To piss or to be pissed on?

Choosing what to wear to work today was tricky business. The dilemma started last night when NEPA didn’t restore the power they “seized” in the morning and there was every likelihood it wouldn’t be restored by the next morning, making it impossible to iron. And trust NEPA to justify paranoia; I woke this morning to darkness. My what-to-wear dilemma was further complicated by the following:

1. I was limited to clothes that could be worn without ironing

2. The fact that I don’t have as many pairs of jeans as I would have loved (who does anyway?)

3. I was supposed to see my BIG CRUSH this week and would have wanted to reserve one of my more better-looking outfits.

4. I would be sleeping…erm (coughs)…working overnight at the office tonight so I needed to wear something comfortable enough to work and sleep in… and trousers that won’t get dirty easily (or least, make the dirt no show) so I just have to carry only a spare shirt.

5. Tomorrow, I’ll be going out and I gat to look presentable enough. I’m sleeping at the office, remember? So I’ll have to carry the shirt I plan to wear.

See my problem? Rocket Science abi?

After sleeping over the problem, I made a decision, had my morning devotion, took my bath, cleaned my teeth, had breakfast and looked at my watch…

Wow! I had 15 minutes to spare before my usual departure time. I was overjoyed. You won’t understand but when you tumble out of bed with 45 minutes to get ready for work for about a week and end up forgetting to pray or carry your phone or take a bath on a couple of days, you’ll know what I’m talking about (I’ve never “forgotten” to take a bath yet O!).

So here I am rejoicing on the inside and thinking, “what can I do with a good 15 mins?”, my youngest cousin wakes up and is trying hard to jump on my back. Trust me naaa, I’m doing a great job keeping her off. From this point on, I’ll utilise a timeline in my narration.

15 mins to go: That’s we are abi? I decide to send a text message.

11 mins to go: I’m through with the first message and decide to type another.

6 mins to go: I’m through with messaging cos I’m almost out of credit and for want of something else to do, I decide to sit in the parlour and wait it out.

5 mins to go: I’m all relaxed wondering when I’m going to see this radar-blip and thinking up possible opening lines: Here are some of the best lines I thought up: “Hey, how are you doing? You look…” Sorry, that’ll be all for that trailer. Hold the thought for a few days and I’ll tell you what I actually said. Now, where was I with my timeline?

4 mins to go: My butt is feeling cool…

3 mins to go: “cool” is a little cooler than usual and maybe a little wet.

2 mins to go: I’m sure my butt is wet. I dismiss it as sweat.

1 min to go: Na wah o! This one wet pass sweat O! It has to be water, blood or piss. I start praying.

0 mins to go: I jump up. The bottom of my shirt is soaked. Same as my jeans; the same pair that took me at least 8 hours to decide on. Upon a little investigation, I find out that one of my cousins started his night on that chair and took a piss there before migrating to the room.

5 minutes later: I’m running to catch up with the neighbour I hitch a ride to work with; wearing a different shirt and pair of jeans. She has been waiting for a while. I settle in her car, panting… and thanking God that she waited for me and that I found other clothes to wear and then…

…I feel some more moisture in my boxers. I smile to myself wondering if all that piss came from 1 child and let it dry.


Accomodating me

My uncle and aunt whom I’ve been staying with since I came to Lagos for my I.T. have been so nice and I planned on doing this entry just about them to describe how nice they have been.

But as I type this, I do it with a sprained left thumb… I think the kids have made a case for themselves to be included, I have gotten the message (ouch!) and I will talk about them too.

Now back to my uncle and aunt. You know how people say that when you experience good luck for so long, bad luck is on its way. That’s the way I feel right now. These my relatives have been soooooooooooo nice, I constantly feel it’s about to end.

I think I’ve dilly-dallyed long enough. What exactly is “nice”?

How about the fact that the only work I do in their house is…em, let me see… wash the mug I use for tea in the morning and that is when I’m not in a hurry to leave.

I rarely make my bed (the kids undo my effort within the hour, so don’t blame me),

I don’t fetch water (I used to but found out I could get away without doing it, me I no be suffer-head),

I don’t wash plates (Yes I know I said I wash my mug but mugs aren’t plates; are they?)

I don’t wash clothes…OK, you got me there; I do but only my clothes,

I don’t cook (That one is for their own good),

I don’t sweep, clean, change babies nappies (There are no babies and no nappies),

I don’t wash bathrooms, rock anybody to sleep, sing lullabies

I don’t climb trees to pluck mangos for anyone, make brooms from palm fronds, plant tomatoes, nothing.

Name it, I don’t do it.

Apart from that, they are so generous with food, money, name it. I know that in many homes you dare not go near the pot if you aren’t a member of the family. Here, I’m not only encouraged to go near the pot, I’m also pushed, from time to time to put stuff in it. I strongly resist the push (bread will do when I’m hungry)

Also, as an I.T. student, I get a small stipend from my employer which is big enough for me to be considering taking that blip-on-my-radar out (my big date still hasn’t happened, don’t worry, when it does you’ll know. NEPA would give light you for the rest of that day). As I was saying, my stipend is large enough to take care of me, my transport, feeding, credit, the occasional gala, chewing gum money etc yet my uncle gave me some extra the other day.

Infact, I’m treated like a celeb/aje-butter here. I mean, to the extent they give me rice and stew in different plates. Now that doesn’t happen even at home in Warri.

But the kids…

Before I go on, let me categorically state that I love children. So you can let all ya kids come around me. Nothing go do dem. I promise. (two fingers crossed behind my back)

But then, there are children and there are cHiLdReN. My cousins can be summarised this way: “I hope I wasn’t that way when I was their age”.

They are rough, have little respect for other people’s property, ignore all instructions below 6 repetitions, they see dirt as good (Omo detergent, una don see wetin una cause? Sorry my peeps in jand may not understand, Omo detergent has this advert like this where they “see dirt differently”). Back to the children… they take privileges as rights, are polite only when they want something from you, love to touch my things, the other day day, they took turns in pouring my cheap perfume on themselves, one of them broke my padlock to get to my earphones, they run into the bathroom and lock it just as I’m about to use it, some still bed-wet and my bed is seriously endangered whenever I don’t sleep in their house

Now, don’t get me wrong, they love me but to them, to love is to punch, slap, jump on, pinch, bite (I mean, the youngest, a girl, bites my butt, my fully-clothed butt though, for fun. Imagine!!!). And they can yab ehnn… I’ve been called gorilla, idiot, orobo (Their neighbour, a similarly pesky kid, started that one). I’ve been asked if I was mad, crazy, whether I went to school, and don’t be fooled by our being Igbo, the yabs know no ethnic boundaries.

Some things they do make me wonder, others make me smile and comot my cap for parents especially mothers that have to tolerate this from their children for God knows how long.

To mothers, you got all my hugs and kisses. To my aunt, you’re the best. To my uncle, I got your back anytime. I’ll be rich really soon and I must reciprocate. Your kids will be welcome in my crib anytime. To my cousins, Ebube my thumb is still paining me, if it lasts longer than 2 days, I’ll tell your mum… no, your dad (wicked smile on my face). Somto, your addiction to TV will put you in trouble. To Amara, stop biting my butt. I don’t enjoy it as much as you. And the three of you, DON’T CLIMB MY BED, DON’T OPEN MY WARDDROBE, DON’T TOUCH MY COMPUTER OR PHONE, YOU’LL COMPLETE THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM WHEN I DECIDE YOU COULD, NO, YOU CAN’T FOLLOW ME TO AKOKA, AND YES, I MEANT IT WHEN I SAID I WASN’T GETTING YOU ANYMORE SWEETS.

P.S. I know most of you blogonians will start thinking I’m lazy. I am, I am, I am. It’s the way forward. All the lazy peeps in da house put ya lighters up. Oya. Where my lighter? Ebube!!! Somto!!! Where’s my lighter???

Awwww, Aren't they just so cute and harmless??? Don't be fooled by that, my friends. One of these "cuties" here is my butt-biting cousin and the other is the pesky neighbour that calls me Orobo. Can you guess which is which?


Bighead on TV

I have appeared on TV exactly…em…(scratches head)…em… once in my life. It was back in primary school; I think primary 5.

TV station: boring Delta TV.

Occasion: My school’s speech and prize-giving day.

Guess who was getting a prize… yes, it was me. I used to be a brilliant boy those days, you know.

At least 10 years had passed and no more TV appearances for me and a couple of weeks ago I would have gotten another.

TV Station: Can’t be sure but probably something government-owned like LTV

Occasion: Environmental Sanitation

Guess whose environment was dirty…

Here’s the full story:

I decided to spend that weekend at another aunt’s house instead of my regular uncle’s house. That morning she woke me and my cousin, her son up that it was environmental sanitation and we should go and keep their environment clean. We grumbled but obeyed. Like 30 minutes into the exercise, there was a little chaos. The mallams who had been conducting their usual mallam business (whatever that is) suddenly got up and doing, closed their shops and started cleaning.

The boys playing on the street hid their balls and disappeared into their homes to watch from the safety of their windows.

All pedestrian traffic vanished.

I have always been quite slow to react at times and my cousin is worse so we just hung around and paused our cleaning to watch.

It turned out the commissioner for environment or something like that was in the vicinity with a long procession of sycophants and government workers plus a few cameras. We thought they were just passing through but the drama was just starting.

The next thing we heard was, “Number 4, Obasanjo Street (Not the actual street name, of course), your environment is dirty”.

Wait a minute, the street name sounded familiar; I asked my cousin and he confirmed that what I just heard was our address. The procession stopped and the next thing I’m seeing all sorts of colourful uniforms jumping out of vehicles. It was like a carnival. There were like 3 shades of green, 2 shades of pink, black (Of course, we all know who that is... our dearest olopa), brown and purple (if you count trousers) and white. The vehicle with the mega phone kept repeating the same “Number 4, Obasanjo street, your environment is dirty” statement and added a few more. The uniforms started harassing the occupants of our compound (There are 6 flats there). They asked everyone including my elderly aunt to come down and clean gutters, promised to “seal the compound” and “arrest us all”. We were informed that we had “broken the law”. A crowd gathered. A shouting game started. That evolved into a blame game and ended as an who-go-do-pass-who game. Me, I just stood by, watching, laughing… and, with the corner of my eye, ensuring none of the cameras came around. Being a big head, if any did, some part of my head would be caught. And we won’t want that, would we? The next time this big head is going to appear on TV, it’ll be for my take-over of some big corporation (MTN, my eyes are on you). Jokes apart though, the whole episode raised some pertinent questions that I’m still hoping to get CONVINCING answers to:

*Is it appropriate for civil servants to have political affiliation? Because all the local government officials present that morning wore action congress t-shirts. Abi isn’t that enough proof of affiliation?

*The uniforms and co that were harassing us that day, didn’t they have their own environment to clean?

*What does the law say about environmental sanitation exactly? Do they have the right to arrest people and seal up compounds?

*Does it make economic sense to ask people whose time is worth a whole lot more to come out and clean gutters on the roads?

*Did the said commissioner and his cohorts visit highbrow areas like Lekki, VGC and Ikoyi and ask the “big men” there to come out and clean as well?

*What exactly constitutes your “environment”? Cos we were being harassed over a major gutter beside a government-maintained (coughs)…er… unmaintained road?

A whole lot of other questions popped up that day between myself, my cousin and the rest of his crib unfortunately I can’t remember most. What I kept on saying that day was that a lot of what we were blamed for was the responsibility of the “blamers” and we have taken rights as privileges for so long that no one’s really sure which is which anymore. This is not to say that we can’t act in the event that the government fails but not to the extent that they threaten to arrest us (and almost get bighead a second TV appearance) for not doing their job.


Perching Simplified

Could it be the one in white? Or the one in Orange? No? OK Maybe it’s the one in the Ankara??? No its definitely not the one in Ankara; she’s talking too animatedly and she’s too distracted to be the one. Forget the one in brown; she’s definitely not the one; there’s too much intent in here demeanour. The one in Orange? Can’t be… she’s standing; that would not happen if she was the one. What are we left with??? The one in white? Most definitely, she fits the bill; eating a little too fast, talking a little too little, more than a little annoyance written on her face. She’s definitely the one who bought the food that the remaining three women were sharing; some obviously taking more than a “percher’s” fair share.

Can you beat that analysis? Nah, I don’t think so especially when you consider the fact that all that was conducted from my bus window on my way home from work and within the span of a minute. That kind of expertise comes only with experience which comes only from over 8 years active perching experience.

For those ajebos here that don’t decode slang like we warri boys, the term “perching” in English refers to the simple and time-honoured act of begging. But I think “perching” sounds more dignified so I’ll stick with it.

When exactly did I start perching? My memory is hazy (maybe because the beginning coincides with the beginning of my memory) but my earliest memories say primary 4.

How did I start? When we were going to school those days, my mum would give us a biscuit which when compared to all the “wonderful” things I could have purchased with 5 naira in those good old days, didn’t seem so crispy anymore. My solution? Yeah, you guessed right… I perched. For 1 naira coloured water (aka ice cream. So “creamy”), for bits of “kuli-kuli”, for choco milo (they’ve re-resurrected that product; new perchers have been born), for chewing gum, sweets, coconut candy (still love those), sausages, “kpo-kpo garri” (Can’t blame you if you don’t know what those are, I barely remember myself), and even other people’s biscuits.

I got into trouble once in primary 5 when my seat mate who daily “supplied” me peppermint and ice cream was discovered to have been robbing his parents to “feed” us and that technically made me an accomplice (I think his folks still look at me somehow today). I paused for a while then.

Just a while though…

In secondary school, I learnt the slang “perching” and the new rules in the game. Perching in my school was something else, it was an institution. First of all, I think every extortionist senior is a percher of sorts. The next worse group were boarders; our victims? Day students. We perched their snacks and yummy lunch off them. Till today, I remember how yam and fried egg cooked in Yinka’s house tastes. Perching didn’t start or end in the class; the HQ was the kiosks where snacks, drinks and ice cream (same colored water though more tastefully done. FAN’s Orange Drink ruled then) were sold. Some went for break to buy, some went to perch, the rest just waited in class to perch for the surviving remnants.

A popular proverb says that “As the hunters (insert perchers) learnt to shoot without aiming (insert: perch mercilessly), the birds learnt to fly without perching(pun unintended)”. Boys had to devise methods to deter perchers; of course, the best inventors were the perchers themselves. One of the first options, was not to spend or soak garri (that’s right, we perched for even that) anymore. That wasn’t sustainable so most guys just resorted to hiding… hide where? Provided you were on the school premises, the hardened folk were bound to find you, even before the first spoon. Things were hi-tech those days; I’m convinced guys had motion detectors, infrared, night vision, remote olfactory sensors and other stuff even the U.S military hasn’t thought of yet. When hiding stopped working, our boys invented the most disgusting means yet; they started spitting (Yes, saliva, phlegm, the whole bunch right into the food. On bread, it could be mistaken for butter). Now that deterred most, including me but some guys were unstoppable, talk of addiction.

Heroic stories abounded, mere boys were transformed into legends based either on perching prowess or deterring capability. I particularly remember the story of how Yomi was perching out of someone’s bottle of coke and out of a corner of his eye spotted his father who had come on an unscheduled visit. His father had seen him perching… what did he do? He returns the bottle of coke, “You can have the rest of MY coke, I need to go and be with my father”. That was just brilliant.

Perching popularised certain phrases in school:

“Abeg, one gulp”

“Make I base your soaks”

“Dat guy na miser”

“Chop alone, die alone” etc

So you thought sanguine, choleric, san-mel, etc were the only personality types available? Perching brought out new ones: perching-coy, perching-pity-face, perching-by force, perching-silently. I think I was a perching-pragmatic-easily-disgusted-not-so-easily-deterred-with-plenty-of-self-respect. Quite a combination. Right?

Somehow when I left secondary school, I stopped perching. Infact, I’m now a little reluctant to accept even when offered and I offer a lot myself too. But my past has become my history. I hope none of my guys really remembers those years… the stories wouldn’t look too good outside this blog (definitely not on my biography), the tales could fall into the ears of my children and they could become perchers, my epitaph could mention that (Arrrgh, that would be distasteful). In summary, please don’t tell anyone.