Wednesday, December 15, 2010

When Sweet turns Sour

I was about 14 and had been chosen to represent my school in a local debate competition holding in the all Boys Secondary in my locality. I was quite excited and took my time to comb my hair, wear my best pair of socks and iron my school uniform perfectly. I was looking very smart and excited when I stepped out of my  house that great October morning.

When I got to the school, we waited for over 4 hours before the event eventually started but when it did, the pace was very fast. The next thing I heard was 'Anthonia Bokesh, representing...' 'oh my gosh, that's me. I got up and flashed my well practiced smile even though there were so many butterflies flying all around my stomach and my heart was pounding louder than ever.

The topic was 'Is Nigeria Ripe Enough for a Female President?' Christ, please help me remember all the great females that have made history in the world, I prayed.

I climbed the podium and represented my school in my tiny shrill voice, naming all the great women like they were my aunties and sisters. The fear disappeared immediately I started and I made a wonderful presentation.

At the end of it, I had became the hero, the pride of my school, the brightest child as I was greeted with a resounding ovation.

I was all smiles as the presents were presented to me as the school's representative. At the time I took my prize and started walking home, it was quite late and about 10 boys were fighting to walk with me. Eventually, one of them who was most respected and feared (I think he was a prefect) walked me home. I didn't say much to him because in as much as I could represent on a stage, I was very shy of boys.

About 20 minutes from my house, I suddenly saw my Aunt walking towards me, oh my gosh! I'm done for was all I could think but really, I wasn't expecting the slaps and kicks that followed as she cried and kept screaming 'Onayimi, you won't kill me! I've been very worried, waiting and now on my way to look for you in that school and here you her frolicking with a boy'!. Of course, before I could say jack, the boy had ran away and left me to the mercy of my Aunt.

I'd never been more embarrassed all my life. All my attempt to explain to her that the event started and ended late and that I didn't even know the guy walking me home fell on deaf ears. It was a huge anti climax for me and it was made worse when I got to school the next day and discovered that the news already got to school. Till date, I don't know how people got to know in school but I was teased about it for a long time.

Thief Ole! Give me my money!

Give me my money, you must give me my money today oh .

I turned at these words and saw the teenage girl in her school uniform. She was dragging an Agbero (street urchin) who doubled as a conductor for a commercial bus. I got scared for this girl and imagined what could happen to her if someone doesn't intervene immediately; she could either get battered by this man, shoved and pushed or he could just drive away leaving her in tears.

'Hey you' I called her up, she turned with her tear stained face and continued to drag the Agbero for her money. I could imagine that could be her transport back home. 'Hey', I called again, 'come with me, I'll give you the money'. I saw the unbelief in her eyes that came with relief. She threw a few curses at him and joined me still crying and cleaning her face.

I didn't bother to ask her what happened before handing her a N500.00 note. That should do for transportation and lunch I thought to myself. 'Thanks' was all she could say and she mumbled, 'he stole my N50'. I simply smiled to myself, N50 for all that trouble!

Really, sometimes it's not about the amount, it's the feeling of being cheated that is so painful. 

Hungry Police Men!

It's no news that our Nigerian Police look and act very hungry especially at this time of the year.  They look everywhere to make extra money for the festivities. Each time I see these 'men of the road', I'm filled with mixed feelings... Do I pity them or do I despise them.

On my way to work this morning, my friends dropped me off at a spot where they and many other vehicles drop people off and as I was walking away, a lady notified me that my friends' car has been blocked by police men trying to extort some money from them. In shock, I turned back to show some support to them while the police men were commanding my friends to open the car door so that they could jump in.

Knowing the Nigerian police, my friends refused to let them in but kept trying to talk some sense into them while I tried to call my security to see if they could help us out of the fix. The Police men stubbornly refused to bulge even as more and more people were stopping by, dropping people off with no reaction from these guys whatsoever.

Eventually, some guy with a military sticker stopped by and spoke with the police men. They listened this time and decided to let us to.

To lighten the mood, I jovially said 'Shakara, Shakara' in Fela's language and one of them suddenly took offense.

Looking like one little spoilt and greedy child who just unwrapped a piece of stolen candy only to find it empty; he looked at me with tears almost streaming down his eyes and said 'is it me you're calling Shakara' and went ahead to report to my friends like a child will report to mummy and daddy. Maybe he was hoping for another candy, I can't say, but it suddenly hit me that these people never ever see the fun in anything. I've never been able to make a police man laugh at a joke or smile unless I give them gifts.

Na wa for our Police oh! 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Hero

The Villain turned out to be My Hero.

No, not a real hero, just a hero on my mind and in my heart.

When I was a little girl of 10, I left my parents to go to school and live with my Aunt. It wasn't a bad experience for me, my Aunt was good, kind and loving; almost pampering. Life with her was good but for one snag; The BULLIES at my school. I hated those bullies, the boys, the big girls who will pull my hair, make fun of my tight dress, laugh at my tiny shrill voice and call my face 'swollen'. Most of them were older and bigger than me as well as stronger.

All of a sudden, I started missing my younger brother, he became the hero in my heart, I thought about him when those bullies tried to get into a fight with me, I'd wish he was there to defend me. Suddenly, he became larger than life on my mind, he was powerful, muscular, tall and a super hero. The thought of him made me survive those bullies and fortunately never got into a fight with them.

Ironically, he was never any of those things when we lived together and until now, I still wonder why he became my super hero when I needed one.