Musings

Pierce away your boredom II

‘Are you bored?’ was the question Ada asked me when I sent her my new look. Ok, she was kind enough to admit that it was beautiful sha. Very beautiful she added.

But, ‘Are you bored’?

I mean, how can I be bored with my hands full of worthwhile things. Full with my family – the Anozie’s and Opus Dei’s; full with friends like Ada, Genny and Felicity; full with work at my school where I am personally responsible for 33 members of staff and 20 students and their parents; full with the undergraduates who frequent the Leadership Centre where I mentor; full with the stories I witness on the streets and roads of Lagos; full with all the stories in my head. I just can’t be bored.

But on second thoughts, Ada’s question is not far-fetched. I saw the movie ‘Divergent’ and I was struck by the connection an actress made between the boredom in their lives and how full the tattoo parlor was.

And I admit that having another piercing does add some spice to your life. I mean, last night, I didn’t sleep well. I turned on this side and I felt a foreign body. I tossed on the other side and it was the same. The foreign body? My new studs. Also, from time to time, I feel some pain. It is my body, my ears to be precise, trying to tell me

‘Look here. We haven’t accepted this new member yet. In fact, we ain’t accepting it without a fight.’

It adds another spice too – this piercing – to my life. I go around, ears jutting out and showing off. I want the whole world to know.
Java has got two more piercings!
Foolish, right? No. When you are somewhat a child at heart, some things are acceptable.
The most amazing reaction I got was when I pulled someone’s leg and told her I was going to get an eyebrow piercing. She was like

‘Is that allowed in Opus Dei?’

Good grief! Opus Dei tries to help form your conscience. With a spirituality healthy conscience, it is you who decide what you allow and what you don’t.
Right now, with the way I am feeling about piercings, I already want to add more to my collection. Because I like to shock people. The only thing holding me back is common sense born of accurate prediction of the reaction of my sweet mother when she sees me. SHE WILL FAINT!

Guys, she hasn’t seen me yet with these ones. And my siblings – Chi, Oge, Osi, Peace, Cha-yo – what do you think? Oge! Please get ready to defend me before the family. If need be, Chinonso, our star in heaven, might need to come to strengthen the defense.
Hold on, you didn’t know I, we, have a star in heaven? My sister, Chinonso, left us for that Place at ten years. How did she go? That is a story too sublime to be mixed with all this talk about piercings.

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Musings

Pierce away your boredom I

I just got two more piercings. Well, so what?

The thought of more first occurred to me in my final year studying Engineering. I had seen many kinds of piercings and was repulsed by all of them. I was in the admin block when the plump madam who was to attend to us walked in. we were, at worst, upset because we had been waiting for some time for her. But I felt differently. I was fascinated with my gaze on her ears as I waited to be served. The lady had five neatly spaced ear piercings. On each one was an earring that graduated from stud at her helix to a nice round gold ring at her lobule. I wanted to look like her.

This was in 2011. You see, my journey to 2 extra piercings did not start today. What pushed me to finally take the step? Peer pressure. I don’t know about your motivations but for me, people influence me a great deal. I am the number one victim of peer pressure. Somehow, fortunately, most of my pressures have been at best, good; or at least, indifferent. You can put it down to the fact that I was an introvert then [these days, I can’t place what I am]; or to the fact that I had few girl – friends.
I grew up surrounded by girls. 5 sisters, 2 aunties whom we called big aunty and small aunty, and a mother. Add to that 49 classmates every session, etc. But I always felt alone. I wanted more. My sisters were at the same time disgusting and awesome. But I wanted a friend, a confidante, a soul sister.

Feel me. I was a teenager with the looks of a nine-year-old. I was in SS1 when my age mates were in JS 2. I mean, what do you do when your classmates, older than you, think you are a child? That you know nothing about money, about boys or about fun. What do you do when saddled with the sad fact of having age mates too academically behind for your taste? I’m not talking about brain development eh but about coinciding with your mates. You go to a different school, have different assignments, attend higher lesson, higher, higher and always higher than them. And my sisters? They were the same as your sisters. We fought, we made up, we cared for each other but Java’s world was Java’s and they had no permission to enter. Worse, they didn’t know such world existed.

So I wanted a real friend. Finding none among girls, I turned to the boys. There I found some. Older boys who didn’t snub me. Boys who came to visit and whose visits were returned by my faithful sister Oge and I. Boys I could have serious conversations with. Boys who set me on the path to seek, find and try to love God. What a thrill. I send a thank you to you wherever you are. You made my childhood and my ‘teen-hood’.

I also had a few friends in class – classmates my age and day students like me. So, it was 2002 or 2003. Styl – Plus’ song ‘call my name’ was the in – thing. Now I had a friend, Bibi, who was a staunch member of the Deeper Life Church. Hey, Bibi, I hope you are still one eh! It did you a lot of good and that good diffused to me. One day while serving punishment with other classmates, I ‘caught’ my Bibi singing ‘call my name’. can you beat it? Bibi on natchy hair when it was not the craze; Bibi who did not wear earrings; Bibi who in principle does not [well, should not] sing secular songs. This same Bibi was singing Styl Plus. I was stunned. I just felt backward and left out. The following weekend, I turned on the song and learnt the lyrics. Say what?

It is funny how time flies; when you’re waiting for the mega fly girlfriend’s guy to walk by
Champagne that was never my game; I was only gonna get down ‘cos she called my name of which
I never act so damn lame and ditch; my three home boys for aa dame and rich
Glass of a girl’s champagne and switch tables…

Blah, blah, blah.

In 2019, there was a repeat of this. Ifunanya, calm, quiet looking Ifunanya, went to a jewelry shop and got another piercing. When I heard it, I said to myself – ENOUGH! 8 years of ‘gathering liver’, of making up my mind, of asking myself if I could take the pain. 8 years of dreading infection, keloids and what not that may result. Enough. I am getting the piercing done. Not one though because I am crazier than Ifunanya who got one. And the morning went and the evening came and Java had 3 piercings on each ear.

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Little things, Musings

To be improved

Doesn’t this title apply to each one of us? When you are a choleric like I am, it’s in your best interest to ask someone to read your feedbacks and give you their opinion before you click SEND.

Here is one such, written after a training today.

Dear sir,
Today’s training – especially the session on ‘Teaching effectiveness and classroom management’ by Mr Olugbenga Akintola – was engaging. Thank you.

Here are a few points where I think we can improve for tomorrow’s training and for the future.
1. Punctuality
This is the soul of business (excuse the cliché). The participants’ lateness can be forgiven; afterall they are losing out after paying the seminar’s fees. But the lateness of the convener is not acceptable; it sends a poor image of your Brand.
2. The mid morning snacks was refreshing. The crockery and food can be cleared from the back of the seminar hall before or at lunch time.
3. Lunch was satisfactory but also quiet. There was little discussion and no networking among participants. In other seminars I have attended, I find that when the convener / coordinator joins the participants for lunch, he / she helps to stimulate the conversation.

These are just a few pointers – room for doing better.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s session,

Anozie Amaka,
The Lagoon School,
Lekki

The feedback I got was that ‘the lateness of the convener is not acceptable;‘ was too strong (yeah I get it. That’s just shy of ‘it wasn’t charitable’.).

I haven’t clicked SEND yet; I’d like to hear what you think about this.

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Little things, Musings

Welcome Georgia!

I’ve been going on about Jonathan, the baby who lived for only 60 minutes.

But that’s not the end of it. Because Simon and Bec, Jonathan’s parents, gave him a chance to live, Jonathan has a proper resting place. He’s not a medical waste.

Jonathan's tombstone

You in heaven, your remains with us

Georgia Lily Hoare

Baby Georgia

Even better news, Simon and Bec just had another baby. From your corner of the world, join me in a resounding welcome to our earth to baby Georgia Lily.

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Little things, Musings

Jonathan’s chronicles

It’s been very quiet here because I needed to resettle into my Naija country. Someone, we’re all settlers… always reaching for more. And I’ve missed my readers and they’ve missed me.

My story begins with January instead of October. I deleted it from Nijava’s with hopes to take the story to a wider audience by publishing it on adda stories. But you know… rejection is part of a writer’s game. I’m glad to associate baby Jonathan to my come back. You’ll always be fondly remembered. 

 

January is almost ended. Only four more days to go. It feels like I’ve already lived a year. I think I am getting better in the art of assuming the problems / needs of others and of sharing in them; making them mine. And so I have lived so much. I’ve wept and smiled and laughed so hard.

But today made the crowning point of it all.

Jonathan was born and died today.

When I was in primary school, I learnt a rhyme of Solomon Grundy for the days of the week –

Solomon Grundy; born on a Monday, christened on Tuesday, married on Wednesday, …, died on Saturday, buried on Sunday. That was the end of Solomon Grundy.

It didn’t make sense then. I couldn’t fathom how Solomon who lived for only one week could have done so many things. Now, many years later, I don’t have a Solomon. I have a Jonathan instead. I’m going to let him tell his own story. It’s a short one. It lasted not one day but 60 minutes only; 3600 intense seconds.

—–

My name is Jonathan and I am a being for death. Of course that quote isn’t mine – it’s Heidegger’s. A 60 minute old child isn’t supposed to know anything, to have lived anything, to have felt anything. But I know a lot. I know what it is to be chosen to be kept and loved by a mum and a dad and 2 sisters and a brother.

10 weeks ago, when I was five months old inside my mum, we went to hear what the doctors had to say. They said something like ‘fatal kidney failure’ and mentioned ‘death’. At that point, I stopped swimming and squatted still. Not because I knew what that word meant. I mean, I don’t have any online dictionaries inside the womb. I stopped because I could feel mummy’s dread.

The doctor went on and advised abortion given the circumstances. The baby – I – wasn’t going to live after being born. Most couples chose that option. The other one wasn’t worth trying. I wasn’t worth keeping.

Daddy thanked the doctors and got up, ready to take his wife home. A decision had to be made. Mum’s cloud of dread hung thick over me. I laid still, face up, wondering what it all meant.  Mum began to cry as soon as they got into the car. I was disturbed as the cries racked her. But that cry was good, very good. It drove the cloud of dread away. All was clear again. My life had returned to normal. My world was okay again. I resumed swimming.

Two weeks later, I heard Tess, Dan and Leah whispering together. Dad and mum had called a council. Dad repeated what the doctors said, omitting death and the abortion option. It made no difference anyway. I still didn’t know what those words meant. What mattered was this – that thick fog had been dispersed two weeks ago and it hadn’t come back since then. My siblings erupted into cheers. Dad had added that although the doctors had vouched for the uselessness of the decision, we were, they were going to keep the baby. And – mum added – we’re keeping Jonathan. Hurray!

Now they had to inform the rest of the family. Well, I suppose each one reacted in his way. Don’t ask me. I don’t know. What I know is that since that day when Dad told his family and mum told hers, I became a celebrity. There was ‘Jonathan’ on many lips. There were many cries to heaven for Jonathan. My aunt Charlie went as far as telling everyone of her over 100 Philosophy and Theology classmates in Rome; her Jonathan was passing through a rough time and could they please say some little prayer for him and the family.  My feeling of importance shot up. I am Jonathan and I am world famous.

Mum changed clinic. She simply started going to another. I found it strange. But no matter. I guess a woman like her knows what’s best for her baby. The doctors in the new clinic said it was going to be very difficult, almost impossible. But never again did I hear the words ‘useless’ or ‘needless’ or ‘in vain’. Given that everyone, even my 2 year old sister Leah, was saying a little prayer for me, dad decided to add his grain of sand. He would pat mummy’s stomach many times. And I felt his touch; as if he was holding on to me, asking me to fight, to hold on. But I don’t even know what ‘to fight’ means.

Fast track to New Year’s Eve. I was now 28 weeks old. Mum was going to see the doctors again and Dad had patted me to say that he was coming of course. The doctors mentioned February 13th and added ‘an hour more or less’. Dad, I suppose, sent the message to his extended group. My aunt repeated it to all her classmates – a cry for help for Jonathan. Help for his family.

Today finally arrived. But it wasn’t February 13th as planned. I couldn’t wait. I had to come now or never. At 6.40am, I was born into earth. After the quick clean up by the nurses, everyone rushed in. Mum was weak but smiling. Dad too. But there was this tinge of sadness in the corners of his eyes. Mum’s dad was there. Dad’s parents too.

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Baby Jonathan and his brother

They all wanted to hold me, to cuddle me. I couldn’t understand. I could only rest in the intensity of their love. As if they could transform every one of those minutes into days, into years. Imagine, 60 years instead of 60 minutes. But what am I saying – I don’t even know what a ‘year’ is.

They took pictures with me. I was truly a star. They wanted to keep these memories of their baby and their brother and their grandchild. I was slipping away. But I didn’t know it. I was just content to be in the arms of Tess, Dan and Leah; their arms joined together to hold me, their brother. Time pass quickly. Time passed quickly. Mum called for her baby. And she cuddled me with dad on the bed beside her. I was still slipping, going by the minute. Leaving, leaving…, and still leaving; until the 60th minute when I left. Mum’s dad broke into tears.

—-

Jonathan died at 7:40am today, 60 minutes after he was born, surrounded by family and by love. They dressed him in a white dress with tiny wings attached. Their little angel! And they mourned him, each in his / her way, but together, closely bound by this baby.

Thanks to Charlie for the privilege to share in this story. 2 weeks ago, I practically wept over the death of Catherine, who died from infections after giving birth. She was a total stranger to me. I stumbled on her story on Facebook and wept with the knowledge that she died in an attempt to give life. Women shouldn’t die in the life giving process.

My sorrow was dealt another blow when I read Akwaeke’s story of removing her uterus for reasons which I would never have imagined. Dear Akwaeke, I wish you a quick and complete recovery from your surgery; and a light in your path of discerning your place in this world. I’m with you!

Then came the good news of the birth of my niece. My sister posted pictures on Facebook, thanking our dear mother for having gone to help with the baby. I appreciate my sister. I love the baby. My senses have been sharpened by sorrow. I value this new act of generosity by my sister and her husband. Never again will I take it for granted. My sister added – ‘many more grandchildren on the way’. How beautiful.

Dear Rebecca and Simon, parents of Jonathan, we are with you. And Jonathan too. From heaven. He’ll help you adjust, recover; help you to live through those moments when you’ll want your child in your arms, your new born baby. When your breasts will be full with milk, ready to feed your Jonathan who now has no need of it. You won’t ask yourself if it was worth it – you already answered that question 11 weeks ago when you said yes to Jonathan, to Him. Thank you so much for keeping Jonathan. Thank you so much for giving him the 60 minutes chance. Thank you. Thank you.

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