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So my grand plan is to not go out into the sun. It makes me look like a half-baked witch when all my vanity wants is to resemble some Nubian beauty princess who has all the rich princes trying to get the glass slipper on and she doesn’t have to work a day again in her life.

I’ll try to not go out, I mean the government are basically begging us not to and I’ve heard rumors of curfew so perfect. I’ll drink only detox water. If I must go out even within the house, I need to have on sunscreen. I’ll exercise because Ciara body will not make itself. I want step out into the world after my estimated three months and look like a glossy ‘Vanity‘ magazine cover come to life. Y’all are not ready.

There’s however only one problem, my vanity is so vain and poor hence my quest for money. I need to utilise this lack of work period to venture into money making things that aren’t necessarily as deep as yahoo yahoo but kinda deep. I need an entire wardrobe overhaul because I want to attend rich people weddings and meet rich people friends and just bask in rich peoples glory even if for a while before I eventually get tired like I do with everything.

I need to purchase the baddest assest skin and hair care products so I can rock the baddest assest skin and hair and bags! I need fancy bagssss of life. I need lipgloss because they are an absolute necessity. Apart from having naturally dry lips, Iipgloss make me have an attitude. This baby is going to be born again.

But before all that, I need to open my eyes, get off this bed, greet the wicked stepmother and her husband who happens to father my siblings and I, get pissed by them for all of three minutes because I am tired of their pissful attitude, call my mother to calm me, piss some sister off or vice versa, eat a big fat burger and suya , gain weight and await apocalypse. 

Awesome! Sounds like a solid plan for a good day.

Fafa is up when I go to the parlor. Sometimes, it’s like she never sleeps. You go to her room in the middle of the night and the lights of her phone will be reflecting her face. You’ll think she is doing something reasonable then 5 hours later, you are on Twitter and you discover your sister had tweeted in the middle of the night how she can’t sleep because of mosquitoes or how she’ll die if she doesn’t eat seafood that night. Then one Arewa Twitter person will tell her to go eat crayfish from her mothers kitchen and she’ll laugh along on the timeline but will call him bastard in reality.

‘Oh! You are up’ she says after glancing at me.

‘Nope. I say with a yawn. ‘I’m fast asleep. It’s called somnambulism; sleep walking’.

She lets out a loud fake laugh then almost immediately dons on a blank face.

I walk to the kettle and fetch her pre-boiled water- because I know there’s always hot water where there’s Fafa as her constant high is one god-awful tea concoction or the other- I pour a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar and hold my nose as I gulp.

‘What’s that meant to do? Spark up ulcer?’ Fafa the intermeddler asks.

‘Weight loss’ I reply shortly.

‘All I see is ulcer’ she shrugs.

‘Just because you are fighting your internal battles-literally’ I add with a smug smile ‘- doesn’t mean we all will’.

She shrugs. ‘Whenever you feel the heartburn rising, just know that I have Mama’s puke-worthy concoction for that’.

‘You and Mama always have one medicine or the other for everything in life’.

She smiles enigmatically. ‘What can I say? It’s a gift’.

I roll my eyes. ‘Any food from the other side?’ I ask her.

She shakes her head without looking up from her phone. I sigh and look for something to eat from the kitchen; some bread, some mayo….will do.

Where’s Yasmin? I ask Fafa after the gulping my last spoon of cereals and internally wondering of what use the vinegar is since I just ate bread with mayonnaise and a bowl of cornflakes.

She shrugs. ‘Probably on the other side’. I contort my face to mirror Fafa’s. Apparently Yasmin is so loveable even the wicked stepmother likes her. The wicked stepmother liking you is the biggest deal; equal to winning a nobel prize for likeability.

There’s a knock on the door. The messenger has arrived, I think. What does she want now, someone to back her while she dazzles Baba with a spell?

I open the door expecting to see Umaima, Mommy’s somehow relative who is always the one sent with messages for us. My eyebrows shoot up when I see the tired person standing by the door.

‘What brings you here this early morning?’ I ask him.

He frowns, pushes himself in and settles on the couch.

‘You too? It’s my father’s house last time I checked’.

I almost roll my eyes. ‘I mean isn’t it too early… never mind’ I stop myself. Everything you say will be definitely misconstrued and be given a negative meaning by him.

‘Good Morning Yaya’ Fafa greets him. He merely nods back at her.

‘Aren’t you going to school?’ He asks

‘Baba says it’s not safe, besides it’s closing on Monday.’.

He snorts and shakes his head. ‘As if he cares’. 

I shake my head at the ridiculous dysfunctional family I have and go back to my room to freshen up.

Baba is on everyone’s not-good book. But he is definitively on my brother, Abdullah’s bad book. We call Abdullah, Yaya as he is the eldest in the house but he sure doesn’t act like it..

Yaya doesn’t stay in the same house with us, he left with Mama upon the arrival of the (Wicked step mother) WSM; short. She literally kicked them out.

The story of my family’s fall from the grace of one single unit to a dismembered chopped off family tree started some 6plus years when my father decided it was wise to join politics. Then maleficent set her eyes on him, then he fell in love and everything came crashing.

When I come out, I find Yaya lounging on the couch. Yasmin is back from her visit to the other side and Fafa is on the phone with her loud friend Naima. No one needs to be told when Fafa is talking to Naima because Fafa’s throat also gains an amplifier and they start a shouting match trying to be heard over the others din.

Like calm down sisters it’s called a phone, they don’t do town criers anymore.

‘Good Morning Nana’ Yasmin greets me.

I answer her and she intercepts me before I ask where she was. ‘Mommy sent me a text asking me to help her with some calculations of her record of accounts. I think something is fishy, her staff may be shortchanging her’.

I stare at her for some time before I nod. ‘Okay Sherlock’  I say loud enough for her to hear.

Yasmin is the only one among my siblings who relates well with the WSM and with Baba because one;

She is the young sweet one (to them)

She is the smart one

She is unrebellious 

She is the one who has so much potential they had better gotten her on their side so they can claim their accolades when she joins NASA

She is just the model child, miss-goody-two-shoes, forgive-everyone lets-live-in-peace-and-harmony. *Eye roll*

Sometime I see her as a traitor, sometimes I feel she isn’t being true to herself, she is trying to conform to what everyone expects of her, she is trying to be liked by everyone except of course we, the siblings. With us, she bring out her thorny side.
But you of course can’t say a thing because everyone will say it’s envy. I am older than that brat with 5 years and I sure am not jealous of her for nada. I Just can’t live a life of ‘yes’ to everyone and everything, I’d rather be fed to the crocodiles, neither can Yaya. Fafa is in the middle, rebellious but useful enough to be liked or at least tolerated. I don’t even try pleasing them, it pisses them off. 

It’s possible it’s because when the WSM crashed my family, Yaya and I were the most affected because we were more mature and we saw what it did to our mom. Whatever is the case, I just want a way out of this environment. And something tells me marriage might be the only way. Sigh!!!!!!! My non-existent love life you say? That’s a story for another day.

Next time I come back to you dear journal, I’ll pick up the pieces of our family book and put the puzzle together so it all makes sense. For now, just know that our middle name is ‘dysfunctional’ and our lingua franca is ‘drama’.

See you next time.

PROLOUGE

Dear Reader: If you are reading this then there are several possible reasons why;

-The world did not come to an end. Good thing

-The pandemic ended and I did not survive- not necessarily a good thing- and some gold diggers decided to Anne Frank it.

-The pandemic decided to disappear and I cash this baby out.

– The pandemic has shown no sign of leaving, we have learnt to live with it and I have turned my dear journal to a dreary history book.

Either ways. It is being read by you. I don’t know how this will play out. I might start coughing tomorrow and die in 5 days time- my throat has been itching- I might not write an update for weeks because may uninteresting life has become even less interesting or I may be whisked away by a royal family of handsome rich people who are adamant that their highly chivalrous and intellectual son must marry me and the pandemic will be a royal honeymoon. Then I’ll have plenty of stories to tell.

Another thing is I may be too embarrassed writing my life’s deepest senselessness and I may not be able to share all this.

        Chapter  One: The Lists

I know I’m not going back to that humid office that smells like our boss’s sweat for a long time. I feel it in my bones. Maybe Corona will mandate the closure of the wastage of time, mental energy and fashion sense that is NYSC or maybe I’ll be rusticated because of the hostile energy I exude whenever I wear that terrible Khaki that looks so nice on me. Apparently poopoo green is my colour, with the things I’m beginning to discover about myself, I’m not even surprised. 

I know I’m going to miss a few things like the chit chat with Lauje, the office assistant who is either in his twenties or fifties-I really can’t say- tall and lanky (hence the name) and whose head is clearly missing a few knots. He is loud and almost always speaks off point except he is talking about money; then he becomes a pro arithmetician.

I’ll miss looking at Mrs Binta, the lady whose real complexion remains the biggest office mystery -because a mix of the purple-brown lipstick and heavy foundation do funny things to ones visual senses- as she strolls in last every day and strolls out first because her ex-husband was the director and no one can say nothing.

I will definitely miss the epileptic wi-fi I can connect to only on the stairs on the way in and even though it means meeting and greeting people except when I’m pretending to be on the phone, it is worth downloading three episodes of Stranger Things after three hours.

I have barely stepped off the Napep when the scent of Jacqueline’s noodles swarm my senses and a wave of nostalgia hits. I already miss that heaven sent plate of noodles that tastes like epiphany. I always discover new things about life in every fork and I suspect she cooks them with weed, chicken poop or something like that so that we always keep going back for more. I told Hadiza that the other time and she looked at me as if I am a heathen for suggesting Jacqueline might have a slight.

Today, the Government have made an announcement ordering all offices to shut down. Today, I make two lists. 

One; all the things I would love to do in the three months (my estimate, seems far fetched but we shall see) it will take before Corona sorts himself out (definitely a guy). 

Second list; what I would love to do before the world wraps up and ends in the next few months because while an extreme end of my mind is hopeful, the other extreme end is in plain idiotic paranoia.

I swear when I see the figures of Covid-19 cases on the screen of TV before I walk out the moment the news starts because Millennials aren’t meant to like news, it looks like we have reached the finishing line and they are just rolling in the end credits. 

But then Anne Frank probably also thought so, then she decided to write a journal, then the world (Germany here) picked up the pieces, pieces of her memory and glorified her years of isolation and eventual death. Could be me. Being famous even if post mortem is better than passing through all this ‘The First Wave’ movie come to life without being acknowledged for my bravery. So let’s write this journal.

Here’s what my lists look like. Should we start with the gloomy one or the hopeful one?

To do list before Covid19 departs and the world gets back to normal even though I doubt that:

– Make money

– Make friends from different countries

-Eat junk

-Exercise 

-Make money 

-Get a boyfriend

-Make sure he is rich and doesn’t have smelly mouth (these two are hard to find together)

-Start planning on getting hitched (how does this even work?).

-Reconnect with family and old friends.

-Be nicer 

-Read Qur’an, learn Hadith everyday 

-Try reading a novel without having a headache and nausea

-Meditate inside a tub of warm water

-Sleeeepppp to get rid of eyebags and unwanted people

-Practice becoming ajebutter

-The boyfriend must be rich (emphasis)

-Go natural and grow hair to a healthy afro or waist length, whichever comes first.

-Melanin popping or just bleach the darn skin.

Pretty realistic right?

To do list before the world wraps up AKA Apocalyse

-Memorise Qur’an

-Have one kid, but I’ll have to marry first right? And I really have no time for that.

-Make money

-Sadaqah

-Eat junk because we will all die.

-Spend all the money on food… I repeat,  we will all die.

– Tell your crush you have a crush on him and that we will all die.

-Write a letter to your boss giving him tips on how to stop smelling like a skunk for the betterment of Earth.

-Sleep or don’t sleep. That’s your problem because we will all what…?

-Slap Tasi’u’s always clean shaven head because I really want to do that before I die.

There, done. My list looks like the beginning of an award winning movie.

Now to the implementation.

‘Hmmm! You smell like your office’, my sister greets as she walks by. 

I glare at her for a second.  ‘You see, it is these things you say that makes people contemplate suicide’

She laughs and walks away feeling like her life’s mission of annoying people 3 times in an hour is gaining momentum. 

I knew things were out of control when I found my sisters ‘To Do’ list from three years ago and in between the ‘make friends and stop talking to them’, ‘buy Iphone 8plus through prayers’ and ‘escape going to the University’, she legit has ‘annoy people for no reason at least 5 times daily’ like some sort of worship.

‘When did they take the lights?’ I ask her.

‘They never brought it back’ she screams back. 

I let out a long sigh, drag my bag behind me and vow to get a power bank the next time I go out. Then I remember Corona and I sigh even deeper. 2020 is going to be a long year, I can feel it.

Disclaimer: This journal is a pure work of fiction. It, in no way depicts the life of the writer nor any person. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Are You Okay will follow the life of our protagonist (she still has no name), and her quest to fulfill ‘the list’, or at least some part of it. She will discover how not-so-straightforward life is, how plans unfurl in funny ways, how family can be the crowd you want to avoid and how love can be found and possibly lost within a short time.

Most importantly however, she will find out about herself. And I hope everyone following this journal will open him/herself to self-discovery too.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END

It is the most interesting of times…

I have been duped of the money I was given by my Dad as my poverty alleviation intervention, the guy I’ve been crushing on for a year was crushed by a truck driver and my only reaction was to laugh at the irony of how my crush got crushed, my clothes have become 3 boubous and 2 nighties because they were the only things I could fit in, I have approximately a football field of pimples playing hide and seek on my face, the world has run out of my favourite chocolate and …. Oh yes! Corona; the beginning of the end.

It is the worst of times.

The Year of Lefasefarel.
Welcome to my journal.

If you are here to read about how I excel at solving mathematical problems (I suck at Math), or how I’m a pro basketball player or how I can read minds, or something equally uninteresting and eww-inspiring that only simpletons do, then you shouldn’t move on from here. My life is not that serious and honestly I don’t want it to be. 

Now that that’s out of the way, lets move on to the 12 totally amazing and awe-inspiring things I excel at doing😊.

1- Thinking incomprehensible senseless stuff right before I sleep off – My gibberish creative time and space is right before I doze off  or when I’m between consciousness and sleep… that time, my brain rolls films of nonsense that makes sense to my brain and that I’ll not recall after I’m fully awake.

But I swear when that is happening, I feel so inspired I can write a book.

2-Washing toilets- Is it weird that this is the first thing I actually typed (brought it down to seem more normal)? Because I think I was washing a toilet when this topic came to mind. I was washing and thinking, damn! You are one good toilet washer. In another life, I could wash toilets for celebrities and charge €1000 per session (clean toilets only).

I just really hate to see that I’m done with a toilet and it’s not very clean so I use up a whole bottle of Kleanit (best toilet washer ever.. my sister sells it), use brooms, plastic brooms, soft and hard sponge, Jik, detergent… everything until the toilet looks like Trumps teeth.

3- Sarcasm – In my mind or verbally. I cannot stand people who don’t get sarcam. If the snide sarcastic remarks I make in my head are to be revealed for a day, I wouldn’t have a single relationship with anyone I know afterwards. We say the most sarcastic things my head and I.

The remarks may be orally said but I have to be comfortable with the person first and I have to be sure the person will 100% get what I mean and so far, only 2 people get my ostensibly sarcastic, dual-meaning, exaggerated comments. Whenever we are together with one of them, she calls me mad like 4 times on average. 

4- Elite humour- I’m sorry if you don’t get my humor. It’s elite, you are not. Since people always use the word elite for even the most inappropriate of things, why not?

When you see me smiling alone for no reason, most likely I just thought up a super funny joke or scenario or I’m engaging myself. Telling this scenario out loud is never a good idea because it never sounds half as funny so I just keep it in my head and laugh … alone… like I’m crazy.

5- Writing fast- Maybe because I learnt how to read and write late (in my primary four; before then, I’ll write letter by letter as in alphabet by alphabet as in if the word on the board is ‘fringe’, I write ‘f’, look up at the board, write ‘r’, look up…) much to the chagrin of my classmates and teachers… so when towards the end of primary 4 I was hit-in a moment of epiphany-by the reading formula, I became a torrential writing force.

 I write so fast, faster than I process the word, faster than my brain processes the word. 

In classes where lecturers talk in the stead of lecturing or dictation, I usually have notes while my classmates complain about not even being able to jot. Even though the notes are not comprehensive to others apart from me.

Because of that, my handwriting is horrible.

6- Being inconsistent- I’m sorry but this blog is suffering for it. When I start (any new project or commitment), it’s all fun and games and I have enough ginger to make tea for a village but before you say ‘ginger’, my steam has run dry. Sigh!

7- Overthinking/ Over analysing: I over the top think through and think back on everything imaginable. Whether its a fact or an incident or a person or something said and done or something I said and did or a movie I watched, a book I read, the little baby crying in the bus, the man driving the Napep I entered today who looked like he has herpes, the woman in the market who might have shortchanged me, the intentions of people and their trustworthiness….. etc. Endless list. Some are deep, some are vain. 

And I analyse all these things from every angle possible.

8- Over looking things- You can do something to me that should elicit an explosive response and I’ll over look, but that just means I don’t really rate you or I don’t want to indulge. I can overlook and downplay serious things and choose to react to ones that may seem trivial…

9- Typing on the phone- I take notes in class on my phone sometimes and I usually keep up, I wrote my two books on my phone, my University project, over hundreds of thousands of words… and I type really fast.

10- Changing topics- You think you’ll loop me in a conversation I don’t want to be in, you need to have another thing coming. I can change topics so subtly… you’ll notice, if you are smart, 4 minutes later.

11- Daydreaming – Why do you think I fail a course? Because I’m a listener, I understand while listening better than reading, so in class, when I should be listening, I’m usually daydreaming about another world, therefore I’m not listening , therefore I fail to utilise my listening learning capacity… it’s sad.

12- Making parfait- I am at liberty to once in a while market my brand and I’m saying this with my head high that I make the meanest greek yoghurt and greek yoghurt parfait that has ever graced your taste buds. And this is me not even selling myself.

Do you relate to these things or do you find some weird. What are the things you excel at? Share, share lets see.

Do you have basic  stuff like hiking or crazy stuff like spending a night under water (that has no sharks) in a cage because you want to see if the ocean lights up in the middle of night?!… nope, not on my bucket list either.

So bucket lists are basically a list of things one wants to do before he/she kicks the bucket. Little wonder they are usually daring and/or adventurous . People have all sorts of things on their bucket lists from the normal to the unthinkable to the putrid.

There are some things on many bucket list that are so scary chances are I won’t be able to complete them because I may actually kick the bucket in the process… now that is a proper bucket list.

Now some things are so basic I have decided not to add them because they are like many people’s life goals. And naturally, below this list there subs but for now (I’m sure I’ll remember some later) these are the 20 top things on my bucket list.

Here are the things on my bucket list that is on that of many (mostly oyibo)

Common List

1- Bungee Jumping: Jumping off a high place while secured by the ankle.

My heart will sink below my heart as I plunge upside down to my sense ultimate demise but boy will it be fun! I’m in. 

2- Sky diving : The act of jumping of a moving plane which high up in the air with only a parachute back pack. I wanttttt! 

3-Hiking: Hiking sounds like so much fun. I would have wanted to camp out but I’ve read enough Goose Bumps to scar me for life.

4- Mountain Climbing and Abseiling-  Check. Did that in Shere Hills Jos.

5- Waterskiing- I’ll fall a hundred times, will never learn, and I’ll give up for lack of balance but at least I’ve tried.

Not Very Uncommon List:

6- Run in a marathon- I know I’ll probably run 5 miles , walk five more, crawl for 4 minutes and slump! But I was in a Marathon. And if I walk, I know I’ll make it to the finish line as the last person in 5 days time.

7- Jump off and on a moving train: I’ve actually ticked  off jumping off a moving train. It was not intentional and my knees hurt for weeks. Indian movies instilled a love for slow-mo jumping on a moving train.

8- Drive a Tesla- Or ride in a Tesla rather. 

9- Walk the streets of Paris the whole night- Sigh! A dream!

10- Go Kayaking or getting on a Gondola- Gondola please so I’ll feel a connection with the Merchant of Venice. I love anything Italy. Kayaking looks fun in cartoons, I don’t know about reality.

11- Sleep under the stars- Spend a whole night sleeping under the open starts with the starts twinkling at me and the soft breeze twiddling around my skin. The life.

12- Try thousand of oriental and intercontinental dishes from all over the world… except for Wuhan of course.

Not Common List

13- Spend two weeks indoors without peeping out. Indoors!

14- Stay in a beach house that has no form of technology at alll for three days. How refreshing will that be?

15- Date a Qatari Prince: Will never happen but come on, what’s the harm in wishing?

Now To The Ones Unique To Me

16- I want to sit in a Napep for over 10 hours straight coursing through the city and taking in the people, lights and sounds and just being part of their day for a day.

17- I want to sit on a major highway in the middle of nowhere and get a stool and a chair out. Sit on the chair by the roadside,  fold my legs, get a newspaper out and read through my shades. I’ll pour myself a drink, and sip slowly as cars occasionally pass by and the  force from their passage sways my veil about. 

18- I had always considered Kaduna-Abuja expressway. Sadly, this is one thing I may not strike off my bucket list.. or might but it may cost millions.

19- Seat on a trailer from Kano to Kaduna- Two hours enough. Like open trailer where people squat with cows and kolanuts and stuff. 

20- Walk for a day straight resting only for a few to recharge and keep moving. 

Now that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is my bucket list in all it’s glory and craziness. 

Do you relate even remotely to it?

Which are on yours and which aren’t.

You reading this can post all the things you wish to post about your life but I defiantly will not believe you because I’ve been let down so many times by people i thought had it together but are so full of it.

The reality is that It’s not all picture perfection and rosiness as is always the case on social media (I mean who will show you a picture of his failure and hard times?) because social media life and reality are as far apart as Spongebob and sense. 

Many events and people and situations were responsible for the reality check that knocked my sense to proper functionality because I too- like many others- had, once upon a time assumed that to a very large extent, the width of the smile on a persons face on his/ her social media pictures and videos are a reflection of reality. Boy was I  wrong!

Turns out for some, it was the only place they had to smile, it was the only way they could feel a flicker of happiness which soon dies and in a bid to revive it, they need to post more pictures, tell more lies, spread more rumours and pretend they are fine.

Social media (using term to refer to situations whereby people live-literally breathe on -and because of social media) is a sickness, a mental disorder and many are suffering from it directly or otherwise. 

Remember that Middle-Eastern British couple that were the perfect muslim couple personified? Remember the sham there lives were and how in reality, one had even attempted suicide? (Even though they are back at it now)

All because they had to portray a perfect life on social media and they couldn’t keep up because no one’s life is that flawless and in pushing to do so, they lose themselves .

There are the rich ones who are in fact broke or are fraudulent. Or the ones who body shame and flaunt their perfect bodies which in reality are photoshopped, or the ones who are easy-breezy-life-peasy but their lives warped AF. 

They are all masks, a facade; believe at your own risk. Social media profiles are in most cases the only aspect of people’s lives that they can control (before hackers come for that too), and of course they’ll paint it pink and lavender.

It is sad how we spend hours and money at the expense of a real social life all so that we can lose our souls to the internet in exchange for a clowns suit, because only in the clown’s world is it always full of laughter and merriment.

There are plenty more people I’ve admired, Nigerian socialites, motivational speakers, celebrities whose real lives look like a dull shade of black. 

Motivational speakers are the worse because behind all those words urging you on is a broken spirit roaming about a dark cage but the worse part of it is that they do not know. They see from the inside out so as far as they are concerned, you are the broken-spirited person in need so they try to heal you who needs little healing by giving you bits of the spirit they have left.

If social media where to be away for a little while and people are to try and really please themselves no matter the condition away from the eyes and expectations of others, then life would have been so much easier because many will find themselves.

I’m not painting social media bad, far from it; if you know how to utilise it for good. I’m not saying don’t post your pictures even if you are fake smiling (fake it till you make it right?). I’m not saying delete your social media account or don’t listen to motivation, I’m just saying; wise up, know what to believe, know who and what to emulate, do not compare yourself with others, do not kill yourself to measure up to those who probably have less. 

Be you. The people you see on Instagram should never be the scale to judge your life and successes on. Many are sham.

So during Eid, I usually assume the role of mai gashi at home. I am the Mallam Mai Suya. I organise the grills, get the beef, slice it into the layers, make the marinate and get to work. (The boys do their afterwards but it’s so basic).

I usually try to be as innovative as possible. My grills are good but last years was a bomb! Literally, it pops in your mouth; a surprisingly juicy mix of pepper, sweet and savory.

It was so nice that a neighbor of ours had a taste, excused himself and came back with ram thighs (I’m going to start charging for this ish).

Anyway, I decided; What’s the harm in oppressing my people online with some mouth watering pictures of what they can only see but not taste (food network always does that to me anyway). I have since gotten recipe requests but the hoarder that I am was unable to let go.
So here we are, finally, a blog post spilling the juice. I hope you try and give me feedback.

Ingredients

-Open fire (optional)Okay you can use a skillet, or double sided pan or conventional oven or an electric grill but know that the fume of open fire and the graze of smoke adds immeasurably to the taste. It’s a secret ingredient of mine 😉

-Beef Sliced into thin layers

-Onions

-Garlic

-Pepper (attarugu)

-Rosemary, celery, oregano, mint

-Paprika

-Little honey

-Curry, Ginger

-My moms yaji (special ingredient)

-Soy Sauce

-Vinegar

-Salt and Maggi

RECIPE

Pulse the onions, ginger and herbs and pour into a bowl. Add maggi, salt, paprika powder, vinegar, and soy sauce. Pour oil into mixture.

Put two spoons of honey. Sprinkle ginger and some curry. Chop celery, rosemary and oregano and mix everything.

Dip beef slices into bowl and press in the mixture. Let it marinate and keep aside. Do same for the rest and let the marinate seep in.

Marinated beef

Place beef evenly on grill over open fire and turn after every six minutes. Let it grill slowly for about thirty minutes.

So here. I feel like I just let a huge skeleton out of my closet so make it worth it by recreating this recipe and sharing your taste buds experience with pictures .

See you next time.

How do you react to physical illnesses? Do you ignore physical pain, tell your loved one to ‘man it up’ when he has a killer headache, decide to treat yourself when you have diabetes? Or do you go to the hospital and seek professional help.

Now how do you react to psychological diseases? Are you aware that mental illness do as much harm to you and your body as the physical and many physical pain are in fact, a manifestation of the pain that is lodged up in your brain seeking a way to get noticed and treated.

Mental health awareness, in developing countries especially, is just gaining momentum after wreaking harm for years unattended.

Recently in Nigeria there is an appalling surge in the number of suicide and suicidal attempts, murder of spouses, relatives and strangers, terrorism activities and other life threatening acts. Are you aware that over 70% of these acts can be attributed directly (as in the case of suicide) or indirectly (as in the case of terrorist attacks) on mental ill health.

Psychopaths, sociopaths, people with borderline personality disorders and other personality disorders walk, work and live among us (they might even be us), but the lack of awareness on the signs to watch out for and when to get help can make the disorders worse to the point of making them dangerous in the society.

Depression spreads it’s tentacles far and wide, more so because it has found a suitable environment for growth in Nigeria fed by lack of awareness, shunning, pressure, frustration stemming from work, home, marriage life, studies or standard of living.

The lack of empathy makes it that much harder for patients to reach out and the stigma makes it worse when it comes to seeking help. But no one has ever stigmatized people for seeking help with cancer, so why is cancer of the mind any different?

What we need to understand is that mental diseases are diseases like any. What we need people to know is that having them is okay and seeking help is an act of courage. What we need from people is to research, know about the importance of mental health and what to watch out for, know the many different personalities and disorders, observe the people around them and give them a should when they need it.

Because your mental well-being means so much more than you think. It means the world.

Submitted by Aisha Hamza

  I arrived at Tara’s apartment a little past eight p.m. She enveloped me in a warm hug and led me to the lavishly set dinning area where candle lights were competing with porcelain dishes . Sitting down, I allowed my eyes roam on the body hugging sequined dress that flattered Tara’s beautiful body. I might just propose tonight.

  Tara excused herself and went into the kitchen. Suddenly something moved from the shadows and surfaced in form of Tiara. She didn’t give me time to recover from my shock as she said “long time no see Ayo”. There was no way my ex from hell was sitting across from me. Too shocked to say a word, beads of perspiration gathered on my forehead.

“Tiara, I see you’ve met Ayo already” It was Tara’s honeyed voice. What in the world was going on? I mused. Tiara flashed Tara a smile. 

    “Ayo, this is my twin sister Tiara”. The universe must be playing tricks on me. “Remember the two girls on the night of the 27th, 2008. Your boys and you. Remember the rape Ayo”?
It was Tiara speaking.
I looked up and saw Tara holding a gun. “It’s payback time Ayo”. Smiling, she pulled the trigger. 

This story was written as an entry to the Flash Fiction contest hence the theme but unfortunately, due to technical issues, it was not received.

Writers Bio

Aisha Hamza

Aisha Hamza is an ardent and growing creative writer who is passionate about stringing words together. She is a poetic soul with the pen of a word artist and hopes that some day,her name would be written in gold amongst a legion of renowned writers.

A 7 year old boy in primary 3 is making his mother’s stomach tie into knots in worry that he might be a perpetual slow learner, because it is such a terrible thing that he just cannot seem to string letters together in his head and read them aloud as words, she fears he may be dumb.

The 7 year old receives the lashes of his mother’s harsh tongue and most likely a few slaps but try as he may, he can’t read.

It would have been better if school would be his safe haven but the pressure in school surpasses that of home because in truth, his problem started in school when all the students instantly create sentences in a fantastic manner and write with the average speed of an infant where he can’t even seem to read not to mention write.

He feels his esteem eat away like leaves attacked by unrelenting pests. He can’t even be free because the other kids look at him and think he is dumb, especially when the teacher deems it right to punish him for being ‘slow’ and compare him to other students thereby subjecting him to being taunted.

There goes the confidence of the boy and the beginning of his self-doubt and manifestation of other problems most of which will be mental all because of the ignorance of the learning environment in matters of mental health. In another society, it wouldn’t be a big problem to understand that the boy has a learning disorder called dyslexia which makes reading a herculean task to his brain and which may or may not recede and completely disappear with age. And in case it does recede, the ridicule will still linger.

A scenario similar to this that I know of happened in a school in Kaduna, hundreds of scenarios similar to this that we may not know of are still happening all over.

I’ve been meaning to write this proposal for a while but I had to target a willing listening ear first and there’s no better one in a position of power than Gov. Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai.

Over the years, he has proven that Kaduna can be a role model educational reform system and is ever ready to attend to anything education. It is on this basis that I write this.

The inclusion of mental health studies in the curriculum of secondary schools will not start in the classroom as the classroom is a teachers territory therefore, it is subject to a teachers knowledge. That is why it has to start with the teachers.

It is my suggestion that all teachers of government schools be trained in the basics of infant and common adult mental health disorders where the signs and how to handle people with such cases will be taught extensively even if for a week.

Again, every private school should be tasked with training their own teachers be it a mathematics or foods and nutrition teacher and all schools must have a trained Guidance Counselor(s) who is to work directly with a government body.

It is after this foundation has been laid that it will be plausible for mental health to be seamlessly taught in schools.

The rise of psychological disorders and diseases is alarming and the main reason why it’s festering on the society is because of ignorance of the majority of the members of the society who chose to condemn rather than redeem.

I believe it is wise to ‘catch them young’, by teaching the future generation about the complexities in personalities and how the brain works in diverse ways which will be a sure way of promoting and fostering tolerance and understanding among them and most importantly, it will mean tackling mental health issues head on.

It is my plea that this suggestion is heard and worked upon by not only the Kaduna State Governor but all those in power and all those who have a say so that majority of Nigeria’s problems (which is due to deep and raging frustration that has been left unchecked) is put in check.