BEFORE THE SUYA MAN

Jacinta was paying total attention to the Suya Man but she couldn’t understand anything, she couldn’t  hear a thing. He was talking, armed with his knife and file,  cutting the sizzling skewered grilled beef Uche had carefully selected. She watched as he reached for the half ball of cabbage and began to slice it, donning the dark red oily pieces of meat white. Then he picked up an onion and sliced handsomely. He would have made for fresh tomatoes but they are now priced above rubies. He fetched a spoonful of grind pepper. Uche said something to him. He sprayed half of it on the suya. He began to fold in the two layer newspapers containing the meat. Uche unlocked his hand from Jacinta’s and reached for his wallet. Her eyes didn’t leave the suya man; she shifted to his face. Dark, with wild nostrils, a big diagnol mark on the left chin. His hair was uncombed, assuredly unwashed.

“What is your name?”

He stopped working, not sure she was referring to him, really referring to him.

“Mai suna nka?” she said. Put in Hausa, there was no mistake about it. He looked up to her with black baby eyes, his face crowded with uncertainty; slowly he smiled, revealing spotless teeth, punctuated by two dimples. He told her his name. “Abdul.”  She didn’t comment on this, her attention having been seized by his eyes, those eyes!

“Did you apply eye pencil?”

“Ah ah.” He laughed.

“You really are bugging the chap.” There was a touch of irritation in Uche’s voice.

“He’s handsome,” she said.

“He’s not.” Uche collected their parcel and paid.

“Na gode,” Jacinta said.

“Toh. Sai anjima.”

They linked hands, the couple, united by the aroma of, and desire for, the suya, and left. “Should we take okada or keke?” Uche asked.

“He’s handsome,” Jacinta responded.

He sighed. They took okada home. At home, they sat on the bed, legs crossed, facing each other. The suya uncovered between them like an important map.

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Jacinta ate very little. “I feel like being cuddled.”

Uche put the suya away and cuddled her, the way she loved most, with her on top. He caressed her hair, natural, carefully, down to her neck. “You’re soft,”  he said. “I love you.”

“I love you too, Abdul.”

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This piece is for Gloria, to keep a promise

Ramblings Of An Angry Nigerian: 2016 HALF-TIME SCORECARD

Sigh. Six months have been chopped off of 2016. It’s July 1st. The first half is gone, gone forever and today we kicked off the second forty-five minutes of this year. First, I must say a big congratulation to you for making it past the half threshold of this trying Marathon. Surviving this hardministration alone is a feat. Forget, for a second, about your account balance, forget that ten percent of your goals this year haven’t been accomplished, forget, forget and just thank Olisa in heaven for life. My people have a saying that life is everything. Ndubuisi. Which happens to be my father’s surname. Yeah, life is everything, the main deal, because with life, they reason, you will have a shot. The God who preserved your life will give you the things to enjoy life with. They say. I agree with them. Ndubuisi. I suspect you are surprised I’m this optimistic. Well, it’s I forgetting, for a second, that I am a sadist; this is me leaving my cynical gloves on the doorstep, and coming into the dining to look at the half empty glass and call it half full. Optimism doesn’t kill. It won’t kill me. It’s just for today anyway.

My 2016 biggest goal was leave Nigeria. Being the prophet I am, I saw in late 2015 that Nigerian economy will get worse and suffering will ripen. It’s not actually prophecy. A little like simple mathematics. I looked at the poor oil price, I looked at my president, old, sentimental, poorly educated and surrounded with Lai Mohammed, Audu Ogbeh, Amaechi etc, I looked at the economic blueprint, zero; and I knew that we’re cornered and, like Lord Jim, I decided to jump from this ship. I am not saying that Nigeria is a sinking ship, not yet, but it’s a ship run by APC so you can never be too sure. I have a handful of my relations overseas so I began to bombard them with calls, and I succeeded in getting one of them agree to take me in. We began to make plans, I began to pack. There were moments I saw myself washing plates in China, there were moments I saw a red faced policeman chasing me in the cold streets of Belgium etc. These prospects don’t appeal to me and they weaken my resolve. But I never gave up, I continued to plan. I needed a lump sum of money and the only way to get it was to have my family give it to me or to rob them. But as Buhari bites deeper the harder it becomes to get the money, or even rob them, and the harder it is to flee this sinking ship.

Sigh. Nigeria. She makes it hard for you to get a job, she makes it harder to make money, more expensive to solve your needs and near impossible to escape. Motherland, the only people you permit to fly are the ones who don’t need to escape from this country; the only people you give jobs are the ones who don’t need jobs to live large; the only people you allow more money are the ones who never mind the rising cost of living in this space; why, mama? Why!

Plan B for me, this year, or rather goal number two was to set up a company, employ myself and boost the economy. It’s somehow connected to number one goal. It will keep me busy, divert my frustration of being caged and even provide the cushion for me in the abroad until I get that waiter job (chai). But setting up a business in this time and place is like trying to wrestle a wild cat. Bruises. I have a big plan, no, I am not going to give details now but trust me when I say it’s big. But no one will give me credit to begin. It’s people like Senator Ben Bruce they would give loan. This common sense senator borrowed eleven billion naira from Union Bank eleven years ago, eleven billion! And he’s yet to pay back a kobo, and when ANCOM came knocking he said he’s being persecuted because he employs one thousand people and pay them above the minimum wage. Minimum wage is 18 thousand naira and Mr Senator tells us that he pays one thousand people 18,100 naira with his eleven billion naira loan, after ten years! That’s an average of one person per eleven million naira. Where is the common sense in this matter? How is a normal being proud that he employs one person for every eleven million naira borrowed. This is why we will never go forward. Here am I, hungry, angry and creative, and no one would touch me. Gimme ten million naira and I swear to employ a hundred people and pay them 18,100 naira after ten years (since 18,100 naira is the yardstick). Then look for ten thousand hungry, angry and creative Nigerians like me and give them ten million naira each, and we’d transform Nigeria before 2025. Note to Mr Bruce, stop telling us to buy Nigerian to boost the naira, how about you pay your debt and save the economy.

Sigh. He will never pay back. This country is what it is, wired to sustain the rich, the connected and the powerful. You that is hungry, angry and creative is nothing. Help yourself or become a police recruit.

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My goal number three was to grab a decent job.

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahahahaha ahahahahahaha.

Nothing more to say. Next goal!

There are ten other major goals. A thousand minor ones including the one about reading fifty novels this year, something like one per week. Haha, it would please you to know that I just finished the second novel last night. Average of one book per three months. OK. There’s one about doing something about my singlehood, but of all the four billion women on earth it’s only the fat girl who roasts corn across the road that has a crush on me. Corn thirty, ube 3 fifty. OK.

Overall, the first half of this year has proved the worst time to:
Look for a job,
Start a business,
Leave Nigeria,
And, most especially, be broke (being broke has never been romantic, but this time around, being broke has a touch of the noose on it).

Sigh. What’s the first step of the second lap? Continue pushing, that’s the only thing to do. Or just google How to make it in life. Or just marry a rich man. I am not exactly bursting with ideas otherwise I’d be blogging from Hong Kong. But if I will give you advice, if I must, I will ask you to involve God. Those of you on my Facebook list will remember me singing ‘Take the whole world and gimme Jesus’ all over the place. Yes, because I have decided to follow Him, no turning back, no turning back. Because even Buhari is not a match to the Man of Galilee. Because there’s a place for grace and also a place for hustling. Because, I haven’t mentioned it, but this is the best time to follow Jesus.

I will be wrong to assume that everyone reading this is a Christian or even theistic. So generally, I’d say keep pushing, keep working hard, remain dedicated, determined and never give up. You must make it or die trying. You weren’t born to watch people live their lives, were you? Non.

And in case you want to invest in my company, contact me. Email, whatsapp or call me. Or say so in the comment box. You think it’s a joke, well, that is your cup of tea. You are doing yourself, not Okechukwu and Sons Limited; that was how they laughed at Mark Zuckerberg. Now, he’s the sixth richest man on earth. So keep laughing while we build the great company. And by the end of the year it will no longer be funny when, I, in my yacht, and you, in your kiosk, call my phone and it’s my Spanish secretary that would pick the call and say, in her beautiful formal voice, “La persona que llama está ocupado en este momento.” Sucker.

I am outta here.

Tweets to @Oke4chukwu