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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.

Luck or lack of it comes in different forms. Sometimes it comes in the form of a pretty lady you meet during your close friend’s wedding.

Zainab was the friendly and chatty but unimposing type. I didn’t appreciate her friendliness at first, but the more she spoke, the more I became acquainted with her humor, she had that kind of effect.

She did not only have an alluring personality she also looked like riches, it drew the ladies to her like a moth. Her father had to be someone, no questions asked.

I noticed she was different. She acted different, she dressed different (she wore no asoebi, in it’s place was a lace that could rival the brides) and she spoke different. I’ll ask Anisa, the bride where she knew her from, I mentally noted.

It wasn’t long before it was clear that Zainab was a resilient entrepreneur and even has blood relations with the Dangote’s, she had a picture of her with a group of women at Halima Dangote’s wedding as backing. She was a little perfect woman in her perfect world  and I could see a reflection of my awe and envy in the eyes of the other brides friends. 

‘All these business women be intimidating us with their big life’ Our friend Amma said after we had snapped over 50 glorious pictures on Zainab’s IPhone XS Max. I nudged her with my elbow. Amma is the I-say-whatever-is-on-my-mind-and-i-don’t-care-what-you-think type. 

‘It’s true now’. She said as she munched on a cake. ‘Which business do you even do like this. Because I feel it in my veins that I will soon become rich too. Let’s gist rich girl to potential rich girl’.

Zainab threw her head back and laughed heartily. She wasn’t at all pompous or offended by Amma’s innocently careless words.

‘I see it too honestly. You have the look of a great entrepreneur in your eyes. Always searching for new opportunities’. 

What Amma? The makings of a great entrepreneur as untactical as she was? Call me Bill Gates. 

Amma turned and smirked at me. She had already started playing rich. Not one to be left behind especially since there’s a prospect that the secret to Zainab’s riches were about to be leaked and I could also have a chance to connect with this Dangote blooded woman, I also scouted closer and opened my ears.

‘I deal with everything a woman may need ranging from lingerie, to kitchen stuff, to adornment, to furniture to clothings, to beddings… just say woman and I’m here. Sometimes I venture into houses, cars and electronics’.

I looked her over. She didn’t look stressed out at all. She looked like ‘yar hutu, a typical spoilt child who cannot do a days work to save her life. 

‘How do you manage all that?’ Aisha asked. Zainab’s audience had multiplied to 5 and I hadn’t even noticed.

‘I have connections on both ends, the sellers and the buyers. You think I source for all those goods myself?’ She said with a small smile, scanned our eyes to make sure we were fitfully entranced, then continued, this time dropping big names that usually ended with Dangote, Dantata, Indimi, Dankabo, Chachangi and Azman.

‘Anty…. is a dealer for Prestige products while Uncle…. has a huge shop filled with the latest Super Waxes, Anty…. is into cosmetics , Brother… has a car company, …. is into real estate ‘. Names and money rolled off her lips like they meant nothing.  In my mind all could think was I want to be like you when I grow up.

‘So what I do is called drop-shipping. I advertise for them, get a buyer, send them the money, hold my commission and have the product delivered to the buyer, ’. Easy peasy. 

‘Wow!’ I breathed out. No wonder!  ‘So you are like the marketer, advertiser and middle man all in one?’.

‘Exactly. It will fit you’.  She said while regarding me. I practically glowed, I knew I had a sleeping entrepreneurial streak in me. Wakey wakey.

‘So if you are interested I could hook you up with them. I could deal directly with you but I honestly am so busy with what’s on my plate. I’ll just give you their numbers and vice versa, you see what they sell, negotiate your commission and you advertise. They usually don’t care how much you add to the price as long as you sell’.

‘Sign me up!’ Aisha said with a raised hand. Aisha is over ambitious, I bet she can sell a house in a few days just so she can have money and belong to the riches crew.

‘I’m definitely interested’ Ibtisam declared.  I rolled my eyes. Ibtisam is only interested because she can have contacts of men from big families, she is currently actively husband hunting. Which may not be such a bad idea. 

So that was how 7 of us got into drop-shipping with Zainab, kin of the Dantatas.

I was so excited. Especially when I started communicating with the big named, big business people who always spoke busily like you were interrupting a million dollar sale so you have to round off quickly with whatever you were saying. 

The first I spoke to Muhammad Tijjani Dantata, my insides became a puddle. His tush tone and polished British English just flew away with me. I was calling him husband in my head.

I got my first customers the first week. Everything went according to plan. Shoes,bags, makeup stuff were delivered within a few days of transaction and I got some money from it. I didn’t even spend a kobo. I just took my profit, sent the money and the goods were delivered. I started aiming higher especially since Aisha just sold a TV.

Soon, we were all actively seeking bigger things, bigger commission. Aisha was negotiating a car sale, I couldn’t be left behind. My brother-in-law wanted to buy a new car, he had finally decided to change his tired looking car and my sister suggested my services. See me, my family members have moved from mocking to patronizing me. Money is good.

Then my boss wanted to get a house for his newest bride -to-be and he fell in love with houses up for sale. And that was how I was head locked in a car and house deal. Ecstasy had nothing on my happiness.

The prices where very good. My commission was enough to get me second hand small car and the customers were happy.  My boss had gone to see the house with an agent, it was perfect.

I sent the deposits of the money, millions of naira and the car was on it’s way, my boss’s house was sold.

I called Amma and I swear I could smell her jealousy through the phone. It was my turn to smirk. She had ordered for her cousins entire kitchen utensils including some electronics. It was huge money but it wasn’t hefty millions of Naira worth of house.

My bother-in-law called me a week later.

‘Has your car arrived?’ I asked him excitedly. 

‘That’s what I wanted to ask. I’m yet to get it. They said 4 days max’.

‘Okay I’ll call them’ I said and rolled my eyes. He is such a nag.

I called the car dealers office. They said the rains had made them stall off the delivery from Lagos. But it’s on the way.

Barely 5 minutes later, Aisha called me. The car she had finished all negotiations and payments on 3 weeks ago is yet to come. Zainab is not picking her calls and she sounded like she was in tears. 

My heart skipped a beat. Worry not…breathe…false alarm. I tried Zainab’s number, she assured me that everything was under control and Aisha was unnecessarily panicking. I breathed. I knew there was no cause for alarm.

I called Aisha and told her what Zainab said. She was silent for a while.

‘Have you spoken to Amma?’ She asked.

‘No, what happened?’.

‘Her cousins wedding is in two weeks time and the kitchen stuff has not been delivered.’ Aisha said and sniffed.  I was momentarily blank, then confusion rolled in and fear eventually bubbled. 

I felt faint, like the ground I was on was paper thin and It could cave in right away. 

‘Ibtisam and Fatima have not received any response either’. Aisha’s words buzzed around my head.

Before I could say a word Aisha continued ‘I called Anisa and asked her if she could get through to Zainab and she said she had never seen her in her life. She said she thought Zainab came with you because you came in at the same time’.

She’s fraud Ummi, Zainab is fraud and we just entered one chance’. 

 It was too much, the phone was burning my fingers like her words had caught fire.

I threw the phone on the ground like it was the source of my confusion. I could hear it ring but I couldn’t move to answer it.

An hour later, maybe less, I picked the phone up still dazed. My boss had left 12 missed calls and a message. ‘The house you sold to me is currently occupied by people claiming to be the owners. CALL ME ASAP’. 

‘No!’ A whimper escaped from my throat. No this is impossible. I couldn’t even cry real tears, tears, it turns out are a privilege.

I sat huddled up in a corner, dialling Zainabs number, I knew the response I’ll receive ‘Number is currently switched off’. And I understood, there and then, I understood why people will want to take their own lives.