Life, Life lessons

The Story Of Andrew

His name was Andrew. Well not really but that’s what I choose to call him. 

The first time I ever saw him was on a hot Monday afternoon. I was quite a frightful picture to behold with a sweaty face,  palms,  feet…. My bad…. Sweaty everything  and a growling stomach. I was standing on the queue to buy food beside my friend Sade who was seriously considering the pros and cons of buying beans with fried rice. I observed him for a hot minute, he was sitting down with his head bent over his food in adorable concentration. He looked about 6feet with skin like melted chocolate,  jet black hair and incredibly pink lips. 
I nudged Sade out of her dilemma and said 

Don’t look yet but there’s a cute guy seating behind me”.

Of course she looked! She didn’t just look,  she gasped and I could see her mischievous eyes grow wider than saucers as she spotted him. 

Yup” I said simply,  giving her a small smile and turning to the girls who had been waiting to take my order. 

It was not love at first sight. It was never love at all. But rather an appreciation for his looks and as I’d come to know later, his charming boyish persona. 

The second time I ever saw him, I was walking home from school and he stopped me and said

“Are you Anastasia?”

“Yes” I replied. 

“I’m Andrew. I watched you speak the other day. You were phenomenal”

“Thanks” I replied with a small smile, eager to be on my way. 

He understood my body language and stepped out of my way. 

The third time I ever saw him,  I was getting food once again,  this time with less sweat. He had just finished buying his food and he quietly told the woman behind the counter that he was paying for me. He didn’t just pay despite my firm protest, but left his change. The woman behind the counter tried to encourage me to have it but I politely refused and told her to cover his next meal at that place. Money wasted, I know. Don’t tell me about it. 

The fourth time I ever saw him, I don’t even remember what I was doing or where I was going but he appeared in front of me with that smile. 

“May I get your number?”

“Sure” I said. 

The fifth time I ever saw him was over texts…..(you can see a person through whatsapp texts right?)  His text came in the evening when I was settling in with a bowl of spaghetti and a good film. 

Him:  Hi…

Me:  Hi… 

Him:  This is Andrew

Me:  Hello Andrew 

Him:  How are you doing? 

Me:  I’m great thanks 

Him:  Tell me about yourself 

Me:  I can’t really think of anything worth telling 

Him:  Do you watch football 

Me:  No I don’t 

Him:  Well I think it’s very attractive when a lady watches football 

Me:  That’s too bad

Him:  Will you take a walk with me? 

Me:  Yeah

Him:  See you in 20 minutes? 

Me:  See ya

It was a long walk. 2hours or more. It was a lovely walk. We talked about my hobbies and his taste in music. We listened to Sia’s songs from the 90s and critiqued drakes album. We laughed a lot and the night breeze carried the sound. Then he said

“I’ve always admired you”

“Thanks” I said 

“Will you date me” he said, stopping to stare into my eyes

“No” I said,  returning the stare

“why not? “

“Because I’m not interested in dating you”

He winced and said “Alright then”.

We walked back in silence and I knew things would never be the same. 

That was the last time I ever spoke to him. Or even saw him. Partly because I got busy with exams and partly because 

Out of mind, out of sight

Many months later,  I still hadn’t seen or heard from him. It was very unusual to not at least run into him. 

Few weeks ago,  I stopped a friend and asked

“You’re classmates with Andrew right?”

“Yes I am” he replied. 

“I haven’t seen him in a long time and that’s strange. I just want to be sure he’s doing okay”

“He’s not. He suffered a mental illness and was in the hospital for a long time. But he’s no longer there and nobody knows where he is now”.

My mind ran extreme lengths that day. I was torn between sympathy and apathy. Sympathy because nobody deserves a mental illness and apathy because I didn’t know him too well. 

I couldn’t stop asking myself. 

“if i knew this would happen, would i have been nicer? Kinder perhaps? Spoken to him more?”

Probably not. But it was worth torturing myself over. 

it’s been a little over 4 months since I last saw or heard from. I say a little prayer every now and then for his recovery and sometimes, like now, I think about him. 

Few weeks ago, I wrote about uncertainties. Today, I’m writing to prove that life really is uncertain. Maybe if we realize that anything could happen to the people around us, we’d be kinder if only to be a part of the ‘good memories’ they’d have as I hope I feature in Andrew’s ‘good memories’.

Maybe our actions really do count. Maybe they really don’t. I really don’t know but here’s a prayer I do know. 

Dear Lord, Give me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change. The Courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference. 

So help us God. 

Xoxo

Please leave a comment!!! 

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Life, lifestyle, pain

How Do You Deal With Pain? 

Sometimes I think pain is just a lack of understanding. If we could only understand it all, would we feel no pain?. 

                       -J. Cole (once an addict) 

While typing up this post,  I tried to search for lovely quotes or descriptions of pain on the internet but I decided against it. I realize that pain needs no definition or poetic descriptions to be understood. Whether physical or emotional, you know pain when you feel pain. And I don’t mean the little ‘ouch’ that escapes my mouth when I prick my fingers or the ‘fuck’ I yell aggressively when I hit my little toe against anything wooden; it’s the kind of pain that sobers you up and has you questioning every value and truth you ever held. 

The first time I remember ever feeling pain was 8 years ago in junior secondary school. I was 11 years old, didn’t have much friends but somehow managed to be popular. That day was may 27,childrens day and my mother was preparing to visit my elder sister in boarding school. I can still remember the smell of the fried rice cooking on the stove and the sound of meat sizzling in hot oil. Out of the blues, my classmates, at least 15 of them,  showed up at the doorstep on their way to a children’s party, insisting I get dressed and follow them. I was shocked and flattered at the same time. My mum asked me to invite them in, get them refreshments and politely told them in sparkling English why I couldn’t go with them. I was relieved. I’ve always hated parties and the idea of forced socialization. But I got too comfortable with these strangers sprawn across our living room, I talked too loudly, laughed carelessly and when I decided to see them off, I didn’t come back home till 4 hours later. My mom was mad! I’d delayed her trip to the boarding house and I had left the house a mess. She took a cane from the top of the shelf and began to flog me.  Foolishly I ran to escape and ended up wedged between the wall and the deep freezer. She beat the shit out of me. Hours after she was gone,  I remained slumped on the floor, observing blisters rise and red marks appear on my dark skin. I cried my eyes out. I was in pain. 

But the thing with physical pain is that it has an ending or at least a solution. You can pop a few pain killers , get an injection,  employ a physiotherapist, you name it! It hurts till it doesn’t hurt anymore and you can move on with your life. If you can only live through the first few minutes, hours or days of its peak intensity, you get to tell the story like I just did now. Good for us! 

The second time I remember feeling pain was in my 3rd year in the University. I received news that I’d lost a loved one to cancer. I can still remember the crack in my sisters voice as she broke the news to me, I knew she had been crying too. I locked myself in my room for an entire day, not eating, not speaking to anyone, just crying my eyes out and reading my Bible trying to figure out why people die!They say the Bible has the answer to every question right? 

The pain from the death of a loved one is a different kind of pain. You never get used to it, it never goes away. Rather, it finds a home in you. And everytime a reminder flashes before your face, you’re put back in your misery. You can only rely on time to feel less miserable about it but that shit stays with you forever! 

The 3rd time I ever felt that much pain is even more recent than you can imagine. And this type of pain, is the pain that comes with love. It’s so excruciatingly heartbreaking that it eventually begins to manifest physically with fevers, asthma attacks and insomnia. I think the reason people are scared to love is because love hurts just as much as it heals. It takes as much as it gives. And in my little pea brained mind, I can’t seem to crack the code. 

    The most frustrating thing about pain is that it offers no pause button. Life goes on! So you must carry out your normal activities while facing the devil. It sucks! 

    Forgive my flimsy attempts at narrating painful experiences of my life but the point that Im trying to make is that I’ve felt pain and I know that you have too. So if we can establish that pain is a constant feature of our lives as humans and we can also establish that it is unpleasant, perhaps we should begin to ask ourselves how we deal with this pain. 

    I don’t remember how I dealt with the painful experiences in my life. As long as I can remember I’ve always had a tough spirit. I would cry over things but I never let them weigh me down for more than 24 hours. I cried when I watched the police throw our properties from the top of a 3 storied building, I cried when a class mate told everyone I was ugly, I cried when my cousins laughed at me because I wet the bed, I even cried when a weird photographer touched me inappropriately . But after all these incidences, I also remember showing up the next day, with a smile on my face, telling myself “You can handle this”.

    I don’t know how you deal with your pain but you must agree with me that time makes everything better. It doesn’t heal; I don’t know what heals or if I’ve ever completely healed from my experiences but I’ve learned to live with them. But here’s a piece of advice. 

    The next time you feel pain and you think you won’t survive it, think about the last time you were in that much pain and how you thought you wouldn’t survive it. Then tell yourself “I’m still here!”.

    If you’re reading this, then you’re still here. You survived that crazy heartbreak or humiliation or loss of a loved one. You’re still kicking! Let’s drink to that! 

    So I disagree with j. Cole on his saying about pain. Let’s rephrase 

    Pain is inevitable. But if we could only understand it, then maybe we’d feel less pain. 

                         – Prettydiferent. 

    Don’t leave without dropping a comment. I’d love to hear from you. How do you deal with pain? Xoxo

    Life

    Hypnic Jerks and Bright Realities. 

    I’m awake… 

    I’ve always believed that sleep is a compulsory waste of time. For this reason, I’m almost always awake, filling my bed time with music, books and creative hunts on social media. It sucks that our brains need sleep to function. I only retire to bed when my body screams “bloody murderer!” and every time, I get pissed off that I must respect Mother Nature and Aunt Physiology. 

    It’s hard to admit that my bad sleeping habits are born of the fear that creeps into my bones with the night time. My problem is no longer darkness or as they say,  the absence of light. My problem is the relinquish of consciousness and control of my body to the universe and what not. I hate not being in control. 

    I managed to convince myself that sleep was only a necessity and anything exceeding 4 hours was a luxury one should not indulge in. Eventually, my sleep adopted a frightful pattern. 

    It began with hypnic jerks, was disturbed by nightmares and was ultimately interrupted by laboured breathing. 

    HYPNIC JERKS


    Do you ever fall asleep and then start to feel like you’re falling down, awakening with a fright? It gets your heart  racing and it’s hard to believe that you weren’t actually falling from your bed. It is called a hypnic jerk and is described as an illusion of falling experienced by a person as they fall asleep. Evolution also proposes that this phenomenon could be nature’s primitive way of alerting an animal that it was actually falling off a tree. 

    Understanding that both the illusion and reality of falling is so frightening has led me to conclude that… 

    We live most of our lives as a series of hypnic jerks withdrawing ourselves from any situation that is unfavorable. 

    A person recently observed that I am ‘too scared of being ridiculed’ and while I agreed completely, the monitors in my head were flashing with the question “Who isn’t ? ” Show me one person who at some point, wasn’t scared of failure or ridicule or uncertainties or the harsh opinions of people or even ‘falling’ in love and I owe that person a date. For this reason that we’re all scared of uncertain and unfavorable situations, we have built a system, similar to a hypnic jerk that forces us to withdraw ourselves from a situation that begins to seem too challenging. 

    Smart eh? 

    The only fault with this system is that just like a hypnic jerk, we have no idea what was awaiting us. What was at the bottom of that hole? What new things would we have learnt? What dangers would we  face? We’d never know! And it sucks. 

    This begs the question. 

    what would you do if you weren’t afraid

    My answer is not to jump off cliffs or to kiss strangers but boils down to simple things I deny myself. 

    If I wasn’t afraid, I wouldn’t have taken that long route last week to avoid a group of guys conversing along the corridor. If I wasn’t afraid, I would run for more political positions. If I wasn’t afraid I would tell the truth everytime I’m asked the question “how are you doing? “. If I wasn’t afraid, I’d dance in public. If I wasn’t afraid, you would have read this post a week earlier. 

    What would you do if you weren’t afraid? 

    NIGHTMARES

    Life can be a nightmare and most times, there’s nothing you can do about it 

    This is a sad reality and I so detest it. No matter how much hypnic jerks we employ to pull ourselves out of unfavorable conditions, the nightmares find us. They steal our peace. They haunt us. 

    A child may whine and cry and refuse to go to bed because of the fear of having nightmares but he would eventually fall asleep. Mother Nature and Aunt Physiology are quite possessive. 

    A man may also whine and cry and fill up his space with distractions like excess alcohol and sex,  refusing to face life because of the fear of overwhelming responsibilities and extremely unfavorable situations such as poverty or death of loved ones. But he would eventually face reality. Life is a bitch! Pardon my French. 

    I’ve come to accept that every now and then, life would throw me in sticky and uncomfortable situations which just like my nightmares, I have no control over. And just like we rely on our bodies to wake up, I rely on the universe to bring me out.

    Time heals they say. Time heals, I know. 

    LABOURED BREATHING.

    Breathe lover, Breathe.
    There’s nothing deep about this. Breathing hard after a nightmare never takes away the fear and dread. Telling yourself to take steady breadths when faced with difficult situations does nothing to ease your difficulty. But still, it is important to remind yourself to breathe. Why? 

    If you’re breathing, then you’re alive. If you’re alive, then there’s still hope. 

    You may have had a rough week. You may have lost a loved one. You may be battling with depression. You may be caught in a love triangle. Nightmares that you have no control over. 

    You may not have all the answers. But what you do have is your breath, your life and hope. 

    Breathe lover, breathe. 


    Please leave a comment below and don’t forget to subscribe and share if you liked this post. Happy weekend people! 

    Xoxo. 

    Blogging

    On Discomfort and Creation 

    I’ve tried to shake this thought from my head but it refuses to leave. It’s almost like it is haunting me; I can see its smile, a big ugly toothless grin calling my bluff and daring me to write this post. 

               

    I’ll start from the beginning. 

    Two days ago,  I felt a ravenous hunger for a stimulating written piece. I picked up my phone and began stalking random, but not so random people on social media. I was looking for anyone who wrote about anything that wasn’t relationships, hair, makeup, fashion or travel. These days, I enjoy lifestyle blogs as much as I enjoy tea. I don’t. 

    After a few minutes of stalking, I found a blog with a queer name of Latin origin. Greek maybe . I don’t know. 

    I hesitated in clicking the link the owner had strategically  placed in ‘his’ twitter bio for two reasons. One,  he was an acquaintance whom I’d never had a conversation with and I didn’t feel like I’d earned the right to view his blog. Two, the name rubbed me off the wrong way. But like I said,  I was hungry and an animal needs her meal, so I damned all consequences, clicked the link and in a few seconds, found myself in The black hole. 

    The Black Hole

    In pitch black theme, pale colors and incredibly tiny fonts, the writer penned his thoughts as if daring anyone who visited to go ahead and read. I was up to the challenge and with no time to scramble for reading glasses, I raised my phone uncomfortably close to my eyes, squinted and began to read. 

    The writer wrote about life, death of loved ones, fears, addiction, traumatic experiences, mundane activities and intimate poetry. It was all so personal. Two hours later, I had reached the end of the page and managed to shed a few tears. Sadness engulfed me. Not because I felt pity for the writer, not because I felt weirdly connected to him as we share the same fear of darkness and thunderstorms,  not because I could relate to some of the incidents he so vividly described and certainly not because I knew he’d never know that in some distorted way, he’d become my muse. I was just sad. And I have no reason to give. 

    As minutes turned into hours,  my sadness turned into discomfort. Then it hit me! The light bulbs in my head came on like rays of sunlight.

    The writer’s words didn’t make me sad. They made me uncomfortable!

    Discomfort and Creation
    For 24 hours,  I struggled with this feeling of discomfort in the pit of my stomach. Maybe I’d looked too deep into the soul of another man and the devil was punishing me for coming to dinner without a long spoon. 

    But this discomfort, this nauseating feeling in the pit of my stomach, has caused me to create this post unlike anything I’ve ever written before. One with no morals, no lessons and no self-improvement tips; just me, baring my heart and mind to you, my amazing reader and hoping you understand me. 

    I wonder, If my secret muse, felt the same. If he too was bullied by this emotion called discomfort to create powerful pieces that capture the very essence of art.

    I wonder, if I’ve made you uncomfortable enough to make you possessed with the desire to create. 

    I wonder if creation could perhaps be an offspring of discomfort. 

    I wonder. 

    Xoxo.

    Health, lifestyle

    The First Time I Ever Gave Life. 

    I was always taught to share. 

    At a young age,  I learned that there was a reckless imbalance in the world; with excess here and scarce there, hence it was very important to share whatever one had in excess with those who had in scarce. 

    So I walked through the doors of the hospital , determined to end my procrastination and finally practice what had been preached to me.

    I headed straight to the woman behind a desk. She had a warm smile, chirpy voice and a head full of grey. 

    I explained to her why I was there and her smile grew even warmer exposing a gap tooth. 

    “Is this your first time? “She asked. I nodded, smiling for the first time that day. There was something about her. 
    She reminded me of a teddy bear. Teddy bears are safe. She was safe. 


    She settled down to the business of taking my blood pressure and talking about her son. But our chit chat was cut short when my blood pressure registered normal and I had to go in for the first set of tests. This time around, with a young nervous nurse. 

    She took a quick, small, painless sample of my blood and nodded in satisfaction when the blood immediately sank to the bottom of the bluish fluid she had dropped it in. There was something about her. 

    She reminded me of a cricket. Crickets are awkward. She was awkward. 

    I must have passed that test because I was referred to an inner room for further test. The young male in an immaculate ward coat took another sample of blood and asked me in a rather soft voice “Is this your first time? “. I nodded, smiling for the second time that day. 

    60 minutes of waiting in the reception went by and I must have passed the second test too because I was finally called in,  handed a blood bag and directed to an inner room. The setting for donors was quite comfortable; laid back chairs, a television set, an air conditioner… I was getting relaxed. 

    Oh my God! Where did that needle come from? 

    Remember the last time you had Soda? Remember the straw you used to drain the juicy content of the bottle? Now imagine that it was made of steel and it was boring into your left arm. 

    I closed my eyes and gritted my teeth as the Sent-from-hell needle entered my flesh. Why was I doing this to myself?

     I remembered.

    I was always taught to share. 


    When I opened my eyes, there was a wooden ball in my hand and the nurse asked me to keep squeezing the ball to facilitate the outflow of blood. A human pumping machine. I closed my eyes and steadied my breathing determined to take it one squeeze at a time. 

    When I opened my eyes again, there was a dark handsome stranger seated across the room. The veins on his left arm bulged temptingly as he squeezed his wooden ball like it was made of rubber. He smiled at me. I smiled back. How lucky can one girl be? 

    Time passed slowly. I watched my Dark Knight fill up his bag with blood and leave the room with a bounce to his step. A nurse handled the filled bag with great care and put it away in what looked like a dwarf freezer. Meanwhile, I was only halfway through. If something was wrong with me, why didn’t they just tell me? Why did they let me go ahead with the donation? 

    15 minutes later my bag was full, maybe a little too full. There was no nurse around. Somebody help! 

    She came running towards me,  embarrassed for her negligence, yet scolding me for continuing to pump even when it was past the limit. How would I explain to her that I was lost in thought? That the pumping action of my hand was no longer voluntary but now reflex? I said nothing. 
    She hurriedly took the bag to a sink and before my horrified eyes, began to drain the excess blood. 
    I was learning fast. 

    Life has so much value. And yet,  so little value. 


    After I was cleaned up,  Cricket came over to me and said that she “can’t let me go” because I didn’t “look too good” and I should “rest for at least 30 minutes”

    Why couldn’t I be like my Dark Knight? Why couldn’t I walk out of here with a bounce to my step? Why did I feel so exhausted? George Orwell was right. 

    All animals are equal. But some are more equal than the others. 

    I made it home that day,  armed with my souvenir from the blood bank and a plaster on my left arm. I peeped into the bag; a bottle of water,  a bottle of malt drink,  a jotter and a donor card. How generous! I drank the two bottles in 2 minutes  and reached for the jotter. Above the over-edited picture of a happy family, it was written 

    SHARE BLOOD. GIVE LIFE. 

    I opened the first page,  grabbed a pen and began to scribble in barely legible handwriting 
    I was always taught to share… 


    Have you ever donated blood? Tell me your experience in the comments below. Xoxo

    Life lessons, lifestyle

    Stop Saying Success Is The Best Revenge!

    How wonderful it would be to have lived in the 20th century! 

    Not because I crave the world wars or the absence of facebook; but because I would have lived in the same century as Frank Sinatra. Arguably one of the most popular and influential singers of the 20th century, I would give anything to ask him what exactly he meant when he said Massive success is the best revenge! 

    This quote has seen many versions of itself, most popularly when Beyonce sang in her hit song flawless that “The best revenge is your paper “ . Khloe Kardashian  also started a reality show called Revenge Body with  Khloe, where it is constantly repeated that “The best revenge is a hot body”. Okay Avengers, let’s start from the basics. 

    To take revenge means to take a retaliatory action against someone or people  who have hurt you and success? Well, the concept of success is so broad,  it’s hard to confine to a definition. However,  people have likened success to many terms including  content,  time, fame, peace and the ultimate; money (let me know your definition of success in the comment box below ). 

    There are 3 reasons why you should stop saying success is the best revenge. 

    1. It Belittles Your Hardwork. 

    I got into secondary school at the age of 9 and stayed top of my class for the five years that it mattered. In my final year, I managed to get suspended  and struggled to pass my final exams;  WAEC, UTME and post UTME. I got admission into the University of Ibadan to study Physiotherapy and I’m currently in my 4th year, struggling to maintain good grades. 

    To become a practicing physiotherapist after my five years in college, I must undergo a one year internship and from there move on to the National service to the country; NYSC. After these, I can begin to practice at the lowest level and would begin to look into getting a Masters and Phd.

    Besides being a physiotherapist, it is my desire to be a certified nutritionist and Yogi and to pursue modelling and photography  as a hobby while maintaining a writing and public speaking career. 

    Whew! 

    Picture me, a few decades later, strolling the streets of Florence. In my eyes, the unmistakable quality of happiness so sweet you could almost taste it, hand in hand with a husband as shiny as a freshly peeled egg. The picture of a perfect vacation. 

    I stop to take a selfie.

    Selfie taken. 

    I click on the instagram app and select my just taken selfie to be uploaded, my brain thinking of a caption.

     I write.

    Stay grinding. Success is the best revenge

    In 7 words, 60 seconds and 90 heartbeats,  I have managed to confine my entire story to one phrase. 

     “A retaliatory action”. 

    2. You have no assurance of their suffering. 

     I get it. We want to become successful so that we can stick it up the noses of those who didn’t think we would. But if the aim of revenge is to hurt the other person,  you have no assurance that your success is actually a pain in the necks of your “haters”. I hate to be such a bummer but what if they’re actually happy for you? What if they’re not even aware of how “successful” you are? What if you’re just one more in their lives? 

    In the event that your success does hurt the person/people you were out to get,  then… 

    3. You’re no different from them. 

    A priest once told me.

    If you don’t like a pig and decide to wrestle with it, soon,  there would be no difference between you and the pig. 

    They took pleasure in your hurt/poverty/failure. You set out to be successful and stuck it up to them. Now they’re hurt by your success and you take pleasure in it. Two peas in a pod! 

     I call it the cycle of evil and it’s probably what Selena Gomez tried to break when she said Kill them with kindness. 

    I don’t know if success truly is or isn’t the best revenge,  but I know that Success is the best showoff! And for instagram captions and witty tweets,  that should suffice! 

    Please drop a comment and Subscribe to my blog to get notified of new posts. It would mean the world to me. Xoxo

    Life lessons, lifestyle

    My First Day In Prison! 

    I walked in a free woman. 

    The undeniable quality of curiosity added light to my eyes and a spring to my step. The guard led us through a tall green iron gate  and the heavy sound of the latch resounded like a thunder strike as if to say “welcome to the underworld” . 

    Underworld? Not yet. 

    We entered what looked like a waiting area; only there was nobody waiting. Everyone seemed to have a purpose and hurried around as if standing on one spot might set off an explosion that would put Hiroshima and Nagasaki to shame. Uniformed officers,  dashed back and forth with crumpled papers. An elderly man complained in a loud voice about being disrespected by one of the prison guards. An alhaja, dressed in all black, fumbled with her head gear and my eyes dashed back and forth, trying to keep up with all these activities. 

    We were searched. Sorry, we were caressed by a female officer with gloved hands who instructed us in a voice colder than a frog’s nose to “place all phones on the table” .

    I glanced at a blackened portion of an originally green 5×7 wall that doubled as a black board bearing information as precise as a surgeon’s scapel. 

     912 persons awaiting trial. 

    170 persons convicted; 167 males, 3 females. 

    We signed in and were led through an open area that must have been  the ‘prison yard’. My group mates and I had 2 main focus. Keeping close to the chief psychiatrist we’d accompanied and ignoring the stares from the prisoners (mostly male) who appeared to be “receiving fresh air”. Oh God the stares! 

    They fell on me like melted candle wax, causing me to feel warm but uncomfortable. Warm because even within the walls of a Nigerian prison, attention is still food for a woman’s soul. Uncomfortable because the red, off shoulder,body hugging dress I wore offered no protection from their lustful undressing eyes. 

    What is life without common pleasures as freedom and sex? I concluded… Damnation is not for the weak. 

    We settled in at the sick bay and waited for the prisoners in need of a mental checkup to start arriving. The young man with the freshly ironed prison wear and chinese tattoo standing beside the nurse caught my attention. He wore a leather watch and rocked a haircut that screamed rockstar!  He was friendly and 5 minutes after we settled in,  he entertained us with his story. 

    He was once a loser who trafficked hard drugs. After a bad deal he was caught and sentenced to life imprisonment. He had however gotten used to the system and risen to the rank of “honourable” in the Prison Government. With his knowledge of drugs, he works in the prison sickbay, assisting the nurses in dispensing drugs and caring for sick inmates. I arrived at a new conclusion… Damnation makes the weak, strong. 

    One by one,  they crawled in, spent at least 30 minutes,  and crawled out. 

    A 35 year old man was manic. 

    A young man of 19 could not remember his name. 

    A 60 year old woman awaiting trial was pregnant and depressed .

    Time passed.

    I was getting bored. 

    All of a sudden, the whole room turned to look at me and burst out laughing. I quickly turned to Shola begging her to let me in on the joke. 

    But Shola can be such a cockroach.

     She was too busy laughing, she paid me no attention.  

    10 minutes later, I finally got my translation. 

    Strange inmate: *turns to me and says in yoruba* I know this sister. Back in Ilesha, we used to gyrate. We didn’t date o, but things went down. 

    It had to be the dress…. 

    Well,  the dress plus the fact that …Damnation robs a man of his sanity. 

    I walked out, a prisoner of my own thoughts. Confusion casted a shadow in my eyes and a slouch to my posture.

    The real world bore 5 similarities to this underworld. 

    1.None of us asked to be here. 

    2. It is a beehive of endless activities and possibilities. 

    3. Some of us have found peace and learned to make the best of our situation. 

    4.Some of us haven’t. 

    5. We have however come up with an organized system to put some order to the madness. We call it, Government.

    And so I concluded… 

     All men are  imprisoned. But some are more imprisoned than the others. 


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    Life lessons

    Depressed is the new Cool! 

    Happy is cliched. Depressed is the new cool. It is not that we are scared of being happy. It is that we are scared of not having a story. 

    I like to consider the world a village full of mad people. Don’t make that face. Don’t they say mad people are the people that are always talking?

    We talk because there is an unspoken instruction to tell our stories. To tell of what we are,  how we became and what  we would become. Oh how we love to talk! Some of us tell our stories through words, some through characters,  others through music, some through pictures and others,  through art.

    But it’s easy to feel forgotten and unheard in this mad village. I do.  Like the sound of a pin drop in the market square. So I  bite my lips and stare in envy at the lucky ones.

    Perhaps not the lucky ones.  I call them the cool kids. 

    The ones whose voices are being heard. Whose stories and faces are splattered across the news.  Those whose voices are playing on the radio and whose books our noses are deeply buried in; the people we so dearly look up to. We call them Celebrities. 

    So I  listened again…. This time more intently to what they so passionately talk about. A writes about being raped. B suffered anorexia. C raps about having no friends.  D got stronger from a broken marriage. E claims to have grown up poor. F was abused by her father. G has a cheating husband.  I found a pattern.

    They suffer. They talk. We listen. Piece of cake!

    It doesn’t matter whether or not they find happiness. It doesn’t matter what lessons they try to impact with their stories. It doesn’t matter if they’re reaching for help or just playing on our emotions.  And it sure doesn’t matter whether these sad things actually happened to them. Only one truth matters.

    SADNESS SELLS! 

    I had no shoes. 

    Do you know how many tests I missed because I didn’t have 20 Naira? 

    Back when I was broke… 

    I come from the streets… 

    My husband gave me an STI

    It goes on and on….

    Many of us are already down this path and to be honest,  I don’t know if this “marketing strategy”  is Very smart  or Very ridiculous.  You decide and let me know in the comments!

    They say the truth will set us free. Well…

    Happy is cliched. Depressed is the new cool! 

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    HAPPY WEEKEND PEOPLE. XOXO