Sweaty Votes

Every Nigerian counts

I’m leaning against the window, in the back seat. Despite the air condition, the cruelty of Lagos sun is evident, my head pressed to the window, I feel warmth, mild, the harsh sun watered down. Watered down Nigeria. The Nigeria my children will know.

I despise being in Lagos, there’s no possible way to separate yourself from its desperation. The boy hawking biscuits, the woman in the silver earrings haggling over the inflated toy zebra. The unending traffic, the noisy vehicle beside me, the molue has a conductor sticking out through the open door. He wipes his face with his yellowing singlet, he’s shouting, I can’t hear him but I see the veins in his neck as his chest rise and falls. There’s a woman inside dressed corporately, probably heading to work on the island. A sweaty woman with a baby tied to her back, the driver is tearing through a loaf of bread. One sweaty face after another, different stories.

I wonder who they will vote for.

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Happy

January 23

Dad took me to buy pick out some cartoon CDs for Chioma. She’s been talking about seeing Frozen. Maybe I’ll take her.

I’m happy we’re getting her cartoons because I didn’t stay with her at the hospital tonight. She looked sad I was leaving so I told her I loved her six times. One for each year.

There is new cinema open in Wuse, I heard Amina talking about it in class. I already told you about Amina, she’s the one who stole my former best friend, Saida. Saida and I barely talk now, she’s always behind the class with Amina, whispering away in Hausa.

I’ll talk to you later, I have to be up early tomorrow XOXO.

January 25

I’m home alone with aunty Oge.

I’m not sure where to start. Chioma closed her eyes and…

There has to be another way to explain what happened. Death is just one word for something so final.

I miss Chioma.

I saw it happen. It happened yesterday, Chioma was sleepy when I got the hospital. She wasn’t really asleep but she wasn’t awake either, it may have been the drugs.

She looked at me but I’m not so sure she saw me, she wanted to say something then closed her eyes.

I can still hear mummy screaming when I close my eyes.

February 19

I’m sorry I haven’t been writing to you lately.

There’s this game we play in class where you have to tell the happiest and saddest days of your life.

I’ve come to realize that you can’t explain sadness.

I wasn’t in school for a week and when I got back every one was quiet. Even Amina gave me a hug during break and then she kept speaking in English through that week, even with Saida, trying to include me in their conversations.

It’s nice that they try but I don’t have much to say to them. I can’t tell explain to them what I don’t understand. 

Dad came with a large bus and packed away all of Chioma’s things, her shoes, her bright pink dresses and even her blanket. I threw the cartoon CDs into the pile. It felt like one of those murder scenes on TV, cleaning up evidence, the floor shiny and free of blood, like she was never there.

I sometimes forget.

I wake up in the morning and I swear she’s walking into my room excited like she always is, and in that brief moment, that millisecond, I’m happy.

That is really on of my happiest moments.

Would that count?

Is that even real?

Eden

God repented of the evil man committed. The former world was a regret, an earth filled with hopelessness and despair.

It was Bishop Aaron who predicted God’s mercy, the day the bombs would stop falling. The day is still remembered every year, the afternoon ash fell like rain from the skies. The thick dark smoke covering us with an endless night.

The church of Eden in Area five was the only building standing in the new world. The choir’s song welcoming a new beginning,

“The Mercy of God is endless

A million fell by my right hand

Two million more by my left

God is mercy”

Humanity had dwindled, a desert of people had become a handful. The radios had stopped working, the brunette reporter engulfed by the western explosion on live TV.

We were the last ones, alone in the church auditorium. Strangers bound by survival, no familiar faces or recollections of their lives before today. God handpicked his survivors. This was the last world, there would be no mistakes.

Bishop Aaron read out the only commandment.

“A life for a life”.

The only sin was ingratitude. God had promised a fair world from now on, whoever kills his brother loses his own life.

Once again, we were back in Eden.

Finding Happiness

Is there a particular moment we begin spiraling down the bottom? I used to wonder if life snapped in clean halves bending at the exact moment we departed from who we knew into someone strange and inexcusable.

I had always been incredibly selfish, it’s hard to tell when I went too far

First Mama’s heartbreak, I just wanted to be happy.

The voice in my head whispers “Maybe this is peace at last”

A phone call by 3am.

He never sounds this tired, slurring his words, breathing deeply into the receiver

“Where have you been? Please come home”

“I’m still searching for home”

“It’s been two weeks, you’re hurting me”

“I was lonely, desperate for someone else”

“I love you”

“I never did”

A pause

“You’ve been my life these past 2 years. You made me want to live again”

“Don’t do this”

“You said I make you happy”

“You’re a good man, I’m sorry I settled”

“Come home”

“I feel grounded with you”

He’s sniffing loudly now

“Please, I don’t know how to be without you”

I hung up the phone. This time I wasn’t going to settle, there is magic in this world and I was going to find it. I want a different town, a different dream and I was going to find true happiness.

Nothing is going to stop me, not the call from the hospital an hour before my flight

“Tell him I’m sorry”

Deposit

Her skirt inches above her knees revealed smooth thick thighs, eyes traveling from her wide hips, her thighs, down her legs, back up to the mounds of her breasts, her cleavage visible under her jacket.

What did she want?

There was something about her. This one. Something about the way she walked into my office, balanced on heels, her shy smile, taking a seat across the table.

“Good morning sir”

“Hello my dear, what’s your name?” I replied with a smile

“Bola”

“A beautiful name for a beautiful woman”

I am only a man

She looked 23, maybe younger, she was still sitting speaking, such full lips.

I was staring, she was talking about making deposits now. Marketing some bank.

“We are very committed to meeting our customer’s needs” She says

I wondered if she really meant this.

She stopped abruptly sometimes. Probably unsure she was making an impression

“Is this your first time?” I asked standing up

I took the seat next her “You see Bola, the thing is we already have our businesses in other banks but you’re a beautiful woman with fresh ideas”

I was close enough so the tips of our feet were touching now

“I’m very busy this morning, I’ll be glad to work something out for you later”

Inching closer, I placed my hand on her thigh, she was shaken.

“I have 300 million for a fixed deposit, give me a call” I handed her a card.

Her face was expressionless as she took it and walked out.

A week later, she’s moaning in my hotel room, those hips spread on the sheets.

There’s hardly a greater turn on than a woman who knows how to get ahead.

Bad Omen

Hey Toyosi,

How have you been doing? I hope you hear from your family often? On a lot of mornings when I’m staring out my window I can see a car from your house pass by, it’s probably your little brother being taken to school. Most days I wish you were still here so you could make me breakfast while we discuss how more women should rule the world. I know you’re busy with your exams and I always remember you in my prayers, one day you will be one of Texas’ finest lawyers and then you’d move back so we can be neighbors again.

This morning I remembered a day in boarding school, maybe SS2, when you were lying on my bed complaining that you never got any written letters. That was 6 years ago but somehow you’ve never really changed so I decided to write a letter to explain my job hunt you’re curious about.

Shebi you know it’s been 5 months now since I started looking for a job, I already told you about the several banks I applied to. I have written maybe 6 tests now, and 2 interviews, most of which there is never any feedback. No sorry or Congratulations, just waiting for months until you realize you’ve been forgotten. Anyway I got another invite on Tuesday for an interview on Thursday. You know Trusted Nigerian Insurance shey? The interview was at their regional office in Surulere. I was very disappointed the moment I got there, the office looked in bad shape, files scattered everywhere. It was so unattractive and somehow! Their staff looked funny and unkempt (you know how people say that the way employees look tells a lot about the company they work for). The woman who interviewed me a lot of eczema from the sides of her face, down her neck. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. When I wanted to use their toilet, the receptionist told me to pick the key in a dirty looking bowl so I told her not to worry. Luckily for me, I found a mirror somewhere around there.

For the interview part… she asked plenty of irrelevant questions. When she was through, she told me “Congratulations! Welcome to our company” and that I needed to go to the opposite office for the next stage. When I got there, the lady took my CV and then told me to pay six thousand Naira for insurance and that my training would be for a week. Imagine! I didn’t pay sha. When I refused to pay, she told me to meet their Boss in the next room, entering the next office I was happy it wasn’t another woman. I questioned the man very well, asked him why the company isn’t responsible for its employees Insurance. He said a lot of nonsense I didn’t understand. Then I asked him about the position I was invited for ‘Risk Advisor’. He told me about the target thing and how salaries would be based on commission. I was irritated man… dusted my shoes, never to return there again. My family has been laughing at me here at home : (

I forgot to mention. On my way to the place in the morning, there was a corpse on the road. The head was covered with a carton and the woman’s leg was missing. Very sad. A bad omen.

So you see, I’m still searching for a job and hopefully God has something good to reward me for all my waiting.

                                                                                               

                                                                                        Your Best Friend,

                                                                                                 Atinuke.