Cut. Some hoarse voice soused in fatigue, I anticipate its saying it. This scene I didn’t rehearse before acting, these lines I read out of a slipping-into-numbness-where in my head.
They’ve forgotten about a break. Well I need a break. Whoever they -director- are. I don’t remember our agreement on terms of work, but no one works non-stop, except, well, God.
God. Cut. Is he the one to say that? The director?
Of course he isn’t. There is no play.
This is real. This chaos is no goddamn play.
To commune with everything the knife ever cut, for my insides to have a taste of everything it ever sliced, is what I want. A cut deep enough to hush this howl.
Deep sleep. I told you that the only time I am at peace is when I’m asleep. That waking up, and remembering this is me, that happened, I feel like going back to sleep.
Everyone wants an escape from a nightmare that snuck out of otherworld to feast on them. It has never been music. It will never be a spike of epinephrine. You’ll wake from this deep sleep to find your intestine in its grip, your colon wound round its neck as it has its fill. You’ll watch, helpless. Knives, ceramic plates, picture frame, TV, arm chair, android phone, laptop, armless chair; you’ll hurl none. Instead, you’ll wish it dead, or that you could be anywhere you have to be, in a deep sleep.
Depth. People have messed with your priorities. What they believe in is deep, so deep that you have to embrace this religious depth too. Semiconscious, you’ll consider their convictions, employ their eyes. And take yours back later, but what you have now are not your eyes. You carry a pair of lenses in each pupil and it’s difficult to undo this amalgamation (it’s not like you’ll even try to).
The worst part? You don’t know this. You’ll only realize when you look for what is killing you and discover you’ve been seeing the world through mixed sight, living in a depth that was never really yours, walking around bloated.
But to know no depth is to be comatose; everything just has to have more meaning than the ordinary, you have to look deeper. The sky has to be more than a thing that hangs over the earth. The moon isn’t only full, crescent, or a luminescent body; it has to remind you of folklores, of faith in light amidst your overwhelming darkness; beauty in your pound of ugliness. A river doesn’t only flow calmly; you must drag it into this business of pressing your lips into a smile, or tearing up after remembering the jagged memories bruising your every present.
Someday while you sleep, I lay in the depth of the blood that escapes the gash in my belly.
They will say God didn’t say cut.
You will look for me everywhere- places I can’t be reached- because everywhere is only where
your eyes can behold,
but I am everywhere, like air,
and beyond these wheres,
and like air your eyes can’t behold me.
Your eyes will take on searchlight for lens,
your body rubbing against luminescence to hitch
a bit of glow
“I have found a cause” you’ll assure yourself,
but all you cling to are ashes mirage has fleshed.
You will troll for murk amidst your new found
your soul is miles away from your body-
You will search for the temple where it’s being
conjugated with your darkness.
I am at the park. Inside the bus I will travel to Lagos in, there is a couple at the front seat; the only passengers. There is a commotion beside the bus. From the flakes of conversations of the women who sell snacks and soft drinks to passengers, and a pricking gloom that has lingered in the air since I got here, I deduce that a woman, who had been a passenger of a bus that stopped here, had run mad. Pity is bold in these onlookers’ eyes and it is vivid that they are more worried about the woman’s wailing little boy than her. I too am.
I am thinking of how to help this boy- how to get him help. But there is barely anything I can do.
This is one of those helpless situations that remind me that saving the world ought to be canceled in my list of feasible.
I am in Unilag hoping to get the location of the hall without asking anyone. I call a friend who is at the university teaching hospital, but he doesn’t answer his phone; probably still asleep. I ask a lady where the hall is and she hurries a direction which after using, I realize that not interrupting her urgent steps would have been a better choice.
I am lost. I ask a janitor sweeping dirt by the street for direction, and from the way she speaks so assuredly like she knows this place the way she’s familiar with the broom, I know I will get to the hall without having to ask anyone else.
I am at the hall, and late because I went to the lagoon with my friend and lost grasp of time. There are three women at the registering table, smiling. I get my tag, the woman behind the computer asks for my name and clicks away on her keyboard and then… I could go have my seat.
I sit at the second row and pretend to read Helon Habila’s measuring time, when in fact my eyes are scanning the hall.
One of the women comes to the front and introduces herself as the chairperson of the conference and gives a brief talk about the organization. She enjoins everyone to take few minutes in meeting other participants in the hall.
Reluctantly, I stand and remain fixed at a point watching the concurrent introductions and catch some names and schools.
When I’m on my way back to sitting, a guy comes to me and there is a cursory introduction.
The woman asks us to tell the person by our side the reason we are here and what we hope to achieve from the conference.
I needed a break from home because my school had been on strike for eight months, so when a friend sent the link for registering for this conference, I didn’t hesitate applying. That’s why I’m here, I say to the girl beside me.
She says her brother registered for her and she really doesnt know what the conference is about.
We both at this moment are two clueless individuals who at the end of the conference would have given everything up to be here now.
I don’t know what I hope to achieve. My best friend said -in verbatim- leadership conferences are crap, no one can teach you how to be a leader. I agree with him, no one can teach you such thing as leadership; it is like being taught how to live.
After breakfast, we are split into groups and I’m the only female in my group. Our activity is reading the message on each allotted share of cards and putting them in a chart -with agree, disagree, no idea, and no consensus boxes- based on our conviction or non-conviction.
The next stage where, as a group, there is a repositioning of cards in the chart is interesting and argumentative. I amuse myself a lot; I believe that I’m quite vast in knowledge and almost always right about things, perhaps it’s because it’s been eons since I had been in the midst of intellectuals who are sophisticated and well-informed, so I am surprised when more than a person doesn’t agree with my stance and with valid facts are able to win me to their side.
Today, I have achieved:
Now I know that when amidst people, it is pertinent to learn from them if one repels deafness born off ego and listen without constantly interrupting their speech.
There is a clear difference between baseless arguments and constructive arguments. The latter leaves you changed- of beliefs or convictions- or as a changer, and the former often leaves you frustrated and bitter.
Everyone has something to say, while you may not agree with their opinion, you should learn to respect it.
From the chairperson’s speech, I learnt that cultural diversity isn’t limited to ethnicity as I thought; it could be a difference in age, professionalism, or specialization.
We meet the community evangelist of Next generation Africa and he gives us a warm welcome. From him, I learn these:
When you want to start a NGO, you first should identify the problem you want to solve and target a locality.
What problem do I want to solve?
I remember the mad woman and her boy. The problem of shelter for the homeless, and lack of mental facility in Ibadan.
The globe itself is a cluster of problems, but if so many humans can choose one problem each and work towards solving it, the world may lean towards being saved.
Create your own unique solution after problem identification.
Seek partnership, advisably from firms whose objectives align with yours.
Build a formidable team. As a leader, know your members’ skills and help them in being more versatile- send them to seminars or workshops, for example. These skills besides being self-developing can be harnessed in bringing the goals of the organization to fruitfulness.
I went through a quite devastating experience yesterday, and because of this I’m cold and withdrawn today.
I have a new group and we are to come up with a project that fosters civic engagement in Lagos.
I am unprepared for this. I’m abashed and mad at myself because this isn’t a good day for mood swing and the surfacing of a rookie self.
Everyone talks about thier project ideas. I am silent and completely passive, talking only when all eyes at the table are on me, expectantly awaiting my opinion.
I channel my reservedness into productivity, conform it to becoming a tool I learnt from a session yesterday- observation:
A group of people from different cultural backgrounds, with almost equaling level of knowledge coming together to reach a consensus on different ideas provided by same members are like the vanes of a fan that in a non-functioning state are apart, but when connected to electricity rotate to work for common purpose and appear to be one.
We don’t reach a conclusion on what project to work on till our mentor steps in to redeem the day and makes us realize that our lack of oneness has kept progress away, and that we should never let the fear of rejection keep us from saying our idea or opinion.
Suppressed thoughts and reactions come afloat when he leaves; each person unloads their mind and we move forward.
I’m wondering who/what our source of electricity is- our mentor or goal?
Presentation of projects takes place today. We brainstorm on the form our presentation shall take and there is a suggestion to add a short play. I am not sure its not going to be distracting, I eventually speak up when the drama rehearsals are ongoing. I await a colossal of angry reactions -because I should have spoken up earlier, while we all hadn’t agreed on adding the drama- but no offense is expressed. We talk about it and they convince me that its not going to be distracting.
It takes mature minds to make a strong and productive group, people whose focus is directed towards results and won’t let anything remind them of an ‘I’ instead of ‘us’. People who can put away differences, preferences, and embrace selflessness.
I’m awestruck at the sight different projects, the ideas behind them, and the manner with which the presenters deliver.
There are stunning young minds, great brains and beautiful hearts in Nigeria. I am sure of this now, more than ever.
On my way home, I think of what my friend said about leadership conferences. And again, I agree with him. For me, GLE was not a mere leadership conference; it was four-day soul-searching, self-discovery, and all I learnt about leadership, I did by listening, observing, talking, commenting, and being open-minded.
Leadership can be learnt.
I wrote nothing about living 2016 at the end of the year because I would be too overwhelmed to finish whatever piece I started out to write. But if I had made it past few paragraphs, certain entries would have taken seats amidst the introspective sentences:
“I felt guilt in its unrefined form, watched my fears take on flesh, crawling at first and then as if on cue, in the last months flood my life like 2017 would be wearing cologne with a repelling fragrance.”
Some guilt made it into this year; guilt about not downloading any Sia’s song I stumble on (did I make an undocumented agreement to have her every song?). I wonder if there is a more intense guilt lurking till it is safe to walk out of the dark. But I just wonder, not worry.
“My insecurity lured me out, not to shame me, but to show me how stupid it was to be afraid of it.”
And like that guilt, this insecurity made it here too, and I amuse myself this time; I’m done fighting it.
Contrary to what was assumed by those I met during my first and second years in the university, I used to wear make-up. I told a friend I was more religious than Christian, this- though never said this curtly when the topic surfaced in conversations- was why I stopped using make-up, and denied my second pair of piercings earrings for some years. Leaving my house today with my face fully made up, I feel something a tad similar to what an individual coming out about being gay would feel. But I’m uncertain if this is something I want to keep doing. Before recently, after I must have emboldened myself that I could go out like that, the reflection in the mirror with jagged edges would do the summation of the number eyes that would be on me and give a result of ‘all’; the required conviction to wash the cosmetics off my face.
I knew I needed the sort of courage I wore to compete in debate tournaments to get over my insecurity and step into the open looking different. I got it, months after losing the courage I wore to compete in debate tournaments, and a debate tournament.
When I was two years younger, I had a team mate who made cussing seem cool; working with him on few projects was all it took for me to reel to the same lane.
He left, I stopped.
For some months, I was friends with someone who cussed, and I’m swearing again albeit in selective situations; I’m a female in my twenties- old enough to man a home, my family often remarks to disapprove my mediocrity in the kitchen- and a Nigerian who lives in Nigeria, and who cussing, just like her having more than a pair of piercings, passes off as ungenteel and un-African to the society. But then, just like my IMs are filled with wannas and trynnas- which paints me phony- and my music folder of about two hundred songs has less than thirty African songs, acting African doesn’t have my care.
I lose platonic relationships almost as often as I make them. It is when I remember that I am still friends with my best friend of three years that I’m relieved; there’s nothing wrong with me.
I once heard amidst my sister’s conversation with her friend that “… someone may want to be all by one’s self sometimes, and cry just for no reason because no one would understand if one told them one cried for nothing” , I don’t remember the subject of their discussion; perhaps something in the genre solidarity. I like to believe that I’m a lone star, that I prefer being all by myself, I do, but I know I would rather be around certain people than be alone. I think of them as daylight.
Every time, I lose these daylights to the dark and I don’t know if to unlearn this civility of not meddling with the way earth orbits round the sun.
I sometimes indulge the thought that if I groomed my interest in mathematics, and pursued a degree in the course, I would do something different; I would carry out mathematical experiments in relation to words. I am quite obsessed with ‘if’; I would record how and the number of times my test subjects used the preposition for a period of time.
The goal of the experiment would be to explicate that ‘if’ ought to be extricated from the unnecessary burden it bears. I’m convinced that at the end of the day, what we would do ‘if’ we had something has a specific probability of never getting done when we have the needful, which often is greater than the probability of being done.
For some two years after I graduated from high school, I was a teacher. Four months, I worked at a primary school and left to prepare for exams (I was going to leave anyway; when the term was over. I doubled as a teacher and babysitter, ran errands and did petty jobs; things I was not informed of till my first day at work. When I remember working at this school, I try to convince myself that I left because I was taken advantage of, that I could have been told the school lacked a janitor after my interview) and worked as a home tutor in the remaining months before I started at the university.
I got a home tutoring job yesterday. As I teach the kids today, I feel a part of me break off aestivation, and it feels so good. I marvel inwardly at the beauty in a small world of quantitative reasoning, fractions, realization, bemusement and occasional nods from the kids when a puzzle pikes out of their way.