Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Unsolicited advice to young Nigerian women working 12 joyless hours

My friend and I have been lamenting on how much less of our lives we seem to own under the stress of demanding work hours. She wrote this today and for the first time we felt oddly comforted by our grief and laughed at our predicament. Here's her advice to the rest of you like us.

1) when you start to think you want a life away from the office. Count your bills, spread them on the table. Sigh a lot.

2) when you tell your father you want to be a writer and he lists the names of 9 starving writers, add your name as the 10th on the list. Recite this list before bed.

3) when your mother asks if you can feed a family on passion, eat only laughter for a week. Go back to her and reply you can’t.

4) when you come across an old classmate on Facebook living the life you want, don’t comment. Click like.

5) when the madam at the office asks how you plan to balance your long hours and a husband, tell her men know how to cook. Laugh with her when she laughs at your reply.

6) when the older man who makes crude jokes at work tells you how ungrateful you are, and how he waited 5 years for his first job, apologise. Thank him for his observation.

7) when you call your friend who still hasn’t found a job in 2 years, don’t ask about it. Don’t complain that you work too long. Talk to her about the weather, about your new tailor. Joke a lot.

8) when you boss tells you that the your generation is doomed, ask him why he stares at you when your back is turned (ask inaudibly). Fix your eyes on his family picture. Agree with him.

9) when your American friend tells you you’re wasting your life, that you should follow your dreams, don’t tell her she’s right, just reply “I understand. But this is Lagos”.

10) when you dread the weekdays, look forward to Friday, sit at a new bar and reinvent yourself. After 3 shots of vodka tell the bartender about your life on the island as a photographer. Tell the man sitting beside you after 6.

11) Spend Saturdays being your mother’s daughter. Cook 4 different soups. Picture a hungry husband at your table. This is the life you should crave. Never speak about suicide.

- Because I was asleep when the walls started caving in

Friday, 14 August 2015

Do You Remember How To Feel?

What will you remember most? Years from now? When you're 80, absent and empty.







Will it be your first orgasm?
That felt like sudden rain
A rush of emotions you didn't have time enough to understand
You felt yourself release. Your thick woman fluid flowed down your thighs shamelessly as you clung to him.You were against the wall, legs wrapped with desperate need around him urging him deeper inside you.
You melted away like dissolving spray
Like mist into nothing
In that moment forgetting who you are
A virtuous woman raised by Christian parents
Head of the youth revival, member of the prayer force team
But you stood there, barely standing, unabashed moaning into his sweet flesh
the whole time
His name stuck somewhere in your throat

When your dad died?
How you cried like the women on TV do
Folding at the middle like a hundred naira note
Your mother didn't cry like them though
Instead she began to shrink into nothing
barely speaking, barely eating
till her depression killed her
Her death was a strange relief to you
You didn't cry
That night you said some prayers
It had been a while since you spoke to God
You thanked him for taking your mummy away.
It was wrong for someone to suffer so much
someone who was alive against her will.

How loving the wrong person changed you?
After that came pain that kept you up at night
Emptiness that came with waking up with nothing and no one
How he taught you how to make enemies of people
Because you couldn't bring yourself to understand
How someone could be so savage
After giving all of yourself
He left, leaving you broken with a swollen heart
You become ashamed and vulnerable
Remembering every dirty thing you made yourself do for him
How you were not woman enough to keep him
She looked better than you did
She had the right face, right body, right walk, right laugh
He looked mesmerized when ever she would laugh and run her scarlet nails across his face
Most times you grieved for being alone
other times you wondered if he had found what he wanted.


What was wrong with your first marriage?
You wanted just the boy and not his baggage
Not his mother who thought Edo girls were witches
Or his sister and her fake niceness
The thought of embracing new traditions weakened you
Pay respects to the Umuada for acceptance-
Bribing your way through their hearts-
Becoming a smaller version of yourself -
Because submission and reverence 
for your husband and his entire village was their watch word
You wanted the boy but he was too weak to be a man
He knew you were different but he wouldn't stand up for you
wouldn't stand up to his mother and his people
He looked at you with coward eyes that begged you to comply
when strange women dictated the rites of the marriage
Bear a child so they know you're fertile-
Renounce your people because they were evil-
Dress like a maid because you had become a man's property-
Before they let you marry their son
So you walked out because you had waited on your father all your life
And you'd be damned if you waited on another man
You had waited so long for something different 
Searching for a fire you could not name
You could not shrink yourself for them
Your dreams were bigger than him
So you left him because he chose to hold onto it all instead and let you go