Monday, 21 November 2011

day 1 in nigeria

So, while i was away in nigeria, i vaguely decided to keep a sort of record of my time there. it's not a proper blog, definitely not a travel-log, and at times reads like a 12 year old's diary - ah well. i plan to post a new entry each day. and once i get sorted, there'll be photos.
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Since getting home,

I have learnt to value water and respect heat to the proper extent,
I have slept fitfully, 3 of us to a bed, full grown
and learnt that sleep really can be an enjoyable alternative wakefulness
I have become relaxed in dressing, learnt the ridiculousness of vests and socks, the superfluousness of sleeves,
tights have been replaced by a silky sheen of perspiration,
and I have become used to feeling its trickle down my temple, or edging over a nostril
I befriended the goat in our compound, untied it so it could roam and nose and butt in the hour before I saw its throat cut, and family and hired cooks cut and cleaned it, preparing the Eid feast
I have considered kidnapping the coolest, cutest baby known to woman, one of the many children of one of my many cousins, whose many names mainly elude me
and I have not bothered to pretend to remember when asked the faces of those whose owners i barely knew before
I have started to feel at home
- - - - - -

I've only been up 4 hours (or maybe 5 - there are no clocks around, and my watch has been stuffed in my hand luggage since last night) but it feels like a whole day has passed.  I'm only just knowing the meaning of time passing slowly.

Last night I fell asleep to the sounds of James Blake (mainly 'a case of you' and 'I never learnt to share'), and Mashrou' Leila (mainly 'shim el yasmine'), overlaid by the gentle thud and whir of the ceiling fan. When I went to bed, I was the only one in it.  I woke up confused in the night - I knew I was sharing the bed with my mum, but couldn't figure out who the figure in the middle was.  i was too sleepy to put my glasses on or even think about it too much, and too tired to figure if it was real or part of a vague half-waking dream.  When I visited Tunisia a few years ago, the first couple of nights in our apartment, I had what I guess now were night terrors - lying in bed, paralysed, and seeing someone stood at the door of the room, just watching me (though there was, of course, never anyone there).  This didn't feel scary like that, but it could have just as easily been my imagination.
- - - - -

Twenty to seven. The sun's gone down, and the party participants have mainly departed - teachers from my mum's school here, various members of my dad's side of the family.  outside, the olopo is packing up her giant pots, and some of my younger cousins are sweeping with long packed brooms. i'm sat in the darkness of the living room - we had electricity this morning, but it went off mid-afternoon. at least we got some.  hopefully it'll come back on sometime soon, so we can have the fan on to go  to sleep.  actually, a cousin's just turned on the generator - the lights flicker, but at least we can see, and the fan does its work just as well.

I've not felt this relaxed in ages, nor quite so unobligated.  i'm quite amazed that i've not felt more withdrawal symptoms for the internet.  i guess the bits that i miss (basically being in touch with certain people, and knowing what's going on) are just about equally balanced out by the bits that i really don't (being able to work remotely - i know if i had internet connection, i would have logged into work at least once today; and knowing what's going on - sometimes it's nice to not hear the latest horrible headlines, to be blissfully ignorant, even if only for a few days).

And seeing family - it's been a good reunion - again, this lack of obligation.  So i've spent bits of the day outside with people, other bits inside, either doing stuff, or nothing much at all, but throughout, for the most part, have been left to my own devices.  I haven't been to Nigeria for 5½ years.  It's weird to meet kids whose existence I wasn't even aware of, to meet others who are now adults, who were still smaller than me when i last saw them.  It's been nice to be welcomed but also not to be made too much of a fuss over - like i've been away from home quite a while, and it's nice to have me back, but no need to treat me weird.
- - - - -

Ah - should have known there couldn't be a gathering of family without the M question coming up.  My uncle apparently asked my mum how things were with regards to me having met someone, and rather than telling him she was sure i'd be fine, she has apparently agreed to me being introduced to some guy tomorrow. Ach!!  She's just told me this - i've gone from being blissfully unencumbered to scowlingly irritated in a stroke - always nice to have no say whatsoever in this!  She's working on the premise of 'well, you never know'.  I'm working on the premise of 'oh, i don't know, over ten years' worth of 'introductions' means i can make a pretty good guess'.  Damn it. 
- - - - -

I guess we'll see what tomorrow brings...


  1. loved reading this... I'm looking forward to hearing what happened : )

  2. Dr. Hakeem Shaybani23 November 2011 at 01:10

    For a moment, I left the confines of my ivory tower, put aside the quest for that elusive footnote - and I was there. How I long for that sun!