Today was rather funny. Woke up by 3:30 am. Checked the internet; wasn’t working. Tried sleeping back; wasn’t working. Darn Mosquitos tried biting; wasn’t working. But the clock was working, ticking, rather slow I suppose.
I slept back at an hour I can’t recall. Had a dream- all blurry. Eyes opened at an hour past my alarm clock’s duty moment. How come i didn’t hear it ring ? I jumped out of bed, or did it ring? Did I sleep deaf? But the mosquitos rang. Then what? Wish I told you i checked under the bed for it. But I don’t possess, own or wish to borrow an alarm clock. My brain on waking up and initiating its active cognitive process likes to trick me into thinking i owe items which are antithesis to sleep so as to jump start me out of bed
It worked. I hopped into the shower. Since it’s not an all ladies audience, i’ll skip that part.
Peter started the car, I jumped in. Observed something this morning (while stuck in traffic). At the round about, through the glare of the sun i saw a prism of different tribes.
I started thinking how a gem held forcefully and roughly, injures the hand unpardonably. But that brutal injury does not stop it from been precious and valuable. I think the same thing happens with the way most people hold Nigeria in their mind; they hold it forcefully and conceive it as something injurious to the laws of existence. Then I had a flash back to a moment in my office when all the Yoruba guys said “igbo people like money to an immoral extent” and then one of them said ‘imagine they said Yoruba people are dirty oh’ . Then another flash back to when a set of Igbos’ said “Hausa people mumu ehn”. Some say a Tiv man will give you his wife for the night. At a newspaper stand, a newspaper carried a headline of Fulani herdsmen attack, someone averred the Fulanis are wicked. Nigeria , despite its flaws and poor rating is a diamond , a diamond in the rough. The Multiple reflections are the different tribes. And it looks beautiful when viewed from any angle.
I snap out musing how I love that there are so many tribes in Nigeria; but hate how stereotype has huddled integration.
We are at GT bank to use the ATM. The security man is overly smiling at me. I try not to smile back. On exiting the bank. The security guard re establishes eye contact; he is smiling and greeting exaggeratedly again. I climb into the car and wave with my fingers reflecting in the sun. I know he wanted money. I did too; I waved at our similarity.
Things are tough. The lagoon has been bubbling with gasps of suicide victims. I hold my breath for the new mothers I see begging with babies tied to their backs, loitering around Lekki. I wonder where the fathers of babies went though. Insemination seems to been giving wings like red bull for flight.
Most of my days consist of empathic observations. I soak everything in and get lost staring out the window of the car like a canine with its tongue flapping out. The yellow cabs in Lagos don’t seem to be around pretty much; if only our papas’ in the yellow cabs know how to operate Uber. Technology has built bridges between wealth and poverty, but in a country with low computer literates the bridge is actually a log-the poorest only have little to arm themselves with.
I get to the office. Nothing interesting happened till the moment I’m about to go home. Imagine that? A client walks in, with snake tattoos on her ankles. We have been handling her case for a while now. She has a habit of readjusting her bangles. She came for feedback. My boss wasn’t around. I stood in for him and answered her questions concerning the strength of her case. She kept interchanging between Yoruba language and English. Don’t know why I didn’t tell her I’m not Yoruba. But anytime she switched to Yoruba I felt I was having a conversation with another at the opposite side of railway and a train just passed between us. She like most people in Lagos assumed I speak Yoruba since I am in Lagos and you wouldn’t blame a passer-by in Paris for asking you for directions in French. And so she spoke in Yoruba mixed with English throughout the interview and I still did not correct her and the train kept passing between us. I think I was enjoying nodding my head vigorously.
Anyways, left work and at the evening, the town was still busy as it was around 8: am. 6 million people! Lagos is a funny place (I use the word funny to mean out of the ordinary). It attracts you from without and you rush in headlong only to realize that all the dreams and thoughts of how successful you’ll be in Lagos because you have heard of other peoples’ success story, is quite different within; the attraction was actually a trapdoor. The reality of Lagos squeezes that mental picture out of your head, rather rudely. It is like you’re a new born being shook aggressively in the hands of a doctor and you realize the world is actually different from the inside of your mother’s belly. From the moment you start shouting OWA to indicate your bus stop, you unconsciously already a Lagosian. It has a way of encroaching on your independence and making you one of it. See what it did to your “stop”? Why didn’t you just tell the bus driver to stop in English ?You start walking faster and maybe become calculative, people are nice but strangers here may likely be the ones momma told you not to talk to. “They” say Lagos opens your eyes, I think pry opens your eye is more appropriate. You become accustom to the ubiquitous jest everyone carries around and the insults are rather caustic but funny to a third party and maybe once in a while you find to your surprise your mouth on its own accord telling someone ‘ode buruku’, maybe at a mad driver who almost bucked your knees. One thing you will never get used to though, are the sounds of breaks been applied and tires accelerating because everybody is always in a rush in Lagos.
I snap out of my reverie and I’m home. Snowy-my sister’s dog- on seeing me is wagging her tail so energetically I couldn’t help but smile, her energy could power a wind mill. She’s pulling at her chain now, trying to jump on me, drooling a little. I mimic her movement , she barked, I barked too, she paused, confused as if to ask me with her eyes if I speak dog. I blinked. Then she shakes her head as if to say you’re not Doctor Dolittle, then barks again and again and again. OK OK OK I don’t speak woof. I ran into the house. Door slammed.