For You

Maybe one day the sun would finally decide to take its job seriously, and outshine your smile

But till then, I will bask in the impossibly magnificent brilliance of what happens when your lips part into a smile.






For you, Elo

Of Catcalls and Fragile Egos…

I am walking down a street,
It is dark, fruitlessly  lit by dim yellow street lights
I am wearing my sports clothes
They are wet and clinging to my body
I am uncomfortable; because they show contours of my body I am trying to modify in the gym

I walk past you, you are standing tall with someone else beside you
right in the middle of a narrow road with cars double parking all the way down the street
‘Fine girl’ you call out, as I squeeze past, my head down and my eyes glued to my phone.
You are convinced I owe you an answer
Or perhaps you are slighted by the fact that
a woman would not indulge your careless and thoughtless attempt
at sexualising her on a random street

With bitterness in your tone
You call out ‘you cannot answer? Will it reduce you to answer?’
For a second, the jab at my insecurity startles me.
There is snickering from your companion. You are encouraged
‘See as you be like man.’
‘See as you be like Taribo West’ you call out and your partner snickers all the more.

I am tempted to turn around to yell out the obvious, which the log sitting comfortably in your eyes would not permit you to notice.
The fact that you, an adult ‘man’, are standing in the middle of a darkly lit street,
In front of a provision store by day, turned beer parlour by night
Wearing a jersey that is at least 2 sizes too small
Not considering your 6-month-pregnancy-sized potbelly squeezing through the shirt, Occupying more space on the street than the entire frame of the other grown man standing next to you

Yelling out invitations to a young woman, rather a form,
for the street is too dark to make out much else,
whose attractiveness or lack thereof
Whose charm or lack there of,
Whose character or lack thereof
Is unknown to you,
And whose silence stuns you to stupefaction and bruises your fragile ego
That all you can do to maintain your ego and masculinity
Is to assume that she looks like a man.

The irony.
Or perhaps you must be on to something though.
I must look like the man, because you, with your football sized head and swollen beer belly have the semblance of a heavily pregnant woman.

I snicker at you and your perceptiveness.
I raise my head from my phone, chuckling,
The insults you pelt to mask your mental and emotional fragility
Rolling off my back, like water off a duck’s back.
I glide more gracefully  down the road.


Oh how that must have hurt you to see
Oh ye of fragile ego
Whose masculinity is threatened by the silence of a random stranger
Watch me sashay away’


May we find friends who are hard enough to break our shells when we put up walls in the hard times…

May we find friends that carry with them, brightly burning candles to bring warmth and light into our hearts when the blinds are drawn…

May we find friends that hold on steadfastly unto our hands and hearts when grief threatens to make us slip away…

May we find friends that slap us across the face to remind us that giants, warriors and heroes have no business in the dungs of despair and self pity…

May we find friends…

17 Questions

When you ask me ‘how are you? ‘

Is it okay for me to tell you that I am doing poorly; that my heart is broken and I do not know a way of piecing it back together?
Is it okay to tell you that my legs are sore from running round in circles around the purpose of my life?
Is it okay to tell you that I want more, more out of life, more out of where I am?
Is it okay to tell you that I am hungry for more than I have now, desperate and hungry for the rigour of adventure?
Is it okay to tell you that I wake up tired from my dreams, now nightmares, that keep me up all night while others sleep?
Is it okay to tell you that I am tired of rising and falling, starting and quitting, playing and losing?
Is it okay to tell you that I have thought severally of giving up, of lowering my dreams and expectations so that I don’t feel as battered like a piece of rag in the rain?
Is it okay to tell you that I don’t want to feel any of these things I feel and that makes me feel them all the more intensely?
Is it okay to tell you that I am scared that I have sold myself a big dream, impossible to  achieve; and I am too far down this rabbit hole to find smaller and more manageable dreams?
Is it okay to tell you that afraid that I am jealous of others; that seem as though their paths unwind in their presence while mine seems fiercely unyielding, no matter how hard I try?
Is it okay to tell you that I am angry at promises made, promises made with no intention or means of keeping; promises that never materialise?
Is it okay to tell you that I am tired of being told to work harder,  smarter and be more patient?
Is it okay to tell you that I am tired of words of encouragement and advice that don’t seem to get me past the day?
Is it okay to tell you that I realise that I am running out of time,  every day that passes,  to live my dreams?
Is it okay to tell you that I am tired of trying harder, crying longer , praying more fervently and having faith; faith like a mustard seed?
Is it okay to tell you that I am desperate, for my way out, desperate for this mountain to be moved?
Is it okay to tell you all of this when you ask how I am, how I am doing, how I am really doing?

You See Me….

You See Me,
Walking with both eyes shut
‘How stupid of you!’ you shout
‘Don’t you know you could die? ‘
‘You could be hit by a moving vehicle, fall into a ditch.. ‘
I tell you that my other senses are heightened when I walk without my sight
‘How stupid are you!’ You declare

Last night, I walked by you,
With a flourescent lamp at my feet
And both eyes wide open
You didn’t See Me, because your eyes…
They were tightly shut
You boasted to all who could hear that you came by this
After insightful research and meditation
They cheered you on and they clapped for you.
‘How insightful’ they chorused.

I stand in the crowd and scream for your attention
For some recognition too…
I jump and shout and wave my arms at you…

But I sound just like your crazed fans
And in your new insight, I wished your senses were heightened enough to let You See Me….



Shifting Perspectives: Should how I dress to church matter?

I think it is important that I start off this post noting that I am a very carefree person where my appearance is concerned. Having grown up with a father who makes me believe I am absolutely better than gold and diamond mixed together, a father who would look at my acne covered face and tell me that God only gives acne to beautiful girls because he knows they can handle it, I have grown up not caring too much about my physical appearance but about ‘the stuff up there (in my head)’ as my father would say.

Studying in one of the coldest parts of the United Kingdom during my university years did not help matters much. I was content to wear track bottoms and big jumpers around campus with big fleece jackets. When I would wear jeans and apply lipgloss, my friends would believe there was something unusual about the universe.

I came back home to the Nigerian law school (One day I will write about that place…. literally!), I continued in my ways. My other 4 girl room mates tried to make me repent, to spend a few hours in the mirror titivating before heading out in the morning, but I referred to spend my time either catching up on sleep or loving up with my new law school crush on some corridor somewhere. Lol.

Sundays were legitimately the worst. I believe we attended a 9am service and from 6am, my girls were up, showering, slaying and re-slaying. Some days we would arrive a few minutes later than those who had woken up minutes before 9pm. I remember that one of the girls who eventually became a super close friend would even take time to pick out what I would wear before she would pick hers out. She would always say ‘if we leave OMA, she will go in her black and white to church’. She would insist, I wear heels and somehow before i got back from church I was in flip-flops or pumps. I even once or twice tried to put makeup too. The only thing I could do (till now) with makeup is apply foundation, some crooked eyeliner and some sure to be smudged mascara.  Other days, I would put lipgloss as an accessory to my oil forehead and match into church.

I must give the girls credit because they looked absolutely breathtaking when they were done and if I would be honest, I felt somewhat self-conscious hanging around them with my shiny forehead and crusty lips (my lipgloss is quick to disappear and I dont understand why?).  In fact at some point, I changed churches for a few weeks and the girls in new church seemed to be even more over the top if that was possible.

I must congratulate myself for improving over my university days’ style of wearing track bottoms- even to church. In law school, I always wore my signature tank top, blazer and a skirt or trouser. On days when I woke up on the great side of my bed, I would slide into a dress. But I always convinced myself that dressing up was just another way for us (Nigerians) to show off again even in a place of worship. In my head, even if I would never say it, I judged my friends and their slay, believing they were trying to get admirers, I mean if not why would you spend that much time baking your face early in the morning?

After law school, when I returned home to my ‘only daughter’ life, I became even more ‘rebellious.’ I would wake up at 9:45am for a 10am service and somehow be ready and waiting for the boys. I would slip into some dress and throw on a blazer and many times I would be forced by my mother to use some lipgloss. She would often shake her head and say ‘I cant believe  I was excited when I got a daughter’. I did this for over a year and as circumstances would have it, I fell into deep unhappiness at some point, with effects on my weight and so I ballooned. Soon my clothes choices were limited and that meant that I wouldn’t stress myself even more. I would wake up, put on my black camisole dress, my oversize blazer which was now a mini blazer and shuffle in black pumps desperately in need of polishing to church.

I told myself that God does not care about my appearance. All He cares about is my heart. I judged everyone (in my head) who looked like they spent more than two seconds dressing up- this included my mom who woke up at 5am to prepare for her 7am service. It didn’t help that I also have had first hand experiences of women sizing each other up in church, what this person is wearing, who is your tailor, whether the person has repeated this outfit or not, and all other things that just made me resent the culture of dressing up to church.  A woman once slipped my mom a note between sermons telling her she loved her dress and she would like to get the phone number of her tailor!!!! During the sermon! My mom obviously was super flattered and also pointed out the fact that she could have just waited till after sermon. But mostly, she was flattered. I just judged more!

Who are we dressing up for? Ourselves or God? Are we dressing to show up in our best to worship God or to showcase ourselves, our ability to look better than others, all in overt shows of false humility? Does God care for the outward show of beautiful dresses and geles or does he care for just our heart? The show and over-the-top nature of Sunday attires  honestly stressed me out and still does stress me out to some extent. I wore whatever shit I could throw together very rebelliously. My mother would swallow many words on seeing me descend the stairs to go to church, because the alternative is that I say that my clothes don’t fit and I wouldn’t go.

Now the shift in perspective came a few months ago. I had been fruitlessly applying for jobs in Nigeria, falling into the heartbreaks of several promises to help that never materialised and cursing the decision to return home to qualify as a lawyer instead of staying back in the United Kingdom. I imagined that by now, if I stayed in the UK,  I would have a good well paying job that could sustain the kind of lifestyle I need (this life style is not a want- it is a NEED). I spent my NYSC year crying, going in and out of depression, self blame, self loathing, some more crying, some praying and a healthy dose of indifference (bothering on hatred) for Nigeria. I finally at the tail end of the year managed to get an email to show up for a job interview at a law firm I loved.

Boy oh boy!!!! My excitement!!!! I walked with a pep in my steps. I ‘bragged’ about the benefit of trusting God, waiting on Him etc. Before a friend would open her mouth to tell me a sad story, I would spend time testifying! Days before the interview, I started to plan what I would wear to the interview. I mean the notion of planning an outfit is so foreign to me; this is why I avoid most events I am invited for. I bother my head thinking of what to wear to appear presentable. I couldn’t come in my jalamia obviously.

But for this interview, I did plan- days ahead! I planned to wear my white tank top with my Call to Bar suit and heels. YES I actually thought of wearing heels! Lol. I wanted to look impeccable. A night before my interview I spent over half an hour trying to iron my clothes to give it a crisp dry-cleaned look. I only succeeded in putting some iron marks after which common sense demanded I stop. I woke up super early the next day- I mean I could barely sleep, took a quick good shower and proudly donned my clothes. I eventually did not wear the heels but my pumps were immaculately polished. I looked at myself in the mirror and I felt I looked as good as my brain looked inside. The first time I cared about matching both.

On the long drive from Ikeja to Ajah, while I sat behind my taxi too nervous to sleep, drifting in and out of various thoughts, it occurred to me that perhaps, I should care as much about my looks when going to church as I did when going to an interview. I tried to push the thought away and focus on interview questions. But the thought floated back around and I found myself considering my hypocrisy.

Does it really matter how I look to the interview after all the interviewer would look at my cv and speaking to me, glean that I had my shit together? So why did I try so hard to impress with my looks? This interviewer is just man! And you do all this for him? Yet you can’t do this for God? You don’t care that you show up to church with sleep crusted eyes, ashy knuckles and feet but you care so much to even use coloured lipgloss for this interview and attempt to use an eyeliner?

But God is not man! He has seen me in my innermost and deepest parts. He has seen my filthiest parts and still loves me just the same. He only cares about my heart. He only cares about my heart of worship.

But the way you look and dress is an act of worship to God isn’t it? The way you dress especially when coming to worship Him, surely is an act of worship?

I debated back and forth in my head till I got to Ajah (a 3 hour drive), stopping halfway only to respond to questions from the cab driver. When I got to Ajah, I was emotionally exhausted from the mental acrobatics trying to make sense of if it matters, if my appearance going to church matters, if God, like my interviewer cares to see me neat and crisp, or if He is above all of the show; and just interested in my heart?

The interview went fine and I could tell that the interviewer was impressed with me on paper as well as in person, she said so as much. Surely my appearance mattered to her. I was invited for a second interview and the same encomiums were poured. (P.S. I did not get the job eventually- remuneration disagreements I believe) but I left the interviews feeling that surely appearance does matter, to humans. It does matter to the humans staring at me in church wondering why I showed up looking like a rag doll. But does it matter to Christ? Does it matter to God? Would  He rather I show up looking pretty and fancy or show up looking just how I felt?

Does it matter to God?


‘Falling’ in Love

I didn’t fall in love with you
I suppose that phrase is an understatement
I didn’t fall in love with you
I somersaulted into love with you

Flipping in the air
With abandon
Like little children do
When playing in the rain

I didn’t fall in love with you
I somersaulted into love with you
And without much practice
I landed – not on my feet as the experts do-
But hip first and bottom next
Across the cold hard floor
Of Unrequited Love
Eating the dust of regret.