Friday, April 27, 2012


Image from here

Nobody had said it would rain today. There had been no warning of dark clouds or thunderstorms. But it is there in her stance; the way she holds up her head, how she lets me plant my good morning kiss on her cheek, without leaning in like she would on a sunny day. I leave her doing last night’s dishes at the kitchen sink and go get ready for work. I tell myself that this time it would be different, but I already know how today will play out. The pattern is all too familiar now.

I’ll get into the shower, wondering all eight minutes of it whether this is my fault, whether I have done something wrong. I’ll play back the past month in my head, and at the ninth minute, while I’m drying myself, I’ll decide that no, this one isn’t about me. She will have that nameless look on her face during our cold, silent breakfast, and it will confirm that I have nothing to do with this weather.

I’ll shut the door firmly behind me when I go. I will leave her at home, but she’ll follow me around all day, hovering in my head with vacant eyes. Dark clouds will hang in the sky and block the sunlight. I will work late, trying to stretch out the hours till I have to see her again.

I will return home and the house will be still. She’ll be in the living room, staring at the muted TV. I’ll murmur good evening, pretend not to notice that she doesn’t answer. For a second, my anger will convince me that I don’t care; that I can ignore her pain, whatever it is. Then I’ll spend eight minutes in the shower, wondering what I can do this time to make her talk to me. While I’m getting dressed I’ll admit to myself that I have nothing new.

I’ll go to her and ask her – beg her – to say something. She’ll look through me, and then at me. Her lips will start to tremble and she’ll cry for hours. I will hold her and rub her back through it, and pray that the sun comes out tomorrow.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Image from here
As we cross Herbert Macaulay, I’m considering two *danfos idling by the side of the road, their conductors screaming ‘Balende! Balende!’ and ushering, sometimes almost shoving, potential passengers towards their buses. I pick the second one; it looks good and solid on the outside, though I hate that it has something like a wall behind the driver’s seat so I can’t see the road in front of me. I enter with a mental shrug – it looks better than the other bus – and wave goodbye to my friend.

I sit on the first bench, beside the window; it’s my favourite danfo position. There’s a man in the front seat, beside the driver, and another sitting behind me. I settle in and watch the street. Three more passengers get in, and the man behind me gets up and leaves the bus, returning the nod the conductor gives him. He’s one of those people conductors get to sit in their buses to make them look fuller, so impatient commuters would be convinced to enter. I’m not annoyed by this trick today; I’m not in a hurry. After a few minutes, the bus starts to move and I relax, confident that I’d chosen the right bus. The ride is measured and smooth and the engine works at a less than deafening roar.

We are not quite at the end of Third Mainland Bridge when the bus jerks once, twice. The engine sputters, and the driver starts to steer the bus to the right, to the lane overlooking the water. I am peering through the partition in front of me and then out the window, wondering what’s stopping us and frustrated that I can’t see the road ahead. When the bus stops, the driver and conductor confirm that the fuel has run out. Someone makes a joke, says the conductor should get out a hose and suck water from the lagoon to move the bus. I don’t laugh, but the other passengers do. Did I miss something? We’re on Third Mainland! Cars, BRT buses and other danfos are whizzing past, and with every gust of wind that marks their passing I’m slowly freaking out, looking left, right, behind, so I will see when the speeding vehicle crashes into us from behind. Another danfo slows down behind us and stops. I get up immediately, to rush out and join the other bus. I can see the blue green water of the lagoon from over the bridge rails.

“Excuse me, let me get down.” I’m avoiding looking at the lagoon below. There are three passengers seated beside me, blocking my path to the door. There’s a chorus of ‘ahn-ahn, wait first… we go soon move’ from the passengers and nobody’s moving. I plop back down on my seat.

A few seconds more of indeterminate activity between our conductor and the driver of the other bus, and I’m ready to get out again. I stand.

“Please, excuse me, abeg. I want to get down.”              

The men beside me laugh. No need, they say. Our bus will get to Obalende before the one behind us. I’m about to insist, but our bus is suddenly rammed into from behind and it starts to move again, fuelled by the momentum from the bus behind. The movement forces me back on my bum and the journey continues. The other danfo stays faithfully behind us, pushing every time we lose momentum, leaving us to roll forward only when it stops at Adeniji Bus Stop to let out some passengers. Another bus takes over ramming us forward, and a fat woman comments on this show of solidarity. Apparently I’m the only one who thinks we should have just switched buses when we had the chance. The other passangers take up the fat woman’s comment, comparing danfo drivers to the okada and taxi men, praising them on how they are so supportive of each other, if you had beef with one you’d have to deal with them all. 

Me, I’m staring out the window, my lips stiff, wondering when I entered into this alternate universe where Lagosians are so merry and tolerant.

*Danfo: 14 to 16 (sometimes more) seater buses, usually painted yellow and black, used for public transport in Lagos 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2012 FARAFINA TRUST CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP: Nine reasons you should apply

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The 2012 Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop has been announced. As an attendee at last year's workshop, I know a few reasons why you should apply - that is, if you're a writer seeking learning/improvement.

1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She's an amazing teacher and writer, and the opportunity to learn from her is something you don't want to just pass up.
2. You'll be well taken care of, in terms of lodging and transportation. No need to worry your writer's head about that.
3. You'll make new (and probably awesome) writer friends.
4. You'll be pushed/motivated (I know I was).
5. If you had any doubts, you'll be convinced you're not a crazy person for pursuing "this writing thing".
6. You'll get comfort from realizing - if you hadn't before - that there are others like you.
7. You'll get to write new (maybe wonderful, maybe not) stuff.
8. Application deadline is June 25, so you have enough time to give it your best shot.
9. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; in case you didn't get it at number 1.

Start preparing now o; I hear time flies. 

See details below...