Saturday, April 5, 2008

"A Little 'Something-Something'"

Friday was my most eventful day, but lemme run through the week first:

Sunday- Haka Rayuwa
On Friday (the 28th), my father received disturbing, unclear news from a friend’s brother. He said something like his brother (my father’s friend) was dead. The network was bad, so he wasn’t sure he’d heard right, so he proceeded to call this friend. Service unavailable. He then called as many people as possible. Their reactions varied from “No-o, I just spoke with him this morning! He was fine!” to “Kaaai, ban sani ba (Mehnn, I don’t know)” My mother was agitated. Fifteen minutes later I overheard him talking with someone, sounding tired.
Haka rayuwa (that’s how life is)” he said. It was true; the man had just died. Just like that. At the mosque, hale and hearty by 2pm. Dead by 4pm. No accident, just death… like that. The words repeated themselves in my head. Haka rayuwa. So sad. There’s something about languages other than English- they make things seem more real- clearer and sometimes sadder. They traveled on Sunday to condole with his family.
I was home alone for the most part, as the two people staying with us were out for most of the day. No light, so I made a good do with Wole Soyinka’s ‘The Man Died’. Very interesting book. Its main catchphrase is, “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.” So unfortunately, most of us are dying.

Monday to Wednesday- Répété
I was staring into one pot or the other, making red stew and imitation-edi kang ikong (I say ‘imitation’ because it didn’t have all those exotic meats- periwinkles, snails, rabbits, goats… Ok, moving on!) My parents had come back on Tuesday, but I was still very much alone with my thoughts for most of the day (and that’s not usually a good thing). Then I exploded on Wednesday afternoon- a hot shower of tears.
(It’s in your best interest that I spare you the nyama-nyama details; I was just overwhelmed by the ratio of all the things I was not doing to the things I was doing). I didn’t have a headache, but in a minute, I overdosed on my headache tabs- in a stupid bid to “see what would happen”.
Nothing, obviously… apart from the fact that I now know I’m a drug abuser :( [Peoples’ something-somethings range from igbo to goskolo, and their last words will probably be “Guy, it’s all good. But no do bad thing” (or something more ironic). But at least they’ve had their ‘fun’ seeing people walking upside down and all that. What’s the fun in lying helplessly after OD-ing on tasteless tabs?? May God forbid bad thing.]

Thursday- Menene Haka?
Why was everyone giving me so much space? Was it because I looked so defeated? Or was it because of my dehydrated answers to all questions? I just didn’t want to do anything productive.

Friday- What a Day!
I thought that going to the studio would make me feel better, and it did.

Initially the heat was getting to me. I changed location twice. I was forcing myself to write a script on the need for a local zeolite production plant (one of my more serious script ideas). I was interrupted by someone who wanted to see a VIP who’d just graced the studio.
This VIP was impressive. He had “presence,” and we were awed. An entertainer who did tours in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and other African countries, and who dined with presidents. He sounded good, and he talked about a lot of things- movie making, being true to your African self, and lots more. I needed to hear this.
He looked about, then asked one of the guys seated in the office what he was waiting for.

“Oh, I sing. I’m waiting for the sound engineer.”
“Really? Sing a song for me.” He said, waiting patiently.
The guy stood and began to sing, but was quickly interrupted.
“Go higher”
He obeyed.
He sang higher.
His voice broke. We all chuckled.

“You have a good… no, average voice… let me not deceive you” he said thoughtfully. “But I think you can make it. Do you smoke?”
“No,” the guy quickly said, wondering why he asked.
“Do you like women?”
“Why not?! Are you normal? I like women. I tour the continent with up to fifty of them”
General laughter then.
“I understand, but I don’t like women,” the guy asserted. “Not that I don’t like them, but I don’t like them.”
“Okay. I’m just asking ‘cuz I don’t want you to be a problem to my girls. They are really beautiful, so you might get confused. Do you drink?”
“No Sir”
“Good, ‘cuz a first-class performer is like an athlete. You need to be in your best condition. Who can vouch for you?”
“Uhm… my church. I play the keyboard there”
“Excuse me, you only play there. I’m looking for someone who knows you. And, by the way, do you have an international passport?”
“No Sir” (The level of awe in the room increased very noticeably).
“Start working on one. This may be the day of grace for you,” he said feelingly to the the guy.

“Erm, excuse me Sir,” another guy in dark shades who has been sitting quietly throughout pipes up. He leans forward. “I think I can be a good entertainer too”
“Yes Sir”
“Let’s hear you then”
He began a slow R&B number, but was sharply interrupted.
“Stand up, my friend” the man ordered coolly. “I’m not your equal. Remove those glasses. Nigerians! That’s your problem. You want to be treated like stars when you’ve not made it. And sing an African song. Sing like a ‘bushman’! Nobody will respect you when you imitate the Westerners-”

[Okay, so I’m not about to transcribe the entire 30-something minute conversation. I’d love to, but I’m a bit preoccupied. You’ll find out why later on]

He taught them six beautiful African songs from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, other countries I cannot recall at the moment. His voice was so deep and impressive. He even taught them to sing like an 80-year old African. It was really cool.
“Here’s my card,” he said, fishing two out from an impressive cardholder. “Meet me at my studio by 2pm tomorrow. I love your voices. Today may be your day of grace.”
The guys were so happy. I wished I could sing too. (He had asked at some point if I sang or danced. I said no.
“I write scripts”
“Mm?” he said, interested.
“Em, I mean I’m learning,” I amended. He laughed heartily.
“I would have told you to write me a script and I’d pay you tomorrow.”
Yeah well, I’m just learning. There’s no point lying about it. Kurungus.

The interesting audition was over, and as he walked out with the two nouveau-entertainers, I was hoping he’d talk to me. I waited with bated breath.
He turned to me and said, “You look like the serious type…” [Come on! Why am I always looking like the serious type?! I’m certain it’s not the glasses because I don’t wear glasses. I don’t frown unless I’m really concentrating on a task, so what is it? Maybe I have to braid my hair in multi colours, and clap my hands as I giggle ever so often. Maybe…]

“Tell me, where are you schooling?”
I told him I was a pocket graduate (you know, like a Pocket Hercules - small, but mighty? Good), and he invited me to join in his upcoming awareness programme. I wasn’t really thrilled by that, but I was about to become even more un-thrilled.

When he left, the ‘olda boys’ began to laugh. (I call them ‘olda boys’ because they have more experience than most of us. They believe they are the street-smart ones. I dunno about that, as I’m still new).
“That guy will start paying for these his so-called auditions O!”
“The guy is just messing with those guys’ heads!” Another said.

The summary of it: The man, popular indeed, uses people till their eyes start to shine with anger. His pay is crappy, and why is it that his so-called entertainers aren’t popular? The man goes from studio to studio doing the same thing, because he’s always looking for new, gullible people. Like many talkatives and name-droppers, he talks, but does not deliver. Chai.

I was still thinking about him when the clouds became darker. I needed to get some things from the market (and besides I wasn’t doing anything at the studio anymore), so I excused myself and went shopping.

And now, onto an unexpected turn of events…

[I texted a condensed version of the next events to a new friend who has a big, sympathetic heart, and in no time we were conversing about unrelated, fun issues. Thank you!]


The second rain in Jos. Praise God, the heat is over.
I’m so glad I live in Jos. I love the weather. And I love my home- there are always people around, even if the siblings aren’t.
God is good.

The second rain in Jos. Two words: VERY HEAVY.
I’m stuck in a busy place called Rwang Pam Street. I’ve taken shelter at different spots- under a Mai Sha’i (Tea) shed, a utilities shop, and a cd shop.
I’m cold and wet, thinking about my two new gorgeous pairs of shoes, a hot bath, food, blogger, which of my few stylish clothes to wear to a wedding tomorrow, my new shoes encore.
Long minutes crawl. The rain subsides only to increase again and again. Finally, I ‘bone’ and hail a bike. I can’t wait to be home sweet home. My eyes are stinging with the rainwater. I’m tired of telling the biker not to rush. My head is pounding now.
At last, home!
I let myself in, glance at my muddy shoes and decide to go through the backdoor. I’m walking to the back when a familiar, relieved voice says “No, no. Come this way… Allah yana kawo ku da da-daya” (God is bringing you people one-by-one). I wonder why Mama says this, but not for long. My eyes behold a most unwelcome sight.
“What happened?” I ask, getting annoyed pointlessly.
“What does it look like?” she replies amusedly. It’s a ‘snappy answer to a stupid question,’ and I don’t find it amusing. I don't stare at the scene before me for very long. It is unbearable. A scene I have never seen before. She and the two people staying with us are looking at me curiously as I take everything in. How is Miss Volatile doing? Not very good.

Mops. Brooms. Buckets. Pails. DISORDER!
The ground floor has been completely flooded. Com-pletely. Buckets of water distributed everywhere. Ohoho no.

The second rain in Jos. Praise God, the scarcity of water is over. People will not have to look beyond their roofs and wells for water.
I’m so happy; rainy season at last! Inconvenient sometimes, but a blessing always. Blessings ranging from maize and large vegetables, to coolness and good conversation.

You know,
I could have been greeted by a crowd standing around a burned-down house, but I wasn’t
I could have come home to see my mother slumped, motionless on the floor
(after all, haka rayuwa), but I didn’t
Instead I came home to a flooded house. Me kuma? Yes, the carpet is messed up, some appliances are condemned, the house will smell like a rat soaked in Grignard reagent*

But yes,
God is good…
…God is very good!

*I dunno what that smells like. It just sounded appropriate.