Today in church

Service over, I joined the throng of people in the aisle heading for the exit. This lady smiled at me and I smiled back. She looks familiar which is not saying anything since we all come here once a week. I made to go on but then she beckoned to me to come back.
“This is my daughter. She is so excited to see you.” Then sort of conspiratorially, she said “You know you are in a special class of people.” I am not so sure about the “special” bit, my hand has brought me nothing but heartbreak. Her daughter had several deformed fingers on both hands. She must be about 8 or so. I shook her hand and asked for her name which she shyly told me. She’s obviously Asian and from the name likely Chinese. The mum is Caucasian so I am assuming she was adopted. I said I hoped to see them again.
And as I walked out of the church, I noted for the umpteenth time that my left hand was one of the main reasons why at my age I still sat alone in church “…. he set the lonely in families …”
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At some point in my hazy past, I became aware I was different and not in a way I liked. Mean comments and mixed meaning comments from ids such as “Mummy look at his hand. It’s like baby feet.” Comments made while laughing to other kids, or made while peeking out fearfully from behind their mother’s dress, or while shrinking away in terror soon turned me into a recluse. I stuck the hand in my pocket always. I started to avoid people. I became my own company of one.
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I remember one of those messages when her no was definite, she made one random statement that went something like “…. my friend said when you finally get comfortable, you will tell me about your hand …”. In the midst of other statements such as “I never felt anything for you” and “I have friends leading guys on but I can’t do it to you any longer” that statement was completely out of place but gave me some comfort in a weird sort of way – after all if the rejection had to do with my deformity then I can say it was beyond my control – but that wouldn’t be the whole truth or even close.
I wanted to tell her I have never been comfortable. I have always hid the hand. Hid myself. The period of life most people spend socializing with their peers and learning how to interact with the opposite sex, I spent hiding. I hid in front of the TV; I hid in the vast library my dad had due to his love of books; I hid in magazines; I hid in my actively created daydreams; I hid in my room; I hid in my class; I hid everywhere; I hid in the corner of the room at the few parties I attended; I hid in plain site. My parents did their best of course. Being alone so long at such a time in my life made me secretive, a little spiteful, a little envious, a little jealous, a little selfish, a little manipulative, a little mean, a hodge podge of the seven deadly sins because I thought the world was unfair and that it owned me something when in fact it owed me nothing. I became a little fearful of everything that required interaction or a response. After all TVs don’t talk back and neither do books. I took time to read the books I find interesting … I might pause on a page and insert myself into the time period or place or circumstance and daydream a complete scenario – of sweeping in and saving the day. I dreamed of flying – of being a superhero. In high school I got myself a catapult for a while. I hit a pigeon once but it was only slightly grazed and it got away while a classmate held it gingerly (good for it). Then I went though my stone throwing period. I got good at it. I could hit even relatively small targets at vast distances. Activities to fill the void and the loneliness – activities that required no interaction.
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The only thing that forced me to take a peak at the world was the death of my father. Even though I had been living away from home for over  a decade, I had been content to hop on buses or into taxis to get around. Bu then there was lots to do including visiting my mother so I needed to be able to get around on my own schedule. It was then I got my first car. It was then I learned to drive. In my mid 30s. I remember taking out the car only on Sundays when the roads in my neighborhood were relatively free of traffic and the trepidation when any vehicle approached from the opposite direction.
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I keep trying to prove her wrong when she said “it’s too late for you, you can’t change.” But as the school’s guidance counselor said, “you have to be patient with yourself. You can’t expect to undo what you have spent 30-something years creating in a single year.” I know it is wrong but I am a creature of the past, because the past, even though is full of heartaches and heartbreaks, is safe – it can’t bite because it has no teeth. Its wounds itch and sometimes sting badly, but you know it’s just the scars playing up. If I come knocking on the door of your heart (a miracle in itself) you have to accept me as I am or give me plenty of time to change.
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The sermon was about King Jehoshaphat who gave thanks when going to war confronted by a coalition of three of Judah’s historical enemies and how the Lord turn his enemies against each other and Judah didn’t even need to fight at all. We should count our blessings and give thanks in all situations. I try.
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I wanted to tell the mum: “Throw her in at the deep end; Force her out there; She’s going to hear other children say hurtful things; She’s going to want to hide, but don’t allow it. She will thank you for it later.” Maybe I still will.

R.I.P. O.S.!

R.I.P. O. S.!

A close friend called me now with some sad news. A colleague in the same field (I.T.) was shot dead by armed robbers this morning. The story is still unclear, but he was supposedly accosted at an ATM this morning (in Victoria Island!) on his way to church with his family. So I assume he was shot in front of them (I believe he and the wife had children or at least a child).

I learnt he had only just got a house (built,  bought, don’t know). Most of our interactions back then (about a decade ago) was over the phone. My company provided some Internet services for his company. But I learnt he was an easy-going guy.

I have met a few young widows/widowers and it is not fun. All I could think is “God have mercy!”
I remember some nice young lady with 3 kids living next to my parents house in Ibadan for a year or so. It wasn’t funny for her. I think the husband was a lawyer who died in an auto accident or so. The whole family (as should be expected) missed the dad. The kids were restless and I seem to remember some of the continuous crying was for the dad. One could only imagine the crying the lady was doing in private as well. The children (especially the boys) were at the age where an extra hand (father if possible) was definitely needed for their exuberance and highly energetic behaviour.

The loss is a double-whammy for the remaining partner. There is the emotional aspect on one hand. Then on the other hand is the financial aspect. No thanks to decades of mismanagement and corruption in Nigeria, most homes require the income of both partners to live reasonably well (scratch that, “to survive” is the more apt description).

It is probably also easier for a widower than a widow. Women seem to find it easier to marry a widower compared to men who are for various reasons (some completely valid) very reticent when it comes to marrying a widow.

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This country! This life! Thus given the above, it makes me wonder at times if all the effort is worth it. But I guess that’s the lazy man’s approach?

We can’t tell what the future holds. But with the way the world and this country is, I (think) I would rather forgo the happiness of getting married and having children if for some reason I knew I would die relatively young. But maybe that is the selfish man’s approach as well?

But we can’t foretell the future, so we do what we can with today.

RIP O.S. May God comfort those you have left on earth, grant them strength and ease their pain. May He provide for them materially as well as emotionally. Amen.



I wish I had left my mind in Ibadan
A shell driving a shell to Lagos
Ignoring the statue at Challenge
Via Ijebu but not quite Epe

I wish I had left my heart in Ibadan
Then I wouldn’t have to “off” the radio
Because words like “Love, really?, drama, form, familiarity, talking, seriously?”
wouldn’t bother me so much

I wish I had left my past in Ibadan
Forgotten Geography
along with places such as Akobo, Mokola, Theatre, Bodija
Remembering nothing that quickened my heartbeat

I wish I had left my body in Ibadan
6 feet below ground
unmeasurable distance above earth
looking down with no care for love or lust or infatuation

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It was broad daylight when I left Ibadan, so I decided to take the old Ibadan-Lagos road  from Ibadan to Lagos. It took me through Ijebu-Ode along the Lagos-Epe road.

The Church



I can’t help but marvel at the church above (the few times I have taken this route – always from Lagos to Ibadan except today I was going in the opposite direction and it was during the day). I pulled over, got out of the car and went to stand in front of the fence. I was tempted to go inside because there was the outline of 2 apostles on the metal double-door.

The bridge
This bridge below is just before the church (below). Not sure what it is called. But I guess the Federal Govt. “Omotosho-Epe-Ajah 330KV DC Transmission Line” at one end of the bridge should serve as a reference point.


I parked the car after going over the bridge (I couldn’t stop for some time so I parked a fair distance away from the bridge). Then I walked back (taking pictures along the way). Anything to keep the thoughts going through my mind at bay.

It all reminded me of my father. A surgeon (first class) and a farmer. He had a love of the land. Sweating under the mid-day Sun as he made the yam mounds. I still remember once the non-nonchalance with which he used the hoe to kill a snake that suddenly popped up once when he was making those mounds. He practically didn’t miss a beat.
Of course at the time (every Saturday spent on the farm), the gnats weren’t so nice, but we still had to fertilize the corn, weed the cassava fields, and clean out the piggery if necessary (actually fun getting in the pens with the pigs). And there was the fish ponds, the cattle, and the goats and sheep. There was the Mango trees, the sweet Agbalumo tree.
What wouldn’t I give now to spend a Saturday on the farm with him.
I think the fact that you could find me with slippers in the house and walking barefoot outside on the road/compound has something to do with my growing up 🙂







While taking photographs of the “creek”, a boat man came rowing midstream. I greeted him and asked if I could take his picture. He said to go right ahead. he even turned around the boat so I could get a good picture of him. He asked where I was from, and I said Lagos.




The other end of the bridge. The PHCN construction is just to the right.



The first “joint” where the bridge more or less started.

The pictures below were taken after I leaned over the bridge and greeted them. I asked if I could take their pictures. They didn’t understand me at first, but once they realised what I meant, they enthusiastically agreed.

Since they responded in Yoruba (but with the location at the back of my mind), I asked if they were Yoruba. The oldest boy told me that they were not Yoruba. That a lot of tribes were represented there. There were Ijaws, and other tribes. He himself was Togolese. I asked if he could speak French. he said very little. I greeted him “Bon joule”  to which he responded “Bon Joule madame”. We all burst out laughing at his mistake which he realised and I corrected (use Monsieur for men and madame for women)


Even the naked one in the group was willing to have his picture taken. I was the one that kept saying he should get in the water (since I was going to put up the pictures on my blog 🙂


Michael I think his name was. The most willing out of the group. He came up on the bridge afterwards to look at the pictures. Reporting to the rest that the pictures were very good.








Putting on a show for me (Michael I think). The little guy came up on the bridge, and jumped down into the water below! I asked him if he had done it before (jumped). He played along and pretended he hadn’t and it may be dangerous. I told him he was very brave. That I wouldn’t do it even if I was offered money!

Since they were all on the metal pipe, I told them I wanted to take a few more pictures. They decided to put the naked guy in the middle!





Back in the water!


I asked them what they did and they said “fish”. I said I didn’t think there would be big fishes in the water. they responded that it wasn’t the right season. That for now only small fishes are in the water.

I said goodbye. Once of them responded that I should “wash” the pictures. The others made fun of him!

It seems there are two ways we lose our “innocence” (the simple joy in being alive; in the wonders around us): age (growing up), and education.
Just after the bridge was a shed with a couple of kids under it. They were properly dressed and the bungalow in the background was probably their house. They were tending to a tray of smoked fish. I asked if I could take their picture and the boy said “Koni she she O!” (impossible!). Of course, it may just be superstition, who knows what I could do with the picture? Maybe “remote-control” them into slavery or money-making rituals! It contrasted heavily to the response I got a few meters away from the children and even men who were “closer” to the land.



The 25-liter plastic jerrycan collecting the real deal (palm-wine) from the palm tree!



The shed had various domestic items in it. I could also see a bottle of “Alomo” or whatever the aphrodisiac in the small green plastic bottle is called.



The other end of the bridge.


Village visit or consulting the “Babas”?


The car in the picture is a 2-door coupe.

The state of Nigeria


The old toll gate

The Epe bridge?


Loot from the Route!

The watermelon cost N600, the 6 mangoes cost N100, and the real poison (palm-wine) cost N500. After taking the pictures of the boys, it suddenly dawned on me that it would be a crime to leave the area (with all the palm-wine smell heavy in the air) without sampling some of it. There was a shed just a few meters up the road from where I had packed my car selling the good stuff 🙂
The plastic bottle is for size reference purposes. I bought the Mangoes and Watermelon at the T-junction (Epe/Ogun/Lagos).
I find it difficult to haggle too much with people selling food stuff. I think about all the effort it takes to grow them, the farmers and sellers under the fierce Sun … and I think how easy I may spend the same amount on something not even relevant such as a bottle of drink or a lunch …

Raising Aid

Raising Aid

Tis the Christmas Season!

A carol singing trip to raise money on behalf of Christian Aid charity ( by my brother’s church. We took the picture below just before praying and heading out.
It was really cold, despite my glove, my fingers became numb and I only had on a flimsy
t-shirt under my jacket so the cold was getting in from “under”. I also never remember to pack my neck scarf whenever I travel, so the cold was getting in from “on top” as well.
We headed up and down a couple of streets where we would stop under lampposts and sing a couple of Christmas carol songs. (I believe the church had given her “neighbors”advanced notice that we would be making the rounds tonight).
Two designated “collectors” will go and knock on people’s doors while the rest of us sang the songs – usually two songs per lamp posts from a total of 16 songs.

It was nice to be doing something for someone else for a change, but I would be lying if I don’t admit my mind strayed once or twice to something that’s always on my mind and how nice it would have been if that had had an alternate happy ending.

Note: I am the one on one knee in front and to the left of the group (beside the children).

Then after we made it back to the church, we had some chicken soup, carrot soup, cake, bread and butter and mincepies to “warm up” before heading back home.

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year (well in advance!)



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.

Give me the cap

Give me the cap

Day 1: So today, I was my aunt’s chauffeur (excluding the cap :-).

I woke up early to take her to church (St. Johns) in Ikoyi. The church normally has 3 services: a 7am Holy Communion service; an 8am English service and a 10am traditional service in Ibo Language. We usually attend the 8am service (I have been accused rightly by the Vicar’s wife that they only see me when my aunt is in town). After the service, we branched at a petrol station in Ikoyi where there was almost no queue and filled up my tank. Home to breakfast. My uncle and an older cousin showed up later.

My aunt had told me the day before that I was going to take her to a few places and the plan was to leave shortly after breakfast, but that was delayed until my uncle and aunt left.

Soon we were Surulere-bound. We went to the home of a retired couple who were close friends of my aunt. Spent about 30 minutes there and we were offered dinner. But since we still had a second place to touch briefly, it was agreed we should go and come back afterwards for the dinner and a proper visit.

We went to the home of another friend of my aunt who was the widow of some very important figure. I noticed from the burst of the husband in front of the entrance to the house that he has been dead for a very long time. The wife was also an “achiever” in her own right I believe. I dozed a little while my aunt and her friend (and her friend’s daughter caught up on things). I suspect it may have been a combination of the slightly warm room and the fact that I didn’t quite get enough sleep the night before.

After a suitable time, we returned to the first couple’s house. We were invited to the dining room shortly after we arrived. The dinner was quite good – rice, stew, chicken, vegetable, fried fish and fried plantain. Followed by a couple glasses of a very good red wine (as if I know what a sub par one tastes like). The conversation was even more interesting. Some people would probably find it a little uncomfortable. But I have for quite a while realized and accepted the fact that sooner or later (hopefully) we all have to leave this world. A lot of the conversation was about friends who have passed on, and in some cases the manner of their passing (some rather abrupt). I don’t really mind people talking round about me (meaning I don’t contribute much to the conversation – though in this case, there was nothing for me to contribute – the subjects of the discussion were all old enough to be my grandparents). I have of course been told by someone (I care about a lot) that part of the problem is that I don’t talk. If only the person knew (the one million things I would rather have said but would probably not have been welcomed!).

But still it is true that I enjoy the flow and ebb of conversation going on around me. If the company I am in don’t mind, I like being a spectator just absorbing details of how people of all nature live their lives.

The reminiscing went way back to several decades and some possible miracles in certain people’s lives. A few scandals were covered as well.

Well after dinner, we retired back to the sitting room and the conversation continued. My aunt whipped out her iPad to show her friends pictures of the extended family. I must say I can count people from a wide variety of countries among my relations now (think New Zealand, USA, UK, etc.). Though one must realize that the more the family disperses round the world, the greater the possibility that one may walk past a relatively close family member in some distant land and not even know it.

Back home at about 9:30PM. Sitting in front of the TV watching DSTV channel 255 (CI) while typing this out. Which reminds me of the topic of the sermon in church this morning which was on the 3 servants with the talents. So as the Chaplain said, if you don’t exercise your talent, you will lose it. So if I pretend I can write, then I must go on writing so as not only improve the talent but keep it.

So that is why I am putting this piece up!

Day 2: Got in the car with my aunt and a visiting family member all ready to go and the car refused to start. Rain started drizzling. Opened the bonnet and pretended to know what I was doing. Checked the oil. Radiator had enough water. Hmm. Tried a couple more times to start the car but no luck. Had to take the smaller Skoda. I got into the driver’s seat and it felt as if I was sitting on the floor. I am not short but I still almost had to crane my neck to see properly out the front windshield! The break felt like there were gremlins under it resisting my attempts to push it down – the net effect was that the car was bucking like a bronco. I took it slow.

Visited another elderly friend who had just lost her younger sister a couple of months ago. I sat quietly on the sofa writing a story on the BB and “fighting” sleep every once in a while. Such visits and the natural conversations that result brings home to one the reality of life. I sat in the lovely sitting room of a house which was about 43 years old and looking like something from one of those home décor magazines out of some Western country. There were lots of pictures of the family including some of the grown of kids and their children. I couldn’t help but compare some of the middle-age pictures of the host with her current look – age is a strange thing. We are vibrant and all rearing to go one minute, and the next (in reality several years) we can barely muster the strength to get up.

I wouldn’t say being in such situations help me forget my own (suddenly mundane) problems, but it helps me put them in the correct perspective for all of 30 minutes. Unfortunately, once I am out of the particular “setting”, my own issues resume their central position in my mind.

Had a close shave on the way back. Just about getting off the bridge (incoming from Ikorodu to Apongbon), going relatively slowly, and thinking about the same one thing that’s been on my mind in recent months when suddenly (as the driving guides would put it) a harzadous situation started developing in slow-motion right in front of my eyes. The car to my right suddenly jumped ahead “brushing” me on the passenger’s side, got in front of me; skidded towards the central divide while the driver fought to control it; then back towards the center of the road before finally stopping. Meanwhile I had to step on the brakes to stop from running into him from behind. I pulled level, wound down the passenger’s side window while the fellow actually got out of his car. I pointed out that he ran into us. He said it wasn’t his fault, didn’t I see the bus that got in front of him from the other side. I said the bus (which I didn’t actually notice but I believe he was telling the truth – I think he turned towards us in trying to avoid colliding with the bus)  did not run into us – it was he that did. I didn’t get down but suspected the damage should be minor – due to my relatively slow speed, stopping in time and the very slight bump I felt when he made contact with our car. I wasn’t sure of his vehicle though – it’s possible his front axle may have been broken. My aunt said he should apologize and after that we went on our way. Fortunately, the headlights weren’t broken, just a little dent and several deep scratches in the paint work. The bumper may have separated slightly on the right from the body as well.

I was reading a Christian book this morning and some section talks about not living in the past. Asking forgiveness if possible from whomever one has wronged, then also asking God for forgiveness. And finally moving on – I think some issues are easier to move on from than others. The ones that fall under “what might have been” are probably the most difficult.

On a lighter note. Hmm. Can’t think of anything that qualifies. But smile anyway; I think I passed the all-time low point (hopefully) some weeks ago. The future is bright (we hope and believe). And if you meet someone who is having a not so good day, if there is anything you can do to help – including a kind word or just listening to the person “vent” or unload his/her mind, please do.

Thank you for reading.