Thursday Talk Series on How Musti Interprets The World


Fam! How are y’all doing? Happy New Month of September 🥰. I guess some of us entered this month with enough energy to power the entire Lagos mainland, while some had to drag themselves over the threshold. I can speak for myself when I say the past two weeks were awesome. Stressful? Of course, but I had amazing company and just top-of-the-shelf good vibes. So I was able to enter this month with a ton of reserve positive energy just in case things move south. Whatever means you had to employ to step into this month, I am super excited that you are here, and on behalf of today’s participant, I’ll share a poem at the end to celebrate the month🔥🔥🔥

Now we are here, I don’t think there’s an authentic way to introduce Musti, our guest today, without sounding like I’m making things up. So settle down because this will take a while.

Good, if you follow TTS, then you know I talk about first meetings making a lasting impression on me. However, meeting Musti for the first time was one of the exceptions. I think I forgot his name and face about 5mins later the first time we met. Also, nothing remarkable happened the second time, or the third, or the fourth time or the fifth time. Then suddenly, like an idea forming in my subconscious, one moment he wasn’t there, and the next he was there. His presence was very audible and refused to be ignored. From books to poems to songs and movies, there’s always something Musti wants to share; as if he can’t help it and he has made a vow to not keep all of the beautiful things he has stumbled across in this world to himself. One day I realized that I also couldn’t help but lean closer to hear him talk about a beloved book character, or mirror his enthusiasm for a renowned poet, or sing along, albeit in disharmony to our favorite cartoon songs, or make a complete fool of myself serenading to strangers because Musti, he would be right beside me doing the same madness. Musti has a kind heart and a loving nature, and he’s fond of sitting in quiet places contemplating who sang it better – Frank Sinatra or Rihanna. He’s also an apt teacher and a rascal. Okay, I’ll allow you to meet him now.

Q. Can you introduce yourself and what you do?

A. Yes, I can! My name is Mosi ‘Musti’ Gomina, the treasure of the heavens and earth. What I do is interpret—and I can do it with everything. At the moment, that means research, writing, data analysis (I call it Datacrafting), reading, sleeping, being God’s favourite baby, et cetera.

Mosi Musti Gomina at a wedding reception
Mosi ‘Musti’ Gomina

Q. Why do you do your job?

A. I love it! I do many things, to be honest, but they are all one thing for me—interpreting (or making sense of the world). So, I love it. And that’s why I do it.

Q. What is the best thing about what you do?

A. Interpretation is something that requires distinguishing truth from falsehood, pretensions from practicalities, people from puppets. Also, I think it is marvelous that men can think, and write, and sing, and paint, and eat, and sleep, and every other thing that we do. To capture all that with texts or digits—that’s magic and more. The best thing about all these? I am changing the world, redefining and rebuilding its foundations.

Q. What’s the difference between living and existing?

A. And here is where I quote Tupac: to have something worth living and dying for. So, for me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. In other words, knowing and accepting my true identity, no masks or mascaras, no veils, nothing but the truth, this is living. All else is dust and dung.

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

A. Greater purpose, absolutely! My Dao is Christ, so my opinion here is a no-brainer.

Q. What was the last book you read?

This is the first difficult question. I read many books concurrently. But I follow multiple Xianxia novels, so Emperor’s Domination and Library of Heaven’s Path?

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

A. This is easy. I think about God—how awesome He is to make wings fit eggs, roars fit cats, minds fit dust, and every other wonderful transformation on Earth and Heaven. The second is my immediate family. There’s a love that we can only feel with family.

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

A. Hopeful people. Happy people. Kind people. Smart people. In that order.

Mosi Gomina at a wedding reception

I think it is marvelous that men can think, and write, and sing, and paint, and eat, and sleep, and every other thing that we do. To capture all that with texts or digits—that’s magic and more. The best thing about all these? I am changing the world, redefining and rebuilding its foundations.

Mosi ‘Musti’ Gomina on Thursday Talk Series

Q. What’s your idea of real success?

A. To be. Again, I lean towards something I heard Tupac say: that he is able to stare into the mirror and like what he sees. That is real success. To be everything you are, nothing less.

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

A. Hm. Change anything and it is no longer the world as we see it. Can I change how long we have to wait for writers to finish their books?

Thank you so much Musti for this interview and for the one picture you let me have😂 And to everyone who stayed to the end, thank you very much and there’s your poem below. Have a fine Thursday.

Until next time,

Stay Jiggy❤️

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill; Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3rd, 1802 by William Wordsworth

What I’m Thinking About

This plate of spaghetti😭

Plate of spaghetti and sauce beside a window.

Pictures from my archives

Thursday Talk Series on How To Create Like Mage


My week? Well, it wasn’t bad but I really don’t want to talk about it. Today’s rant will be about something different. Can somebody please tell me how is it possible that we are in August, less than five months before we tell 2021 bye- bye. Was it not just yesterday we were all welcoming the new year? Because the year’s drawing to a close already. It’s happening, and I expect it will still throw surprises our way in the typical fashion of our world, and maybe I’m freaking out like the Barca fans because the future’s muddied with unforeseen events, but can you blame me? I’m aware that it’s no new phenomenon that time passes (flows with the natural order of the universe) but I’m known to be dramatic like that. What of you? How do you feel about the world year coming to an end? Leave a comment.

Okay, for today’s interview, we have a real OG, literally. Meet Samuel but everyone calls him OG Mage or Mage (His real name has been shelved for all of eternity). People say they know who they are and are comfortable with it, but not everyone who says this is able to show it. Mage however is the former; his aura alone speaks that he knows what he’s all about and he’s not shy to show it. From dominating a room to paying attention to the littlest details, he balances nerd and swag so well (imagine if Peter Parker got over his social awkwardness). Mage is also passionate about the things that he loves and he shares it recklessly with the people he cares about (he really can’t help it😂) and it’s so interesting to watch him in his element. Shall we?

Q. Can you introduce yourself and what you do?

A. My name Samuel Ogaba. But nobody calls me any of that, lol. On these streets, I’m know as “Mage”, “OG” or “OG Mage”. I know, I know… it’s a long story. I am from Benue State, Nigeria. The second of five children (I have an elder brother and three sisters). I’m a Software Engineer (At least that’s what my employment letter says). I work with a Canadian SaaS company. In reality, I’m a creator. I like to create things and Software was just another channel to create. But, when I’m not writing code or doing software related stuff, you’d find me Making music (writing, composing, recording, mixing and mastering etc.); indulging in creative arts (I draw, paint and meddle with some other art forms) and gaming (I’m definitely trying to go pro with this);

Samuel Ogaba (Mage) in a park
OG Mage Samuel Ogaba

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

A. Like I said, I’m a Software Engineer. I’d rather be living the baby boy life and collecting royalties from the things I’ve created but the universe is delaying my application for that. 😒
Honestly, I’d rather be an artist, in all forms I’m capable of. But Software pays the bills so who am I to complain.

Q. What is the best thing about what you do?

A. Best thing about Software is how it creates solutions to individual and business needs. I believe everyone has received some form of value from software. Being able to read this write-up online is an example.

Mage on his way to work as a Software Engineer

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

A. You’d find that the people in my very small circle are like-minds with positive energy who are always willing to support and uplift each other. My friends are family.

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

A. The thing I appreciate most about myself is my resilience, persistence, and positive attitude towards life in general. I amaze myself sometimes. I also appreciate the fact that I’m intellectually endowed. ☺️😎.

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

A. I can’t say for certain, but while I’m alive I intend to live life to the fullest and make sure that my kids have a better life than I do.

Q. If money was not relevant, what would you do all day?

A. Travel. Make music. Create Art. Find new food recipes to attempt. And play games 🤓

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

A. I don’t think I have my own “idea” of success per se. But if I set out to do something, and I accomplish that thing, that is success. I don’t need to succeed on a grand scale to be successful, I think. But that’s just my take. One thing is, I definitely don’t directly associate money with success unless what you set out to do, is make money. I think money is a side effect of the things we do. So I focus on making impact and creating value and that creates wealth, I think. So, in this rambling of mine, I’d say, my “idea” of success would be how much positive impact I’m able to make, while I’m here and when I’m gone.

Q. What’s your biggest complaint about the country?

A. The irresponsibility of our leaders. There are more detailed problems in the country, but I believe our leaders are major enablers of our problems while at the same time, not being subject to it. The country is starting to choke the people and we continuously have to learn to adapt to inconveniences until that’s all we know.

Mage at an outdoor event

I don’t need to succeed on a grand scale to be successful, I think. But that’s just my take. One thing is, I definitely don’t directly associate money with success unless what you set out to do, is make money…So I focus on making impact and creating value and that creates wealth, I think.

Samuel Ogaba (OG Mage) on Thursday Talk Series

Q. If like a movie your life up to this point is played for you to watch, describe how you’d feel about it?

A. Make no mistake, it WILL be a cringe fest 😬… I don’t think I want to re-watch myself make all those bad decisions, relationships and corniness 😂. But, It’ll definitely make a killer move for everybody else. Maybe I’ll write an autobiography one day. For anyone who’s interested in finding out more about my boring self, look up @ogmageofficial on IG, and @ogmageofficial on twitter 👀 (yes, twitter 😎).

Thank you Mage for the interview, it’s my pleasure to have you here and good luck with creating. For everyone reading this, arigatou and thank you. Have a terrific Thursday.

Follow OG Mage

Graphics art created with Canva
A sneak peek at the content I’m creating for my blog.

I’m being intentional about creating memories. That’s my size 40 shoes chilling at the beach😭😂

Don’t forget to leave a comment❤️

Glucose D or Cocaine | Danta’s Letters#2


Dear Ogonne!

Have you entered for a competition even though you knew the odds were against you? I have. A long time ago when I was in primary school I participated in a race – we were having practice for the school’s annual inter-house sports. As a kid I was bow legged; a small puppy could run between my legs with ease because they couldn’t come together without putting extra effort. I walked around with legs like parentheses, like a pregnant woman close to her due date. It wasn’t much of a problem when I wore the standard uniform which was a gown and a bucket hat, but because we wore t-shirts and shorts during practice, it was quite obvious that my knees repelled each other; as if there was a magical force field keeping them apart, – Thou shall not pass!

When I signed up for the race, I was jittery and my heart pounded in my chest. All around me different activities were going on. The kids were running wild and the teachers tried to keep things moving amidst the chaos. That day I wanted a price which was guaranteed as long as I participated, and that was what made me fight down my fear. After the race, I was so excited (even though I didn’t win), my cheeks were flushed, eyes wide and hands outstretched for my price. The teacher in charge of the race scooped snowy white glucose D powder into my palm. Even now I can remember the taste of it, a rush of sugar and melting ice. One of my most memorable childhood moments was getting high on glucose D and giving off the impression that I was consuming cocaine like in the movies.

My darling girl, what is that thing which you want and are willing to do all that you can to get? There’s this African proverb that says, ‘To try and to fail is not laziness.’ I want you to go after the things that you desire for yourself. You don’t what to live your life plagued with regrets because you didn’t try, no matter what the outcome may be. Do the best that you can and your reward will be sweet.



Here’s the one that was shared after the race.

Photo Credit: Pexels

  • What’s The Truth?
    Our perception of the truth can be distorted…but we’ll still choose to die on that hill.
  • Left Behind
    The abandoned church stood like a man awaiting trial.
  • How To Live Like A Hero
    And the pressure keeps growing and growing and growing until you feel like you are moments away from exploding.

On Rainy Days – Danta’s Letters#1


Dear Ogonne,

It’s was raining and the sound of it beating on my roof woke me up. It’s been several minutes since I have been listening and watching the rain through my fogged window. If you had asked me how I felt, I’d tell you that I was happy and sad. Happy that obviously it’s raining, the sound of the rain feels like an old friend, the same as the organ that bellows in my church. There’s nostalgia and a lot of memories that come with the rain. I’m sad because I would really like to be out there in the torrid weather, cold water running down my sagging breasts and thighs, droplets catching on my eyelashes by choice, because I’m aware that there are several people out there, not by choice, who’d rather be inside, safe and warm.

It’s always like this for me when it rains. My memories sharpen, such as the ones of the house where we lived when I was a child. It had a bad ceiling and was drafty because the house was old and was not well maintained. Not only was it unpleasant when it rained, but it also got cold like an icebox. The only good thing was running outside to fetch water and play in the rain with the rest of the kids in the compound. This didn’t happen every time our parents were around. On the occasions when we were allowed, our underwear would stick to our skins like paint on canvas. There was little need for modesty, soon we would chase each other naked and screaming, with our bottoms freezing. It made no difference except it made the experience better. After we are called into our respective homes, we got dry and wrapped in towels. Sometimes our father would massage us with Robb (we turned down Aboniki, ask your mother, she knows what I’m talking about) and our teeth would chatter involuntarily for a couple of minutes as the chill was chased away. If our mother was up to it, we’d fill our bellies with a warm meal. After getting dressed in dry clothes, my siblings and I would huddle under covers for warmth. It could be on our tiny couch in our living room or on our spring bed that squeaked with the effort of holding our weight (it was well past the age of retirement). Part of the reason was to get our feet off the worn carpet that didn’t help to keep them warm. Whenever I think of warmth, I remember the times I fell asleep piled up like laundry with the rest of my siblings. When our parents were not around we’d fend for ourselves.

Most days we’d be too energetic to sleep, especially if it was still daytime. The games we played in the dark to pass the time can never be forgotten(because it was almost always dark when it rains, with the electricity cut off). We built forts with sheets, cushions and pillows. The neighbors would come sometimes and we could team up for wrestling matches or cards. We told ludicrous stories or rehashed old grievances. It was always something when it rains.

Days like this I’m stuck in my chair, my arthritic hands and feet testifying, and still the rain with it’s tap tap tap on my roof brings back memories long forgotten, sweet and sour. I expect your memories of the rain to be different from mine (your mother has heard stories like this, and I’ll send along with this letter some of the pictures from that time). Tell me what you feel when it rains in your next letter and don’t start with your excuses that I won’t find them interesting. Your stories make me feel younger than my years, so indulge this old woman. I wonder that it’s still raining quite frequently in June, hian! Soon the weather would be warmer; you should expect my endless letters complaining about the heat.



  • What’s The Truth?
    Our perception of the truth can be distorted…but we’ll still choose to die on that hill.
  • Left Behind
    The abandoned church stood like a man awaiting trial.
  • How To Live Like A Hero
    And the pressure keeps growing and growing and growing until you feel like you are moments away from exploding.

What’s In The Bag


I believed her bag to be the portal to another dimension and she was the gatekeeper.

What’s in the bag? Is what she said before she dived in for the goodies, making a big production out of it.

“What’s in the bag?” I yell, barely containing my excitement. Although it came out as “Wazzinibah?” I’m not known for my eloquence.

I’m too old for this. As a young man just out of the cradle and about to enter prep school, I certainly know that there are no such things as ghosts, and that masquerades only come out under the full moon – Nancy at the daycare swore it was true, as it was her Danta that told her.

As I was saying, I fall for the same trick every time. But can you really blame me. Whenever she opens that bag, it’s heaven on earth. If ever a Paradise of Goodies exists, it’s in there, somewhere in my Great Aunt Neche’s bag. Yes, she spoils me rotten, but once in a while she’s up to no good.

Ack! I try to grab hold of the bag but I miss because my hands are small and chubby. I feel something wet drop on my chest. What’s this? I’m drooling like a dimwit. The horror! Give me the bag woman or face my wrath, I warn her. She dangles the bag before me and I’m hypnotized, eyes glued to the worn brown leather as it sways ever so gently.

“What’s in the bag?” Great Aunt Neche asks as she slowly dips her hand into it. I push up on my equally small and chubby legs, my soggy diaper a dead weight between them, and my face red and puffy. Ah! The harpy is persistent in her folly, even though I’ve cranked up the volume of my screeching, and the nosy old hag next-door started to threaten to come over and deal with me about five minutes ago.

She brings out her hand empty from the bag, smiling recklessly, “Sorry Nna, but I did not bring you anything today. How about tomorrow I buy you a big red stick sweet. Would you like that?” I crossed my eyes as my brain went on overdrive. I see, she tricked me. The nerve of this woman, with her soft brown eyes and wrinkled face etched with deep laughing lines. The false goddess deprives me of her benevolence yet again.

She must have read my mind because she picks me up and nuzzles me, going for my weak spots. She knows all of them. In no time I put a stop to my loud protests and settle like putty in her arms, tracing the veins that crisscross like train tracks.

That was the last time I saw my Great Aunt Neche at our house. Today is the 24th anniversary of her death. My family often wonder why I always look morose on this day, ever year. They say I shouldn’t be able to remember her because I was a toddler when she passed away in her sleep. I don’t even try to explain how my memories of her are still intact. I just eat sweets and miss her.

Photo credit: Pexels

On Photography


Hi guys! Today I decided that I would be intentional with photography. A bunch of my work so far has been focused on writing, however, I started with the intention of giving both writing and photography a platform on my blog. This is wonderful news if you love photography like I do.

So to kick off, here are 25 inspiring quotes by some great men and women of photography.

“Photography is the story I fail to put into words.”
– Destin Sparks

“It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart, and head.”
-Henri Cartier-Bresson

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
– Ansel Adams

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”
– Aaron Siskind

“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!”
– Ted Grant

“Your photography is a record of your living, for anyone who really sees.”
– Paul Strand

“Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.”
– Diane Arbus

“If the photographer is interested in the people in front of his lens, and if he is compassionate, it’s already a lot. The instrument is not the camera but the photographer.”
– Eve Arnold

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
– Karl Lagerfeld

“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”
– George Eastman

“Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.”
– Ambrose Bierce

“A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.”
– Diane Arbus

“God creates the beauty. My camera and I are a witness.”
Mark Denman

“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.”
– Lewis Hine

“Today everything exists to end in a photograph.”
– Susan Sontag

“Photography is the simplest thing in the world, but it is incredibly complicated to make it really work.”
– Martin Parr

“One advantage of photography is that it’s visual and can transcend language.”
– Lisa Kristine

“Most things in life are moments of pleasure and a lifetime of embarrassment; photography is a moment of embarrassment and a lifetime of pleasure.”
– Tony Benn

“Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important and capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don’t work out, just take another shot.”
– Anon

“Only photograph what you love.”
– Tim Walker

“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”
– Dorothea Lange

And here is a little something from me.

“Photography gives meaning to life because every second counts – Rigozo

I bet you got one or two quotes from this. You can share if you have more photography sayings that inspire you.

And lastly, don’t forget to take a picture today and cherish the memory.

Photo Credit: Pexels/Tenor

A Christmas Story


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


What do you miss?


I was on a trip once upon a time. I took a night bus from Kaduna bound to Lagos. It was the close of the year and the holiday festivities were in full swing. Empty seats on all sides, there were scant passengers on board.

The night was cold and dark. I sat by the window and looked out occasionally when streetlights or lightbulbs illuminated the scene as we drove past.

I was wearing my old grey hoodie and black sweatpants and head warmer, with wooly socks. I’d told No’ to send me some albums over the weekend, so I listened to them as I burrowed into the seats until sleep claimed me.

I woke up early to see the sunrise. I got lucky. We were in Osun, I remember. And the sun was a brilliant orange ball in the sky that chased away the night’s chill with its warmth. The trees were tall and dense and small hills dotted the horizon as moved from one sleepy town to the next.

I didn’t wish for us to stop and stay for a while. I didn’t want to meet the town folks to ask how they got by. The magic was in looking out and watching the world go by, like waves on the seashores. Captivated by its beauty but untouched by it…even as I looked forward to finding new places.

Image by – Alena Aenami

What do you miss?

To Be Perfect


“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

Photo credit: Pinterest

Chasing Happiness


My eyes sting, if I don’t stop moving I’ll unleash a flood. In other news, I don’t bloody care. I squeeze them shut tightly and let my chest expand with deep breaths. This thing happening to me, well, describing it is beyond words.

My heels refuse to touch the floor as I choose instead to bounce on the balls of my feet. I am a ballerina pirouetting across the room. My limbs are out of control and fly unmolested. I suspect that my hips are gyrating or rebelling by doing the opposite. I spin around until everything blurs. Then a scream escapes from my lips without any warning. It rings like bells, sweet like dark chocolate, and bright as a summer day. I stop spinning and place a hand on my racing heart, willing it to return to normal. My lips refuse to take their proper form but remain stretched from ear to ear.

I look up to the ceiling until my vision settles. The whole room is thrumming, the walls vibrate to the music; colors burst out in a riot even as the air shimmers.

I don’t always feel this way. Sometimes my heart races for a different reason. I’ll find myself curled up like a fetus in the womb, the cold would rise from my bones and a roar of turbulent waves will fill my ears.

I turn up the music louder and the alte highlife sounds have me moving like a penguin. My voice strains to hit all the right notes without success and I make a mess of the lyrics. I try out the zanku dance and throw in dabs for good measure. The truth is I’m a terrible dancer.

The other day I was with my friends. I remember fondly that we said and did tons of fun, important bonding stuff that I cannot fully recall. Still, I can confess that there were no dragons in my tummy, no crippling doubts about being loved and accepted, and no fear for what the next moment would bring. My heart was swollen with appreciation because I belonged and was loved simply for existing.

There was another time at work when we were focused on our individual tasks. Suddenly I noticed a lull in the usual office din – phones ringing, voices trying to drown out each other, keyboards going tap-tap-tap, slurping of drinks, and feet rushing in every direction. As I looked around, I felt my skin tingling as if the universe itself was watching and participating in the stillness. I couldn’t bear to ruin the mood by calling the attention of the others to it. So I sat there, feasting on the view and appreciating a moment that I would in later years regurgitate time and time again.

Those are the kind of days that I look forward to. When I’m alive and aware, not stuck in my head challenging every decision that I take or missing out on things because I’m too scared to try, and too scared to live.

I walk into the kitchen still bobbing like a bottle in a pond. Where’s the knife? I wonder. I search for a little while and eventually I find it at the bottom of the dirty pile of dishes stacked in the sink. Gross! I wash it clean. It is new, shiny, and sharp.

The intro of Fireboy DML’s – Gbas Gbos rents the air and I nearly drop the knife on my foot out of excitement. This is not how I had planned for this to end.

I place the knife carefully on the counter and reach for the pen and paper I’d brought into the kitchen earlier in the day. I breathe deeply, gather my thoughts, and begin to write. I make sure to keep my writing bold and legible.

I straighten up after I’m done and set the paper aside. As I start to reach for the knife, the kettle whistles, right on cue. Humming, I move over to the stove to turn it off. In a moment I take a sip from my steaming cup of tea. I add a generous amount of lemon juice and stir it in.

I grab the knife in one hand and stretch out my other hand all the while thinking if I should make a small cut or a big cut. Just as the knife is about to make the cut, the doorbell rings.

I place the tea on the kitchen counter and reach for the knife again. I can’t put it off any longer or I’ll lose my nerve. I’ve not come this far to turn back.

This life shoves a variety of flavors at you at every turn. Not every one of them is agreeable to your taste. Dead is a man that misses out on the flavors. I’m not dead – yet.

No! No! No!

“Uju! Uju! I’m home. Where are you this woman?” I hear my sister call from the hallway.

I was so close. So close. I hear footsteps behind me and feel beads of sweat run down my face.

“Uju o! Babe how far? You didn’t hear me calling your name? Obviously, you can’t with all this racket going on.”

I turn around as Amaka moves into the kitchen in that easy way of hers like she’s floating. She turns off the music and I feel trapped. I still can’t believe I didn’t do it. It’s too late now.

Amaka eyes me suspiciously as my silence stretches. I try to hide the knife that is still in my hand but the movement catches her eyes.

“What are you doing with a knife, Uju?” She asks suspiciously.

“Nothing” I quickly retort.

She eyes me some more, “You weren’t trying to…” She trails off.

A nervous laugh bubbles out of my mouth and my eyes dart to the side to avoid her gaze.

I hear her gasps loudly and I swiftly turn my head to look at her. She was looking past my shoulder. How did she get so close? She can see the note I left on the counter. Oh no!.

“It’s not what you think,” I say. I drop the knife and edge towards the door.

The hurt in her eyes pins me just as I’m about to make my sweet escape.

“Uju why?” She asks as she picks up the paper.

I cringe when she starts to read it out loud.

“Dear Amaka, I hope you’ll find a place in your heart to forgive me. Love, Uju.” She crumples up the paper and throws it at me.

“Where did you think you’d have ended up if you had done it? I can’t believe this! I can’t believe you would do this. You know how much I worked and yet you didn’t think twice before trying to do it again. Amaka, why are you so ungrateful? Why do you think about only yourself? What would I have told the rest of the family when they ask me what happened to….”

“I’m sorry, Uju.” I wring my fingers.

“Are you sorry? Are you? Because that was what you said the last time.”

I see red spots appear on her beautiful cheeks. She must wish to throw the knife at me because her eyes focuses on it.

“The cake is for everybody!” she yells. “How e take dey do you ehn! You alone ate all the cake the last time and now, you can’t even wait for tomorrow when the rest of the family arrives before gobbling this one up?”

I pout and start to grumble, “Amaka it’s all your fault for baking cakes that are divine.”

Amaka launches herself at me intent on wreaking havoc on my person, and I run out of the kitchen laughing hard.

“I’ll kill you today,” she screams.

I spend the rest of the day with warmth in my chest, food in my tum-tum, and light in my eyes, that is after Amaka stopped trying to kill me. I understand that I can only live one day at a time, and I have learned to treasure days like this – the happy days.

I put the music back on and this time Amaka joins me to groove. She’s worse than I am at dancing. I tell her this and earn myself a slap for my trouble.

Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment below.

Photo credit: Pinterest

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