Kill me slowly

I wrote “this” a few days ago when I was feeling particularly “sh**ty”.
If I had written it on a piece of paper, I would probably have torn it up and dumped it in the wastepaper basket. But it started out life as an email on my phone in the dark before dawn, and once I mailed it to myself, it was too late. Now it exists in the “ether” – both on my phone and my laptop and on some corporate mail server who knows where.
But things changed after that – and I think it should probably not have been written – especially the first stanza.
And today, I had a literal miracle (though some people would logically refute it). I was waiting for the result of an application I made last week that should have taken 10days (or maybe even 8 days if I was lucky). Today made it 8 days and I needed to have the response latest tomorrow if my other plans were not to be disrupted. This morning I prayed and asked God that I wanted a positive response today.

And sometime around 11AM, an SMS came in and it was the instruction to go pick up my document! Yeah, I know it was possible the process may take less than 10days, but the point was that relying on that would have been a gamble – complete hit or miss. And some people explain miracles that occur in response to prayers to be that God had known already that one would be asking for the miracle and if He had decided to grant it, he would have set the process in motion well before in order for the miracle to happen when you need it and He wants it to happen! And if you don’t believe in miracles, remind you to give you a heads up when I start to levitate 🙂

NOTE: the sections after the “But start now” in each stanza is meant to be read in one breath.

Kill me slowly 

Kill me slowly
But start now
Get ahead of the curve Before mortuary attendants – irreverent – dump bodies made immobile by the “ember” months’ insatiable thirst for the blood of the innocent and guilty alike – Bodies burnt, basted, battered, bloated, baked and broken

Kill me slowly
But start now
I do not need the loneliness of a XMAS morning Spent watching gifts opened with smiles on smiling faces And thoughts of rapid loss of pressure and pleasure as heartbeat quickened realizing loss of what never was there unreasonable desires unfulfilled …

Kill me slowly
But start now
Can I not remember how anger whispered to pride led me down the path I tred and tried to backtrack But the jungle of hate amidst the forest of despair had overgrown the path of opportunity in 2 months of silence?

Kill me slowly
But start now
We won’t call it murder – I asked for it and you got paid for a service you rendered with lips sealed Making me victor over the gathering gloom that threatens to bring sorrow its brother to come dine at my thanksgiving table Overstaying its welcome hanging around from boxing day to see the old year out and the new one in

Kill me slowly
But start now
Let me lie under canopied bed sheets From now till the second Feeding on salty tears like salted nuts Life is slow in pain and fast in joy But pain is my constant companion That bids me wake after a moment’s sleep Long before night changes to day And the XMAS cock blesses the air with the music it thinks it makes While its owners smile in secret understanding of the dirge the sharpened knife will make on the 25th

Kill me slowly
But start now
Did I hear you mouth “toxic” As the effect I have where I would rather have smiles Causing fear and crying brought close yet far over cold devices held to the ear making ephemeral that which was hard to hear and worse to remember Relived daily in dreams and waking moments Wondering what screw went lose in my head Causing temporary change in temperament Bringing loss and despair to the party of discomfort and sadness

Kill me slowly …
… but start now. 

27-11-2012 4AM

Random strangers

Random strangers

I know I will likely get some interesting comments on this post (or maybe not – people may just read it and think I must be nuts but not actually comment on the post 🙂
For some reason, on my trips back to Lagos from Ibadan (and at least once from Lagos to Ibadan), I have given completely random strangers lifts all the way to Lagos.
Several months ago, I had pulled into a petrol station just on the outskirts of Lagos to have the air in my tyres gauged when a fellow approached me for a lift to Ibadan. I was not so sure, but when he added that he had one of this “staff”who would be going along as well, I just completely refused. But he didn’t give up immediately, so by the time all the tyres were checked, I relented and asked him to get in. I found out he was a tanker driver for the petrol station and was on his way home (Ibadan) for the weekend. I dropped them off somewhere before we got to Iwo road (I would have taken the “Challenge” road, but I thought if I had done them a good turn already and it was getting a little late, I decided I might as well see things through – I practically dropped them at the bus stop next to their houses – but I ended up in some traffic due to the detour. Just short of their stop, the gentleman asked for for the cost and I said no, not to bother. He said some prayers as they got down and thanked me profusely. He said I should continue doing good deeds, etc.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A couple of trips back, I had pulled into one of the last petrol stations just before leaving Ibadan (just shy of the old tollgates) to top up my gas tank when a guy and then a couple of people tentatively approached me to see if I could get them to Lagos (usually they expect to pay – but lower than what a typical commercial vehicle would charge I think). I at first flatly refused, glanced back at the jumble on the back seat and thought of the trouble I would have to go to get all that stuff out of the way. Another person, a little scruffy looking approached as well – when the first two offered to show me their ID cards, he said he was just an humble (Islamic) alfa which no form of identification. I turned him down as well. But by the time my tank was full, I was having second thoughts. So I indicated to the first couple (colleagues selling one of these health products that also involve getting other people to retail the stuff) to follow while I drove a little away from the pump. I got down and had to shove everything into the back of the vehicle. I also had to erect the 3rd row seat. The alfa had returned back to the side of the road to keep trying his luck with other passing cars. While arranging my stuff about 3 others also came up to ask if it was possible they get a lift to Lagos. Since it looked like I was committed at that point, I agreed as well. Then I thought of the alfa and what kind of Christian would I be if I didn’t take him while I took a few other people that showed up after him. So I beckoned to him as well. By the time we got back on the road, I believe I had 6 complete strangers packed into the vehicle with me.

We made it safely to Lagos, and when we were almost in Lagos, I think it was the Alfa that asked about the cost and I indicated they didn’t have to pay, the alfa led all the others in a comprehensive prayer for me with all the others saying Amen at suitable points. He was full of praise as to how I helped complete strangers and did not ask for any money. After the prayers, he hinted at the fact that he was still going to Obasanjo Farms and had spent all the money he had getting from his village to Ibadan. I think that was pushing a little too far, so I purposefully didn’t get involved in that – especially as he didn’t ask me directly for money – he just put it out there.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Just this past weekend, I was returning from Ibadan to Lagos, when I pulled into the same Petrol station. I noticed a reasonably dressed gentleman with a bag pack trying to get a lift at the side of the road. When I was done filling my tank, I noticed he was still there so I pulled up as I drove past him and indicated he get in, a second fellow that was more or less behind him came up as well and asked if he could get a lift as well. I joked that his face looked hard, but told him to get in as well. The fellow at the back soon fell asleep, but the other fellow in front was awake all through. We discussed some of the antics of the other drivers on the road and some topics on the radio as we went along. The fellow in the back asked to be let out at 7UP and when I pulled over he asked what was the cost, and I said no – you could see the surprise on his face but he thanked me as I pulled back out into the traffic. The other fellow got out around Oworonsoki.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I guess I could ask for money, but I won’t for several reasons: (not looking down on them, but) If they were comfortable enough, they would be driving as well and not trying to hitch a ride; whether or not I offer them a lift, I was going to Lagos (or Ibadan) anyway; and finally, it was an opportunity to help people without expecting anything back. Hopefully, some of the goodwill will be extended to others along the chain of life.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I won’t necessarily make a habit of it, but I can’t promise not to do it again. In fact, I am likely to – the way I see it, if I do pick up someone that” “wants” the car, I would just let them have it with no fuss – there are more important things in life than holding on to a car that’s at least 7 years old! The only thing I probably won’t do is stop along the road under any condition (if a passenger is pressed, he/she better hold it in until the next town or village). Unless a gun or cutlass is involved, in which case I revert to letting go of the car with no fuss!

Don’t go out tonight

Don’t go out tonight

You have to realize that I was bored out of my mind and at the same time there was a lot on my mind I would rather not think about. I am impulsive. I am a loner. Maybe that’s why I gravitate towards two extremes – either I over think issues and fail to act at the appropriate time, or I act impulsively. In either case, the outcome is not always pleasant for any of the parties involved. I guess people with friends can bounce ideas off them before doing something that may turn out foolish. Me, I just worry at it forever or not at all before acting.

I had had my car for just over a year when it happened. I didn’t realize the freedom I was missing until I got the car. I could head out at any hour of the day or night without thinking of how I was going to get back to the house. I was mobile. I was free. But outside of work there was always the question of what to do with that freedom. That night I had a lot on my mind I would rather not think about. I got my keys and jumped in the car. It was already past 11PM at night. I had no idea where I was going except a vague idea of crossing the third mainland bridge. I had the Garmin, so I wasn’t too bothered about where I ended up. All I needed to do at any point was ask it to take me home.

I still can’t remember where I ended up or how I got there. But suddenly I was in an area of Lagos that looked like one of those high-crime slum areas I had seen on TV. I was a little apprehensive, but though the streets were cluttered with refuse and broken-down cars, and some of the people hanging out by the roadside and in the doorways of some of the houses looked decidedly unfriendly, there were no attempts to stop me. So I drove on slowly.

The street I was driving on was long and winding, but I could vaguely see it open onto another street at the end. But suddenly there was a whoosh and almost immediately, I felt the car list to one side and the sound of my flapping flat tyre. I debated whether to stop or drive on at the danger of destroying the wheel, but decided to stop since the area was reasonably lighted. I pulled over a little to the side, switched off the engine and got out to examine the flat tyre. The tyre was completely flat, and there was something sticking out from it which I tried to dislodge with my foot. No luck. I bent down and put on the camera light on my mobile phone to get a closer look. I almost immediately realized that the small contraption was not some random wood and nail piece I had run over: it was purposefully made to damage a car’s tyre. I straightened up and had just got into the car when out of nowhere eight burly youths had my car surrounded. The ones I could see properly looked mean and had an assorted array of weapons in their hands. I was tempted to try and make a run for it, but there was at least a couple of pistols in the mix.

My goal at that point was to get out of there unarmed. I didn’t care too much about losing the car. It was covered by insurance. And I was Ok with losing my wristwatch and the small amount of cash I had in my pockets which I was desperately hoping would satisfy them. I smiled a little and called out a greeting. They weren’t having any of it. Probably the biggest fellow in the group with bloodshot eyes, just calmly asked me to step out of the car. I was hesitant to do so because the group didn’t look like they were particularly interested in just dispossessing me of my belongings. I suspect it was the way the cutlasses and axes were held that made me suspicious.

But there was no alternative to getting out of the car. The windows were almost completely up, and for some futile reason, I had locked the car immediately I made it into the driver’s seat. I was about to unlock the door and get down when there was a scream from behind the car. I couldn’t quite make out the source but the commotion was definitely coming from right behind the car. A gun went off and there was a flash of light in the darkness. Several more screams and suddenly it appeared I was the only one in the vicinity. I was confused.

But there were obviously at least two people at the back of the car.

“Pick up the knife.”
“Please sir.”
“Pick up the knife or you die anyway.”

There was some hesitation.


Then a brief scuffle. A small scream and all was quiet again.

There was a streak on the passenger side window which looked like blood. I was contemplating it when there was a knock on the driver’s side window. I nearly jumped out of my skin. There was a face at the window. Younger than I was, and from his looks definitely in the wrong place same as I was. I looked around again and he was obviously the only one around so I wound down the glass.

“Today’s work is done. Can you give me a lift out of here.”


I couldn’t help myself. I unlocked the car, and as he made his way round to the passenger’s seat, I opened my door and looked towards the back of the car. I could see two bodies, and also a pair of feet poking out from behind the car. No movement. I assume they were dead.

I quietly closed the door again and looked at my companion.

“We should go.”

Good idea. I started the car and moved off with the flat wheel making a continuous grinding noise. He seemed to know the area because after a few instructions from him to make certain turns, we were soon out of the built-up area and approaching some sort of expressway. It was obvious the tyre needed to be changed if I was to drive at any reasonable speed. I asked if it was OK to pull over and replace the wheel. He agreed.

I changed the tyre as quickly as possible and we were soon back on the move. Since he didn’t say anything more, I punched “home” on the Garmin and I was soon back across the bridge in familiar territory. I asked where he was going and he said Lekki. We went through the Lekki tollgate at about 2AM and I soon drove past the Lekki phase I entrance. At some point after phase II on a more or less empty stretch of road, he asked me to drop him off. I pulled over and he got out. That was when he apologized for the blood on my seat which I hadn’t noticed until then. He appeared to disappear into the darkness.

I drove off and found the next roundabout and made a U-turn and headed back towards the Island. I looked out into the darkness as I passed the spot where I dropped him off but there was no sign of life. I made it back home. Despite being bone-tired, I still found the strength to clean the passenger seat. He must have been bleeding quite heavily because of the sheer amount of blood on the seat and the foot-carpet. I got most of it out. And emptied a few buckets of water over the body of the car.

After that I crawled into bed and slept like the dead. I woke up around 12 noon in the afternoon. For a couple of minutes, I wasn’t sure where I was. Then recollection came but it all felt like a dream. I got up slowly and went to look out the window at the car. Sure enough, I could see the telltale brownish (oxidized) stains were still visible on the car. It still felt quite unreal and I suddenly became so tired I crawled back into bed. I gravitated between sleep and awareness for the next couple of hours. Finally, I got up and went out to the car. I went slowly round it and then checked the passenger side. I had done a reasonable job of cleaning the blood but looking closely enough showed I missed some spots especially along  the threads.

I didn’t give him my number or my name.

I got a call from an unknown number the following day. Immediately he spoke, I knew it was him. 

“Hello. Who is this?” I had to ask.
“We met early in the morning yesterday.” That was putting it lightly.
“I am calling to thank you. I hope you were able to get the stain out of the seat. Apologies.”

I did get all the stains out. But not the vision of those dead bodies on the ground. Yes, they might have killed me, but that fact didn’t make it any easier. Those young men were dead.

“Thank you. I did.”
“Good to know.”

End of phone call.

But not the last I would hear of him. If anything, that was the beginning.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * *  

If you had asked, I would say we were friends, though it was a strange friendship to say the least.

Generally because of the support nature of my previous job, I am accustomed to coming awake fully at the first ring of the phone, and not be grumpy at the person on the other end of the line. The fact that he calls randomly out of the blues is how I learnt most of what I know about him. He may call and launch midway into some topic as if we had been discussing it before.

“Hope you don’t mind my calling.”
“I was thinking about my wife.”
“Ok”. He needed no prompting when he wanted to talk.
“She died painfully you know.”
“Can you believe until then, I had never even killed a single person despite the many years I spent in the military.”

I know from past snippets that he was in the military in the US. Then the patriotism bug had bitten him. He had resigned his commission, taken his foreigner wife and returned “home.”

“She bled to death while begging me to help her.”

I had pieced together a story slightly similar to mine. It appears they had gone on a midnight jaunt in the wrong part of town and had been attacked. He was able to fend off the attackers, but then found they had already stabbed his wife several times.

“And there was nothing I could do.”

Silence from both ends for about 3 minutes.

“No problem.”
“Good night.”
“Good night.”

And that was that.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * 

I was of course concerned about him, so during another call, I asked.

“Have you thought of settling down again.” (even my own questions have started to sound like comments)
“A few times.”
“But not yet.”
“You know I have done that once. That was completely spontaneous. I met a woman. I fell for her. Chased her. She fell for me. Got married. Settled down. And yet here I am.”
“Let me throw the question back at you.” Time for some answers from me.
“I am something of a loner. The reason is of course complicated.”
“I can talk up a storm with almost any lady. Even if we have only just met. That is, as long as I am not attracted to her.”
“If there is even the slightest attraction, I get tongue-tied. Everything I intend to say, I start replaying it in my head instead of saying it.”
“And that is bad. Not talking. I just basically clamp up.”
“How do I expect a lady to know I am interested if I talk about everything else but the real thing?”
“Just hanging around and hoping something happens. Pathetic I know.”
“And it gets worse. Because attempts to keep in contact or then do something positive becomes to all intent and purposes like stalking.”

Looks like I have got some sort of shrink. Maybe I am the same to him.

“You need to sort this out.”
“True. I just don’t know how.” Implicit question: does he?
“I don’t know either. But you need to sort it out.”
“And what do you feel about marriage?”
“I am not in any hurry. Certain people in the family are of course apprehensive. But for me, if it happens, great. If it doesn’t, well, it doesn’t. I have long ago dropped the idea of a deadline. I have been around all sorts of couples. Yeah. They are hopefully happy. I feel for the women though. It seems men who don’t cheat – and continuously for that matter – are the exception and not the rule. This is not the itch. This is just the “I can do it and get away with it” attitude. Young guys with reasonably beautiful wives. I guess what makes the women fall for them in the first place, and not for guys such as myself – even though we try too hard – is what makes the same guys carry on as if they are still single – the wives are hopefully content and happy in their ignorance of what is really going on. Of course, I am probably a little jealous of these guys. But only to the extent that I want only one beautiful girl to fall for me – and I can’t seem to manage that one single thing.”

“I guess it comes easy to you.”
“I never really thought about it along those lines. I am a one-woman man myself. But I guess most men who play the field say that to the women – since that’s what they want to hear. But I should say yes, it’s kinda  easy for me when I was interested.”
“Anyone in mind in particular”. I was hoping he wouldn’t ask.
“Nope. There was one. But it was one-sided as usual. Since I played dumb, there was no way she would have known. And while I fell heads over heels, as I kept a straight face and didn’t say anything, there was of course no chance of reciprocity until I had crossed the bridge where suspicion turns to discomfort.”
“And she was perfect. Almost literally. Which made it harder to let go.”
“The strange thing is that was the first good thing to happen to me in donkey years”
“And you messed it up.” I must have repeated that to him a dozen times now so he knew to finish it for me.

“Yeah. I messed it up.”
“Have you prayed about it.” I don’t find it strange any longer that he sometimes asks these questions. He is actually religious despite what he does regularly.
“Yes. I have.”
“So continue to do so, if it’s right, it will happen.”
“I am. It’s just that it is the only thing on my mind day and night. And if I hadn’t done anything negative, I would have easily accepted the fact that if it’s right it will happen.” 

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * *

I took to putting my itinerary on my blog. For some reason, I knew he was a regular visitor. Probably from some of the almost undetectable references he sometimes makes when we talk. I didn’t know when he would call and ask me to come and get him, so when I was going to be particularly busy or out of Lagos, I would craft some entry on my blog and work that into the narrative, and sure enough, I have never received his call on any of those days.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * 

“Where are you?” Strange. Usually, his first line is completely different.
“At Bubbles.”
“Where is that?”
“Challenge in Ibadan.”
“It’s a club.”
“Just chilling.” That was a question.
“Yes. Actually someone suggested it may be a cure for what ails me.”
“Which is.”
“I have been thinking about the lady continuously for over 2 months. It’s not getting any easier.”
“Some smart ass suggested what I needed was a visual overload of women. So here I am.” 
“There you are. Is it helping.”
“Unfortunately no. Plenty of ladies in various state of undress. The only thing that strikes me is that they are not the lady. I was about to leave.”

And so I left.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * 

“The day’s work is done.”
“Can you come and get me.”
“Where are you.”
At least I know Yaba.

“Which area.”
“Just pull over once you get off the bridge. I will find you.”
Sure enough, there was a tap on the window about 5 minutes after I got there. I had taken to putting a plastic cover on the seat whenever I am going for him. The blood is easier to get rid of that way. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * *

I became a sort of sidekick. From time to time I would get the call. “Today’s job is finished. Can you come and get me.” That only meant one thing – he was injured. I have to accept that I was living precariously through him. I was of course concerned that he may get seriously wounded or get killed, but there was the thrill I experienced whenever I had to venture out sometime in the early hours to go get him from some out-of-the-way, back-of-nowhere place. I also learnt never to ask questions: I really didn’t want to know about the body count. I already felt like an accomplice in some gory unholy play.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * 

He is on the line.
“I work for the government.”
“Which one.”
“The state government.”
“Doing what you do.”
“Doing what I do.”
“The government is determined to clean up the state, you know.”
“How long have we known each other – 4, 5 months.”
“How many of those incidents have you seen in the papers.” So I am sure he knew I have taken to buying papers looking for reports with possible links to his nightly outings. I thought I had just been missing the reports, but it now struck me that it was strange that hardly any of those nights made the papers. The few times there were references to some of the happenings, it usually sounded confused –  usually from people such as myself who appear to have been miraculously delivered from dangerous situations. Could he be telling the truth?

“I do free-lance. It is not because of the money.”
“Yes.” They say payback is a bitch. I guess he is on a revenge mission because of his dead wife.
“It was indeed for revenge when I started.” He caught me.
“But not anymore. Now it is something that needs to be done and I am doing it.” 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * *

The last call I got from him came like any of the others.
“I am going back.”
“Yes. There is a woman. I am going with her.”
“Thank you.”
“You are welcome.” I will surely miss those random night trips. But good for him. If he is going back to the US with a wife (I found he was a stick in the mud prude such as myself so I am sure he has either married the lady or is going to) then he will put all the dangerous stuff behind him and settle down once again. I am still on my own.

And just before he signed off, “I have a friend.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * 

I had about settled into my new routine without his calls, when about 6 months later I got a post-card from a city in the US. For some reason, I didn’t even think of him as I opened the letter. I don’t think I have ever received a postcard before. The message on the card was simple, but it was obvious who it came from.

“There is a lot to do here. Pray.” The message was clear, he was back in action. And the “pray” was for me and my “issue.”

That same day, the phone ringing woke me up in the middle of the night. I turned on the bedside lamp, and took the call.

“Today’s work is done. Can you come and get me.”

It wasn’t him.
I got my car keys.


Airport Shenanigans

Airport Shenanigans

The last couple of days (actually several weeks ago) have been pretty interesting. I had a meeting in Abuja for which I had a 9AM flight from Lagos to Abuja on ARIK Airline. I decided I would wake up at 6AM and leave the house at 7AM. It started raining heavily at 5AM or thereabouts, and that was when I should have been smart and drastically changed my plan. But instead, I stayed under the cover sheet and enjoyed the sound of the rain (which I always do) and finally got up at about 6:10AM. The rain had stopped a little when I left the house at about 7:10AM but started again soon afterwards. Getting out of the Island was pretty cool as the traffic was on the opposite side of the highway – but by the time I was approaching Surulere, I knew I was in trouble. The traffic was literally bumper to bumper. I was in traffic more or less all the way from then on. I kept looking at the time on the dashboard and thinking about the fact that I was supposed to check-in at least 45minutes before the flight and there I was at Maryland at about 8AM. On the stretch of road to Ikeja possibly around Sheraton Hotel, some stupid fellow in a beat-up old Mercedes Benz actually bumped into me twice. He was struggling for space with a bigger commercial bus and trying to be sure he got in behind me on the queue. I put the car in park, got out and went to look at the car. His bumper was in contact with mine, but there didn’t seem to be any damage. I looked at the fellow and he raised his hand to indicate he was sorry. I didn’t say anything but just went back into the car. A few stops and starts, and there was a second bump. This time I was angry. I don’t think he heard anything I said, but definitely he saw me pointing to my head to indicate he had some screws loose. I insisted he backed away – his bumper was still resting against mine.

I was rapidly losing time. By the time I was looking at the Ikeja bridge in the distance, the time was about 8:30AM. I tried not to panic but I had heard of the airlines selling people’s seats at the slightest excuse. The traffic was so slow I knew it would be after 9AM before I got to the airport and I was already late. And then I would have to find a place to park the car as well. I started looking at the buildings on the right side of the road for a suitable place I could park but I was passing in front of a couple of car sales company with their compounds full of cars. Then I noticed the NIPOST office. I just drove in there and parked. I put on my suit, took my laptop bag, then went inside the building as if to send a mail. I could hear the staff talking in some backroom but no one was at the counter. I waited a minute or so and made my way back. As I came out and made for the gate, the guard/gateman approached me and asked “May we know you?”

I was caught! I laughed and said “hey! I am a customer now.”
He said I should just have explained to him that I wanted to park my car there. He asked where I was going and I said down the road (God forgive me, though not strictly a lie). He didn’t actually ask for anything but I know it was expected. I told him I may take a little while but made it worth his while as I went out the gates. I started jogging with my bag on my back. Stopped a couple of commercial bikers but they weren’t interested once I mentioned I was going to the airport. Then I saw a biker on the median actually asking “airport?”. I frantically waved at him and I was soon at the old local airport. The short trip cost me N500. Another round of jogging got me to the tent which was serving as the check-in point (the main airport terminal was undergoing renovation). The place looked like a market. The queues wound all over the place. I asked about the flight and one of the official suggested he can help with the boarding pass as they had closed the “counter” on the 9AM flight to Abuja. He said the staff that will assist charge a standard price of N2,850. I tried to haggle but paid up when he returned my ticket to me and said he was only trying to help me (I know I was probably being played, but looking at that queue …). I soon had my boarding pass and was soon in the boarding area – about 8:50AM or thereabouts. I went a couple of times to ask some of the airport staff if the boarding call had not been made – it would be crazy to make it all the way there and then miss the flight because I wasn’t paying attention or it had been announced before I got there.

Well, after 9AM, we were told to proceed to board the plane. Phew! I made it!

* * * * * * * * *

Landed in Abuja about an hour later than planned. The driver and car from my company’s travel agency was waiting already. So I was soon on my way to Abuja town. Went to the hotel of one of my colleagues, then we took off together to meet the rest of our team (they had flown in to Abuja the day before). Had a light lunch of Pizza and Maltina and then it was on to the meeting. We had assumed we were going to make a presentation (actually I was) to the client only to get there and find the place full of friends, foes and competitors from the I.T. industry. It turned out the client (a government parastatal) had invited everybody for more briefing on what they expected from us going into the competition to get a piece of the business on offer. The only refreshment that was served was hot bottled water – I guess the bottles were sitting outside in the sun.

I had dismissed my own driver, since all my other colleagues had cars as well, so I went with a colleague that was staying at the RockView hotel where I had a reservation. I checked in, dropped my bag and we went out again. Some ATM withdrawal, and conversion to Dollars (by my colleague) from one of the men offering bureau de change services by the roadside, then we went hunting for lunch.

Had pounded yam, snail, shaki and cow leg (I always ask for one without bones if I can get away with it) – was basically following the lead of my colleague on the choice of meat – but I was the one that made the decision to eat pounded yam though. Got back to the hotel at about 7PM. Planned to go out on the town at 8PM but it soon started raining heavily. I wasn’t feeling too up to it anyway. And since we didn’t even have a car, I guess that was probably why my colleague didn’t even bother to come around at 8PM. The rain went on for several hours. I think I ordered room service at about 9:30PM. Ate the food at about 11PM or so.

Next day, I checked out at 12:30PM but waited at the hotel lobby. Called the driver to come for me at 3PM but he showed up around 3:30PM. He had to go to the mosque so I didn’t give him any grieve on the issue. Made good time to the airport. Got in just before 5PM and went to get a boarding pass from the Arik desk for my 6:45PM flight. The staff punched my details into her computer and told me they had “closed” the flight. What! Closed a local flight almost 2 hours before the flight take off time! Well, I wasn’t having any of it and let her know immediately. She responded by asking me if I was going to listen to her tell me how I could solve my problem or not – rude – but I let her get in her explanation because I it was looking like I had more problem than just a ticketting officer giving me attitude. She told me to make my way to the back office and ask for the manager who will be able to help me.

I went to the backoffice and at first I thought a free for all was going on. The place was packed full and several voices were raised angrily. All addressing some man in the middle who turned out to be the manager. It immediately dawned on me that things weren’t looking good. If all those people shouting and screaming had issues with their tickets …
I was able to get in a word to ask the man if he was the manager. I think he must have pushed one of the female clients and there was a verbal altercation going on between the client and an elderly woman who was also a member of staff of the airline. I think the client must have abused the manager or strongly demanded to be treated with respect as both a lady and a paying client (because of the push) and the elderly woman must have joined in on the side of the manager (of course!). The older woman made allusions to the client not having home training or no parents to which the client responded that the woman should not address her “anyhow”, that she’s got a child in the University (I was tempted to ask her whether that was actually true later on, because while she was probably older than me, I would have thought only be a few years) and also tagged on a few well-chosen nasty words to put the older woman in her place.
The manager then went to sit down and continued watching the passenger screaming and yelling. Of course his action drew more condemnation as to his lack of respect for paying clients who were all on their feet and having ticket issues through no fault of theirs. Some gentleman who was sitting quietly there supposedly had had all his luggages misplaced by the airline and he must have been there for several hours. A couple of FAAN staff came in and tried to pacify the clients. There was some back and forth between them and the manager. The manager then said we should all go back to the front desk but an elderly lady (a client) blocked the doorway and most of the clients insisted our reservation documents should be collected first as the manager had been dodging them for quite a while – spiriting himself away from place to place when clients are looking for him. Finally, all the documents were collected and we then followed the manager back to one of the agents who was then instructed to handle only the bunch of clients that accompanied the manager. She started issuing tickets to us one by one.

Once we were all checked in, some of the affected clients became impromptu acquaintances – discussing the fracas we just went through.

And while we sat there waiting for our flight (which I think was ultimately about 2 hours later than the time on our tickets), every so often we could hear another hapless client screaming and yelling at the agents’ desks. Most were women, but at some point, some burly young man who had a similar issue took things one step further by grabbing what we though was a bunch of boarding passes off the table of one of the agents. The agent (a lady) tried to retrieve it from him with no luck (the guy just stretched the hand holding up the passes in the air while warding off the lady with the other). The manager joined in as well. Some security operatives were called and came along as well. I was not sure if it was because they were reasonable officers or because of the size of the man, but rather than get physical, they were just attempting to reason with the chap. This went on for quite a while. He finally handed the documents back and we watched as he checked-in, so I guess they must have sorted him out.

Of course in such situations, people were bound to think along other paths. One of the client suggested that not being successful at getting ones boarding-pass may not always be a bad thing – I told her I knew where she was going with what she said – and we all sort of smiled – the idea of course was that it may be providence preventing one from getting on a flight which may be doomed.

Ultimately, what we found out from our back and forth discussions, was that it appears some so-called “VIPs” with no ticket were streaming into the airport earlier in the day, and some touts and their representatives were securing seats (that were already sold to clients) for them.

Since you are reading this, we got to Lagos alright.

I then went to where I had packed my car, walked part of the way, then flagged down a commercial bike rider. Went in and apologized to the man on duty – he said I should just have told the other man that was on duty the previous day that I would be not be coming back that day (but I wasn’t going to risk being told I couldn’t park there when I was already late for my flight). Gave him “something” as well and asked him to pass on part of it to the man from the previous day.

That was some journey!

Forgot to include the following bit 🙂

Arik flight (continued) . . . .

The refreshment tray stopped by my seat and the hostess asked the lady by the window “water or juice”  she said juice. The next gentleman to my right chose water. I chose juice. She looked at me and said “water”. I thought she didn’t hear me first time so I repeated juice, then she said, “sorry only water. Juice has finished.” The airline couldn’t even stock enough juice to serve a planeload of passengers! (I can understand if one type of juice runs out – say maybe Coke is no longer available, but Fanta or Sprite is still available – but to say only water is left? …)



The sign says “Welcome to Lagos” and it is interesting to read it upside down.

I know it is time. But it’s OK because I am thinking about you. I am not sad. Well maybe a little. My life is not flashing before my eyes, but I am thinking of a lot of things. I am happy you forgave my sudden journey into unreasonableness. You truly did, or didn’t you? And it was good that it wasn’t due to another woman. That would never happen.

There is always being one of the 144,000 to look forward to: but maybe not, can’t remember if it’s strictly Israelites only.

“Welcome to Lagos”. I have always wondered why don’t the sign tell the truth? I guess that’s not good for business. That in Lagos, you will be robbed and robbed again. That you may never leave? That all you earn you may lose and more?

“Lagos” I am reading it backwards. I can read it as “So Gal” – “So Gal, will you think of me from time to time? When there is a lull in your busy schedule?” I think you will – even if only because I am gone.

I can hear the sirens and I can see some feet in the distance. Looks like they are coming this way. They need not bother. I will be gone long before they get here. I know. I hope I am actually writing this and not just gibberish. I can’t see too clearly to tell, so if it is not all legible, please forgive me for the very last time. I should see you sometime, but that won’t be true: I won’t be around.

I should have told you I was in pain that day. But I sucked it all up, took the pills, smiled, laughed, and even managed to tell a couple of jokes when all the time I felt like the devil was up my behind with a blowtorch and a demon horde out of hell. I wasn’t myself and I wasn’t thinking straight for several days afterwards. That is an excuse – but it is the best I could come up with for my behavior – because even now I can’t explain why I acted the way I did.

I can see the Police describing it as a single car accident. I let my thoughts wander too far off the road. I didn’t see the plank of wood on the road until it was too late. Everything after that is a blur. But thankfully my diary was within hands reach when the car finally stopped moving. I know I am broken beyond repair because I can see certain body parts that are not supposed to be visible. I should round this up now because the pen is slipping out of my hand and I can barely control it.

I don’t see the white light – maybe it only appears at the last moment in which case I won’t be able to write about it.

Say me well to everyone. Be good.

(Editor’s note: The rest wasn’t legible partly because of the blood smear, but there may have been the word “mum” in it)

NOTE: this was written several months ago.


“Wicked” – “You are wicked.”
Three little words, the longest no more than 6 characters. Combined, the sum of all hope – dashed.

“Time” – I have asked Chronos to raise his hand,
and still the tempest that is time matching on,
sweeping all and sundry before its unseen fury,
and leaving broken limbs and sorrowful hearts in its churning wake.

“Wish” – I have begged Chronos to roll back time
till just before anger wrapped its unreasoning fingers round my delicate brain,
costing me what I had not lost because I did not own,
but sought by words, deeds,
and a certain look in my eyes that I didn’t see
but neither did you till I had wasted 2 months and lost it all.

“Chronos” – But Chronos is the figment of fearful men’s imagination,
who knowing not hat to do with the vagaries of nature,
ascribed power to chimeric figureheads in order to still beating hearts near bursting point.

“Pray” – So I turned to God and prayed,
asking for a miracle of gargantuan girt.
“Selfish request! Pharaoh’s bones long since dissolved to nutrients beneath Jordan’s waves! Does God still harden mortal men’s hearts or soften them because of prayers raised by earthly beings?” screamed the “devil”,
whose name should be spelled in subscript letters to dishonour his base nature, vile and to be reviled till hell freezes over.

“Alas!” – he was right.
Would a mere mortal command God to put love in another’s heart?
Would God deign it fit to answer such a prayer were it said upon bended knees
rubbed raw by rough-edged stones
coated in amber fluidly flowing carrying plasma to replenish the patched earth beneath the scorching Sun?

“Monday” – just like any other day …
But wait! A chance to think less those thoughts
that weigh like leaden weights on burdened brain
and rob the eyes of peaceful sleep.
Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Saturday. Sunday. Who cares.
Not the man who just lost the family’s food to the one-armed bandit down the road while seeking 3 cherries that unleashes the flood of unlimited income.
Not the fellow dying slowly on the bridge over the River Kwai.
Not the man you smile at.

“Monday” – Just another dreary day in an endless sequence of days in weeks in months in years in wandering the featureless desert of hopelessness by lost souls seeking forgiveness and deliverance where none may be found. Monday.



The taxi was old and rickety. I watched it as it made its way slowly down the street. A couple sat in the back. The man looked straight ahead. The woman looked out the side window. I know them. How long has it been since the big day: the wedding? Four years give or take a couple of months. How long ago did the raised voices late at night become a constant source of distraction? Two years give or take a couple of months.
And how long before the wedding were the walks in the evening, hand in hand; the whispering; the giggling? The outings? Maybe a couple of years give or take a couple of months.
I have marked time by the events in their lives.
More importantly, I think I have been here too long. Time to move on.
But to what? To where? It’s not like I have it any better than them. Yeah, there is a case to be made for two people who may be unhappy together over the single person haunting a building he calls his house, but does the headache beat the loneliness?
I know you will ask if I am lonely, why don’t I do something about it? Good question: complex answer.
When Cupid came for me, I was having a bad day. So instead of leaping for joy, I said f**k it all, and went my way. But the arrow was in my heart, so I had no peace. Then work issues cropped up and I went round like the living-dead for a couple of months. By the time I sorted that out and came back to myself and senses, it was too late. Even I could see how bad it looked. I wasn’t that guy, but my actions made me look like some vindictive, callous, unfeeling, selfish fellow who is nasty if he doesn’t have his way or get what he wants. I am not. But R. Kelly got it right when he sang (paraphrased) “Cause when a woman’s mind is made up (no matter how you beg no) There ain’t nothing you can do about it. It’s like running out of luck …”

The taxi has stopped. The man gets out, pays the driver and goes in the house with not even a single glance: the lady could have gone away with the taxi for all he cared. The lady follows shortly afterwards, bag in one hand and shoes in the other.
Lovely lady, I would have been perfectly happy with her if she was free and my heart was otherwise unoccupied. But I guess beauty and character are not always enough to keep the fire burning in a man’s heart, but I have been told that for a lady, the fire burns almost unceasingly: maybe, maybe not.

So if that’s not working out, why don’t I look elsewhere? You would be surprised at the reasons … as it is said in these parts: “… condition …”
But enough about me. I can hear the voices again: anger, despair and disappointment rolled into one.
Same lips that whispered those 3 universal words; that recited vows with glinting eyes in front of a few hundred well wishers and family.

Why won’t you give me a chance? Why do I make you so uncomfortable? All I want is to see you smile at me.

The raised voices are replaced by the noise of the crowd at a soccer game. Their TV.

I will see them in church tomorrow. Nicely dressed. We will share a word or two of greetings when the service is over. We will smile and comment on how the weather is changing. I expect to hear their raised voices later in the day while I think about you.

Time passes. Nothing changes.

Bless our table

Bless our table

“This bag is too small. Is this all you have?” (Policeman at baggage check-in)

“Yes.” (me)

“There is nothing in here. Oga, you don’t want me to have my breakfast?”  (Policeman)

“Maybe that’s why I didn’t put anything there.” (me smiling)

“Oga, if you have you will give, if you don’t have nobody will force you.”  (Policeman)

“But bless our table, it is the first of November.”  (Policeman)

“You are already blessed.” (Policeman)

“You too sir.”

I moved the bag to the next table. Policeman continues to talk.

The couple of ladies there (one in customs uniform) made no attempt to move at all. Just continued watching me expectantly. But they agreed with the police man by saying practically the same thing, “Bless our table; begining of a new month; etc.”

I just smiled.

Finally, they decided I should go on. But you could see they weren’t happy.

After dropping off the bag, made my way towards the depature lounge.

“Happy new month sir.” (The officer at the choke point)

“Same to you.” (me)

“Good morning  … eh .. Mr. Itayemi. How are we going to celebrate the new month. There is a lot of blessings in this month o.” Hands back my passport and I moved on.

“Ha ha, let’s celebrate the new month now.”

I didn’t stop or look back. 

At the immigration desk (where passport is stamped) before the scanners.

“Where are you going?” (officer)

“Cameroon.” (me)

As I walked away, “Happy New month sir.” (officer)

I smiled. (me)