Taxify’s marriage certificate…

 

Early one morning, a long time ago in my former office, two senior female colleagues stood by the entrance of the main building. They were huddled together, and they spoke in hushed tones. I saw them but I thought nothing of it because experience had taught me that they could either be deciding the future of someone’s entire career, or they could be expressing grave concerns over what Antonio did to Miguel in last night’s Telemundo episode.

The MD arrived while they were still outside. He was such a hard ass. He didn’t like to see people breathe because breathing wasted time and time is money. Every time I remember this episode, I imagine that in his mind’s eye, he saw two wasted salaries just standing around, talking and breathing. He yelled roared at them, something about being productive with their time instead of gossiping.

When they told me about it, I wasn’t surprised because he was my MD too. He was known far and wide in the industry for his shouting. Still, being the stand-up gal that I am, I tried to mirror their outrage. They ranted and I listened, the whole time shaking my head… How dare he?

Then one of them said, “If it was another person, I would understand, but he was talking to someone’s wife!”

The other lady agreed, “Exactly! That’s what is paining me.”

         ___________________________________________________________

Yesterday, I had a terrible experience with a Taxify driver. I booked a trip for a sick friend from Lekki to Surulere. He took a roundabout journey in the guise of avoiding traffic and at some point even stopped to buy fuel during the trip. In the end, the trip totaled almost double the cash my friend had with her. She called me and I spoke with him, “Take what she has, and let her go to the hospital. I’ll transfer your balance.”

He refused. “She cannot go anywhere o, till I see alat.”

I transferred the money.

In the evening, I came back from church full of the Holy Spirit, and saw a message from my friend telling me not to bother with a transfer because she had paid him. So I called the driver and asked him, “Chukwuemeka, why didn’t you call me to tell me about the double payment?” He muttered something about trying to reach me to get my account number so he could pay back.

At that point, I was still somehow filled with the Spirit. It was when he started to mansplain that something sparked inna me head and I completely lost it. I warned him about speaking to me like I was suffering from dementia.

He said, “Listen o… I am a family man o. I have a wife and –“

The Holy Spirit left and I told him, “Emeka, I don’t give a flying fuck how many families you have. You will speak to me respectfully.”

Then he hung up. I still haven’t gotten my money back, and the Holy Spirit hasn’t come back either.

____________________________________________________________

This morning, my former caretaker called. She wanted to gist me about her sister who was kidnapped yesterday. The poor girl was taken to a bank and made to withdraw money, then she was taken to some rural area outside Lagos and locked up in a tiny room. Luckily, she somehow managed to escape, even with her money.

We were talking about how good God is when she said, “Thank God they didn’t rape her o.”

I responded, “That would’ve just been the absolute worst! She’s really lucky.”

She said, “They almost did o, but thank God na… as per, she’s a married woman. How can they rape someone’s wife?”

 

 

 

Testimony Time. Blessing Time.

Last year, when I was literally drowning in debt, I told a few friends that I wanted to leave. I didn’t use the term “drowning”, but I explained that I could no longer afford to stay in my flat. I knew that even if I could hustle the rent for another year, I would be picking left-over pizza from Domino’s Pizza garbage for the rest of the year.

Looking back now, I realize that I wasn’t really serious about leaving. If not I wouldn’t have told the people I knew would convince me to stay.

“Opportunities are HERE in Lagos! Warri is dead!” 

“Your problem is that you don’t even go out and meet people… don’t you know that you can just meet someone who will like you and give you a big contract?”

That last one is from my friend who always knows someone who knows someone who attends a church where people testify about ridiculously miraculous events. And it’s always the same type of testimony… a guy whose only qualification is a NaijaBet paper slip, is walking along the road and he runs into his day care classmate who ends up giving him a job as MD of an oil company, with free housing and two official cars.

Even now that I’m typing it, I feel very silly. A whole year went by and yes, I met a number of people who liked me, but none who liked me enough to give me the kind of contract they testify about in those weird churches. The closest thing to happen to me was just a few weeks ago, on my friend’s birthday. I was walking to her house and a pickup truck in slow reverse hit me while I was trying to cross the road.

I was partly to blame cos I was so distracted. When the car hit me, I didn’t fall or anything. It just felt like a hard shove. The driver wasted no time apologizing and in the end, he dropped me off at my friend’s place.

In the car, he was wary. I think he would’ve preferred a more dramatic reaction, maybe some yelling and collar-grabbing. After a long silence, he said, “It’s like you’re the quiet type.”

I wanted to tell him that he and his pickup truck were the least of my problems.

Anyway, this year I didn’t tell anyone. I just packed up my shit and left. I thought of staying with a friend, but the last thing I want to do is inconvenience anyone. To be honest, I am only fun on paper. In real life, I am annoying as fuck to live with. I arrange my remote controls according to height, my hangers are colour coordinated and I have outside slippers and inside slippers. Last week, a friend wore my inside slippers outside. We’re still friends, of course, but I don’t know if we can ever get back to the way we were before the slippers incident.

I will live from a backpack under Eko bridge, surviving only on crackers and pure water, until I learn that Premium bouquet is only for the rich and expensive perfumes are not a substitute for a boyfriend. When I run out of crackers, I will eat my decoder and my inside slippers (because I’ll be wearing the outside ones… duh!) till I learn my lesson.

Usually, I see the humour in almost anything… but when I start to sense that I’m running out of jokes and can no longer smile through, I go into hiding. That’s what I’m doing now. So if you’re driving by and you see a girl with a back pack, an LG Tv, and an extra pair of slippers, yeah that’s me…

 

 

080********

Early this evening, I sent the security guy on an errand. I was standing by the gate, waiting for him and watching traffic go by when I heard someone yell my name from across the road. I looked in the direction I heard my name and by the time I realised who it was, it was too late to disappear into the bushes. We don’t even have bushes.

I was careful not to smile. I waved a small, barely civil wave. A sensible person would’ve deciphered the wave to mean “Don’t let devul use you this afternoon. Just be going where you’re going”, but not this guy. He was never one to read signals so, with the excitement of a veteran back from war, he sprinted across the road. Unlucky for me, there was no oncoming traffic so he got to my end safely.

He lifted his arms and offered a hug. I offered my shoulder pad.

Then we exchanged small talk and by ‘we’ I mean him. I just did a lot of “Oh really?” and “Oh for real?”… He talked about his new job, how much he’s making now, how he’s about to buy a car, blah blah blah without stopping for breath. Finally, hands on hips, he glanced at the gate and asked, “Do you stay here?”

I said no.

“Oooooh… so your boyfriend stays here ehn?”

I smiled. Deep down, I wanted to sand-paper the stupid smirk off his face. I asked, “So where are you heading to?”

“I’m going to see a friend o. He just moved to the area. Do you stay around here?”

“No.”

“We really need to catch up o. I called you severally but you never answered. Abi you deleted my number?”

By now, I’m looking over his shoulder, hoping that the security man isn’t going to show up at that moment and hand me my moin moin and plantain chips.

“Same number right?”

“Yeah. Are you waiting for someone?”

“I’m sure I still have it.”

He whipped out his phone. “You know what? Let me just flash you so you can save it.”

I don’t disagree. Instead, while still facing him, I take a small step back, hold my phone up and watch the screen like I’m waiting for the call to connect. With my other hand I shield the screen against imaginary sunlight, even though it’s already getting dark. My phone starts to vibrate and one word flashes across the screen;

IDIOT
080********

“Yup”, I said. “I still have it.”

 

How much is paracetamol?

Every time I brag about how I’m such a great cook, I burn something as simple as noodles or forget boiling eggs on fire till the eggs and pot turn black. As if the universe is telling me to not brag. Lately, I’ve been bragging about how I walk in divine health and I don’t fall sick, then yesterday I landed in the hospital with Malaria.

It’s funny because I used to secretly judge malaria patients… like how did you allow mosquitoes chew you to the extent you got malaria? Are you a missionary worker sleeping in the jungle? Can’t you cover yourself at night?

Also, I’ve seen people lie with malaria so much that I forgot it was a serious illness.

Why didn’t you do your assignment? I was sick. I had malaria.

Why didn’t you pay me my money? I couldn’t go to the bank. I was sick. I had malaria.

Why did you leave him at the altar? I’m no longer in love with him. Also, I was sick. I had malaria.

Last time I had malaria was in 2006/2007 so I honestly didn’t recognize it for what it was. It started with a sharp pain in my right hip last week. I called my doctor friend and he asked me to go do an xray (or Extray as my uncle calls it). When I heard the cost of an extray and looked at my account balance, I decided to rub anointing oil and speak the word of God directly to my hip.

By Sunday, I was walking with a slight limp and the pain had radiated, up to my right shoulder joint. Brethren, I cannot describe the kind of fear that gripped my soul. You see, I watch the weirdest shit on Tv. There’s a show called Monsters Inside Me… they show true accounts of people who get infected by teeny tiny micro-organisms that cause havoc in their bodies. One day they are on vacation, frolicking in a lake in Brazil, and weeks later, they are having both legs and two fingers amputated. So, I thought, surely something must have entered inside me and must be causing nerve damage somewhere. All this ube I’ve been eating… maybe I didn’t wash them well.

Tuesday morning, I woke up, showered, ate more ube, drank coffee and laid down to read. That was the last time I could stand up on my own without feeling like I was going to fall forward or like my head was going to explode. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I called our caretaker and she was very dramatic about helping me get from my room to the cab. The security man held my bag and watched me like I was about to drop dead. Then I started crying from the embarrassment of being carried like a half-dead 80 year old!

I got to the hospital and they just threw me on a bed. They were nice enough, extremely helpful. Very friendly. I was an annoying and irritable patient though… I told the doctor, “My sister is a doctor, she said I should do a blood test.”

She said, “Sure, but I just want to get your history first.”

My oversabi was in high gear. “I don’t have a fever, I don’t have headaches. I don’t usually have malaria. Just this pain, the dizziness and nausea.”

“Yes dear. But malaria doesn’t always come with a fever or chills.”

Ugh! What does this one even know sef?… Has she even done PLAB? I should’ve just Googled my symptoms and I would’ve found out what ube-dwelling micro-organism is causing this. Ugh again!

Tests came back and they woke me up to announce that I had malaria. She asked if I’ve been ignoring symptoms for a while and I said no. They gave me some injections inna me selling point and all I could think was, “Thank God I wore fine pyint.” Then I slept for hours and hours.

When they brought my bill, the malaria parasites cleared from my eyes. Niggaz charged me 1,100 for Paracetamol!!!  Must be 100Naira for the paracetamol, 1000Naira for the niceness. It better be magic paracetamol… the kind that cures cancer.

Anyway, I’m home now, feeling better. I still have to go back for treatment.

My friend had malaria a few weeks ago and she lost a tonne of weight. I hope I lose weight too.

 

Silent victims of domestic violence…

On Wednesday, I was called to separate a fight between my neighbour and her house girl. Every time I tell the story, people are shocked. “How can house girl be fighting madame?”. I understand their surprise, but they don’t know this madame like I do. If I was her house girl, I would pee in her morning coffee.

We are next door neighbours, our rooms share a wall, so I heard everything. It grew from madame yelling her daily morning yell, to an exchange of words, then raised voices then blows and finally, flying furniture. I heard it, but I stayed in bed, watching Crime and Investigation.

A security man came to my door and knocked frantically. He said, “Aunty abeg come help this small girl abeg. This woman fit kill am!”

“Don’t worry Yesuf, nobody go die,” I told him, but he didn’t look convinced. I suggested that he go in and separate the fight, but he turned his face away shyly and said, “Aunty… hmm. I no fit o. Na woman you you be.”

I thanked him for the kind reminder, then went over to the fighting room. I opened the door and, as he suspected, their clothes were already torn. There were sweaty A-cups everywhere! The A-cup owners paid me no mind as they continued to exchange blows. It should’ve been an unfair fight but the house girl wasn’t backing down. Madame’s five year old son cowered in a corner of the room, watching the fight. His school uniform was laid out neatly on the bed.

The house girl was bleeding down one arm and the side of her face. In my mind, I covered myself with the blood of Jesus (against HIV) before throwing myself between them. It stopped the exchange of blows, but they held on tight to whatever shreds were left of each other’s clothes. We stayed that way for a moment, till they calmed down just a bit without loosening their grip. The room was silent, except for their heavy breathing. Their eyes were wide like crazed animals.

Madame broke the silence with a comment, something about picking the house girl from a gutter and the house help made a wise crack about salary. This infuriated madame. With lightening speed, madame reached behind me and slapped the house girl hard. I felt that slap in my spirit. House girl then threw an aimless punch that was meant for madame, but it hit me just above my right eye.

I stepped away, slightly dazed, with my hand over my eye. At that point, I got so angry! I wanted to give them knives and lock them in the room so that they would kill each other. Honestly, I was more upset with myself for going there in the first place.

You see, it wasn’t the first time I was ‘domestically violated’ in that same room. Last month, late at night, I heard raised voices. A man’s voice and my neighbour madame. Then I heard screaming, scuffling and “You will kill me today!” and I jumped out of bed.

I put on my wig (because I cannot be caught dead without it), tied two corners of my wrapper round my neck to form a make-shift cape and headed out the door. I thought, This is for all domestic violence victims whose neighbours stay silent and pretend to not hear! I started to bang on their door and call out my neighbour’s name. I banged louder till the noise in the room suddenly stopped and I realised then I didn’t even have a plan. What was I going to do do? Fight him? Ask him nicely to not beat her? What if he opened the door and dragged me in and KO-ed the both of us with one fist?!

She opened the door, looking deranged and out of breath, but visibly unhurt. I was taken aback by just how unhurt she was. She said, “Aunty Ngozi good evening.”

“Uhm… are you… is everything ok?”

“DON’T MIND THIS USELESS MAN! IF HE DO ANYHOW HERE EHN… IM WAN SHOW INSEF.”

I looked past her into the room and saw an elderly man pick his hat from the floor and place it over his head. He looked at me with a nasty scowl and asked, “What do you want?” His yellow sleeveless shirt was ripped down the middle to reveal his chest and his large belly. I was so confused, because I’d never seen a Twitter thread on what to do when the domestic violence victim is an old man.

I felt very foolish. “Uhh… nothing. I just wanted to make sure she was fine.”

“She’s fine! Mind your business! Do you know I pay for everything in this house? I bring the money for food, I pay the rent! Do you know?!” He carried on with his rant and I stood there in my nightie and my wasted cape. Thank God I didn’t use my good sheets. She was screaming, “AND SO?! SO?! NA ONLY YOU GET MONEY??”

I turned to her and said, “I’m here if you need me” but God knows I didn’t really mean it, then I went back to my room feeling very embarrassed. At least the fighting had stopped. It was just more shouting for a while, then door-slamming, then quiet. He had gone home to his wife and kids and grandkids.

Fast forward to today where I’m nursing a bump on my head. To me, it’s a huge bump, big enough to have it’s own shadow but my friends say they can’t see it and that I may be exaggerating the punch. Maybe they can’t see it because they are too busy laughing at me.

I saw the house girl later that day. By that time, the pain had spread down to my right jaw. She apologised profusely for her behaviour. She didn’t even know she hit me, and I didn’t bother telling her. As for madame, I ran into her the next day and she told me about her birthday coming up the following week and then described the huge pink cake that “baba” had ordered for her.