Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hair Intimacy

     Personally, I find hair intimacy important in a relationship. Growing up, I was taught the importance of good hair hygiene and it was hammered into my head never to share a comb with anyone. These were the rules to good heath; clip your nails, never share a toothbrush or a comb, brush your teeth. I remember recoiling in horror when I discovered that my boyfriend had accidentally used my toothbrush. I contemplated throwing it away. I have never shared a brush or a comb with anyone besides family. When I used to go get my braids done, I brought along my own tools.. So it is a big deal when strangers reach out for a pat.  

Without my braids

     What do I mean by intimately? I mean getting to the roots of your hair; touching your scalp (yay head rubs!), knowing the way the hair works and accepting the hair in whatever form. In my previous relationship, the man said that he preferred straightened hair in general. Clearly, we were doomed from the start. At the beginning of my current (and marvelous heh heh) relationship, I remember refusing to be seen because my hair was only halfway done with braids. At this point of our relationship, he was watched me take out my braids. He has seen the nasty nature of the way hair gets after two months in braids. Clumps and all. He has helped me put in braids. He has washed my hair. And I insist on head rubs just about every day.

     The thing is, there is a trust. You trust someone with something you take pride in. And they trust you because well . . . you have a clean scalp lol. It would be nasty to tell a guy to rub your head when your scalp is all kinds of dirty and flaky.

     Personally speaking, I don’t understand how someone can be truly intimate with a woman who has a weave. I mean, he is touching all parts of your body except for you head! Nonetheless, if a woman has a weave, it is the partner who needs to understand that a weave must not be pulled at . . . and he or she should accept the weave wearing girlfriend (or boyfriend. Hey, it happens). If you’re bald, then your partner must know that head rubs feel damn good. If you have braids, he or she should know not to pull at it when you just got them in! Hair intimacy to me is the comforts of wearing your hair around your partner anyway you see fit and not being judged by it. Hair intimacy is loving your hair and having someone love it too in whatever state that it is in and however often the style changes.

My fine bobo and I

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

BRACELET GIVEAWAY RESULTS!!!!

 So as you guys hopefully know, I did a teeny-weeny contest in order to giveaway my hand-sewn bracelets. I called them Aba-Made (the name is a story for another post lol) I want just want to say THANK YOU to all that participated. This was my first time doing anything like this so I wasn't as perfect or as efficient as I would have liked to have been. Anyway, it was quite a challenge to review everyones' submissions in the panic of my senior year, but I did it! Yay. I read and saw everyone's work and short stories; there were sooo many good pieces! BUT, I picked the ones that captivated me by the first line, ones that I could relate to, and ones that were structurally and grammatically sound. SO! Here are the winners! (1st prize - 5 bracelets, 2nd prize - 3 bracelets, 3rd prize - 2 bracelets)

The bracelets! (I'm so SICK of sewing!)

     In first place is Raina Terry who submitted THIS VIDEO of her summer this year. I encouraged other works of creativity, so I'm glad I didn't get just written pieces. Why did I like this video? Well it isn't perfect (part of why I liked it), but I was drawn to the images. At first, I was about to instantly rule it out because I was so sick of hearing Adele's songs all the time on the radio, but I honestly loved the song . . . when it first came out lol. I could give a thousand reasons why I picked this but I'll keep it short and sweet: To me, the video depicted the beauty of simplicity. I got such a great vibe from Raina thanks to this video. It was goofy (the part with her feet lol), it showed what looked like an ideal summer to be envious of, and gah! I don't want to babble. I picked it and that's that.


In second place is Kassandra Mendes and her short story Pretty. It's a bit long, but here is an excerpt:

The white cream in her hair tickled her scalp. Yet Camille sat still as the last 
section of hair was parted and the relaxer was slathered onto her roots. She resisted the 
urge to touch her head and feel her hair becoming magically straight. 
She still remembered the first time she had her hair done. She was eight and had 
been excited to go to school the next day. Her mother had neatly curled her hair and it 
brushed against her neck as she walked to class. Camille felt like one of the pretty girls 
with her new straight hair. As she took off her coat and hung her backpack in her cubby 
she looked in at her classmates. They were sitting at desks reading. Hair spilled over their 
books so Camille could not even see the glow of their pale faces.
Her face didn’t glow. It was a dark shadow. Camille scratched her neck where her 
hair itched. She suddenly felt embarrassed. Their hair did not itch. Their hair was plaited 
in long braids that nestled between their shoulder blades. Their hair lay flat against their 
scalps. Heat built in her face. Camille could almost feel her hair rising away from her 
head, puffy like a cloud of cotton. She panicked and desperately pushed her hair down 
but felt it spring up defiantly around her fingers.
She wanted to be like the pretty girls with their sleek hair and their light colored 
faces. She’d cried the day before at recess when a boy refused to play with her and told 
her she was dirty. The pretty girls never played alone. Even now in high school, Camille 
could clearly see that being pretty was an advantage. And with her dark uneven skin, and 
skinny, awkward body, it was one she didn’t have. 
“Five minutes,” her mother said and rose to clear away the items. The tickling had 
now turned into a mild burning sensation. She closed her eyes and listened to the sound 
of her mother removing the gloves with a snap and the clank of the empty container as it 
met the bottom of the trash can.
She bit her lip as the burning intensified, but made no move to stand up. Last time 
she washed her hair out too soon and her strands had been crinkly and stiff. This time, 
Camille thought, they would be straight. Some part of her childhood dreams still 
remained in her and she imagined herself with a long flowing mane, the kind that people
would notice and that boys would run their hands through, the kind of hair that seemed to 
elude her broken nape-length reality. 
Her friend Tiffany had told her a story about a cousin of hers who’d skipped her 
touchups for four months and her hair had grown a foot. Camille had eagerly tried it. She 
remembered the looks she’d received when she began skipping her relaxer. The white 
boys who’d always ignored her now appraised her in the hall. She felt herself ballooning 
with pride. She believed their stares were admiration until one of them dug his hand into 
her roots. His nails scratched her scalp. He retracted his hand quickly and looked at her 
with disgust before turning to his friends and saying loudly, 
“It’s nappy.” 
Her face had burned as the boys laughed.

The third winner is Nicole Joseph and her short story Loose Screws in Eden and here is an excerpt:

Hot wetness between my legs. He rose to leave and even then I lay paralyzed, unable to gather the rage, the courage to pluck his eyes out, to scream, to snap his head in two, the way I’d often done to my dolls. These fat, shapeless lips belonging to this empty voiceless vessel refused to utter a word. Had I liked it…

“Kaia? … Kaia,” Ande called softly. “KAIA!” he finally shouted.  My eyes jerked open. He stared at me bewildered and agitated. In those dark brown eyes, I saw hurt. “Hmph,” he grunted. “You don’t even bother to fake it anymore, do you?” “We’re past that, I guess.” With that, he warily got up and left, and now as then, I lay there, paralyzed.
He tells me I am suffering from body dysmorphic disorder. “Ha! There’s a frigging name for it,” I mocked cynically under my breath. There is a name for what can happen to a person when someone you trust screws you without screwing you when you are only 9 years old.
I stood outside Dr.Ryan’s office, enjoying the warmth of the sun on my face as I waited for Ande. There’s a name for it, a name for every day of my life I spent encaged in that prison of self hate, hopelessly moving through the days certain that I’d deserved nothing less,  that I was worthy of nothing good. There was a name for not being able to express myself boldly to this day. I thought of this body that for so long I’d considered a monstrosity, this body that I’d went to great lengths to cover up at all times so that no one could sense my shame, its dirtiness, and discover for themselves what I was, what I’d done. I thought of the dreams that died with me on that day, the opportunities I ran away from, the loved ones I shunned certain that they could never understand. The simple pleasures I’d denied my husband. The ugliness has swallowed everything. Daily it strangles me, it has put down roots.
A sign above the church across the street catches my eye. “For he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust… Matthew 5:45.” I smirked and strolled toward the curb. The civic pulled up and I shuffled in awkwardly. 
“So?” Ande looked at me expectantly, as I sunk into the seat. My gaze fixed on the sign again. 
“It’s hot out today, yes?” I said. He shrugged uninterestedly. “There’s a name for
 it.” I held his face with both hands as I reached over to kiss him. “There’s
a name for it.”




YEAH! FREE BRACELETS!!!

     I have emailed the girls and have gotten their mailing addresses. Hopefully I will have them sent out tomorrow if I am not too lazy.  Everyone worked hard on this. Especially me lol. Yes. I'm serious. I don't even know how I found time to do this. All those who submitted get discounts on the bracelets and must email me at yagazieemezi@gmail.com with their full names AND the work that they submitted to me. This way, I will know that I'm selling the discounted bracelets to the right people and I WILL recognize the previous work you have given me. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! Once again, this contest wasn't perfect as far as my organization skills go, but let's hope I do this again with much improvement! I will have my site to sell up hopefully by next week. I will give a proper announcement for that!

I'm so tired right now. Email me with questions if you have any.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

BRACELET GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!



Yes people! I am giving away ish for FREE and all you have to do is write, draw or create anything. First prize will be FIVE fat bracelets, each of a different print. The second two people get THREE fatty bombom bracelets of different prints as well. And the last person I pick will gets TWO. And ALLLLL the people who submit a piece of work will get a discount on the bracelets and earrings that they want to buy (the good part of this is well, the discount and you actually get to pick what you want and how many!) Here’s how it goes:
  1. You have to be a follower/reader of mine on either tumblr or blogspot (Hungry Aba Gal), OBVIOUSLY.
  2. WRITE and submit a short story. Not just any short story of course. It can be fictional or not, and can be about anything. More than a page long and there is no page limit. Make it unique. And make it bloody good. It can be a poem too, but it still has to be more than a page. You can draw, sew, build something, anything, take a picture of it and SUBMIT it to me. If you can CREATE something, I want to see it and go, “Ooooh”. I would love to put up your stories and creations(of my choosing) on both blogs so please give me permission to do so with your submissions, if you want. SUBMIT to yemezi@unm.edu
  3. Submissions start OCTOBER 13, 2011 and ends NOVEMBER 13, 2011. This way, it gives people enough time create or make what they want. It also gives me time to make more bracelets. And we all procrastinate. I can’t give a date as to when I will announce the winners since I don’t know how many submissions I will get, but once I have an idea, you guys will know. (But definitely this year lol)
I’m sure I omitted something so if you have any questions, hit up my inbox yemezi@unm.edu

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Father's Mangoes.

It has been over six years since I have seen father. My sister travelled back home to Nigeria and was kind enough to create a video of him. (By the way, check out her blogs HERE and HERE). Within the first 3 seconds (literally) of watching it, I broke down crying. He has grown old. It seems silly, of course he aged. My solidified childhood imagery of my father being a physical pillar of strength waned. Anyway, I want to share the video with you all. Many of my friends who grew up all over Africa have watched it and all say that they miss their fathers as well. I hope you guys can get some good nostalgia from this. Below is another short story of mine.


My Father’s Mangoes

     The mangoes came with the rainy season. We had two mango trees altogether. One was on our neighbour’s side of the compound and it was huge when compared to our somewhat stunted tree. Their mangoes when ripe, became deep red and orange. It attracted the biggest of fruit flies and the greediest of birds. Even the texture of their fruit was different from ours. We would bite into it and the fibers from the seed would instantly nestle between our teeth, juices would flow down our chins, get attracted to the grasping fingers and drip, drip, drip onto already dirty clothes stained by dust and childish adventures of a day spent outside. My neighbour’s mangoes were messy and squishy. They littered the front compound with their rot and they lured in the ugliest and strangest of insects. How I hated picking them off the ground with the hopes of finding a whole mango, but only to discover  a bird had beat me to it. 

     My father’s mangoes were different. They were more firm and ripened with a solid blend of yellow and green. When cut open, they were smooth, their juices did not leak out along the sides as a blade cut into them. They always lingered on the open wound of the fruit with lady-like mango juice perspiration. There was no denying their simplicity, and it was my father’s mangoes that fully came with the rainy season. The first rains of the season came in full celebration and we danced in and with it. I remember that freedom, the freedom of getting completely soaked, my clothes clinging pleasantly to my skin and the calmness with which the water dripped off me. The winds would blow heavily, and then you would hear them, the mangoes. Our mangoes would drop and with that being the signal, my sister, brother, cousin and I would dash out of the house and into the rain. It would pour so heavily one could barely see. The earth was not sucking in the water fast enough so we waded past our ankles, but we could still see them. We could see their colors in the murky water, making very little effort to hide. After much jostling, insults and delighted laughter, we would go to the kitchen with our arms full. I can’t remember my cousin and brother, being the older ones having their first pick; it would make more sense that they did. However, I remember always having good mangoes. 

     I would wait patiently for my father to return home. Then I would select from my little collection; the two best mangoes. I always had the magnanimous nature which came so blindly and willingly to some children and I would closely inspect them; making sure the skin had no dark spots on them. The skin was eaten with the fruit for that extra crunch.  I would cut them carefully into five pieces; two fat pieces off the broader side of the mango, then two narrower ones off the sides. I was always careful to leave enough flesh on the seed. Daddy liked the seed and so did I. I would arrange them carefully on one of our several ceramic plates...did they have a pattern? I can’t remember anymore. When I gave them to my father, I looked forward to his eyebrows rising up in feigned surprised and his mouth briefly forming an ‘O’ before breaking away into a broad smile. As he ate, I would sit in a chair near him and entertain myself  with the television or the newspaper cartoons. He always left me a piece. If there were two mangoes, he gave me the seed. If it was just one, he gave me one of the broader slices and I would savor those pieces like those were the last mangoes of the year, but knowing that there was still tomorrow and it would rain again.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kechi Okwuchi

    I remember the Sosoliso plane crash. I had only been in the United States for a few months and I remember my extreme homesickness adding to my devastation of the plane crash that took 109 lives from us. 60 of them had been students from Loyola Jesuit College in Abuja and out of the 60, Kechi Okwuchi was the only survivor. With burns expanding to over 60% of her body and over 75 surgeries later, Kechi's story is one of perseverance and determination. I was lucky enough to carry out a phone interview with her. I remember Kechi's voice for the first time. It was strong, deep and with a certain sweetness to it.



Y: Tell me about the actual crash, if you may.
Kechi: The pilot announced that we were going to land in the airport in about 20 minutes and the plane started descending. I was in an aisle seat which is really unusual for me because I like the window so I couldn't really see what was going on outside. Suddenly everything seemed different. We were going down way too fast. Someone in the back was shouting. It was a woman's voice, "Is this plane trying to land?" When she said that, everyone started panicking. I looked to the side to my friend and she was looking really scared and I was probably looking just as scared.  So we held hands and tried to pray, but before we could even start to say, "In Jesus' name", there was this really loud, searing sound right in my ear and the next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital.

Y: Understand that you don't have to answer any of my questions, but how did you deal with the loss of your friends and the other people you knew on the plane?
Kechi: Well at that point when I woke up in the hospital, I automatically assumed that since I was alive, everyone else was alive too. I was told by the psychiatrist in the hospital 4 months later that I was the only survivor of all the students and only one of two survivors of the entire flight. I cried a whole lot. I was devastated. The first person I could think of was my friend Toke Bagru, the girl that was sitting beside me because she was my closest friend. She was the first person I thought of because she had been the last face I had seen before the crash. My mother was there with me the whole time, she's my rock. She let me cry everything out. I still cry, but I don't like the idea of being constantly sad about it. If I stay sad and constantly depressed, it's an insult to their memory. I want to live my life to the fullest, not just for myself, but for them too.



Y: How do you handle your scars? Mainly, how do you handle the way strangers look at you?
Kechi: It's a bit uncomfortable, I won't deny that. I try to make it not define me. Maybe it is America because people here are a little bit more reserved than in Nigeria where you know, strangers will walk up to you and go, "Ehh yaa, chai, what happened?" And in a way, that is actually a better reaction than the strangers here who stare in a really conscious way. I really don't have a problem with them looking because if it were me, I'd stare too. I try to put myself in their shoes and I don't really get annoyed as the world would think I would. It is a really gradual process.

Y: Well, let's move to a different aspect. Tell us more about your personality, what you do for fun, your friends, how sense of style. Really, anything.
Kechi: Well, pre and post the accident, I've always had this sense of confidence which I won't deny has helped me now. My friends describe me as a really cheerful and optimistic person and I see that. I like to smile and laugh a lot, I love joking around. I love video games and board games and I love spending time with my family. I love going to amusement parks, I love the fast rides. Fashion....well I like looking good. I really love looking good. I'm very fashion conscious, I go for comfort. My normal outfit during the day would be jeans and a t-shirt. I love different colored hats, I think because I lost the hair on my head, I just got into this hat crazy where my mother would get all kinds of hats for me. But recently I've been able to start wearing wigs. I love, love, love singing. It is my second favorite thing to do.





Y: What are your plans and hopes for your future?
Kechi: I want to work in an advertising agency. I'm studying Marketing and Advertising in college now. I would hope to have a career involving both. More importantly, I pray that I will be able to become the type of adult who is able to make a difference. I wouldn't have been able to make it this far if it hadn't been for people who helped me out of the kindness of their hearts. I want to do things out of the goodness of my heart and not just for my benefit. Especially for Shriner's hospital that has treated me so far. The things that they have done for me....if I had to pay, I wouldn't have been able to do it.

Y: What do you have to tell other out there about being comfortable in their own skin?
Kechi: No matter who and where you are, you are always going to encounter obstacles. We never give up. Giving up was the one thing that I was not allowed to do. If you get to a situation where you feel that you should just give up and let go, that is the moment that you know that you shouldn't give up. You want to be able to know that you tried. If people feel that their life is worse because of some kind of accident, someone somewhere is going through the same thing, or worse. It gives me hope because I know that I'm not alone in dealing with my problems.





"Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria, and the Shriners Kids Hospital USA have been pivotal to Kechi's surgeries, funding the countless surgeries that Kechi has undergone in the last five years. Shell covered her extensive treatment in South Africa, from 2005 till 2007. Upon Kechi's move to Texas in 2007, she received free treatment at Shriners Hospital, Galveston Texas, as she was under the age of 21, and a minor in the United States. However, Kechi turned 21 in October, making her a legal adult in America and unable to receive any more free treatment. Unfortunately, though Kechi's surgeries are far from over, she will have to fund them privately."

To see how you can help, please go to http://www.kechiokwuchifundraiser.com/ for more on her story and share it with people you know. It will go far people!

     Her words and spirit touched me and I hope it does the same for you all. RIGHT HERE is a video her cousin made for her and it certainly brought tears to my eyes the way he captured her beauty, eternally.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Clean Faces Project


     Growing up Nigerian, I never paid much attention to what I see as beautiful in our black women today. Perhaps I was just too busy living in the bright innocence of my childhood to pass judgement down on an individual's outer, material appearance.  I have always looked towards the width and warmth of a smile, how the eyes narrow with the expansion of the lips, and how the body moves together with a laugh. Of course as a child, I wasn't completely blind and naive to the standards of beauty that were set up for women. I would notice the light, blotchy effects of bleaching cream on certain women that let their faces stand out from the rest of their dark bodies, the black dots on their cheeks created by eyeliners to emphasize the depth of their dimples, and an occasional chipped tooth or two caused by an attempt to artificially create a gap between their front teeth.


     I never paid much attention to the different shades of skin that I saw back at home. I saw it all, although I have very patiently tried to explain to a few people here in the States on several occasions that not all Africans have the same skin tone. As I delved deeper into my studies at the Africana Studies Department of my University, I was taken back to the era of slavery and I have come to realize that the residue of the 'house' and 'field slave' mentality still lingers amongst us. Now of course bear in mind that the African and the African-American experience differs in several aspects, but there is still a fine thread that connects us all. An active member of the black community here, I have been a part of several discussions pertaining to black beauty. We've touched on it all. Weaves, clothes, make-up, how 'mixed' a woman is and so on. Women insist that they can't have natural hair because they don't have that 'good hair'. That they don't have 'Indian' in their family. That they need make-up to cover their blemishes. That weaves are essential. It really isn't anything that we haven't heard before.
     Then we turn to the media. Where black women fit into certain roles. We have our Jezebels and video  vixens. Women who become highly sexualized beings in movies and music videos, most bearing a certain lighter skin tone. We have our Mammies, the often overweight, good-natured black women that lack any desirable female qualities. Then we have our sassy, usually dark-skinned, finger snapping, head-rolling, ball-crushing woman. The list really does go on, but I'm sure that you can recognize the mentioned three in media and perhaps in real life as well.
     So I did the Clean Faces Project. I walked around campus and invited as many black women as I could find to be a part of it. I asked them to come make-up free, free of any artificial layering that would be distracting from their natural beauty. I told them that they could wear their hair in whatever state that they preferred, mainly because I believe a black woman's hair tells a lot on the woman's personality. I ask you all to look closely at each woman in these photographs. We all have our unique looks, a trait or feature that makes us stand out so let us step away from what the media tells us, what men want from us, even what our parents expect of us and see the plain, simple beauty that can be seen in our everyday, not-so-regular black women. 















   Photography: Cameron Davis (http://camerondavisfotos.tumblr.com/)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New Creations

Greetings darlings. I feel a nice, long post brewing up in my fingertips. But not today! I've been lazy but not completely idle.
I've been making more bracelets lately but they are not quite ready to be sold. Will keep all of you updated! 
I've been struggling with my hair being out because I can't afford my usual hair butter at the moment....my natural sisters out there, could you please recommend a cheap but good product and even possibly, one I can make at home in order to maintain my hair? It is incredibly dry right now and I can't seem to find the right, cheap hair products for it!



I've started on some big art pieces. They don't take that long to draw but I still like to spend time on them!



In the mean time, check out my other blog: http://yagazieemezi.tumblr.com/ Until next time sweethearts. I promise to return with a nice, long read for all of you!

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Regular


The regular is my natural hair. After about seven hours, I finally removed the last of my braids. My hair needs time to recover.

Yes, that is all.

Friday, May 20, 2011

That Thing Called Love

The first picture we took together

     So some months ago, I got out of my first relationship of two and a half years. No, it was not an ugly break up though our relationship did have some intensely ugly moments. We cried and kissed each other good bye. He simply moved to pursue his dreams and I simply stayed to complete my education and graduate from college. I fell of the last person I ever expected to fall for. But we understood each other. We had our own smiles and quotes. We acted like children that had their own secret friendship that no one else could be a part of. And we loved each other protectively and fiercely. The sacrifices we gave for one another can not be counted. But unfortunately, he had to move. I am not going to talk about our negatives, just know that they existed.

     I gave him everything good I had in me and left myself with nothing. He threw his carefully guarded emotions at my feet and sacrificed so much for the both of us. We exhausted ourselves in our love. We became adults together but we needed to know what it is like to be adults apart. We are both experiencing this new found freedom so foreign independently. Of course we miss each other. We don't say it because we do not need to. I never thought I would find a relationship like this. Yes, I was one of those girls who would spend long, lonely nights not wanting to be alone. Wanting to be held, yearning for those tender kisses and comforting arms. I got it all. I remember the first time I saw him. He had just got done lifting weights outside his house and damn, he looked good. I paid him no mind though. Weeks later, I ran into him. Or rather, he stopped me in the mall. And he said my name. Sweet baby Jesus! Not only did this man remember my name, but he said it right! And so it began. I swear I did not like this man at first. He was interesting but his ideals on women disgusted me (that changed lol). But there was something about him. Despite his rough edges, he was a gentleman and his laugh....... I would be over at his house at 10pm, we would talk until 7am and I would doze off. I would wake up later to find him curled at the foot of his bed, keeping his distance while I sprawled my entire body all around.




      He fell for me when I would wear sweatpants, t-shirts and flip-flops (slippas) everywhere. He fell for me before I knew how to dress to impress, how to even wear heels and not stumble. And I was with him hopping fences and running to catch buses, walking miles in the cold (seriously, we walked in winter) and in the sun. He stayed with me when I discovered my passion in life and I stayed with him when he finally got a job, got himself into college again and became man enough to even adopt his younger brother. He was my Primal Man, and I was his Jungle Love (yup, that's how I created my other bigger blog). He was swift to judge men who looked at me, and I was the jealous banshee who made sure that no woman liked him lol. Neither of us had anything to worry about. I developed his slang which I still use on a daily basis and every now and then, he would break out in an attempted Nigerian accent. I fell in love with Jay-Z because of him and sometimes I would catch him singing some D'banj.
      He was my first true love, my best friend and probably the closest person I had to family. What we will become in the future, only distance and time can tell. We might drift apart and become strangers as most do but whatever the outcome, I am ready. I feel as if I have gone through the one experience I have always dreamt about. I finally know what it is like to fall in and out of love and my God, what an amazing feeling that is.




Charred and Forsaken

     Each year in Aba never went without a riot of some sort. I always remembered the Muslim/Christian clashes. My father would describe the bodies of Christian men, women, and children that had been slaughtered up North and stuffed into trains and sent back home. I would see the pictures myself in the newspapers. Bodies literally spilling out of the trains. Bloated and blank. And so it would begin. Christians would start killings of their own. I'm sure most Muslims were easy to pick out. Their dress, tribal markings and thick accents could not be hidden easily and swiftly enough. I remember walking out of my compound during a time like this and watching a crowd of people brutally beat a man to the ground. I remember seeing our neighborhood young cobbler, a small boy watching. I remember wishing that he would not stand around like that because he was Muslim and could get killed. My father told me to stay indoors after that because he was afraid people might mistake me for a Northerner because of some of my facial features.

Random pic.

     I do remember the burnt bodies.You could smell them a mile away. You could spot the massive vultures forming their ritual circles in the sky. I remember taking about this to my friends in the States and they were horrfied. I would be amused by their faces, each one looking upon my own as though expecting to see some sort of mental damage caused by the what I have witnessed. But let me tell you something, there is none. I have never tossed and turned at night, rolling in nightmares of death. The amount of death I have witnessed is nothing compared to what most have seen. These were not bodies of my friends and relatives. I had a Nigerian professor here in the States who says he still has nightmares involving the religious murders of his extended family and his flight from home. So I am fortunate.


random pic.

     Death is not something that we......well, at least I was shielded from as a child. I remember passing bodies on my way to school and I would hold my breath, and press my face upon the glass. I would strain my eyes for a better glimpse of the corpse. Usually the victims were those who had not been able to get away from the angry mob fast enough. Those who had perhaps stolen a purse and had been chased down. They became victims of Jungle Justice, justice by the people. I would arrive at school and my peers would be just as excited as I.
     "Did you see the body by Brass Junction!" one would exclaim. Never a question.
     "It didn't have a head!"
     "I think they cut it off before he died!"
     "No! It was after!"
     "The vultures were already eating him!"
     Morning conversation. Forgotten by noon.
     Now that I am older, I have grown less apathetic towards the matter. As I scroll over my memories, I no longer see simple, blackened bodies. I see people. I still feel no emotion towards them. No pity, no anger, no sadness. But I now recognize them as people who had loved ones. And I feel pity, anger and sadness for those who could still recognize their beloved despite the stench and decay. With all honesty, these emotions are fleeting and soon to be forgotten. But by doing so nonetheless, I feel as if I have paid my respects to the dead that I so blatantly gazed upon.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

I Used To Be Bulimic

     The funny thing about my bulimia was that no one noticed. I did not lose a huge amount of weight. I was skinny but skinny people do exist so I never raised any eyebrows. As an African woman, I feel that admitting to an eating disorder is big. It took me years to tell anyone because I was so ashamed of such a weakness and I did not want to confront it. I am yet to meet any African individual open enough to discuss any eating disorder they may have had.

     And it all started in the States. As I have mentioned before, I went through an ugly duckling stage of life. And my older sister had her almost six-pack going on at that time so I constantly compared myself to her (little did I know she was going through stuff too). I did not do it to attract men, I did it simply because I wanted to be skinny and feel good about myself.

No one could tell I had an eating disorder. I was skinny but I still looked healthy.


     Anyway, I started to workout for  about two hours everyday. I would eat little all day and stuff my belly at night. I would feel so defeated once that 'full' feeling came about so one day, I put my fingers down my throat. And I kept on doing it. I loved that I could eat so much and enjoy the food but throw it all up and get that empty stomach feel. I was 17 at that time I do believe and in my senior year of high school. I did not overcome this until my last semester freshman year in college.

At my smallest. Prom '07

     I threw up every single day. My eyes would be bloodshot for hours. I had no problem going out to eat as long as I could rush back home and get rid of it all. How did I stop? I wish I could say that I went to therapy, that I prayed, that I had people stand by me through it all but once again, no one knew. 
     I was talking to one of my friends as we browsed through magazines looking at the models and she brought it up. She casually talked about the damage that it does to the body but one stuck with me for some reason; enlarged neck glands underneath the jawline. Later that night, I went to the mirror and looked at myself properly for the first time in years and all I saw were: 

Swollen neck glands underneath the jaw line lol.

     And that was it. It was something simple and almost superficial that made me quit that same night. The small swelling under my jaw was ugly to me so I simply stopped. That was in late 2008. I never got the urge to do it again. The swelling never fully went away or maybe it's just my imagination at this point. As a woman, I still struggle with issues concerning weight. I still have a poor and possibly unhealthy eating diet. But I love myself more. I go to the gym more and when I can't, I don't beat myself up about it. I love ice cream and chocolate, I eat them when I want. I do not deny my body what I desire but everything has to be done in moderation of course. 
     My thighs jiggle and my belly has a fold in it when I sit or bend over.  I am fine with that. I have love-handles that occasionally sneak out over the top of my jeans but that's cool. Not all clothes look good on me or fit me right. But that's no problem, I find clothes that do. I am not alway happy with my body, but I am happier than I ever was. Understand?

Random picture of a friend and I. I am this happy lol.

And I love the little curves I do have.
  

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Yet Another of My Rants

This is a seriously one-sided argument on my part and I have no problem admitting it. If you are offended by this, you are overreacting. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Scar


     So I have had quite a few curious minds ask about my scar so here is my story. It was in 1995 or 1996 or so.  I remember the coolness of that evening. It had been a long day of not wanting to be in school and I was a struggling student in my early academic years. My older cousin was preparing to cook dinner and we were out of salt. Now bear in mind that this was many years ago for me so it may not have been salt, we may not have actually been walking to the market. My images of this event get more blurred over the years. She invited my sister to accompany her and I begged be taken along. I lied and told her my homework had been completed even though I can still clearly picture my open exercise book, red and blue lines left blank.
     We approached Okigwe Road and I remember insisting that I cross the street alone. I wanted to be a big girl and was tired of people holding my hand. Some say that my cousin agreed to let me cross the busy main street and others say that I shook free from her grasp and ran across. Either way, there was always some tension between us over the years. Long story short, I did not make it to the other side of the street. A car ran me over and was unable to brake, dragging me down the street much to the dismay and cries of by-standers. Now any Nigerian loves a good event so even though my accident was a bit gruesome and tragic, I am fairly sure they were delighted to be given a new story to describe for the next week or so. People were said to have dashed out to the road and manually stop the car with their hands.
     I do not remember any of it. And most of all, I do not remember pain. I woke up on a cold metal table and looked down at my utterly destroyed leg that had two metal braces through it. My father and mother were on my right side. My father was shaking his head and my mother was sobbing quietly. My father said that I had overheard them talking of amputating my leg but I had looked at him and said, "Daddy if you let them cut off my leg, I will kill myself." Not the typical statement a father hears from his six-year old. I still do not remember any pain.
     I missed a great deal of school and back in the day, I wish my parent could have afforded the plastic surgery and the physical therapy. But I am extremely grateful. I have heard from and visited several plastic surgeons around the world and they all said the same thing: Your leg is fine the way it is. Nothing more than be done. Growing up in Nigeria with a scar which took up my entire leg since I was so little was no challenge to me. I had seen all sorts of disfigurements starting at a young age and I quickly learned that although children stare, so do adults. Everyone seemed to have a scar and I would often get exclamations while walking down the street,
"Ewoooo! My daughter! What happened to your leg? Chai! What a pity!"
     You learn not to get offended by bluntness. I know what they meant so I was not hurt. But when I moved to the States, I suddenly became conscious of the mark on my leg. So I wore pants. For the first two years, I wore nothing but pants. But I got to college and I told myself that I could not go through my years hiding. I simply stopped caring. I stopped wondering about the scar and the fact that one leg is slightly smaller than the other. People still notice it. People still stare blatantly at it as I walk around. And yes, sometimes it still hurts. I still get annoyed when people stare at it repeatedly without asking. But I realized that my scar did not stop people from being attracted to me, that if I laughed about it, they would laugh with me and tell me to count my blessings. People ask to touch it when I tell them my story and I let them.
     Simply put, I cannot change my scar. So I accept it. I love myself too much to be uncomfortable over something I have had for literally the majority of my life. Not accepting our scars is the same as not accepting our skin color to me. We would we deny something like that? It is embedded into your flesh. It decorates it and mine comes with color (the white in the scar). As human beings, we will always be self-conscious of ourselves be it our teeth, stretch marks, height, weight and so on. The way I see it, if there is NOTHING and I mean NOTHING, not a chance in hell that ANYTHING can be done to those insecurities, learn to love them because how you love yourself is a huge part of how others love YOU.
     It is a journey my darlings so I know the difficulties. Take your time but still......tick tock.....time no go wait for you.

Monday, March 7, 2011

My Whiffs of Home

Have you ever been walking to a destination and you suddenly smell home? It just floats right by you and then it’s gone. And you inhale deeply, willing the scent to come back and flood your nostrils one more time with a memory once lived. The scent is unique to your senses and the environment you lived in. For me, I sometimes catch my father’s cologne, the stale kind that has settled into the fabric of his shirt after a full work day of sweating. Other times it is the smokey remnants of suya rubbed with peanut spice and mixed with chopped onions and their purple hue. Sometimes it is the stench of decay, a reminder of the piles upon piles of rubbish strangely colorful on the side of my streets. But I inhale it all. I stand in one place and I try to suck it all in, wishing with all my might that I can be carried back home to its origin. 

Our senses work in wonderful ways. We are literally able to sniff a shirt and determine immediately if it belongs to our brother, sister, lover, etc or a stranger. Our senses trigger memories. For me it is a kick, a jolt right at the back of my head and for a fleet second, I am transported into the past. Me sitting next to my dog, flies swarming over his head and I can’t remember the last time I bathed him. But his smell is bearable. I am used to it so I allow him to rest his head on my lap and stare at the open wound on his ear which never healed in the 14 years or so we had him. Then I am transported again. This time I am watching our neighbor’s goat burn. It must be someone’s birthday or perhaps part of another wedding ceremony. The goat’s body has been hoisted on a stick through the neck which not too long ago had been the killing point; weak bleats had been given out and there had been very little struggle. There is a car tire burning beneath its body, aimed to get rid of all the hair. The creature will later be bald and cut open and I will watch with mild fascination as the greyish innards are picked through. Today, I still do not eat goat meat because I can never get rid of the smell of singed hair. Other transports are clearer where it is after church service and I have just cleaned the house. The best part of my home was that you could literally see the rays of sun flood in. Everything smells so...simple. My father would give my two pats on my back and a peck on the cheek which I could wipe away in that manner that children do, but only after he had left the room. 
But I am now back in the present. and all I can do is wonder when the last time my father got the windows cleaned in the six years I’ve been gone and if he sees the sun rays the same way we used to.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Growing Up Naija

I don’t come from a rich home. As children, we never really got what we wanted but we always had what we needed. My father was doctor but was never very lucky in his profession. There were never enough patients coming through and too many left without paying their bills. Yet my siblings and I were still lucky and more privileged than most. We didn’t have to bathe outdoors like our many counterparts that we passed by on our way to school; covered in suds, and quickly scooping up water from a bucket with their hands or a colorful plastic cup. We never had to join the long water lines, jerry can in hand ready to collect the tap water flowing out of a neighborhood pump. My father said that he never wanted to see his children balancing containers of water on their heads or pushing them in wheelbarrows yet I still envy the skill it takes to do such.


My tender-hearted father and I.

Yes, we were fortunate. But there were days when I didn’t have lunch in school, were I would enviously eye my classmates as their parents brought food for them. My stomach would rumble and complain so much that a fallen biscuit would be snatched up quickly and discreetly by my eager hands. There were days when my siblings and I couldn’t wait for our birthdays because it meant that crates of mineral (soda) would be bought and my sister and I would make the last bottle of Pepsi last but pouring it into a cup and sipping it up from teaspoons. There were nights when I would be unable to sleep because NEPA( Electricity company) had taken the light once more and I was determined to hunt down every last mosquito that had escaped the wisps of the burning mosquito coil.
I was never jealous of my better off friends, living in their duplex homes with their glass dining tables, extravagant parlors decorated with thick curtains and detailed embroidery.  My father’s bungalow will always be huge to me. Patchy and old but everything had a glow to it. Our couches had huge rips in it where our cats had scratched, our wall unit filled with little figurines and crystal glasses of a lifestyle once lived groaned and sagged with age, our once white lace curtains usually washed once a year were light brown due to the harmattan dust blown in through the mosquito netting. The kitchen floor left the soles of bare feet black and weevils were always in our rice, ants always floating in our palm oil and eager cockroaches left eggs in our refrigerator and occasionally fell to their doom in the freezer.  The kerosene stove which left all our pots blackened was next to the gas stove which was usually used for special occasions.

My sister dancing with a family friend. Wall unit behind.

My father again, lace curtains behind.

But this was my home. I would spend hours laying on those couches watching television, accompanied every now and then by a huddle of sleepy kittens or an attention deprived cat as animals were never denied in my childhood. The old wall unit held treasures that I played with; little china sets, a doll made out of corn husk, an Aladdin lamp, a collectable London guard doll that always left its case, adventures were held there. The lace curtains had detailed patterns to them and could transform to white fluffs when washed. The kitchen was a constant. My father and I would hold cooking sessions there, he would create his special cabbage stew and I would be the first to present him with breakfast which he rarely ate. He would joke that the ants in our palm oil served as extra protein, the rice weevils could easily be picked out and I ignored deceased roaches as I scooped the frost from the freezer which my friend Chioma and threw it at one another imagining that we were in a snowball fight like the ones we had seen on T.V and read in books. Little did I know that years later I would call from the States and tell her that snow was very much like the frost we had played with in my home. We hadn’t missed out on much.


Me back in early 05.


(I’ll talk about Aba another time)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Okada Riding

Now if you grew up Naija propa, you have ridden an okada countless times. And you have liked it.  I know some of you were banned from it by your parents so no be your fault. As for me, na different story.
Here is an old one I wrote about Okada riding a while back.

A true Nigerian is not afraid of all those okada accident stories. Abeg, as far as I am concerned, they do not exist! If you tell your non-Nigerian friends that you used to get on a motocycle to move about, please be sure to describe what it looks like before they start thinking you were on a Harley.There is usually a cluster of them waiting at a junction, looking something...well exactly like this if in larger clusters.
Here is a guide on how to pick your okada driver carefully:

1. Do not go for the ones calling you (for the girls). Don’t answer to,”Bebi!”, “Ay! Fine gal!” and the young ones who give what they are convinced is a charming smile.

2. Head for the quiet one (usually old) who is absentmindedly polishing the dullness of his machine. Be sure to ask how much first because they will cheeeeeat you! “Ha! Na 50 naira oh! I no say where you get 20 from!” And they will WAIT for you to go find the other 30. They just might walk into your house if you take too long. So haggle on a price my dear. Remember, this is Nigeria, you NEVER pay the asking price for anything!
Okada drivers know how to get EVERYWHERE! Just give them a number. If you have the same travel routine, that absentminded okada man will recognize you and will EXPECT you to walk up to him. An okada can fit many many people so share with your friends! There is no limit!
Now, not all okadas will just be sitting on the road for you. To hail down one you must stick out your hand and look the man dead in the eye. If it is early in the morning, just stand there and look miserable. Maintain eye contact. The okada is fast and sometimes the driver will think that he is in an action movie with his deep corner turns that will leave you concerned for your safety. Just enjoy the wind in your face my friend! If it is raining, hide behind the driver because the raindrops will feel like constant and painful stings.
Signs of a regular okada rider? A nice circular scar on your calf. For the ladies, be careful on getting on okada in a skirt ooooh! A panty shot will be the delight and talk among the drivers for an hour or more. Wait for the driver to tilt the machine and hike up your skirt.There is a certain facial expression that goes with the hiking of a skirt but that’s a different story.
If you have never been on one, remove yourself from house fast fast and find one. 

They will be waiting for you.