TTS# Drawing Happiness and Becoming Better by Chinenye

Life is really funny. Previously, my biggest challenge was starting a blog, and now it’s trying to keep up with my blog. I don’t even want to talk about where my head has been these days. They say most writers write from experience, theirs or others. For me, a lot of what I write comes from my experiences. I’ve come to realize that it takes a lot of effort for me not to translate my emotions and thoughts into my work. Not everything that I write is doom and gloom but as humans the things that hurt us tend to cling the most. Well, I have good news to chase away the bad vibes. I covered a bridal shower last week and it was so much fun. Also, the pictures I took turned out to be awesome and I got great feedback from the client. I know I mostly put up pictures I took with my phone but I’ll make an exception today. The good news is that I’ll be sharing the images I took from the bridal shower at the end of the interview. I’m so excited that I’m getting better at photography and look forward to breaking records😂

Today’s guest is Chinenye, and she’s one of a kind. I call her Tiney (she’s got ropes for limbs) and I’ve known her for the longest time – watched her grow into a lovely woman. Her favorite thing to do is to draw. She’s got that arty vibes and the attitude. I remember that she could nap for about nine hours and still wake up grouchy. Wow! However, for a very long time, sleeping was a form of coping mechanism for her. The more time she spent sleeping, the less time she had to deal with people and reality in general. I’m glad that she has come so far, and have let more people in. She’s one of my best girls, and I’m always rooting for her. Nenye is also a foodie, eat with her to your detriment. She taught herself to play the guitar – her elfin hands can also play magic on drums – and she now has a special way of loving people that’s open and enduring.❤️


Q. Can you introduce yourself and what you do?

A. My name is Uzomah Faith Chinenye. The 5th child of the Uzomaki clan. I just graduated – so I want to believe (I’ve got no idea what’s next). I studied Fine Arts and Design at the University of Portharcourt, Rivers state.

Chinenyenwa Faith Uzomah

Q. Why did you study your course and would you rather study something else?

A. I have always wanted to draw since I was little because it made me happy ☺. What I mean is, when I’m happy, I draw, and when I’m not happy (sad) I also, draw. Actually my happiness features a great deal in why I chose to draw 😁. I would have loved to study nothing else but Fine Art.

Q. What have you accomplished so far that has made you proud?

A. I’m not so adventurous, to be honest. I don’t like taking risks. I’m a very careful somebody. What can I say is my accomplishment? Well, I got through school. I’m living a better life spiritually, and I’m so overwhelmed by it. I got to be more social and well, I didn’t get fat 😁. I’m proud of my family. They never made the distance noticeable. They are awesome!

Q. Can you share the time when you were certain it was what you wanted to do?

A. Uhm, what can I say about this? It was when I wrote JAMB, which was, fortunately, the period screening was introduced to schools. I felt that it was a sign because I was very nervous and unsure of how I’d perform if post utme had eventually happened. I thought I may not have gotten admission in that case – I was so scared! 😂 😂. I remember that when I saw my JAMB result I started crying. My fear of post utme was real. Then the first and second lists for admissions came out I just taya because I didn’t see my name. My older brother wanted me to come live with him so that I could prepare to sit for another JAMB but I turned down his offer. I was also working at that time and I was convinced that I would still gain admission regardless. I was also advised to take up another course of study at another University which I considered it, and it made me cry a lot. Eventually, the third list came out, and my name was on the list (at last😅). The best thing was that I got what I applied for, Fine Arts and Design. I remember laughing coz’ in my heart of hearts, I no get the strength to write JAMB again, abeg). Another thing that made me certain was the peace I got while praying over my admission when I despaired. The peace was the confirmation before every other thing happened – I gladly cut my hair as I would be starting a new life, in a new place 😂😂.

Q. What do you feel is the difference between living and existing?

A. Well first would be the spelling! Second, to live for me is to complete a cause/course. To live! There is always something to do or something to finish. Meanwhile, to exist is to be a tool 😑. If the carpenter uses a hammer to drive in a nail, who did the actual work? Shey, you get? The person who exists makes no difference or even an effort – just does nothing. But a person who is living is doing something, has a certain goal, and makes a plan on how to get to it.

Chinenye Faith Uzomah sitting in her faculty
Chinenyenwa Faith Uzomah

Q. What is your reaction when people criticize/judge you?

A. Ah! First I die! I have tried all kinds of positive thinking to counter what I hear people say about me, but e no work. It used to be that I would think and think – still do sometimes – and this would make me sad and try to meet up people’s expectations. The more I did, the more empty I felt. There were times I formed introvert sef, that was worse gan. Sometimes I would lash out and leave my tormentors (or were they assassins) scarred. No matter what I did though, it didn’t just feel right. These days, I believe I’m being helped by the Good Lord to not take to heart what people say. I’m breaking out from the former way I dealt with criticism and judgment. I always pray for my own heart, and also for wisdom to direct me. IT HAS BEEN THE BEST AND ONLY SOLUTION FOR ME.😁 Therefore, I’ll stick to the Good Lord.

Q. What do you appreciate about yourself and what would you like to change?

A. I appreciate the fact that God is intentional about my life and I’m responding to him. I appreciate the fact that I can now sincerely talk about the changes that have happened in my life. Nowadays, I accept that I’m wrong😂 my family knows how I like to defend myself whether right or wrong – that’s vewi badt – but I’m getting better at being wise concerning these things sha😂. What I will love to change about myself is the fear of uncertainties.

Q. What two things do you think of the most each day and why?

A. To be very very honest, what I think of is how I can please God and how well. Why? (call me a freak, I kuku have explained what my reaction would be if I am being bad-mouthed). It’s been God and I through school (so shall it be forevermore. Haters die! 😈) and I have been receiving help from him. What I must do and what not to do. Where I should go and where not to go. Who I should keep and who I shouldn’t. How I should not worry so much about family, because God’s got them, and so on. Many people have a lot to say about this, but it is what works for me and I’ll stick to it. Abi now?

Q. What superpowers would you like to have and why?

A. Lol, see me see case! Wetin Musa no go see for gate? 😂 😂 Oh well, I can’t pick reading people’s minds because I suspect I’ll die of migraine. I choose, uhm 🤔having the ability to answer all questions (is that even considered a superpower?) Why? Well, you said I should tell you what powers I’d like to have but I’ve never given it any thought before. All I have, I give to you 😂. I felt like I just had to say something.

I have always wanted to draw since I was little because it made me happy ☺. What I mean is, when I’m happy, I draw, and when I’m not happy (sad) I also, draw. Actuality my happiness features a great deal in why I chose to draw 😁. I would have loved to study nothing else but Fine Art.

Chinenye Uzomah on Thursday Talk Series

Q. If you could, what’s the one thing you’d change about the world?

A. Uhm, one change can affect many other things. It’s something to think properly over, and I think my time with you is up 😂 😂. If I must answer sha, the one thing I’ll change is myself. 😁 A better me, a better world.


Thank you Chinenye (Tiney) for the interview😂 Congratulations on your graduation 🎓 and next time we’ll share your work. Thank you all for being here. Have a lovely weekend. Bye!

Bridal Shower Images

Like, share, and comment below❤️

On Getting Better For Myself

Hey guys! I hope you all had a great time and are looking forward to the rest of the month. Well, I have been busy, and it seems like it will be the same until the end of the year – no breaks for me.

It’s has been a bit crazy, and I’m surprised that I haven’t lost my head completely. Hands down I get the best support from the awesome people around me who genuinely care about my physical and mental health. They are the reason I’m able to stay sane and keep pushing. Also, I’m doing the things I care about and it helps me go to work with a lot of positive energy and produce better results.

I should mention that I often think about becoming a better version of myself, lot, and all the ways that it can be achieved. Also, how I struggle to understand and appreciate myself every day and try to do the right things that are right for me. This has helped me to push away people and habits that are toxic and irrelevant to my growth.

Now, it hasn’t been easy, and I would like to share with you those things I have been struggling with the past couple of months and have acknowledged.

Having Anxiety and Stress

I won’t call myself a perfectionist – that’s too high a bar to set for myself. When I start something, I set my mind to do my best. Nonetheless, I’ll say that I struggle to manage situations when they get out of my control because I like to have a firm grasp of things, and do my best to avoid surprises. If things don’t go as planned I start to freak out, get anxious and overwhelmed, and shocks will go through my body. Always, as long as I have to get work done and something messes with my schedule unexpectedly, I just have to breathe to stabilize. Stress gives me legit headaches. My brain, my heart, they just can’t deal with all of that. People’s intentions are great but I prefer to be far away from whatever affects me negatively.

Lack of Organizational Skills

A big shout-out to people who are organized and can work with daily planners to stay productive. The only reason why I’m so inconsistent with blogging I have several things I have to do but I just can’t manage my time well. If I’m being honest I let myself get distracted by a lot of things when I should be productive. I set tasks in my calendar to do for the week and I barely meet up. I feel like my life would be a lot better if I were more organized.

Taking Care Of Myself

I think y’all are beginning to understand how much of a mess I can be and believe me when I say day-to-day. So, I love to take care of myself, but I only do the basics (read the part about anxiety and stress above). Anything that requires me to do extra beyond washing and moisturizing my body, I see as a lot of work. My skin however has been surviving despite my negligence. But for how long? A few days back, I realized that my hair was damaged and my hair loss scared me. I realized after checking for help that stress and too much tension while manipulating myself were the culprits. Now hair breakage is normal, but when you shed hair a lot, that’s scary. So yeah, my hair is unhealthy and I have to fix it or lose it. Of course, I freaked out, but that’s nothing new.

Presently, I’m not entirely happy with myself, but neither am going to throw myself out in the trash. I know I’m getting no worksheet that helps me magically work this out because getting better takes a lot of hard work and commitment. My friend told me that there would always be things that are out of our control, but some things we can control, like reading books, eating well, taking care of our body and hair, making a work schedule, and sticking with it, exercise, or do yoga, and so on. To become better is therefore personal decision to do all that I can take that’s within my capability. Do my best and leave the rest they say.

This reminds me, I’m aware that I haven’t written a story or a poem in a very long time, instead, all the writings I do these days are work-related and I haven’t done photography as much. That is why I will like to take another route from here on out, starting from this post. I’ll be coming in here to dump my thoughts. I don’t mean to pour out every impression or try to bemoan my existence. Lol. I’ll just be sharing snippets of the things I do, books I’ve read, songs I’m jamming to, and how I get through life. Like doing reality checks now and again.

I hope you have a beautiful day. Try to be better for yourself, not for anybody – although people can inspire you. Make sure the conviction comes from you.

Sending love and light,

Until next time.

PS. I’ve started taking care of my hair. It would be a while before it gets better, and I’m looking forward to it.


Phone photography of a gas station
Shot with my phone and edited on snapseed
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How To Improve Your Skill As A Beginner Photographer

I mentioned taking photography seriously this year in my memoir, right? If you don’t know all about that check it out here. Well, it hasn’t been easy at all but I think I’ve come a long way and I have learned a lot. (It’s belated I know but we are still in August so Happy world photography day! and if you’d like to see how I celebrated it, click here)

I love to tell stories and well this is a story, sort of, where I tell you how far I have come as a beginner photographer and how I’ve improved my skills. I hope you find it helpful if you are interested in jumping into photography or just taking it as a hobby.

Here’s an update on what I’ve been up to

  • I finished a 6month photography internship (I started late last year and finished sometime around March).
  • I was retained and have since worked as an assistant photographer.
  • Joined an online photography class.

If you are a beginner photographer and want to improve your skills, you shouldn’t be thinking of what gear to buy or how to get 1000 likes on Instagram. I’ll share with you the basic thing you need to know to start as a beginner photographer.

Start from where you are

As a beginner photographer, start from where you are. When I first started photography I used my phone, Samsung Galaxy GT18552 and I remember this because I loved that smartphone. My selfie camera was a mess but the main/back camera worked quite fine. After the first introductory class which I had during my final year in school, I was ready to take pictures everywhere I went. I was like Dora the Explorer without the backpack and monkey. I’ve discovered something new and exciting, and I wanted everyone around me to be aware of it. You can use your phone and if you can afford a DSLR camera, then go for it. The most important thing is to start and then you can build up from there.

Teddy bear sitting on a bus’s dashboard photographed using my phone

Use YouTube

Youtube is a great resource to learn a lot about photography for free. Yes! You can’t always know everything. Me? I don’t know everything. What I know about Snapseed and editing when I first started with my phone, I learned from those wonderful people on YouTube. Today I still use it to learn about lighting, focus, camera body and settings, exposure triangle, composition, photoshop, lightroom, and so on. It’s amazing for a beginner. There’s knowledge for anyone interested in learning and improving their skills. Fantastic❤️

Gallery shot of Leisure Mall, Lagos.

Be patient

Be patient with yourself. I am lucky to have people around who encourage me, and not because I am a pro or genius or anything close. With time I’ve come to realize that growth is a process. The child is the father of a man, is an expression by William Wordsworth which indicates that childhood traits and experiences impact the life of a man. So also as a beginner photographer, with years comes experience and improvement. I know so much more now than I ever did when I first started photography.

Three little bridesmaids

Believe in yourself

From phone photography to using a camera, it’s wonderful to see that I can chart a map from my early beginnings as a photographer to now. The journey has not always been easy like I said, sometimes excruciating. What stood out for me is how much believing in myself goes a long way. Not that getting support from people around me doesn’t count (it does), but I stand a better chance of accomplishing my best when I believe in myself. As a beginner photographer that’s like your super power.

Beach front with rocks photographed with a phone

Try new things

Don’t be scared to do shake things up. Move out of your comfort zone; pack your bags. You’ll find opportunities to explore your creativity as a photographer. Sure you may not take those images that will make people want to lick their screen as a beginner but you’ll learn a thing or two. Use the internet to find prompts or just walk around the house and look for something to shoot.

Street photography of a bustling street as the sunset

Keep Practicing

That’s the golden rule in my opinion. All the books, online classes, YouTube videos etcetera, won’t make a lot of sense if you don’t practice as a beginner photographer. I mean even the professionals do a lot of practice. Whether you are using a camera or a phone, don’t skip on practicing. It can be anywhere; on the bus, at a park, inside the house, at the mall, and so on.

Engagement shoot for couples

Have fun

What’s the point if you are feeling sad and awful all the time. You should be having fun even though as a beginner it won’t be easy. I know, I know, you are saying, ‘what if I miss the moment.’ Well, you missed it. Now focus on having fun, and keep an eye out for the next moment. Easy peasy😌😁. I’m still hoping from one place to the other looking for a niche, but I’m having a ton of fun and you should too.

My sister smiling and looking lovely

My biggest challenge so far

I find myself battling imposter syndrome often.

My greatest achievement

I’m able to celebrate small wins, no matter how insignificant it may seem. This has helped me come a long way.

Awesome Resources

Practice, Practice and Finding the Time For Photography

Get Better At Photography With Practice (Photo Tips, Tricks, and Your Questions Answered)

9 Photography Techniques That Every Beginner Should Practice

The Hype About Self Reflection and Why It Is Important

Rigozo

Disclaimer: Self reflection is a good thing and necessary to elevate our lives, it can also be challenging and requires discipline.

I know it’s hard to find out something different from the visual and mental representation that we already have of ourselves. From my experience, once you embark on self-reflection, you either feel like a million bucks or like roadkill. You know how it is with having a crush, you get to know them and eventually you get crushed because they don’t look so iconic to you anymore. Yeah, that’s how getting to know yourself better can feel, however, it’s not always the case.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Socrates

What Is Self Reflection

Self reflection is one of the ways in which we can learn certain things about ourselves that would help us change and improve our lives. When we self reflect, we take off the blinders and this allows us to see ourselves for who we truly are. When we are honest with ourselves, we are able to process our thoughts, learn from past mistakes and successes, and it gives us a fighting chance as we tackle the future. Another thing is that we are able to acknowledge our feelings instead of hiding behind them and this is a great way to progress.

Is Self Reflection Good Or Bad?

Self reflection can go both ways like I said earlier. When done in a constructive manner it brings about positive changes but if haphazardly done and focused only the negative aspects, it could cause a person to spiral down.

The brain is a survival mechanism constantly alert to our needs. Simi Rayat mentioned that if the brain receives signal that we feel threatened or out of our comfort zone, it is possible for our mind to deploy hacks and shortcuts to manage such situations. This will cause the brain to tell us lies that can mess with our decisions, thinking and interpretations.

Note: It is also important to try to understand where other people’s opinion of you are coming from in other to shield against the ones that have no benefits to you.

Why Self Reflect?

#For Growth and Understanding

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First by reflection, which is the noblest; second by imitation, which is the easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

Confucius

Nobody that I know of has cracked the code 100% on how to elevate the way they see themselves, but a lot of positive changes can come through self reflection. This can go a long way to help you get clarity and find your purpose. It also inspires growth and a better understanding of who you are as a person. Always remember it is important that you don’t lose sight of who you are.

#Gets Rid of Insecurities

“Don’t become too preoccupied with what is happening around you, pay more attention to what is going on within you.”

Mary-Francis Winters

Perhaps you are in a low place and struggling with general anxiety, one of the best thing you can do for yourself is to self reflect. To fix a problem, it is important that you have to first know where it’s coming from and tackle it at the source unless it will persist.

#Improves Your Relationships

“Before I ask you to sit with me,

I must be able to sit with myself,

Before I ask you to accept my pain,

I have to accept the pain myself,

Before I ask you to love me,

I have to be madly in love with myself.”

C.Thoth

Many times we are the problem in our relationships and we are not aware of it, because how we see ourselves can be skewed and misinterpreted. We are only able to take the necessary steps towards self improvement when we become aware of our faults and flaws. Self reflection leads to self awareness, which leads to better relationships with our families, friends and colleagues.

#Promotes Self Acceptance

“Time spent in self reflection is never wasted, it is an intimate date with yourself.”

Paul TP Wong

When we are able to process our emotions and thoughts, we feel a greater connection to ourselves. It opens up our mind to several possibilities to explore those ideas that we have and channel them in a positive way. For example there are times I would repeat to myself, “I’m beautiful; I’m important; I’m not pathetic,” and so on. This happens a lot when I have intrusive thoughts that target my self confidence – pretty nasty stuff – and the only way for me is to channel positive energy to tackle them. I’m aware it makes all the difference to my physical and my mental health.

Start Reflecting

Ask yourself questions, especially the hard ones – you know those ones that makes you cringe or causes your chest to tighten . Be sure to reflect on your experiences; introspection is important and can help you track the things that you did, felt and thought at certain moments. You are going through your memories like a movie reel without editing parts of it. Don’t forget to take it easy on yourself, things that are not going right can be fixed with discipline and TLC (Tender, Love and Care).

I’m off to go do some self reflection (mehn things are about to get bloody up in here), wish me all the best.

Photo Credit: Rigozo

Articles on Self Reflection

Self Reflection 101: What is Self – Reflection? Why is Reflection Important? And How to Reflect?

Why Self-Reflection is Vital to Your Relationship

87 Self-Reflction Questions for Introspection

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Thursday Talk Series | Ugo Lives Life To The Fullest

Some days my mind takes the initiative to shut down so that I can catch a break. Here’s the thing, for a moment I will forget everything, regardless of where I am or what I’m currently doing. This wool-gathering seems to happen to me on days when I’m idle or mostly stressed out. I’ve heard people say things about absentmindedness but in my own opinion I feel that if I do not let my mind wander once in a while then I cannot really appreciate being present. It’s like that saying “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

Alright, we have Ugochukwu today and well I’m pumped. I feel that Ugo does a marvelous job of understanding what she wants out of life in this period. She makes it seem like it would make all the difference if we are not so bothered about the end because we have spent all of our existence just enjoying being here and present as much as we can. Only good vibes and awesome energy! She’s also not shy to admit to feeling less confident occasionally. Still, she’ll show up and try all she can to love and encourage herself and keep the faith. In the same way, she infuses love and light into the people around her. That’s Gogo for you. Let’s get into it.


Q. Can you introduce yourself and what you do?

A. Hi, My name is Ugochukwu Eluchie. I am also known as Ugo or Gogo. What do I do? I exist. I am living my life and trying to do so to the fullest.

Ugochukwu Eluchie

Q. Why do you do your job, and would you rather do something else?

A. Should I be honest? I do my job because that’s really what I am good at for now. I would rather not do anything but live, without the pressure of working to earn a living.

Q. What’s your idea of real success and how can it be achieved?

A. My idea of success evolves as I take steps in life. I think real success for me is enjoying my life. Not pretending to but enjoying it, liking it, and finding satisfaction in what I have per time. The only way this can be achieved is by being content. Contentment is the key to living out this version of success.

Q. What do you appreciate about yourself and what would you like to change?

A. I appreciate my vulnerability. I will always tell the people I know who care for me how I feel. I am quite honest about my feelings, most of the time. The only thing I would like to change is how my emotions sometimes make me feel defeated but then again I have support from the Spirit of God who helps me when my emotions rage.

Q. Do you think we have a greater purpose or are we just waiting for our turn to die?

A. I think we all have one purpose, to live lives that honor the one who made us. Our purpose permeates through our careers, schools, friendships, families, marriages, and so on. The purpose to live for God is our great purpose, there is nothing greater or lesser. It’s just that. I mean we are also waiting for our turn to die but we do so as we live out our purpose.

Q. What kind of people do you allow into your circle?

A. I allow good people, kind people, caring people, and loving people.

Q. What two things do you think of the most each day?

A. I think of when I die if my friends will use my best selfie for my obituary and I think of the abroad, my real home.

Q. What’s your favorite social media platform? Why?

A. My favorite social media platform is Tumblr and it is because nobody I know is there. The pressure is off and I get to read people’s thoughts about the most random things.

Q. Can you share how what you do is relevant in society?

A. Lol I said to exist, so in other words, my existence is relevant to society as I get to shine the light of God and all he has placed inside me in the society I live in.

I think we all have one purpose, to live lives that honour the one who made us. Our purpose permeates through our careers, schools, friendships, families, marriages…. The purpose to live for God is our great purpose, there is nothing greater or lesser.”

Ugochukwu Eluchie on Thursday Talk Series

Q. If you could, what’s the one thing you’d change about the world in this generation?

A. I will change nothing. Every generation is unique and I think we are living out our uniqueness and God understands that uniqueness. Hence he is meeting people in this generation and drawing them to himself. Moses and Joshua were two remarkable leaders but they led two different generations and that was their call. The world will come to know the love of God if we live intentional and purposeful lives. I won’t change anything, I will only encourage people to live lives that men may see God in them.


Thank you very much Ugo for the interview, it has been a pleasure and I do hope you get to live your life to the fullest. It has been fun people, have a super-duper (only good vibes) Thursday. See ya!

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Catharsis – A Memoir

Rigozo

Hello Reader,

Welcome!

Waking Dreams – Unmasked, is all about storytelling and photography, which are the two love of my life. I started my blog because I wanted a space where I could call my own, and share what I care about with others – a public-private universe, with me as the lord and general overseer of my virtual turf.

The day I set my blog up was surreal, I really didn’t believe I did it afterward. You can call it a spur of the moment thing, even though it had been on my mind for a very long time.

Let me take you down memory lane…it’s a long story.

About a year ago, due to the pandemic, I was on lockdown with my family. Talk about going crazy. I wanted to literally enter a coma only to wake up when everything was over. I wanted to jump down from the rooftop with the hopes that I’ll finally come into my superpowers, defy gravity, fly up and away.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

That was why my first blog post was Chasing Happiness – I averted a breakdown.

Being an introvert, I prioritize my personal space to recharge and stay sane. All of my woes were fashioned into my next post, To Be Perfect. Because I was struggling to find my identity amid all the chaos, and having my personal space reduced to nothing was not helping matters.

The world was changing, I was changing; moreover, it was happening too fast. Maybe some people kept a level head during the whole ordeal, but sadly I wasn’t one of them. I don’t know about you reading this, but I do hope that the year 2020 didn’t unravel you and put you back together like broken ceramics. If that was the case, I pray that you’ll find the strength to blossom, likewise grow to become the best version of yourself.

Fast forward, I wrote A Penny for Your Truth, because my thoughts were as disorganized as ever. I had plans laid out for the year 2020 – photography was one of the things I was going to dive into head, torso, and limbs all together – it felt like a race against time.

Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

Before I could get orientated with this new world – post-pandemic – it was the second quarter of the year 2020. Things weren’t so great, but I learned how to appreciate what it meant to have people around you that genuinely look out for you; like family, a lover, old/new friends, neighbors, and just random strangers.

The world is full of good people, and you see them manifest even when all hope seems lost. We saw it repeatedly on the news, the internet, and for me, it was everywhere when I bothered to look.

Sometimes ‘seek and ye shall find’ is spot on – Hallelujah! There was a lot of strength in that realization. It put me in a good place, and I wrote Addiction, which is all about how much our devices and the internet were taking up a major part of our lives – like, comments, and sharing are what a good number of us are about (please feel free to do all of that for my posts😉). It was to show how we are all connected in time and space. How despite social distancing we could still be together-apart. I can’t overemphasize how lucky I was to have amazing people that helped me and believed in me absolutely.

I started my blog because I wanted a space where I could call my own, and share what I care about with others – a public-private universe, with me as the lord and general overseer of my virtual turf.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t only the pandemic that was rocking the world. Events were happening simultaneously that shed light on topics that were hitherto considered sensitive.

In Nigeria and all over Africa, the issue of Women’s and Girls’ rights came tumbling in like waves. Rape was one of the major issues (unfortunately it still is). Remember that I said that I was not my usual self. I was a far cry from my usual, unaffected by anything (can’t touch this), self-possessed self. I got caught up in a whirlpool of resentment which led to writing Irony: The reality of the Girl Child.

There was a campaign in Nigeria – #JusticeforUwa in May. It was a public outcry for a young girl named Uwa who was a victim of rape and murder. The people wanted the arrest and conviction of her rapists and killers. It was a reminder of a virus deadlier than the Covid 19 called Human Wickedness – I really think that sums up all the madness we see displayed regularly. I was sad, and angry because I believe that if people placed a higher value on human lives, the world would be less hellish. What’s more, Black Lives Matter cut across all our screens and people became aware that indeed we needed to do things differently. The Meeting was one of my first writings years ago. I pulled from my archives, I wasn’t keen on writing something new at that time, so I took a break. I had a major setback when I wrote the first part of Healing (if you’ve read it then you know how dramatic it was).

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Fortune smiled on me, because around the same time I started reading Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R. R. Martin, and light bloomed in the underground cavern that was my existence. There’s nothing that can be compared to a good book.

Not long after, the lockdown was lifted, Hooray! I was able to get on with some of my severely revised plans. I got a spring back in my step. It was really awesome to be alive. This was a fine period that I can always look back on and be grateful for the intermission because something was coming, something consistent with the prevalent theme for the year 2020 – something terrible.

A toast to July 2020 – may we always find relief from all the troubles that beset us.

Honestly, the world was still in shambles with the rising number of infection and death tolls, failing economies, and incompetent governments, and the worst was yet to come for us.

I wished to stop writing, really, but everything was coming out effortlessly. Wow! It was two hours of typing and almost a thousand words. I broke the record people. Apparently, I was getting good at this Type A Lot of business. (I hope you are still with me).

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Maybe it was a premonition or call it precognition, but before the new crisis unfolded I was itching to travel. It was on my mind all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the stress of shuffling bags or sitting for long hours in a cramped seat – I made it mandatory to always travel lite. I also don’t like the feeling of displacement that I get when I get up and leave a place, especially if it is a place I’ve come to like. Nevertheless, the promise of a change of scenery gets me going all the time. So, I wrote Places because I wanted to hit the road and chase the sun. I remember always bullying my way to the window seat so that I could look out, take the occasional picture, and resist the temptation to stick my head out, and let my tongue hang like a dog.

I was reading A Dance With Dragons, the fifth and last released book of the series, A Song of Ice and Fire. It was mayhem. Overall, it was a spectacular read for me, though I was very late to the party – not unusual. I also had free time and I tried to put it into use. My perspective about life was undergoing a tremendous transformation, it felt as if I was shedding skin (well, all that upbeat vibes I was feeling didn’t last for long). I had gotten started on Healing 2, and I was really looking forward to the end. The flow of my writing was good, much like this one.

Soon it was August, and life continued. There was a certain night, a couple of days into the new month of September, I was walking home and the moon was bright. If you had been there, you’d have thought you could stretch your hand and pluck it from the skies. I didn’t want to get home in a hurry so I took my sweet time, mindful that it wasn’t safe to stay out late all by myself.  When I eventually got into the house, I wrote A Catwalk to Remember, because I wanted to remember another time. Those days in the past when the streets were relatively safe. I had my friends with me and we would walk home under a moonlit sky talking about everything and nothing. (I hope they still remember it too, wherever they are.)


I believe that was the last time I put up a post in 2020. It wasn’t how I planned it. There were still several pieces I was working on but I was overwhelmed by the events that suddenly took place towards the end of the year.

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October dawned with a fever to set things right and clear the path for a better tomorrow. Youths in my country had started to open their eyes to the reality of a government that did not have their interests at heart. It was a system bent on curbing creativity and development in every aspect of our lives. Compared to the pace of youth development in other countries, the youths here in Nigeria are forced to live out their lives struggling to make the system work for them at every turn. It’s the established status quo. In fact, many of us have embraced the culture of corruption, lies, and greed that the older generation has fed us, and if we are not careful to come out from it, we’ll do the same for generations to come. Several events led to our agitation for freedom from oppression.

#EndSars #EndPoliceBrutality was a communal cry for help – It was revolutionary in a way. At first, the movement was another thing to be labeled under the usual suspect – youthful exuberance – a nuisance caused by young people bored out of their minds. As if we weren’t within our rights to make demands, as if we weren’t protesting for our lives. Seeing that the government was not only appalled by our behavior, they had the gall to be downright condescending. Some adults supported the cause, while others shamed the youth. Well, we all know how that ended. We’ll never forget the Lekki Massacre and the length to which the government tried to cover it up. We will always remember the lives that were lost.

I don’t know about you reading this, but I do hope that last year didn’t unravel you and put you back together like broken ceramics. If that was the case, I pray that you’ll find the strength to blossom, likewise grow to become the best version of yourself.

Let’s take a breather from all the doom and gloom, shall we?

2020 was magnificent – it would go down in history as a year where the entire world battled for survival – and you and I were a part of it. We came out with a lot of new experiences. The kids and grandkids are going to get a firsthand, if not the slightly exaggerated version from yours truly – I lived through a pandemic, what say you? I’ll be the crazy old lady with her wild stories, always trying to knock some sense into miscreants (a true dog/cat mom). Looking back, I made some careless decisions, almost lost a person that’s very dear to me, missed some remarkable opportunities, and let things spin out of control. I don’t think I am the same person I was before. There is still so much I can do. So much I can achieve. I have my strengths and my weaknesses and know how to appreciate myself and my growth. As an introvert, I’m not so burdened with how much withdrawn I can get (sorry guys that I keep canceling plans). I know that I have to put more effort into my relationships. The year 2022 was crappy but it was also revealing.


Here’s a list of some of the memorable events in 2020:

• WW3 scare – Irani vs the United States of America
• Climate disruption – Australian Bushfires, Locust swarms (Africa), technically a lot of burning.
• Prince Harry and Meghan Markle gave the royal family the boot
• Brexit eventually happened.
• Covid – 19 pandemic – The world virus trimmed the population.
• Netflix revamped entertainment. (Ps who wants to share their password with me?)
• Rumors of Kim Jong Un’s death (Schrödinger’s Kim)
• Global stock markets plummet.

• Alien invasion (I think there’s a UFO sighting every year and 2020 wasn’t left out)
• Everything was made into a cake – my gag reflex was tried to its limit.
• Trump’s impeachment.
• Black Lives Matter.
• End Sars Protests – Lekki Massacre.

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Well, 2021 is a new year and I am hoping for progress. Yes! People. So far, so good, my gratitude journal has been looking up. It’s only been a couple of months, trust me I’m not yet in a ‘better place’, but I’m getting there and I wish the same for you too. Thank you for being here. I would like to say that you are the reason why I continue writing and I need this outlet just as much as I need to share my stories with you. This purge was definitely needed, cleansing of mind, body, and soul. I hope to do a lot more freelance writing and reach out to a wider audience.

A big lesson I have learned is, life is unpredictable. Go for whatever it is your heart desires – I started to read as much as I want about things that align with my interests. Love, friendship, and family, should be appreciated. Find your tribe and own it. Always pray, keep your faith strong, and believe in yourself. Take care of your mind, body, and soul – guys I can’t overemphasize this. You may not get it right away, but keep pushing it. Just remember that you are worth it.

Thank you for sticking with me until the end.

Happy belated New Year,

With Love,

Rigozo.

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Back to home

On Aging

Rigozo


When you see me sitting quietly,
Like a sack left on the shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering
I’m listening to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don’t pity me!
Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it,
Otherwise I’ll do without it!

When my bones are stiff and aching
And my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor
Don’t bring me no rocking chair

When you see me walking, stumbling
Don’t study and get it wrong.
‘Cause tired don’t mean lazy
And every goodbye ain’t gone.
I’m the same person I was back then,
A little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind
But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.

By Maya Angelou

A Christmas Story

Rigozo

It is undoubtedly my favorite time of the year. My husband, Damilare, and I just got back from our Christmas shopping on Christmas eve. We are spending the holidays with his large family in Lagos, and always it’s a lot to take in.

The whole gang is here – his grandparents, mother and siblings, their respective spouses and kids, several uncles, aunties, cousins, and a couple of close friends. I have stopped trying to remember which child belongs to whom. Growing up with my folks in England as an only child, Christmas was a small affair until I met the Gbadamosis – these guys turn every holiday into a party of sorts. Speaking of my folks – they are spending the holiday with a family friend in New Orleans – I should call to check in later in the day.

The day is bright and warm. The three-story mansion is beautiful and tastefully structured with clean lines and has an open balcony overlooking the spacious living room with doors on all sides that leads to other parts of the house. The Christmas decorations are put up by hired experts every year; even so, the place looks homey and inviting.

“Hello, everyone!” I sing hands weighed down with shopping bags as I walk into the living room from the entrance. My husband follows with his ever-present smile and hands burdened with more shopping bags. Lately, his smile has been giving way to frowns. Dammy can fit right into an NBA team with his height, while I’ll most likely end up with Girl Scouts.

I spy my mother-in-law coming into the room from the opposite door that leads to the hallway, and a smile lights up in her eyes as she sees me.

Kii re? Ahn ahn! Did you raid the store, my dear?” my mother-in-law asks.

As luck would have it, we’ve shared a bond since I married into the family. She dotes on my husband – I understand, I dote on him too. Also, I miscarried my first issue, not unlike her. I don’t know how we could have moved on if she hadn’t spent the next six months shuffling from Nigeria to London to spend time with us. Dammy’s father – God rest his soul – was equally very supportive. Happily, we have two boys now, Kolawole and Feranmi, and they are the joy of my existence when they aren’t up to wrecking my sanity.

Mummy, E ka ro!” I greet, the words tumble out of my mouth breathlessly, if not a little bit awkward, and my knees move to the floor.

“What are you doing? Stand up. Welcome, my dear.” She moves quickly to my side and pulls me up to my feet. She is pretty still in her blue caftan, and her hair is in braids that fall to the middle of her back. There’s a couple of gold rings on her fingers, nails polished bright red.

I make a face at him not to rat me out and try to convey my sweetest smile to his mother when she looks my way – do I look guilty?

“Dammy, don’t you think this is too much? Why are you making Anike carry these heavy bags?” she scolds and swats Dammy on the head.

He shakes his head, a frown already on his face, “Good morning Ma. Here, these bags over here are for the house.” He sets aside a couple of bulging plastic bags then looks accusingly in my direction. “Jess was indecisive about what gifts to buys for the kids, so she emptied the toy section. I told her to leave them in the car when he got back, but she insisted,” my husband says with exasperation before he leans down to place a kiss on her forehead.

Dammy didn’t tell her that I craved chocolate chip ice cream and wanted to get rid of the evidence outside the house. I blow him kisses, and he rolls his eyes.

Dammy moves to the spiral stairs – its traditional railings draped with fairy lights and garlands, set against the large windows that go up to the first floor.

“I’m taking these up to our rooms so that the kids won’t see their presents before we wrap them up. Jess love, drop the bags, I’ll come back for them. Just sit down and put your legs up.”

“Aye aye, captain! You know, I’m not invalid, even though this cherry doesn’t pop until next month.” I say to his straight retreating back.

I don’t want to make a scene in front of his mother. With her help, I park my very pregnant self in the nearest seat, groaning deeply as the ache down my spine unfurls.

“Where’s everybody?” I ask after she has given me an earful.

The room is deserted, with toys and knickknacks littering every surface – the former is unusual, the latter is unavoidable. The Christmas decorations are still intact, thankfully. Even though there’s no ritual for Santa or sharing of gifts by the tree on Christmas day here – you get prayer and gifts at odd hours – the house comes alive and becomes a marketplace with the arrival of more family members. We trade family secrets, gossips, and everything in between. I can’t complain because I have been having so much fun; it’s taking a toll on me trying to keep up.

“They are at the back of the house. Kunle is flying his drone, and the entire lot ran out to watch.” With a shake of her head, she walks off in the direction of the kitchen.

“That will occupy them for a while, I guess.” Kunle is her son-in-law, Pelumi’s husband. Pelumi, her only daughter, is the doctor in the family and my best girl.
She’s all shades of fun.

His mother returns with a glass of juice, a bowl of chin-chin and chicken, for me to eat, and I dig in.


The rest of the gang wander back into the house. The older kids act like they couldn’t wait to get rid of us, their phones pressed to their noses. They make me feel so old. The younger kids act like we don’t exist in whatever fantasy world they inhabit – except when they get hurt or hungry or both. I get swarmed by them, exchange greetings, and swat at my boys when they come circling me like hawks.
The room quickly devolves into barely contained mayhem, and I waddle-walk to the kitchen to escape.

The house took two years to complete to accommodate the large family, and sometimes I’m left speechless at the sheer size of each room. The kitchen is at the other end of the house on the ground floor, with double screen doors open to the back. It is hazy with steam from several cooking pots, and people bustle around. There’s a rhythm to how they work, like hands on a clock, talking loudly and sharing jokes. My mother-in-law is the undisputed captain of this ship. I find it mesmerizing to watch, but one disapproving glare from her, and I know it is a bad idea.

“I don’t need your help because I have enough hands; willing, and unwilling. There’s a roster this time. You’d be in it but for your condition.” She smiles mischievously and moves to oversee the girls arranging the glassware.

I glimpse Dare chopping onions, tears streaming from his eyes, and I can’t stop myself from laughing. He’s my husband’s older brother. He currently oversees the family business and can be intimidating, but the way he acts around his mother is proof of how scary she can be.

“Dare, how’s it going?” I tease, and he scoffs. “O da bo?” I say and relish the redness in his eyes as he shoots daggers my way – my cue to retreat before I get into more trouble.


‘Aunty Jessica’ rings in my ears wherever I go – only the older family members call me Anike; the reason it is so is a mystery. Anyway, it seems everybody is busy except me.

Soon I’m cornered by the grandparents. Oh no! I need a translator. I can barely string short sentences in Yoruba, and I only manage to say a spattering of words; my kids are doing better than I am. With them rapidly speaking, I am unable to understand a single thing. It gets awkward because they barely understand English too. Our conversations are always one-sided with a series of facial expressions, hand gestures – some indecipherable sign language of our own making. The general take from the encounter is a good one.


Uneasy and unable to commit to being treated like an egg, I go in search of my husband. The ache in my back has returned, and it’s starting to feel very uncomfortable. I check upstairs since it was where I last saw him head to, and find him on the floor in our room – toys and wrapping paper cover every available space.

“I thought we were supposed to wrap the gifts together,” I say and startle him. I reach back to lock the door to prevent the kids from stumbling in. “I was looking all over the place for you.”

A smug grin appears on his face, “Did you miss me?” I nod without hesitation. Being an only child helped me become independent at an early age. Lately, it can be upsetting dealing with ‘everything’ without Dammy. I can’t say how it happened when being apart from him turned difficult. However, I find myself looking for his face whenever I enter a room. I try not to be needy – in my defense, a gentle reminder that I am preggy – my hormones and nerves are off the chart.

“Your face is puffy and tomato red; you promised to put your feet up.” He says, again that frown turns up.

“I did. For a while, then I got bored. Besides, everybody is busy. Your kids are making a raucous downstairs with the rest; somebody put the music on my way up. Your family members are party freaks.” I say diplomatically.

He fakes a cough, “They are your family too. If I recall correctly, the last time we came around, you danced the night away.”

“Yes! Oh God, they’re contagious.” I try to say it with a straight face, and we both laugh because everybody knows I love to dance.

The bed is thankfully toy free – I can’t resist clean sheets, so I make a beeline for it. When at last, I reach the bed, I kick off my flip-flops and try to sit down, but my back shoots a lance of pain that my brain registers on the high side.

“Babe, please come help me sit. My back hurts.” Dammy springs up and rushes over. “I’m alright, I think I overdid it with the shopping and running around, but I’m fine. I only need to rest a little…”

“That’s it. You are not leaving this room again today. You’ll take your meals here, and I’ll insist that nobody disturbs you.” He says firmly, then helps me lay on my side, propping up the pillows to make it comfortable.

“Why won’t you listen to me?” Damilare grumbles as he sits beside me and rubs my back. I wince when he touches a sore spot, and the frown on his face deepens.

“Let’s trade. You can carry the babies while I do the fussing. I can do a better job,” I say cheekily. “Sit down, Dammy love! No, you don’t, that’s enough thinking for one day, you’ll hurt yourself,” I mimic his voice, and my reward is a smile. His hand comes to rest on my belly, and I place mine over his.

My time in Lagos has left me tan – mercifully, the sunscreen I slather over every inch of exposed skin saves me from sunburn. I’m tan, and he is dark. We didn’t expect to stay so long in Nigeria when we arrived a few weeks ago to visit. We stayed back for Christmas because my mother-in-law insisted she wanted the kids to be around, and our boys were fine with it.

“Stay with me. I bet your babies need to cuddle. They must feel left out of all the celebrations,” I say, hinting at how I’ve felt the last couple of days.

When the doctor told us that we were having twins, I swear my husband whooped and pumped his fist in the air as if he heard that his team won the Premier League. He got sober shortly and has since had this haunted look.

The birth of each of our boys was difficult, but thankfully the doctors did their best. The pain of losing a child is a brand in our hearts; perhaps it’s the worst thing that can happen to a parent. Pregnant moms of multiples don’t have it easy because everything intensifies. The worry and stress Dammy puts himself through all the time I was pregnant is hard to watch, but I understand that he is only trying to do the noble thing.

“Okay.” He scoots over and lay down beside me, holding me loosely in his arms. We talk about our plans for a new house when we get back to London and then again about our future, and it feels like old times when it was just the two of us. It doesn’t take long before I fall asleep.


My back is on fire. When I try to move, the pain stabs at my sides and knocks the air out of my lungs. Tears burn in my eyes, and I whimper pathetically. My hands thrash helplessly; all I want is for it to stop hurting.

“Jess! Babe, what’s wrong?” The lights come on in the room, in a glance reveals that it is still dark outside. Dami is next to me in a heartbeat.

“It hurts,” I manage to say. My thoughts scramble, the one that is worried about my babies the most persistent.

“Where? Your back? I’ll get Pelumi. Will you be alright by yourself for a couple of minutes?” he asks.

“Yes. Go quickly.” I cry.


Several agonizing minutes later, my husband returns with Pelumi – one hand holds a medical kit, the other hand holds her night robes close at the front. She is not the only one. A small crowd ends up outside our room like we are having a bizarre slumber party. I don’t know what Dami was thinking, waking them up at this odd hour. If I didn’t feel like roadkill, I would have laughed at the sight. I hope the rest of the house is still sleeping because I wouldn’t want my boys to see me like this.

While Pelumi checks me, my husband hovers like a hawk until she throws him out of the room and slams the door shut in his face. My body is so sensitive, and I’m grateful that her hands are gentle.

“Are you on any medication?” She asks softly. I shake my head.

“I’ll see what I can get for you to help with the pain.,” She says. From experience, I know that it is most likely Paracetamol, and I want to suggest something else. She didn’t say anything about my babies– I need to know that they are okay.

As if hearing my thoughts, Pelumi answered, “Your babies are fine, sweetheart, try to relax. Strong painkillers are not advisable in your condition, and from what I see, your back pain is likely from the weight of the babies. I’ve got chamomile tea; I’ll send it up to you.”

When she finishes, she calls Dammy in, and together they help me to the toilet to relieve myself, and I endure a warm bath. I feel a little better after taking medication and getting a rubdown (my mother-in-law bullied her way to my side).

I’m allowed to see the crowd of well-wishers. It takes a while before Pelumi removes them from inside and outside our room; the sun is already up.


“I’m not an invalid,” I say haughtily.

I am still in bed trying to talk Dammy out of changing our travel plans. He swings from not going at all because of my condition and going at once.

“Feeling better?” he asks.

“Yeah. You can stop making that face.”

“What face?”

“You look constipated when you frown,” I tease, and he hits me on the head gently with a pillow.

“Merry Christmas to you, babe,” I say then, give him a kiss for being amazing. Whatever happens, we will get through it together. I’m looking forward to the new year because it promises to be full of new beginnings.

“Merry Christmas,” he says, relief shining through his eyes, masking for a moment his worry and stress.

Kola drags his older brother Feranmi into the room; his other hand grips his Batman action figure. They are still in their jammies. The latter greets and heads to the toilet, while the former jumps on the bed and throws himself at me. My husband is quick to intercept. Kola is four, just a baby.

“The other kids say Santa did not show up because Nigeria is too far from the UK. Is it true, mummy?” he asks and fires out more questions in the same vein. I feel a stab of guilt for not paying closer attention to them since we arrived and quickly talk to God that I’ll do better, and can he please tell me what answers to give without technically lying. I tell my husband to bring out the presents; we are doing damage control. It looks like today is going to be a long day.


Photo credit: Pexels

To Be Perfect

Rigozo

“Hurry up! We are going to be late.” My father shouted.

My father is a war veteran and he hates slothfulness of any kind. As his daughter, he expects nothing less than perfection from me.

My lips curl in a lopsided grin as I view the mess of makeup and lotions that’s the top of my dressing table. The oval-shaped mirror in its antique frame shows the rest of my bedroom which looks like a beast did a thorough job ransacking most of it. I mean look at my bed, my wardrobe – what’s left of it is everywhere. I spy a shoe hanging off the lamp.

“How did that happen?” I wonder.

My books are resting on every available surface, and my walls are papered with pictures, post-it notes, and album arts. The only space untouched by this madness is my desk which I like to leave uncluttered.

I’m petrified at the thought of cleaning up the place for fear of what I’ll find in my graveyard of festering laundry. It’s funny that I draw a line at littering trash; I cannot stand it. My friends think I’m weird.

My father will pop a vein if he comes into my room, although I find it unlikely. I stopped everyone from entering without permission after my sixteenth birthday, even the cleaners. When you have things to hide it’s better to take measures to not get caught. I’ll get to cleaning as soon as I’m back from this trip; if I come back.

I hear my parents talking.

“What is she still doing?

O bu gini? What is it?

My dad yells, “Young lady you better not make me come up there. The flight is for 8:00 am you know this.”

“Stop shouting my love, remember you have to watch your blood pressure!” I hear my mother say.

Their voices float up easily to my room at the top of the stairs.

“Obim! My heart! This your daughter will be the death of me. How much more time will she spend grooming herself when the entire town can bear witness that it makes no difference. She’s the most beautiful girl as far as the eyes can see, this makeup of a thing is all nonsense, and if she doesn’t get her act together…”

I can’t stop myself from snorting as I listen. The conversation reeks like moldy cheese. It’s the same thing over and over again, although not so far from the truth.

I do spend an inordinate amount of time dressing up; talking to myself once again to join the society and act the part of a young socialite that has everything going for her – the envy of her peers; trying to convince myself that my pain is the anchor from which I derive strength.

I’m beautiful – I say this with the conviction of one who has spent her entire life hearing it everywhere she goes. I know the bit about God creating us all beautiful and ‘in his own image’, but that ship doesn’t sail in my house. My parents believe that they played the most important part, concluding that there is a combination of their genes and a bit of oomph did the job.

You should see how they show me off in public, after which they pat their back for having the wisdom to make me a lovely little thing. A story for another day.

I quickly cram my essentials – phone, notepad, current book, powder, lipstick, keychain, and wallet into my purse, and peer into the mirror for the last time. Long, thick lashes adorn brown round eyes, hooded from years of trying to hide; if the eyes are the windows to the soul, I have a ‘no peeking’ policy. My nose reclines with an arrogant air like a peer of the realm, so I’ve heard. The lips are prone to frowns than smiles and I practice smiling for a few seconds; it is less like a sneer if I throw my head back. I run my fingers through my black hair but they get stuck in my tight kinky curls that contrast my clear fair skin. I look closer hoping to see what everybody else sees and more importantly what they fail to see.

My parents wanted a male child for a long time in their childless marriage; instead, my sweet behind popped out the first time my mother carried a child to term. Notwithstanding they named me Nkiruka – tomorrow is greater than today. Ha! How obvious can they be that I wasn’t enough? Unfortunately, I am the only child my mother was able to carry to term.

It’s a testament to my father’s love for my mother that he didn’t take another wife. I breathe deeply and leave the room, it will be a while before I come back here again. I take my time going down the stairs. There’s this song playing in my head; it’s Louis Armstrong’s/ When you are smiling. I focus on it, let it wash over me and that elusive smile finally emerges. My friend Dele sent it to me a while back; he shares my love for jazz. What would become of me without music?

“I’m here” I announce as I enter the sitting room. My mother shoots lasers out of her eyes and snaps at me. When she’s really upset but trying not to show it she gets formal like a flight attendant.

“You are advised to put an end to this childish behavior of yours. Must you always upset your father and me at every given opportunity? You were given a two weeks’ notice for a reason. This is a joint family vacation with your father’s business partners, do I have to remind you how important it is that you do not embarrass us in any way?” She says in her best air hostess voice.

“I’m your bloody daughter and not some vermin you have to tolerate, ” I yell in my head.

Outside I stare blankly at them; two peas in a pod, always to be found draped on each other’s arms. Well, whenever I’m found in the picture, it’s always as an afterthought or a strategic move to show off my family’s wealth and beauty. As I look at their drawn faces I acknowledge that they too are not without flaws, even as I admit that imperfections are not excuses to cling to.

When I do irrational things or refuse change even as it crosses my path, I like to think it’s on me. I may move past my flaws or they may never go away, so what? Where does it leave me? I observe the two people that gave me life until I hold their gazes.

“I’m sorry. I’ve been going through a lot lately” I apologize.

I see that they expect more but I wait for them to say something.

“If that is all let us get going,” my father’s irritation was obvious.

My hands shake, but I continue “I won’t be coming with you; I need to take time to figure things out on my own. I’m not sure for how long I’ll be gone; I’ll keep an eye in touch. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.”

I turn to leave. Mother moves to stop me and I let her.

“Nkiruka, don’t do anything stupid,” she says sharply.

I was ten when we went to a party in the neighboring town with quite a several people from our town coming along. Our town council arranged buses to convey us but my parents and I went along in our car. The party was choked full with kids high on sugar, teenagers mingling and getting into mischiefs, adults juggling trying to have a good time with trying to stop the kids from trampling everything in sight. The music was loud, the food was plenty and I spent the entire day with everyone but my parents which sucked.

After trying but failing to get their attention, I ran off to sulk in one of the rides set to entertain the kids. I was always doing things like that when I was little – attention deprived as I was – me as my only companion.

After playing for some time I found a secluded spot and fell asleep from exhaustion; by the time I woke up the party was over and the place was shut down for the day. My throat turned raw crying and screaming for my parents to come to take me back home, “I’ll be good, I promise.” I thought they had left me behind on purpose. I found out later that they only noticed my absence the next morning; they had assumed I hitched a ride back with the rest of the town folks and slept over at a friend’s place the previous night. Did I mention I was ten? When nobody brought me home by noon my mother started to panic.

After a futile search all over town, someone suggested that they head back to the place where the party was held. I was dehydrated and scared to an inch of my life when they finally came back to pick me up. Because the authorities and press were involved my parents were furious at me for a long time. Till today I’m deathly afraid of being alone in the dark.

Always I’ve struggled to be the perfect daughter, the poster child for the perfect family. It started with churning out good grades and conducting myself with grace and poise. I was quite popular. When that wasn’t enough I became the poster child for a dysfunctional home; burning down my car in a drunken fit is my worst yet. I’ve despised the imperfections that come naturally to me, written on the tapestry of my being. It has taken me years to get to where I am right now; a place of acceptance.

Maybe things do not need to have structure, maybe chaos is order and broken does not necessarily equal useless, maybe nothing makes sense, maybe deep down I’m still a little kid craving attention. I think she realizes something in the way I lean away from her touch and her eyes shines as she steps aside. I have so much I want to say, so much to ask. What was I expecting? An apology? Do they care if I go or stay? Is there a way for us to work things out? Do they love me? Do I love them? I don’t know if now is the right time to go over everything.

I watch as my father turns to tattoo her, how they both reach for each other at the same time and I’ve never felt more alone than as I did at this moment. If I find love like theirs will this cycle repeat itself? I force my legs to move. I’m outside. My bags are already in the car. I’m leaving. The sadness still stays but already I feel a rightness swirling and replacing the hurt. I know a few things about myself but I want to learn more; to grow; to become. The time has come to change my perspective of my name – Nkiruka, tomorrow is greater than today – no more will I let my past define me. I’ll chase this truth like the day chases the night until at last, I live it always and forever.

I’m okay with not being perfect
‘Cause that’s perfect to me
– Anne Marie

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