I finally drag myself out of bed at the third time of asking. It is shaping up to be one of those days; one when an ultra short to-do list will manage to get the better of me. Something about the lack of urgency spawned by a short to-do list has always been my besetting ‘sin’. Today, there is one thing that must needs be done – I’m off to the GP’s to have a 24 hour blood pressure monitoring device fitted.

I have always detested hospitals, and clinics, and GP offices and every other place medicines are dispensed. My earliest memories of such spaces – not by any means happy ones –  are inextricably bound up in the smell of folic acid, injections of chloroquine and the inevitable bout of manic itches that bookended my almost constant dalliance with malaria.

Having gotten myself out of bed, dispensed with my ablutions, and thrown on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, I call the cab company and prepare to head out to the GPs.

Today’s cabbie is not very chatty. I wonder if its first job for the day, or if he finds hospitals as depressing as I find them, or if his wife said some very hurtful words to him as he headed out for work, or… if he is just a mean chap.

–  KR medical

The words tumble out,  dragged out by his stern stare which jolts me out of my reverie and reminds me I haven’t stated my destination. The dispatcher at the cab company would have mentioned a destination but sometimes the cabbies insist that one states his destination – again.

The Admin Nurse looks Chinese – make that Korean or Nepalese or Taiwanese or any other Asian nationality in fact. They all blend into a category of faces I have never being able to deconstruct. Much the same way as they would be unable to  make out the subtle differences of facial morphology that make one black face distinct from the other. I pick a tag, shuffle to my seat and await the calling of my name.

The specialist nurse calls out my name. Lost in the world of my music, I fail to hear it the first time. The second time with a slightly raised voice she repeats the call. This time I hear it, and I walk towards the door marked ‘Nurse’.

– This will be quick she says. This goes on your belt clip, this goes around your arm, I’ll thread this through your sleeve, around your neck, down the front of your shirt and click the recorder in place. You’ll hear a beep every thirty minutes. That will be your clue to straighten your arm whilst the cuff contracts.

I nod my understanding as she completes the process of wiring me up.

– Too tight? Or just right she asks.
– Just right I reply.
– That’s you sorted then. I’ll see you tomorrow same time to retrieve the data. Okay`?

I nod my acquiescence. That took all of fifteen minutes. What to do with myself for the rest of the day is the big question.. It is only 9.30am… Sigh.

Questioning the answers..

Having passed several chronological milestones, one increasingly has had to field questions that assume that all the basic competencies required to function as an independent contributor to life in various spheres have been achieved. Invariably these often centre on the achievement of academic, financial, material and career milestones. Amidst the focus on these admittedly essential categories is a lack of focus on the attainment of certain critical thinking skills.

I subscribe to the belief that a child is born with a blank worldview –  the so called tabula rasa.  Over time he/she acquires knowledge about life; typically by experience.  The child thus builds up a worldview- religious, social, cultural, sexual even.  At it’s most basic, this worldview is a set of answers for what constitute good, bad, the why of life, meaning, etc. Of necessity, these answers have to be gleaned from others in the early days – parents and relatives, peers, civic and religious leaders and teachers.

At some stage in the development of the child – as the kid morphs into a young adult –  these acquired answers require testing to verify that their base assumptions and conclusions remain valid in the light of the continuously evolving social, religious and cultural space. Therein lies the problem – the vast majority of people are not trained, or are unwilling, to question the answers they have been raised by. When juxtaposed with the critical role these young adults, when they morph into parents, have to play in moulding the thinking of the next generation, it  becomes critical for them to get it right.

Truly mature young adults thus have a responsibility to themselves and the next generation to ask the big questions and investigate the answers they have acquired. There should come a time when “because I said so” should no longer suffice as a reason for the answers we carry. Only then can the bloke truly lay claim to having come of age.

On Turning Thirty…

I never celebrated turning thirty. The significance of achieving that chronological milestone was lost in the hustle of every life – a barely discernible  peak in the flat line that had become a monotonous existence. I had just lost a cast iron guarantee to return to my old job in Nigeria followed quickly by the petering out of what I thought was a nice, strong girl connection. One day I fell asleep,  the next I awoke to being thirty plus.

When I was much younger, I had planned the day in my head. Over time I had rehashed the  planned events over and over. Lots of food, hanging out with the family and a road trip were a few of the things I had pencilled down. In reality, the only thing I allowed myself when it finally came was gorging on a bargain bucket at KFC, and flushing it all down with a 2 litre bottle of Pepsi..

Finally, a few years down the road, I am taking that much delayed road trip… Belatedly, I will be jumping on a few flights over the next few days.. Hopefully I get to enjoy it as much as I thought I would – if the weather permits….

Going Ons…

The number 16 bus into the city centre is packed – brim full with people heading into town. The atrocious weather of the last few days let up briefly today, and with the imminence of Christmas, everyone seems to be up and about to get the last bits of shopping done. The bus stop where I clamber aboard the number 16 is mid way between the starting terminus and the ending terminus, as such I can only find standing space, ironically next to a sign that ostensibly marks the limits of standing room. Next to me are a mother and her daughter. The daughter cannot be more than six years old and still possesses the unbridled energy and uninhibited curiosity being young and carefree brings. The atmosphere is tense – of the kind where a word out of place potentially could let loose a fire storm. There are people plugged into iPods, people huddled together in groups chatting away and people like me who are alone, with lowered eyes looking into the distance. The little girl becomes the side show though – firing off question after question to her mother, peering into people’s faces, and at some stage leaning in towards her mother and planting a kiss on her cheek whilst whispering “I love you Mum”. When she gives the wizened old lady behind me a fixed stare. I wonder how the bus scene would look like in a different country, south of the Sahara. For the first time in a few months, I remember my mother.


To a worm in horseradish, the world is horseradish –

– Yiddish saying via Malcolm Gladwell

Second chances – clean sheets wiped clear from all the smudges, memories obliterated, people lost in the maelstrom of life – are great… If only they were as easy as Ctrl+Alt+Del…. Sigh.

On the kinship of the Prodigal

Long before I segued into the way of all flesh, I had always had a sense of connection with the Prodigal Son. In these dark days when my faith vacillates between the highs of unquestioning belief and the depths of blatant scepticism with the increasingly longer spells of being mired in the drudgery of self deprecating musing, I find myself drawn to the text again and again. Something about the lost son finally coming to himself, realizing there is a better life, a better way of doing stuff resonates with me. I fear I am lost, that somehow I have eaten so long of the hors d’œuvres of the beguiling tempter that his full feast of bitter gall is an ineluctable consequence. Trust me I have tried; but the overwhelming sense of guilt at the bloke I have become weighs me down. Like the proverbial swine given pearls, I appear to have taken world class opportunities and contrived to lose them amidst the quotidian pursuits of the good life.

My scant consolation, is that someday, sometime, I can drag myself back home – and that the Father will still be there to run the last few miles and welcome me home. .. Sigh..

30 is the real cool…..


Despite what the preponderance of mid-life crises and suicides around the 30 year age bracket would suggest, 30’s the new cool – and that for a variety of reasons.

  • For starters, people take you serious by default. In your teens they know you’ll faff around, in your twenties they’ll assume you’re growing and the occasional gaffe can be excused. In your 30’s they actually believe you know what you are about until you goof. Ain’t that uber-cool?
  • You get pimped for free.  Depending on how far gone you are on the continuum, every one want to match make you. The best friend from University wants to hook you up with a niece, your cousins want to hitch you with friends and all that ish. Downside is it generally tends to rub you the wrong way – but hey who cares? They’re concerned.. That’s why!
  • All the unmarried chics from earlier on for whom you had crushes suddenly see you as a serious option especially if you have made good on the success  your geekery promised as a precocious teenager. Chances are you’re so clueless around women that you do not have a baby mama in the background, which seems to be a huge plus these days..
  • Chances are you have a strand of gray hair here and there – and true to type if you wear glasses, you actually look cool (gasp). You, the sore-thumb-sticking-out-almost-worwor-bloke, suddenly has the desirable features of respectability.
  • Last but not the least, you actually have ten more years to play the fool – after all a fool at forty is a fool forever, but not before 🙂

An epilogue of sorts……

I have begun dreaming of things best left unsaid, things best left to gently slide into oblivion far beyond the edge of consciousness. Here there are voices, and fleeting faces, floating by as though swimming in some nebulous unseen ether. I would blame malaria or the slew of unknown brews at Dame Hayatou’s, but these are things I have seen in the flesh –  less the twisting, less the turning in the dead of night and the turmoil that brings them back to mind. These are the memories of a not so distant past, of what-ifs and maybes and could-haves blatantly refusing to accept the cold hard facts..

She says the world is neither black nor white but sketched in different shades of gray, I think it is etched in black and white and filled in with different shades of gray.

Word for word,
we beat the love
out of each other.

Yusef Komunyakaa (Once the dream begins)

There will yet be more words…..

On Life…

I suspect…….

…… that beyond all the rhetoric; behind the superfluous arguments, the cynical barbs and the seemingly pragmatic fronts we put up; at its most prosaic, life is about the desire for acceptance, the illusion of autonomy and an ineluctable gravitation towards the certainty that safety brings – And we want to love, and be loved, inspite of our protestations to the contrary.