. Momma was right: look before you leap; and yes, apparently that applies to buses too.


Learn the lesson and share the story

©2017 by Sherina Okoye




WHO SAYS CHIVALRY IS DEAD?



Have you ever tried to cross any of those drainage stuff (gutters) within the FCT? Well if you have then you know it can't be done because they are usually wide enough and deep enough to bury a man. You would have to jump right in and then wait for some good Samaritan to pull you out. Don't worry, they are usually clean and dry. Anyway, on my way to the office this morning, I spotted a female corper who had jumped into the gutter in order to cross to my side of the street. Well she appeared stuck and was looking wildly around for someone to pull her up and out. I hastened my footsteps to reach her faster but before I could, one chirpy male corper had jogged up and offered her a gallant hand, pulling her to safety. They obviously didn't know each other because he continued on his way immediately.
When our eyes met though, I beamed an approving smile at him. Now you didn't hear this from me, but my smile happens to be quite nice. https://static.xx.fbcdn.net/images/emoji.php/v8/f4c/1/16/1f642.png:)
Long story short, he walked a little taller after that as he continued on his merry way. Words were unnecessary: he had been a chivalrous gentleman, even when he didn't have to be. And I blessed him in my heart as I'm sure the female corper did.
Who has blessed you today?
Morale of the story? Do good for someone else and if you can't, then appreciate those who do good for others.


Learn the lesson and share the story

©2017 by Sherina Okoye

CONFESSIONS OF A BOOKAHOLIC: FLASHBACK

(Recollections from Law School Days) Something I've never confessed to a soul: “You’re a bookworm,” my roommate accused as though ...