Gratitude February – Day 24

Today I’m thankful for…

My toddler and the lessons I learn everyday just by watching him be.

Today’s lesson is on enjoying the little things, like an empty box that he loved playing with all day.

I hope I remember to take a breather from the intensity of adulthood every now and then, and bask in the pleasure of my empty box, whatever that may be .

What are you thankful for today?

Gratitude February – Day 15

Today I’m thankful for…

My BCA family!

The way we’re so excited to see each other, and never seem to run out of fun memories. The way we show up for each other, and support one another through the good and through the curve balls life throws. The way our senses of humor are so in sync.

I’m thankful for you all, and to have spent those formative 6 years of secondary school with you. You’re not just friends, you’re family.

And to those who have left us along the way, continue to rest in perfect peace 🙏

In loving memory of my dear Emeka.

Gratitude February – Day 7

Today I’m thankful again for Family…

My in-laws!

For my mom in-law who has showered us with love and prayers, and supported me through some difficult times.

For my siblings-in-law who have shown me the same respect they accord their brother.

And for my husband’s extended family, some I’ve met, some I’ve only heard about.

What are you thankful for today?

Gratitude February – Day 2

Today I’m thankful for…

Family!

For my husband and son. To wake up each day knowing I’m loved, no questions asked.

For my parents. I’m truly blessed with the best!

For my nieces and nephews. I have the best conversations with these little besties of mine. A week ago my 8 year old nephew was telling me all about his 75 friends. Actually he stopped at 75 only because he needed to return his mom’s phone. I’m over 4 times his age and can only aspire to his social skills.

For my siblings and cousins. These ones make me so proud. Nothing beats going through life with inbuilt friends.

For my Aunts and Uncles. I don’t take it for granted that I have such great examples to look up to. And don’t get me started on the humor these ones share. I’ve had some of my best laughs just listening to my aunties gist.

And for friends turned family.

Today’s gratitude post is in loving memory of my uncle who passed last month, Engr Peter Abalaka, my dad’s best friend turned family.

What are you thankful for today?

Family banter and WhatsApp groups

After several years without a family WhatsApp group, atypical of a Nigerian family with access to the app, my sister decided last week that it would be a great idea to have us all in one e-space. She must have been bored the day she got that epiphany, this sister of mine who responds to WhatsApp messages after 7 business days and has her Read Receipts feature turned off. I’m cautious of people who have that setting turned off, by the way. Why do you want to hide the fact that you’re online, who are you owing money!? But I digress.

Anyway, in the week or so the group has been active it has been all roses and pleasantries. The occasional How Far, Happy Sunday (in my mom’s voice), and lighthearted teasing true to our family.

Then the inspirational forwarded messages from my dad, because there has to be that one person. Each inspirational message is followed by replies of ‘Thanks for sharing Daddy’ because the messages are quite inspirational and more importantly because we have to show the parents that we still have common sense and haven’t forgotten our home training.

Until Dad shared a forwarded message with the title ‘7 reasons why degree holders are poor’

Crickets. No one responded. I’m certain though that in the comfort of our homes, in true Nigerian style, everyone said to themselves “I shall not be poor in Jesus’ name.”

No one typed this on the group though, remember I told you we haven’t forgotten our home training.

Well, Mummy came online and put us out of misery, responding to her husband with a resounding “My children who are degree holders shall not be poor in Jesus’ name.”

One after the other we came out of hiding to type ‘Amen Mummy!’ 😅

Right away!

To know my Dad is to know that he likes to take his time. In doing things, in making decisions, it’s even seen in his easy gait, sauntering into a room with that quiet confidence of his.

As children if our schedule for the day involved going out with Daddy, we knew to start asking early enough what his plans were.

Daddy what time are we heading out?”

“Right away!”

Right away could mean after he had a long relaxing bath, enjoyed a good breakfast, watched the morning news, and entertained the never-ending stream of visitors while having his leisurely cup of tea.

If it wasn’t an emergency, there was no rushing him. It even became a joke amongst us, “I’ll get to it right away!” became a response my siblings and I gave each other when we didn’t want to be hurried.

The events of the past year have got me acting like my Dad. Prior to March 2020 early mornings used to be a blur; wake, pray hurriedly, rush to shower, get dressed so fast you’ll think it was an Olympic sport, pack my bags, head to work, and if at all breakfast featured it would be eaten while responding to emails.

These days it feels so good to have a more relaxed routine, more time to pray and meditate, workout, prepare a healthy breakfast, and even have a leisurely cup of tea like Daddy.

If we do go back to working fully from the office I hope I find a way to strike a balance and remember to enjoy the little pleasures of the morning, Daddy-style.

J is for Jump and Pass

This recent electricity wahala in my neighborhood is a son-of-a female dog,  but on the bright side I’m forced to spend some more time outdoors, away from my recluse AC life.

This evening my husband and I took a walk around the area. Architects that we both are, every building was scrutinized. The houses within our estate have low fences so it’s easy to see the house with mismatched wall paint, the house where the kitchen has been converted to another bedroom (don’t ask how we knew), and the one where the owner has decided he has no need for sunlight thereby mounting a humongous carport that occupies the entire outdoor area.

Hubz: This man’s cars must be very special to warrant such a carport.
Me: I wonder what their alternative source of vitamin D is seeing as they’ve shut off the entire sun.

We pass another house with rows and rows of pines and masquerade plants that make it impossible to see the building.

Me: Hehe, these people think they are building the walls of Jericho with all these plant fortifications. As if that’s not enough they now have a ‘BEWARE OF DOGS’ sign.
Hubz: As if anyone needs a ‘BEWARE OF DOGS’ sign to actually beware of dogs. Won’t common sense tell you run when you hear dogs barking?
Me: 😂

Then we get to this area where the houses are so unkempt. Trash strewn everywhere except in the bins where they belong, water from questionable sources draining onto the road. I hide my irritation and jump the puddles of water, literally ‘jumping and passing’ any lurking diseases, Naija style. Z can’t contain his irritation and spits.

Me: What’s with this poverty mindset that makes some Nigerians leave their houses so untidy?

Z spits again in irritation.

Me: Z, but you can’t just be spitting anyhow because you’re irritated.
Hubz: I’m not doing it intentionally. I think it’s just my body’s way of rejecting poverty.
Me: 😂😂 let’s go home abeg.

Of foreign accents and strangers visiting

I am certainly not the only 9-5er who wakes up most mornings, snoozes the alarm and spends minutes in bed contemplating how much I need a job. The past few mornings have been no different. It doesn’t help that the neighbour’s kids are on holidays, their voices disrupting my early morning musings, their childish excitement a reminder that I am now an adult with real responsibilities and a real career I have to face every morning. This morning their voices evoke childhood memories, leaving me nostalgic as I remember my own holidays as a child.

Most holidays were routine. A visit to or from our cousins. A visit to our Grandma’s. Then back home. Wake, eat, play, swim, eat, watch TV, sleep, repeat. One of those beautiful holiday afternoons, we had strangers visiting. They were so happy to see us, but we had no idea who these people were and our parents were not home. When they spoke, we didn’t understand diddly-squat so we did the next best thing; left them in the living room to watch the cartoon we had on. I gathered my sisters for an emergency meeting in our bedroom. There were no mobile phones in our day so reaching our parents was out of the question. At the end of the meeting, we came up with a strategy; sit and wait for Mommy to get home. Yeah, as if we had another option.

Our house had a peculiar design, with our bedroom window overlooking the living room. On the days when we were up to some mischief that window was a nuisance, giving us away each time our dad passed by our room. On the day the strangers visited however, this window became our best friend. My sisters and I huddled by the window, peeping through the frayed curtains at these people who looked a lot like us, but spoke in a language we couldn’t decipher. We could make out some English words, but this funee was nothing close to what we heard on TV.

“They are speaking like the people on TV”

“No they are not, the people on TV speak English and we understand them”

“They are Americans”

“But their mom speaks Tiv”

“No, they are from overseas or maybe abroad”

We argued back and forth.

I thought about the word overseas. Was this a country floating somewhere in the sky above us? When it rained, was it really the people overseas peeing on us? How long did it take to get there from Nigeria? What did the people there look like?

Oh the relief when we heard the horn of our mom’s car! We ran out excitedly to tell her about the strangers seated so comfortably in her living room. You should have seen the surprise on our faces when she hugged them, calling each person by name and exchanging pleasantries. It turned out these strangers were actually family visiting from Manchester.

The next few weeks of their stay were exciting times for us as kids. Having cousins from Manchester gave us bragging rights over our friends. It was a tad annoying that they were much older, and so we couldn’t take them out to play with our friends. This however didn’t stop us from interjecting every statement with “That reminds me of what my cousin from England did …” It did not matter if what was being said was totally unrelated or not. Brag we had to, and brag we did.

Their accent got easier on the ears as the days went by. We started to understand that buck’t was bucket and wo’ah was water. There was still a lot we could not construe, but nothing a little sign language couldn’t fix. On one occasion my cousin came to the kitchen asking for the dust’n. Oh the confusion on my sister’s face as she tried to understand what that meant! She looked at the plate in my cousin’s hand. On it was chicken, most of it eaten. Maybe this was meant to be trashed, but why were the bones still intact? It turned out dust’n was dustbin after all.

My neighbour’s kids have their cousins from America visiting this summer. Every morning I wake up to childish banter in a sing-song American accent, the kind that makes every statement seem like a question. Good morning? I’d have some plantain please?  It has obviously been an exciting holidays for the kids and I can’t help thinking their cousins’ visit will be a subject of many conversations with their friends when school resumes.

I used to have a colleague who spoke with what he thought was an American accent. This guy in question is Tiv and to the best of my knowledge schooled in Benue State, Nigeria all his life. This dude was always the loudest in the office, always had an opinion about everything, always wanted to be heard.  Whenever he got angry or excited though, the fake accent would take the back burner and he would sound like any Tiv guy on the streets of Katsina-ala, complete with misplaced L’s and R’s. The question of where he developed that foreign accent is beyond me. Maybe TV, maybe a visit to the American embassy, maybe a visit from his cousins too, who knows.

My neighbour’s visitors leave soon, and I feel like I have been a part of their holiday, shamelessly eavesdropping from the comfort of my living room. Agbaya behaviour, I know. I even noticed the kids have picked up some slang words and a bit of an American accent in the few weeks their cousins have been around. How long this new found accent will last is something  I am curious about. I’d be at the window of my  living room at the beginning of their next holidays, listening to know if the accent survived weeks of frustrating Nigerian boarding school.