A Midnight Sortie

A Midnight Sortie

It’s been a long day. Finally home. NEPA is playing nice: there is electricity supply from the grid. Microwaved one of the roasted plantain I had bought earlier in the day. A quick foray into the kitchen showed rice and stew was available. I had no interest in the white rice, but I put a liberal spoonful of the stew on the plantain along with a piece of beef and stuck the plate in the microwave for a minute and a half – enough to start hearing the stew sizzle.

I like to unwind with a good movie now and then. I go through my stash and come up with “A most wanted man”. A quick dash to imdb.com returned a rating of 7.0/10.0. Quite high. I was feeling better already.

First plantain disappeared so quickly I was wondering if the rats that made the holes in the ceiling had somehow been sneaking up to the plate while I was occupied with the movie. Ah well. Good things come in twos or is it threes? Doesn’t matter. There is a second copy of that plantain downstairs. Repeated the same steps as with the first, in and out of the microwave and back to the room.

The movie is picking up speed and I am really getting into it. I decided I might as well stretch out on the bed rather than sit like a student taking an exam paper at the writing desk on the little wood and metal chair.

It wasn’t long after I got on the bed that I heard the first buzz go by my ear. I swiped at it but I knew already that not being Jet Li or Jackie Chan or Chuck Norris (everything is afraid of him including Onions and mosquitoes. You can ask DSTV about the Onions) or Jean Claude Van Damme (film script: get up, impress mosquito with full split, deliver a roundhouse kick to it while it’s clapping for your seriously awesome ability to keep certain delicate parts of your anatomy from making full and painful contact with the floor while performing a full split, roll credits, that’s a cut! Did I miss anything?)

There is nothing that can keep me up like a mosquito in the room. You could put an 800-pound Silverback in the room; you could hide the white elephant in the corner of the room in plain site; you could bring in a great white (shark) and I won’t even bat an eyelid. But put a mosquito in my room, and I will be on watch-night duty till either I kill it; fall asleep from exhaustion; or the new day sun peeps over the horizon and it’s time to get ready for work.

So I got up, bunched the coverlet in one hand and swiped it randomly in the air throughout the room. If I was lucky, I would hit the darn thing and send it to whatever hell is reserved for such critters.

Having ran round the room like a crazy hobo for a couple of minutes, I settled back down on the bed and continued watching the movie. Maybe 10 minutes later, there was another buzz. I swiped at the air. Jumped up, repeated the same sequence with the coverlet and went back to watching the film. Hopefully I got it this time.

A little time later: Common! I couldn’t take it anymore. It’s well past 11PM. I was in my briefs. I put on my “carmo” shots and a shirt. Hunted around for my purse, slipped into a pair of slippers and headed out into the night. I was going to the mom and pop shop a couple of streets away.

Well the mom and pop shop is run by men (something to do with the culture I suppose) and there really was no shop. Not any more. There used to be a stall but it had been demolished by the council or the environmental task force. Now the only thing there was the deep freezer out of which the family sold cold drinks and all their other for sale goods were under plastic sheets in the compound of the house in front of which they had the freezer.

The oldest of the men (I call him “Baba”) was there on his feet, resting his forearms on the top of the freezer and obviously dozing. “This life is hard” (don’t go there – already trademarked by a close friend). I called out to him gently:

“Baba. I want an insecticide.”

He came awake but didn’t quite catch what I had said.

“You want a spray starch?” he asked.

“No. An insecticide. For mosquitoes.”

He goes into the compound and comes back with two spray cans. One for RAID and the other for BAYGON.

“This one is 400 Naira and this one is 600 Naira” (the RAID is 400 while the BAYGON is 600).

“Which one is stronger?” I asked.

He indicated the BAYGON and I asked him to sell it to me.

He comes back with the change and hands me 450 Naira. I called his attention to it and he said not to worry, he sold it to me at an extra 50 Naira discount.

“Na go de. Thank you. Good night” I said. I am a friendly and frequent customer.

I matched home with my can of “mosquito-death” in my hands. I was feeling better already.

I got back to the room and doused it heavily in the stuff. I was going to have to stay out of the room for some time and the last thing I wanted was to skimp on the insecticide only to come back after say 30 to 50 minutes later and find out that the critter had managed to survive. Besides a good night’s sleep is worth half a can of insecticide at 300 Naira.

So I go downstairs and type this story out. It had started percolating in my brain the moment I decided to go and buy the insecticide.

I go back upstairs and open the closed windows to let in the fresh air while keeping the mosquito netting closed.

I hope it was worth it. Otherwise I might have to take drastic action. A friend described his mosquito eradication technique to me.

He covers his whole body (jeans trousers, socks, gloves, the whole caboodle) leaving only one arm exposed. He then gets on the bed and switches off all the lights in the room and holds on to a torchlight or some small light source. Sure enough the mosquitoes in the room one by one find their way towards his exposed arm and the light. He dispatches them off one by one until none shows up anymore.

Let me say I discovered this myself a long time ago. I just didn’t do the “honeytrap” thing. I used to put off all the bulbs in the room and go seat on the toilet with only the light in the toilet on. Sure enough, the mosquitoes start to migrate into the toilet one by one or two by twos. Against the light they were easy enough targets to kill. I would then wait for quite a while after the last one was dispatched. No more leisurely entrances? Good. I had probably got them all. Back to bed. I can’t for the life of me remember why I didn’t just spray the room with an insecticide. But I do remember that on some of the occasions, I had gone to bed very late only to discover I had bloodsucking companions sharing the room with me, and it was too late to go get an insecticide as all the shops would have closed by then, so I resorted to plan b: the toilet trap.

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I think the mosquito should be dead by now. But it still gets my goat that you can’t actually gloat over their tiny dead bodies when you resort to WMDs or chemical warfare to get rid of them. There is nothing like the satisfaction of swatting a mosquito and seeing the squashed mess containing your fresh blood which you have managed to retrieve/liberate (albeit no longer useful) from the not-dearly departed.

I think the insecticide should be almost gone now (diluted by the fresh air coming in from the open windows). Time to go back and see if uhuru (freedom) from “things heard but not seen” has been achieved.

I have to go in quickly and in stealth-mode so that I don’t get any undead hanging out outside my door piggybacking me into the room.

But not to worry, I had sprayed the corridor outside the room as well. That’s thinking outside the box (or room) if I myself may say so.

All should be just peachy now. unless of course I somehow called dibs on an insecticide-resistant mosquito. In which case I won’t take it lying down – literally.

Baygon

Is that not poisonous?

Is that not poisonous?

Conan’s lady love asked him once “Do you want to live forever?” (right before she hopped and got herself killed – not entirely her fault, but “we” needed some reason for Conan to go on a quest and show off his swordmanship – or axemanship :-).

Well, probably not in this world. But heaven (most def!).

So I was out and about today (hey! not like the devil). I went to help a colleague pay for some credit on her mobile line (she is not in town and ran out of call credit).

On the way back this lovely “earthy” (equivalent to something roasting 🙂 smell hit me and I couldn’t but help look around for the source. It was a lady and her assistant under a bug umbrella canopy. She had a grill with Plantain and yam roasting on it.

Went up and inquired about the stuff. Had to wait for another customer to be served. She went away with took plastic bowls and a serving in a plastic bag (I suspect the former were for her bosses wherever she worked). In the process the seller opened a couple of other plastic coolers: one contained the stew and “pomo” (cow skin) pieces and the other contained fishes.

Well, I asked for two yam pieces, a plantain. Decided what the … and asked her to add one of the fishes and a couple of the “pomos”.
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That right there in the picture above has shortened my lifespan by 6 months (I guess that’s what the dietitians would say). But who wants to live forever in this world right? All the good stuff will kill you 🙁

A friend saw me recently and commented that since I was packing on the pounds now, what would happen when I get married?

It’s temporary though. It was the journey “outside” that caused it. I generally can do with or without food. But once I am em away, it seems food is just everywhere waiting and begging to be eaten – not to talk of other stuff like choccy! I have a simple exercise regime that’s better than nothing but I need to wait a little to get back into that until I fully recover from my recent close encounter with a wooden chair

Well. Let me leave the keyboard and get down to it. The only thing missing is a bottle of fizzy drink to ensure the whole thing congeals nicely in my belly. Well, don’t let’s shock the health-police too much. They might have a heart attack!

NB: 2x yam pieces @100; fish @150; 2x pomo @100; Plantain @150. Total = 450 Naira.

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.