Posted in Monday Muse

What Are You Angry About Today?

It is another Monday morning and I am smiling. Got the kids to their play date early, kissed Nonso goodbye before heading off to work. Coffee in one hand, briefcase in the other I was practically waltzing into the office.

“… I saw the tweet to oh” Ojo replied aggressively “imagine them asking if Baba is doing anything for Nigerians affected by the hurricane in Texas. Has that one finished taking care of Nigerians in Nigeria?”

It was always amusing seeing a man trying to roll his eyes the way Ojo did.

“Good morning people” I tried to share my cheerfulness.

“What is good about the morning now Kalu?” Haruna asked.

“Na wa oh. I can’t greet you guys again?” I asked innocently. “What are we angry about today?”

I knew better. I should have walked straight to my desk and drank my coffee and mentally zone out. Mba, Kalu Evaristus Ejiofor would not let matters be.

“Is it how NEPA forced me to sleep in this heat?” Ojo started

“Or how we are working on Sallah holiday?” Stella stated from where she sat at her corner. “Even arsenal players are on holiday oh”.

“Or the painful fact that your president is hiding behind ‘rats are in my office’ to use style to be resting at home?” Ojo added.

“Lets not forget those Nigerians that have lost millions in that hurricane. What will they eat? How will they survive?” Haruna stated.

“Since we are adding to the list, our educational system nko?” Anita the office cleaner/messanger joined the conversation as she came out the boss’s office. She had been cleaning inside.

“Gbam, government say 120points should be cuttoff for JAMB” Stella added.

“What?” Haruna shouted.

“Where have you been, this one is even old” Ojo stated. “Worse part is in the last PTA before my son’s school closed they said there would be an increase in school fees, edaukun where will I find the money?”

“I just taya” Anita said and it sounded like she was actually tired.

“Why the noise?” The entrance door opened and my boss worked in. Everyone quietly found a way to their seat.

“Let’s get ready for the business of the day shall we” he said and walked into his office.

I sat down on my desk and dropped my briefcase. I relaxed in my seat and took a good view of the office. Stella and Ojo whispering to each other about one of the topics mentioned, Haruna struggling with the coffee machine at one corner while Anita was heading towards the reception area.

I took a sip of my coffee and closed my eyes. For 30 seconds I was going to go back to 5minutes ago. When it was nice, when I was happy and I decided  I would try to make the best out of the day.

So I ask you on this fine Monday morning, what are you angry about? Lol

 

…photo from 123RF.com

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Posted in Monday Muse

Unsaid Toils 2

 

I took quite a number of insults before I was able to get the money to join the network marketing company, contrary to my friend who half his family were either in the business or rooting for those who were, my parents had thought I had lost my mind. I remember my father sitting me down one evening and giving me a remedial course on the importance of working hard and avoiding ‘get rich quick schemes’.

In the first month of being in the business I had lost most of the people I considered friends. “Awon ponzi, Mr. marketer, always inviting for presentation” was a few of the reasons given. And after they heard I had made it big, it was “he is into rituals”. No one would understand I couldn’t lend them money because I had to reinvest in myself. “He is proud now, him no dey our level again” they said.

I didn’t mention the trips, night-journeys because I had presentations at short notice. It would seem I forgot share when I had to sleep in a bus in the middle of nowhere because the bus I used broke down or the number of times I was embarrassed, abused or thrown out of offices because what i was offering was beneath the prospect I spoke to.

Exactly a year after I started network marketing my mum died. And I lost it. She was my only supporter, my one-man fan club. And I lost it, falling into depression made me loose a lot of money. That was the first time I thought about using my Resume which after a couple of interviews drove me deeper into depression. It was a classic hero-to-zero story. My one million I had made disappeared faster than the one hundred and seventy-five Naira.

I met my mentor in that year of depression and it took a while and a lot of stubbornness on her part but she got through to me. She became he mother I had lost. For every wrong business move she scolded me like little boy and for every brilliant idea she cheered me on. I pull myself up and yes it was a beautiful comeback.

I said I invested in some companies. Last year I almost lost my shares. The year before that most of you would remember the law suit that went away after the hype that followed it. Two very tough situations. This is my eleventh year as an entrepreneur. People still want to sue me, people still hate me, my consulting firm still faces major challenges and as you know telecommunication companies in Nigeria are not finding it funny. I am thirty-five years old, and my wife just gave birth so I have daddy duties. But I am still here.

. . . . . .

This time people were on their feet, some were shaking their heads, some were smiling but everyone was clapping. I had walked back to the podium during the course of my story and I just looked. More overwhelmed at my story than at its effect to the crowd. It really has been a long journey.

I looked up, took a deep breath, raised a hand for silence and decided to continue.

“Folks, that is what most people forget to say. That is what people think. Since they don’t know you one on one, you never told them your story they assume. They think you never really worked hard, IT JUST HAPPENED. For those who feel network marketing is shady, it is simply because you thought it would be easy since you took the stories told and focused on the good part” I looked into the crowd as I spoke.

“It is never easy. And just because it took someone 2 decades to make it in life and it took another half the time doesn’t make either of them less important. If you want to be successful, respect successful people. There is no time to hate” I said.

A number of people were nodding their heads.

“We should be proud of our young folks making it big. We should encourage it. We should support it. Support your children if they have dreams. Learn about what they are interested in and guide them. You job is not to make them do what you want but guide them to do what is RIGHT” I looked around.

I have always had the weirdest type of speeches and this was one of them. I decided to round up.

“I would like to end with this. It is possible for you to be successful, know that for every ‘over-night’ success there is a story of struggle behind it and remember that if you believe it is possible and you work towards it, somehow, some day it will happen” the auditorium roared with clapping.

“Like every speech I have I have to end with the words of my favorite motivational speaker” I smiled as I look to the crowd “It has been a plum pleasing pleasure, as well as a privilege. Good Night” and I walked towards the back entrance of the stage, and like in every single speech I give, tears fill my eyes.

Posted in Monday Muse

The Unsaid Toils

I want to start this week by addressing something we all tend to do or have done. Consciously or unconsciously. I hope it strikes a nerve. Enjoy!!!

“He looks so . . . ordinary” the guy three seats way from me whispered to his friend. He must have thought I wouldn’t hear him.

“Yeah. So young too” his friend replied. I tried to hide my smile as I waited to be called to the podium. I have had this habit of sitting with the crowd instead of in the designated seat whenever I am to give a speech. I come early, sit and let the crowd flood in. Most times I am lucky to not get noticed, apparently today was not one of those days. The moderator, a very pretty lady was giving a brief summary of my background and the stares which I have grown accustomed to, started coming in my direction.

“. . . he is going to be talking on “Understanding and Respecting Success”. So please let us now welcome, as he comes to the stage, Mister . . . ” before she called my name, the crowd was already on their feet clapping. I stood up, waved to the crowd as I mounted the stage and walked the short distance to the podium. The moderator gave me a quick peck, shook my hand firmly, and gestured towards the podium for me to take over.

“Thanks . . . ” I had to smile, they wouldn’t stop clapping. I waited for some seconds and still they kept clapping. it was now getting uncomfortable. I raised my hand in that familiar manner of politicians. It shows both appreciation and a call for order.

If una no calm down we no go leave here oh” I joked in pidgin English. A mixture of shock and laughter filled the place as everyone began to settle down.

“Thank you all, I am so humbled” I said, “It is always a pleasure to be in the presence of great minds and no, I am not flattering you. I want to thank this fine organisation for giving me the honor of talking you you all today.”

There was a round of applause.

“I chose this topic today because of a notion that was proven just a few minutes ago before I left my seat.” I said my eyes drifting towards the two men who had been whispering to each other about me.

“Through the years, I have heard it all: ‘He is too young to be this successful’ they would say, ‘She is obviously an overnight success, used her father’s wealth’ they would say. ‘They are young CEOs? They look so ordinary’. People assume, and most times wrongly too, how people who are successful got their success” I said. I knew I had struck a nerve, there were whispers and nods of agreement.

“So I am going to give you two stories, I will explain both and I will leave you to ponder on them.” I smiled, the hall became quiet and I began.

I finished NYSC with one hundred and seventy-five thousand Naira in my account, I was just twenty three years old. The largest amount I had ever had to my name before, I had painstakingly saved through the twelve months I served and it was an achievement for me. I was a ‘big boy’, moved to Abuja to live with my brother. The dream was to go to the big city, get the grand job and live large. I felt I had started off well already. Three months later, no job, no prospects of a job and worse, no money. Up till today I can’t explain how I spent it.

So there I was, unemployed, broke and in my brother’s house, depression flirting with me. Then I get this invite to a network marketing presentation by a friend. And my life changed. I was introduced to a sale’s pitch that involved what we called ‘sowing for the future’. The product was a daily consumable so it was just to give it to people to try out. I quickly borrowed money to join and I started off. In two weeks I had made two hundred and fifty thousand Naira. Seventy five thousand Naira more than I had made in a year of NYSC, I quickly paid back the money I borrowed. By the end of the first year I had made over a million Naira. They said it was too good to be true and it seemed so. But I was blessed to have met a great woman, mentor and friend in the business. she taught me the tricks of the business, but she also taught me about life. She said something that for me, has been the key to my success.

In everything in life, you have three choices. You either go in first (i.e early), go in fast or go in big. Any other thing won’t do. And remember, nothing lasts forever“.

So I did my research. As legit as network marketing outfits come, there is always a loop hole and once found, it is exploited and the inevitable crash of the system happens. With that knowledge, I started diverting funds to other profitable ventures and only used spare cash to maintain the network marketing business. By the fifth year when the network marketing company I was involved with finally crashed, I had created a consulting firm with a large clientele and had stocks in two major telecommunication companies in the country. My net worth was almost 20 million Naira. A lot of people called it luck and every single time I heard that, I smiled.

This is my eleventh year as an entrepreneur. My consulting firm just successfully opened our latest branch in the US. I and on the board of directors in one of the telecommunication companies I invested in, and I am thirty five years old. If I can know that you can too.

I paused and took a long look at the crowd as they all got up and applauded. Everyone had that ‘wow’ look. I took a sip of my water. The expected reaction.

“That is my marketing story,” I said smiling. “What do I mean by marketing story, you may ask. Well in network marketing, to make a person buy from you, you need to win them, and the truth is you don’t make noise about the product. NO, . . . you sell the dream of what the benefits of getting into the business will give them. Selling the product gives you a customer, selling the business gives you YOUR business,” I said. There was another round of applause.

“So, you tell them your story,” I said “you let them see through your successes that they to can be successful. You make them believe it is possible, despite the hardship in the country. You create a seed of belief” I paused for effect.

“But what most people don’t do is tell the WHOLE story and that brings me to the second part of my story.” I left the podium and walked into the crowd.

“Why do businesses fail? Why do you think most Nigerians think all network marketing companies are scam? Why do you think most people actually believe there is such a thing as over-night success?” I asked.

“I will tell you” I said and I started the second story.

 

Posted in Monday Muse

Assumptions

If there was anything she knew, it was that she wasn’t going to be taken for a fool. Rashida had had enough, no more bullshit, no more swallowing it, it wasn’t going to go on any longer.

“Usman”

“Hey …” The words were lost in his mouth once he saw her face. He put down the game controller and put on his ‘whatever it is not here please’ face.

“Guy I go score oh” his friend Sadiq shouted oblivious to the situation brewing.

“What the hell is the meaning of this?” Rashida’s voice was as cold as ice. Usman closed his eyes in an effort to hold back the frustration and anger that was rising in him. He took a breath.

“Oops, errmm ….” Sadiq started.

“We have talked about you going through my things Sheeda, like seriously?” He said still trying to be calm.

“That is what is your problem Usman? Right now that is your problem ko?” Rashida ranted.

Sadiq quietly dropped his controller and got up.

“Bro, I think I should go” he said already heading to the door.

“Yeah, I think so too Sadiq” Rashida replied him. That got to Usman.

Kai, ki na da hawuka ne (are you mad)? What the hell is wrong with you?” The words busted out as his fingers rolled in a fist. He wanted to scream. She had a master’s degree on how to get on his last nerve.

“So he can lie for you ko? A ah (No), there is no getting out of this one oh. Not this time” Rashida said sticking her face towards his daring him on. Sadiqu was already opening the main door.

“Woman what are you talking about?” Usman asked frustrated.

“Who is Bukky?” Rashida asked holding his phone. Usman was confused? Bukky form where now? Then it hit him and a smile crept on his face. But as soon as it did he knew he had escalated the issue with his own hands.

Oh, ha ka ko (so it is like this)? You feel it is a laughing matter ko? Kai ne wawa kwai (you are very foolish)” Rashida rained down Hausa insults on him. He had to salvage things before it got out of hand.

“Rashida dan Allah (because of God) listen to me” Usman tried to cajole her.

“Now you are calling God ko? Usman you are calling God” Rashida shouted, tears threatening to come out. Pushing his phone in his face she continued, “did you think of God as she was messaging you ‘we should do this again’? or when you replied ‘we would continue were we left off’? Noooo, God was not on your mind then”.

Usman held his hands in his head. He wouldn’t let her make him react, he had to stay calm. But her voice, oh that voice he had fallen in love with on the phone every time he had called was now the voice tormenting him right now.

“Please Rashida let me explain, it is not what you think” Usman tried again.

“It is not what I think ko? See proof on your phone but okay, I am hallucinating. Ba damuwa (no problem) Maybe you need to upgrade you OS so it and decipher the message” Rashida retorted sarcastically. she had sat down on the couch opposite him.

She had had this feeling for ages. He had been keeping late nights. They had been having fights and to be honest there had been no spark in the bedroom either. Her mother had a saying, ‘when you feel it in your gut, it is probably true’. She looked at him, it had not even been 2 years into their marriage.

“Just tell me why” she pleaded quietly. He raised his head up. “What does she have that I don’t?” oh gosh he mentally rolled his eyes. “No Usman I want to know”. He had had enough.

He got up and was headed for the room. He wouldn’t get into yet another fight. When she was calm they could talk he though.

“Don’t you dare turn you back on me Usm. . . .” the words were caught in her voice as all of a sudden he was standing infront of her. Two long strides and he was in her face brething down hard.

“I have had it” he spoke in a quiet voice that sent chills to her spine.

“Your bickering, your ranting, aaaaaaaaarrh, I have had it” he screamed. “What level of insecurity have you fallen into? What the hell is all this?”

She was scared, point blank scared. She had never ever seen Usman this angry. No this was not anger, she had never seen him this enraged.

“You see me with this woman, problem, I smile with that woman, silent treatment for a week. Nothing I do or say can explain any action towards anything in skirts” he had taken over the pacing.

“Do you know why I stay at work so late?” he stopped and came close to her. “Because I feel if I can just stay away from home, I will shorten the time we will have to fight. I can’t even touch you anymore, so much hostiliy”.

“I have never denied you” Rashida forced her voice.

“I have never been one to take in malice and you know this. In fact” he reached for her hand and she quickly pulled away. She had no idea what he wanted to do.

“Give me the phone” hi voice was both reassuring and yet direct. she gave him. He fiddled with he phone for a while. then gave it back to her.

“Read the chat”

He had opened a whatsapp conversation with the supposed Bukky.

B: Thanks again for dinner; the food alone sealed the deal
U: Are you for real?
U: I better go and thank my wife. She suggested it for all my meetings.
B: Smart woman. We must go there again, maybe make it a couple’s thing.
U: That would be fun.
B: It is to get my husband to find time.
U: lol, so when can we continue discussing what I proposed.
B: Oh yeah, saw your text. Calm down, the deal is yours. Get your MD to set up a meeting. Make sure it is in an office oh.
B: Don’t go and take me for another meal that I will forget to play hard ball.
U: hahaha, never. Will get back to you on it

A gush of relief flooded Rshida’s veins. it had all been in her head. He wasn’t cheating, they were going to be alright. It was all good. She smiled.

“Thank God nothing happened” she said looking up at him. She was astonished at his look. Usman pulled away as she reached for him.

“Never have I doubted you” he said, pain filled his voice.

“Baby no now” Rashida tried to reach for his arm again.

“Not once have I questioned your relationship with any man” he ignored her.

“Usman listen, understand with ….”

“Understand? Till now all I have done is understand” Usman said looking at her. Rashida’s heart broke. The look on his face said millions. What had she done.

“I tired to understand you were being protective of your man, I even liked it at first till it brought the fights. I tried to understand the cold shoulder in the bedroom, I would never touch you just because it was your duty. It had to be something you wanted to do” he shook his head. She felt stupid.

“All you needed to do was ask your husband” he said sadly, “give your husband the benefit of a doubt and ask him, but no. Is this how it is going to be? What happened to the self confident Fulani girl that blew my mind?”

She looked at him, he looked sadly at her. She said nothing, he shook his head, picked up his keys from the key tray on the dinning and headed towards the door. Just as he opened the door she spoke.

“I am sorry?” she said, tears rolling down her eyes.

“So am I” he said without turning and walked out.

 

Posted in Monday Muse

You Do Have a Choice

“Duuuude, you just don’t get” Nkiru said as she sat on the kitchen slab. “You can’t tell me you have total control? It is not possible, we are human”.

I was in my house, playing perfect host once again to hmm … (I still don’t know what she is) … Nkiru my friend/soon-to-be-girlfriend (if I ever got the balls to ask her out that is). She had got me wrapped in one of those arguments I try to avoid. The only reason I was not ending was because she argued fairly. It was a bit difficult focusing on the argument with such a pretty face. I forced myself to turn back to the sausages I was dicing.

“See, I get but . . . . .” I started.

“But nothing” she quickly interjected. “you can’t tell me you can control how you feel? or choose who you fall in love with or are attracted to”.

I shook my head as I poured the diced sausages with the onions and pepper into the indomie. She was missing my point.

“I still don’t get when girls play that line. You can’t choose who you love” I said as I stirred the noodles. She might have just come to hangout but I had no plans of slacking. I took a sip of the cold water on the table.

“Oya now, did you choose to trip for me?” she said out of nowhere. I almost spat out the water. “Or better yet, despite everything why can’t I stop how I feel bout you”.

Okay, now i was just plain dizzy. What was aunty saying? Was she using me as a point of contact to some other guy? Dude get a grip.

“Say what now” I blurted out.

“Nice one Ikenna”, I could hear my friend, Gbodi’s voice in my head. It always came when I was making an ass of myself.

“Don’t act dumb Ik” she said getting off the slab and taking over from me. I then noticed the noodles were about to start burning as the water had dried. “don’t worry I’ve got it” she said as I tried to take over.

“We have been flirting for ages but have both been fighting back” She smiled as she spoke.

“Exactly, we held back” I said trying to stir it back to the argument eventhough what I just said didn’t make the slightest sense. “That was a choice”.

“And how is that going for you?” she asked as she turned off the gas. “it’s ready” she indicated to the meal.

“Thanks” I said and proceeded to serving both of us. It was quiet for a while as we took our plates into my room and sat down, each analyzing what had happened, what it meant and what would come next.

“So, how is your ‘choice’ going for you?” she broke the silence.

“Well, hard . . . .” I started.

“Exactly, all you are doing is fighting and you are calling it a choice” she said. she put down her food and got into her ‘I am ready fr this argument’ pose. “As much as I try, I can’t help feeling the way I do about you”.

“Erm sorry to side track, but why are you fighting it?” I asked. If we were going to go down this road, I better make good use and get as much information as I can.

“Gosh because I have so much baggage, and I know if we get serious I would just end up messing things up, hurting you and you are such a nice guy. You don’t deserve that . . . . .” she kept on talking but you know that thing that happens in movies where the girl said something and it touches the guy so much that every other thing is oblivious to him.

I just looked at her. An there in laid what I was trying to say.

“. . . . . I care about you deeply but my past relationship has made me make decisions. Decisions I know will affect my next relationship” she said. Her forehead was a wrinkled up, she looked frustrated. I couldn’t tell if it was because of how she felt pouring out her heart or if it was her confusion as to why I looked so calm.

“You talk about choice but I didn’t want to end up like this, different situations rubbed off me badly” she said. the look on her face begged for understanding. I just looked on.

“Say something damn it” she threw a pillow at me. Yep here was my cue.

“Normally I will be all sweet and nice and play it safe but what the hell” I said sitting up. “I totally disagree with almost everything you have said” she stared at me. I took that as permission to carry on.

“Let us say I agree with the ‘we don’t choose who we fall for’, let us say I agree that fighting the feelings we have had was also not a choice. But sweetheart I will not agree that you have been so damaged you cant love again or care as much, or give your heart as much” she opened her mouth to speak but i held my hand up.

“You had your say, it is my turn” I smiled. “you made that choice. when you gave your whole to your last relationship, you made the choice. when you decided to take the risk, you made the choice. when you decided it hurt too much and you were so scared of it happening again that you said no more giving my all, my dear you made that choice”.

I looked at her squarely in the eye, “Nobody has the right to make you happy or sad, or mad or make you cry unless you let them”.

She looked at me, I could see she was trying to understand.

“When you first met me, how many times did you laugh at my jokes?” I asked. “You decided to warm yourself to me and then you cared enough to laugh or to frown depending on what I did. Just because it is subconscious doesn’t mean it is not a choice” I smiled at her.

We had finished eating and were playing with the scraps on our plate. I stood up, picked my plate and hers to go to the kitchen. when I reached the door I turned back and came to her.

“I am going to be as real to you as i possibly can and I really hope you don’t take what I am about to say the wrong way” she nodded as if to say I could go on.

“You not letting me in, or feeling you will sabotage what we could possibly have is not on your ex, it is a choice you have made. I know this because I have had shitty relationships in the past. I choose not to change just because one girl couldn’t appreciate me. I chose not to punish the next girl I will be with just because I had a couple of bad experiences” I raised my eye brow as if that would make what I said sink in.

“So if you feel we being together can’t work, fine by me. But don’t kid yourself that it was ot of your hand” I smiled as I headed to the door.

“Oh, and by the way, since we are on the topic, I always wanted something special with you. If this doesn’t work out I ain’t settling for friends. Being your friend was suppose to be bonus, not the main deal” with that I left her to go wash the dishes.

Posted in Monday Muse

JOS HAMATTAN – As I Remember It

This wheather has not been funny. Anyway, while on one of me numerous pondering moments (Mondays are suppose to be serious so I TRY to act serious) my mind went back to how it used to be.  This is to all my J-town friends who went through this or something similar.
Enjoy!!!

image

My mental alarm goes off in my mind.
My ears and nose, a diffrent temperature from the rest of my being.

The whole bed is cold except for the regions where I lay.
I pull the covers closely and wish it wasn’t day.

I hear footsteps sound and then I know.
My mother is up and on the go.

I give up and give in to the fact I need to get prepared.
She opens my door, we smile as she prays for me and ruffles my hair.

I head to the bathroom scared because there has been no light.
I look at the bucket full of water worried it feels like ice.

With caution I touch, eagerly, hopefully…
It’s warmth makes my heart swell, gratefully.

I bath and dress, bundling myself against the morning blast.
Hands interlocked, mother and son head for morning mass.

At it’s end she says “have a beautiful day my son”.
I smile as I board a moto bike anticipating the coming of the sun.

From Terminus to school, I brace my face.
For the bitting cold that dooms my fate.

I approach Forestry,
An Institute full of forest trees.

The cold intensifies for a 45 second span.
It seems the bike rider slows down and I wish I could hit him with a pan.

With a cold but glad heart I see the wine painted walls of my secondary school and the smiling faces of my fellow prefects. Alas all thoughts of wind, cold and chill are gone, it’s just the begining of another school day.

Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Have a great Monday my people……