Monday, May 23, 2016

News from home

It is not every day that a Nigerian man leaves his family to go and find work in Italy. My father lost his job because his skills were no longer needed and the company was going in a different direction. The different direction was a young Yoruba man who had just finished his youth service -- a one year required service corps for all Nigerian college graduates -- and had plan that would make the factory competitive and rival the biggest European manufacturer of African textiles. 

The news began with a phone call. My mother screamed at first, collapsing dramatically on the floor and began yelling something about her enemies laughing at her. It all happened so fast, and in a few hours, my father returned home earlier than usual and headed for his bedroom.

In between what sounded like muffled tears, my mother's high-pitched voice could be heard, “Darling it’s okay now. Darling it’s alright. Would it have been better if he were an Igbo boy? Ehn? After all he's Benin. He's your junior brother. It’s okay.” Her consolations were a far cry from her hysterical outburst just hours ago, but we were hardly shock, this was just my mother in character. 

After losing his job, my father would wake up every morning and still drive us to school as he had always done. In spite of the fact that he had lost his job and perhaps had nowhere to go, he still dressed up, some days in a shirt and trousers, other days in kaftan and trousers, ever so dignified, refusing to accept any handouts from friends or family. He managed to keep his head up for a while, but with time, his despair became evident. As we watched television at night, he would rest his chin in his palm, sighing deeply and clucking. The weekends were the worst, as he paced up and down the compound deep in thought speaking inaudibly as he covered the yard with steps that seemed light but were ominously heavy.

After the first two months, my father stopped taking us to school. He became moody and reclusive and began to lose weight. He hadn't expressed this much sorrow even when his father died suddenly a few years ago. We became fearful of him and rarely ever approached him. Conversations with him became limited to invitations at meal time and the necessary greetings in the morning and at night. He was deeply pained. How could they let him go after twenty-two years of service? He was always punctual, he sometimes refused to take his annual leave and he forbade my mother from wearing European wax prints. He had given his life to the company and yet, they decided to go in a different direction.

I knew things were really starting to unravel when I got home one day from playing with some friends and looked up to find that the wall clock that he had received after his twentieth anniversary was no longer stood directly above the family altar.

Although we didn't receive rides to school and sometimes had to walk or take public transport, my father continued to dress up as always and leave the house daily. Every evening, he would explain to my mother that he had been seeking vacancies and talking to his old friends and would soon hear good news. After four months, no good news came and my father became even more weary and distant. He began coming home later than usual, tired and irritable, until one Wednesday evening he didn't come back home, leaving my mother with five children to care for all by herself.

We never lacked anything. My mother especially, who strutted around the city in colorful fabric earning the nickname Madam Peacock or several variations of it that made her strut even harder. My father saw to it that all her needs were met. It must have been because he loved her, but also it was because he had a point to prove.

Marrying her was no easy feat and after enduring a series of insults from her family because of his family background, he made it his duty to stroke his ego by seeing to it that all her needs were met, including her supply of skin lightening creams that markedly changed her from the woman in the studio pictures with the huge afros and bell-bottomed pants that filled albums in our parlor and pictures in frames that circled the seating room.

She was well rounded where it mattered, and wore her rolls of flesh as though they were a badge of honor, a symbol to all, especially her family, that she was not doing badly. In spite of her weight, my mother was beautiful, but I couldn’t help but wish she would lay off the lightening creams. At this point though, she was at the stage where stopping their usage would surely do more harm than good.

I remember a genealogy project at school where I took in old pictures of my parents glued to a piece of cardboard my father had brought home from work. I thought they looked glamourous. My mom, with her huge pompadour reclined ever so lightly against what seemed like a bar stool, while my dad stood tall next to her, neither of them smiling yet radiantly beautiful.

I was about to begin my talk when from behind me, a classmate, Uloma shouted as though she had unearthed a diamond, "That is not your mother o! I thought your mother is yellow." I ignored her, though my humiliation was palpable. She was clearly a novice at reading body language because she turned to Amara who sat next to her remarking loudly, "but her mother is yellow and fat!" Audible whispers soon began to float around, while my teacher Mrs. Boateng, a short Ghanaian with dried, crispy looking jheri curls that reminded me of Japanese noodles looked on with a smirk, as though the racket in the class was coming from another room.

My mother had once threatened to slap her for hitting me with a ruler and this perhaps was her best attempt at getting back at both of us. While I struggled to keep from crying, the fuss continued until finally a voice I couldn't recognize put the confusion to rest, "her mother is bleaching."

My siblings and I exchanged knowing glances as we sat in the luxurious bus and geared up for the long journey to Lagos. As we sat in our seats I occupied myself with one of the novels I had taken from my mother's nightstand. We began by counting the red cars on the express way, then the blue ones.

The huge lorry that kept pace with our bus was completely covered in local proverbs and scriptures from the Bible. As we finally sped past it, my eyes lingered on the largest sign that ran along the full length of the lorry in large old English text font, "no condition is permanent."

We had taken this route many times to go and see my uncle during our long vacations, but this time, the trip was markedly different. We were leaving Kaduna for good. My mother, not one to be overly burdened had called my uncles to let them know that their brother had left and she was sending their children down to live with them. It was arranged for my older brother and I to stay with my uncle while my other three siblings would go to Akure where my Dad's sister-in-law had a primary school they could attend for free. My mother stayed on in Kaduna to mind the house and wait for my Dad to return, needless to say, we didn't get the invitation to her wedding.

Life in Lagos was exciting. I liked my new school and the friends I was making. Now, I was a Lagos girl too and I could hold my own against my cousins who for years would taunt me and call me a "bush Hausa girl." Life at home however was very interesting. 

My uncle was a walking contradiction. He was a deacon at his church, yet he was sloppy, recalcitrant, and took infidelity to levels not previously attained. His wife was quiet to a fault, existing in his shadow and always had one ailment or another. My cousins, both boys, were boisterous and out of control. I always wondered how I had never noticed how badly behaved they were summer after summer for all these years. 

Thankfully, my uncle's wife was glad to have me in the house. I accompanied her to the market, cooked with her and became her soap opera watching buddy. She was very different from my mother who now paid once yearly visits in the company of her driver, arriving in a different car every year.

I resented her deeply. At first, I was happy each time she came. The boot of the car would be packed with clothes, shoes and books. She also never failed to bring bags of sweets and all kinds of biscuits, treats that we only had during birthdays. With time, I began to loathe her and her gifts. I found it easier to forgive my father for leaving, but could not forgive her for deserting us. She had a choice and she did not choose her children. She would often tell me that as I got older I would understand why she had to leave. Despite my deep anger towards her, I had to swallow my pride when I needed money to purchase a ticket to attend university in Texas. I had won a scholarship and did not need her money for much besides a plane ticket.

I could hear the familiar sound of irritation mixed with anger and sometimes disgust. It was the same tone he had in his voice when he would return from work without his key and would spend minutes knocking on the metal gate while we either played in the yard or were busy preparing dinner in the kitchen.

“Ivie, didn’t you see my call?” he spat out.

“Yes uncle, I did but I couldn’t leave because I was in the middle of an important meeting with my boss, I am sorry Sir.” I said sheepishly.

“How is that your job again?” His question didn’t demand a reply but was just a filler, until he got to the main reason behind his call.

“Eh, there is this head phone.” He said, as though he expected me to know what headphone he was referring to.
At this point, my nerves had subsided. He had asked two seemingly benign questions and he had not delivered any bad news yet. This time instead I was the one who replied with disgust, irritated that he had called me to discuss headphones.

“Yes, what headphones?” I retorted.

“Is it me, you’re talking to like that? Anyway, there are these headphones I want to take to Benin when I go and visit next month. I heard some musician is producing them. See if you can send them to me in blue. My friend’s wife is visiting Dallas and can bring them back for me. That is why I called.” He finished off the last sentence with a tone of authority the words ringing in my ears long after he uttered them.

If I could slap him, I honestly would have done so. I was so furious that for a few seconds I held the phone to my ears, speechless, the venom rising inside me.

“What the hell did this old man just ask for? Headphones by some musician. Do I even own those damn headphones?”

When I finally gathered myself to respond, I was so disgusted but yet again I failed to stand up to my uncle and rather than tell him that the bulk of my discretionary spending that month was earmarked for a friend’s bridal shower, I agreed to buy the headphones and give them to his friend.

After I hung up the phone, I stood in the restroom for what seemed like minutes rehearsing the conversation with him and telling him exactly what was on my mind. He had a gravely sick wife and he was concerned about headphones to take to Benin. Again I was overwhelmed with the desire to want to slap him once again and I felt so small as I reached for a paper towel to pull open the restroom door.

My uncle had won again as he had several times before. I hurriedly walked back to my cubicle, convinced I left a trail of smoke from all the anger behind me as I walked. I sat down in my chair, tapped on my keyboard lightly and entered in my password and mechanically began the search for those headphones he needed to use in Benin.

If only my uncle were computer savvy, I bet he would be lining inboxes of unsuspecting foreigners and requesting for bank account numbers.

On numerous occasions, my cousins who had become known as the neighborhood touts would go and rescue my uncle from getting a beating from some woman’s husband. Ironically, he only got saved from one beating to be brought home to receive another.

There was this particular lady I remembered who made blouses for my aunt. My uncle was rather fond of her, so much so she began to make his clothes even though it was known that she only made outfits for women. She was a superbly skilled seamstress, but she had other brilliant skills besides sewing. On numerous occasions when I would ride in my uncle’s car he would find reason to pass by her house slowing down deliberately as he drove by giving her enough time to walk up and chat with him.

Yes, that was her son. I had just seen his picture the other day, and Facebook suggested him as a person I knew. Once when I perused his page, I was shocked at the number of obscene memes he posted on his wall, most of them referring to the prowess of whatever it was that hung between his legs. It didn’t take long for my shock to dissolve into laughter. This kid had to be joking. He was skinny beyond belief and his face was severely riddled by acne. I respected him though because he had an unrivaled amount of self-confidence. However, I was in awe of the girls who commented on his pictures, vying for his attention, they truly were the stars of the show.

So when I saw his name suggested again, I chuckled a bit and moved the cursor to the right to see other profiles. I don’t know what it was that made me stop, but I realized his profile picture was different. He still had acne but there was something different about him. He had headphones hanging around his neck. They were headphones made by an American musician and they were blue. I quickly proceeded to search his profile and read where he thanked a certain unnamed uncle for giving them to him just in time to wear for a talent show at the private school he attended.

I am not sure how it all happened but within seconds, the only sound audible was the ringing of the phone in my ear, drowning out the sound of oil in the frying pan where the plantains I was preparing for dinner danced around.

In a few minutes I heard his voice. He sounded super excited to hear from me.

“How is that your boyfriend?” He asked jokingly.

“And your work?”

 “Fine Sir,” I responded and mumbled some mundane stuff about how stressful work had gotten the last few days.

“Okay, we just finished our hundred day fast and we are praying for you. The God of Abraham will enlarge your coast and give you rest in due time. He will promote you and make you a manager in that your job. The people that are directing you will soon be under you. I prophecy that your promotion will not pass you by.”

He went on for what seemed like a few minutes, becoming mildly incoherent as he began to speak in tongues.

When he finally stopped to catch his breath and conclude the prayer, I thanked him and said something about having to go.

“It is well.” He uttered with much assurance.

“Thank you sir.” I responded.

I hung up the phone just as the smoke alarm when off, my once golden brown plantains now charred slices bobbing around in the oil.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Glass as Half Full

sonder
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

I enjoy talking to people, strangers especially, because most of the time, they are very unpretentious and do let down their guard down so easily. I find that I meet the most interesting people though in different locales, at airports and especially on flights. I have a special fondness for people I meet at airports, because tangled in their travels are deep webs of stories and when I have stopped long enough to listen, I often find that everyone has a story to tell. A friend of mine recently made the observation that I always meet so many interesting people and I realized that she wasn't far off from the truth.

Earlier in the month, I planned a trip from Houston to Atlanta as I had a scheduled race in Atlanta on July 4. I got to the airport at about 8am, and what began as a series of delays eventually turned into a cancellation by the airline. The airline provided little to no information following the cancellation, besides telling customers the only options were to either receive full refunds or be booked for another flight. The next flight out was on the day of my race and was scheduled to depart at noon. Rescheduling just was not an option for me because the plane was scheduled to land hours after the end of the race.

In spite of having endured multiple cancellations, standing and sitting in awkward positions by power outlets to charge my phone I remained so calm and used the opportunity to meet and talk to people. I met a lady who was departing for Atlanta on another airline to attend the 80th Anniversary of Alcoholics Anonymous, which was holding in Atlanta that weekend. I met a young lady who was flying into Atlanta with plans of visiting her boyfriend in Columbus who offered to give me a ride to Austin to get on another flight to Atlanta to make it in time for my race. Then there was the guy who was scheduled for dialysis treatment who banded up with several others to rent a bus and drive through the night to Atlanta. Then there was the woman with the son who reminded me of my nephew whom I helped with rescheduling her flight, an ordeal that lasted over an hour.

However, of all the people that crossed my path at the airport that day, none made as strong an impression as the man in the trucker hat. After retrieving my luggage and purchasing a new flight ticket on another airline, because I had to be in Atlanta and wasn't going to miss my race for the world, I looked for a place to sit in a coffee shop as I had been at the airport for almost twelve hours at this point. There were two men occupying the chairs positioned in the direction of arrivals and one was gracious enough to offer me his. As I settled into my chair, I read the writing on the hat of the middle-aged man that was still in his chair out loud. His hat had a scripture from the book of Proverbs, the third chapter and the fifth verse. The inscription on his hat simply read, "Trust God, and don't worry."

I mouthed the words out loud and told him I liked his hat as I sat next to him. At once we picked up a conversation. I told him about my cancelled flight and how I was in very high spirits because I had met so many people and had so many enriching conversations. I brought the conversation back to his hat and shared how my faith has always served as an anchor and helped me through so many challenges. He then opened up about how he expected to have his life figured out at his age and how oftentimes, he just wished God would give him a glimpse into his future so his mind would be at ease. He was a widower, having lost his wife of over thirty years three years ago and was at the airport to meet a lady he recently began talking to. He told me his intentions for her were good and he was going to let her have his bedroom while he slept on the couch while she was visiting. At the end of the day, he hoped their relationship would blossom into marriage but was also fine if it didn't. He shared about how deeply lonely he was as a widower and an empty nester and how he never knew such loneliness could exist.

In all, although it was clear his heart was heavy, he was still quite upbeat. There was a desire to want to know what was to come, but yet, a childlike trust in God and a willingess to follow as God led. As we sat there and talked for minutes, he felt like an old friend and we talked and laughed and shared stories mostly centered on our respective walks with God. I had to leave mid conversation to go back home and I always wonder about that man at the airport. His loss, his heartbreak and his resolve. He chose to see the cup as half full and I shared that same reslove with him. Had I let my long stay and disappointment over my flight cancellation get in the way, I might have missed that moment to share conversation with him. He was such a sweet man.

These stories at the airport always get me, and the people there get me too. On another flight ealier in the year from Chicago, I met a young lady, who had just recently quit her job to care for her dad who was battling cancer at MD Anderson. We talked the entire length of the flight and have kept in touch ever since. Or the women I met on the flight from Houston, one of whom was a marathon runner and wants to run a race with me some time in the year or the man I met on a flight to Mexico a few months ago who was silent the entire trip but gave me his number as soon as we landed and asked me to come out for a drink.

Whenever I fly, I'm reminded that the world is so vast. Maybe it's just the sheer number of people boarding flights for different reasons --weddings, bar mitzvahs, funerals, court cases, illnesses, honeymoons, job functions or just moving away to start life all over again-- or maybe it's the stories behind the faces. From the ticketing counter to the security line and the gate, these faces all have stories and I'm reminded that the world is a very big yet surprisingly small playground and the way to win is to choose and keep choosing to see the glass as half full.

Friday, July 3, 2015

33 Life Lessons


1. Always wear perfume.
2. I’ve learned not to call people out as much. First, life is way too short, secondly I honestly just don’t have the time and lastly, I’ve come to realize that when people act out of line, it has more to do with them and perhaps their present circumstances in life than it has to do with me.
3. Life can be very harsh and unforgiving.
4. Life can also be so beautiful.
5. Don’t let anyone tell you we live in a post racial world because we surely do not.
6. I have learned not to operate from a position of scarcity or to have a scarcity mentality. There’s lots of room for everyone and God is in fact very generous.
7. Paying for experiences adds a lot more value to life than paying for things. With experiences, you are left with so many stories to tell and importantly, your life is enriched and enlarged. How many stories can you truly tell about your conversation starter bracelet?
8. Listen.
9. Don’t wallow in regret. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “there are far better things ahead than any we may leave behind.”
10. If you have a chance to have children, do have a few or a truckload if you can. I haven’t found a more potent mood enhancer.
11. Your parents truly do want what is best for you and will always have your back.
12. There’s nothing quite like family and siblings truly do make the best friends.
13. The good thing about friends is that we get to choose the friends we keep. Good friends are hard to find and should be treasured.
14. Water your own garden and truly tend to your soul.
15. I have learned that we do not get to choose our personalities. In just one week, I was told by two separate people that I have a commanding presence. I’ve heard this for most of my life and I’m learning that it can be a snare or a great tool if handled wisely.
16. I’ve learned that many of the questions I have may never be answered and sometimes, it’s best to not overly seek answers but trust that the secret things truly do belong to God.
17. I’ve learned that in the midst of all the ups and downs in my life, there has always been something to celebrate and something to learn.
18. Challenging oneself is important. I never knew I could run a half marathon until I did. And I’ll never know I can climb Mount Everest until I try.
19. There’s so much life to live.
20. This lesson came at the end of my thirty-second year, but it was the most poignant. I’m not defined by my failures or past experiences. God makes all things new and beautiful. The same Peter who denied Christ thrice was the same Peter upon whom Christ declared he would build His church.
21. I still love ice cream.
22. Giving is so important.
23. Whoever said reading is fundamental never lied.
24. Travel. There’s so much world to see. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to travel and you don’t have to board a plane to do so. Even in your state or your present locale there’s a new and exciting place perhaps just an hour or two away. Make it a point to go somewhere new once a year.
25. I have learned that I am not perfect and never will be. I also am too introspective for my own damn good. But if there’s one thing, I want to be a better person each day and I work very, very, very hard at it. It might not be obvious to most people around me, but I really do. However, I’m grateful that the work of inner change is a work of God’s grace and does not lie in my human power.
26. I love to write. I just simply do and wish I devoted more time to it because it truly gives me immense joy.
27. The world is such a beautiful place. Each time I pick up a copy of Architectural Digest or even Fast Company and marvel at all the amazing things people like me are doing I realize that there’s so much out there. It’s a beautiful world out there, Harriet. Men built the skyscrapers in New York, the Golden Gate Bridge was wrought by men and the palaces in France were all built by men just like me. Thus, the persistent question I ask is what I’ll build and be known for.
28. I have learned that I still do not have the patience to watch television.
29. From watching the marriages of a number of young people, most of them friends, fail, I have learned that marriage is more about being the right person than finding the right person.
30. You’ll never be bored if you follow the right people on Instagram. Just ask me.
31. Tim Keller is that theologian.
32. I’ve learned to take big leaps of faith.
33. God is still good and I doubt that this will change. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Africans Killing Africans: When Lessons From Apartheid are not Enough


If any group of Africans should understand the sting of racially charged violence, it should be South Africans. While violence has been and continues to remain a common theme in most African societies the Africans on the southern most tip of the continent not too long ago were victims of the most oppressive form of aggression, relegated to living in abject poverty in shanty towns in a country they fully owned. In the last few weeks pictures, videos and personal accounts of xenophobic attacks by South Africans on other African immigrants in the country has made me wonder if South African history books have taken out accounts of apartheid or if South Africans are just suffering from a severe form of amnesia. The murders in the country of other African immigrants can almost be likened to Israelis killing immigrants in their country forgetting what they once suffered at the hands of Adolf Hitler.

Immigrant tensions are not new and years ago, flaring tensions in Nigeria caused then president Shehu Shagari to order immigrants in the country, most of them Ghanaian to leave prompting a mass exodus of Ghanaians and other immigrants creating rife hostility and bitterness. While I am not privy to any studies on the economic state of the residents post the exodus, I can almost argue that the life of the average Nigerian was not improved by sending their fellow West African neighbors home, if anything a dearth must have been created as teachers, seamstresses, store owners and other business owners fled. The situation then could have been handled better and most certainly, South Africans can come up with solutions to address the burden immigrants have placed on their country and resources that do not include brutal attacks and murders. 

Undoubtedly, as a continent, Africa is tremendously resource rich, however, it is no secret that the majority of Africans in almost every country live in quite deplorable conditions, victims of corrupt governments. Another known fact is that countries that seem to be doing relatively well are typically burdened by the influx of immigrants seeking better living and working conditions. Over time, for countries that are thus burdened with a heavy migrant population, it is inevitable that conflicts will arise as the citizens and legal residents of the host country struggle for what few resources there are. It might be frustrating when the residents feel that they cannot measure up either because the immigrant population is more educated or more financially secure, while they live on the margins unsure of their daily sustenance. But in spite of the arguments against the immigrants there are more civil ways to address immigration issues and violence of any form does not belong on that list.

But a number of South Africans have concluded that the only way to rid their country of the immigrants they have come to view as a nuisance is by staging attacks against them. It is interesting to note that besides African immigrants making a living in South Africa, there are immigrants from a host of other countries, with scores of Chinese immigrants leading the ranks, but there are no accounts of attacks against immigrants that are from without the continent. In my mind, the explanation as to why only Africans are targeted seems rather simple but complex at the same time. I can almost assume that non-African immigrants who are indeed prospering are viewed as deserving of their success because there is an arbitrary hierarchical system and already, South Africans perceive them as better than they. Thus, since they are better it only follows that their success should not be seen as a threat. On the other hand though, other Africans are not viewed as deserving, after all, they are just as black and perhaps seen as inferior and why should their perceived success be permitted when black South Africans cannot seem to get ahead?

While my argument might be flawed, there is a great deal of truth to it. The success of groups perceived as deserving or unfamiliar can sometimes be dismissed, but then when it seems as though those who are succeeding share some commonalities, their success then is perceived as a threat when in reality it might not be. Unfortunately, South Africans in their attempt to rid their country of other African immigrants are wrong in their logic and are making an already bad situation even worse. Interestingly, when a group has been marginalized for long periods and oppressed their views on perceived threats seems to become warped. Rwanda and the events leading up to the genocide is a marked example and now South Africans are joining the trend. If South Africans learned any lessons from being oppressed under the system of apartheid, those lessons have collectively been discarded and the scars might have been replaced with grafts as the oppressed have now become the oppressors. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Punctuations

I'm sitting by the window at this really cool coffee shop in Houston called Siphon Coffee. I was supposed to come here a few weeks ago with a friend, but we chose a different place for brunch instead. Still, the curious bug in me wanted to see what the hype was about because they have a really cool method of brewing coffee and word on the street is they serve a mean empanada with some chimichurri sauce. So here I am. I opted against the coffee, but just scarfed down a chicken empanada and I'm here, sitting down, looking out the window.

A few minutes ago, I went back to my car to grab my Snuggie, as it was getting rather cold in the shop. After reaching for it, I sat for a few minutes in the driver's seat and the word punctuations came up in my head. As a writer, I'm always thinking about topics to write about all the darn time. Whether or not I do eventually write is a different story, but I could pitch upwards of twenty five stories right now if you ask me. I think about them and rehearse the introductions in my head as I do dinner, laundry and other mundane tasks daily.

So, about punctuations. I was thinking about pauses in life. Some that are temporary, imploring us to stop for a while and ponder, like commas, or maybe colons, telling us there's more to the story, it gives birth to something greater, or semi-colons, telling us that there's more while implying at the same time that we do come to a stop, and then there are exclamation marks, giving brith to that element of surprise, or shock, or disdain, fury, joy, and revolt all in one full swell! And then there are full stops or periods, which mark an ending and depending on how you look at things, beautiful beginnings.

In life, we all have to deal with these marks. These punctuations. The beauty I have discovered is not so much in the pauses, stops and all that comes with them but rather in understanding how to navigate these periods in our life. It takes a huge dose of wisdom, some deep introspection, sometimes a gut feeling and in some cases an attitude that just says que sera sera. It might be helpful if I had something deep to say about punctuations, but I too have limitations. I am not a philosopher or diviner, I'm just a writer. But if there's one thing I've learned about the punctuations it's that pauses are not bad. They might be unsettling, but should be embraced, because ultimately, they teach us more about ourselves than we would learn, if we never stopped, never pondered and just coasted on the sea because really a smooth sea never a skillful sailor made.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Let me tell you a story...

I love the art of storytelling and consider myself a storyteller of sorts...well, everyone is to some extent. A while ago, I thought about some experiences I have had over the years and then again yesterday, some of those stories played in my mind. I thought, why not share them, after all, they are what I consider great stories and they sure are interesting, or maybe I'm just biased because I am the storyteller. So, here are the stories and no, they are not works of fiction.

When I was a teenager living in Nigeria, my family lived a few streets away from the church we attended. Since church was so close, there was almost no excuse to not attend every event and all scheduled services. Now, a few streets over, there was this vacant house and some bank workers moved in. Young guys, handsome and rather successful. Let your wandering minds rest please for I was a teenager and I was not interested in them rather, they were more like uncle type figures. I remember a particular Sunday after church, very much like other Sundays. My sister and I were walking back home from church when one of the guys pulled up in his car and offered to give us a ride home. We hopped into the car and began chatting with him when my sister who was a busybody opened up the glove compartment and reached in and pulled out a little cardboard box. Let's just say it wasn't a box of candy. She brought out the box in plain view before she realized what it was, after which the chatty ride home in the fancy car turned into one in a hearse.

Several years ago, probably seven or eight now or maybe more, I remember coming home one day to find my grandmother and sister hunched over the trashcan in the kitchen, meticulously sifting through a day's worth of garbage. Now, if you know my grandmother, she has a habit of having a favorite grandchild of the moment and the sister who was sifting through with her happened to be the favored one at the time. As soon as I walked in, I immediately made inquiries so I could join in the search but my grandmother was determined to keep the details of the search a secret and her eyes ordered my sister to not breathe a word. After asking with no response I left them by the trashcan and made my way to the stove. On the stove was a huge pot of crab peppersoup. I love all kinds of peppersoup and I love crabs to a fault. The soup was made from blue crabs and it is no secret that when blue crabs are cooked, they turn a pinkish kind of orange color with hints of white. Also, this color eerily looks like dentures. My granny enjoyed these crustaceans seeped in the peppery broth so much that...

Have a very Happy New Year my friends!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

On Prayer and Gratitude

"I will give thanks unto the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of His wonderful deeds." Psalm 9:1

"O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people." Psalm 105:1

"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." I Thessalonians 5:16-18

"Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Philippians 4:6

"Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving." Colossians 4:2

Happy Thanksgiving.