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Andrew Ngozi Elizabeth is a writer, poet, and language enthusiast.
She has written several short stories, poetry and essays . She is currently working on her first novel.
Having spent over three decades on this planet, I have come to several realizations. The chief being that 'LIFE IS DIFFICULT' and it is meant to be difficult. The earlier you realize this fact and learn to live with, the easier it gets to manage certain shocking events. Be ready to handle disappointments, because before this journey is over, you will be disappointed several times. Be ready to handle betrayals because you will be betrayed many times, and you might also betray others. Get ready to handle loss because, you will lose friends and loved ones, and I don't mean they will go missing or stop being your friends(those are also possibilities) but in this case, I mean they will die and you will weep for them. Be ready for heartbreaks because your heart will be broken, may be, more than once and you'll probably break some hearts yourself. Get ready for pleasant surprises because you will get quite a few. Get ready for joy and laughter because you will also have those in abundance. Get ready for opportunities because they will come and some only once, and you will regret it if you let them pass. So take life as it comes with your shock absorbers in place. Cry when the tears come, laugh the hardest when laughter presents itself. Love like it is your last day(it may very well be) and take as many pictures as you can. Tell and show your kids you love them at every opportunity. Kiss your spouse, talk to your family, tell your parents you appreciate them. Take that dance class, run that marathon, go on that hike, live ! just live!. Forgive that person who hurt you, that may be your only opportunity to do so, repair as much breaches as you can. For as difficult as life may be, numerous are the joys to be found and had there in, if only we can truly look.
I've been thinking about this falling in love thing lately. Why fall into it , why can't people stroll into love or glide into love . Why fall really. Then this humorous anecdote came into my head. Just Imagine this... .You are leaning on your own side of the fence on your nicely self constructed ego wall and suddenly a nice good looking man or woman passes along. You are intrigued so you stretch your neck to get a better look and bam! The wall collapsed and you fell into his or her arms on the other side, two of you fell head over heels in a tangle of arms and legs. At this point you don't know where she/ he starts and where you end . suddenly the slope ends and you two came to a stop. You pause to catch your breath. Then carefully you untangle your arms and legs , you give him/ her a little distance so you can get up and seperately each of you begin to dust yourself. Then You begin to notice little things about them that you hadn't before. Oh I thought that was a dimple, it is actually just a crease. Is that a mole on her nose, I think it is. Real love can only start if after dusting yourself up , you look at one another and ask how they fared. Are you hurt, oh you missed a spot , let me help you dust that off. That is when you forge a lasting relationship and real love starts. But if on the other hand after dusting yourself up and seeing that mole on her nose or you realise that what you thought was a dimple is just a crease, you turn and walk away without a backward glance, then you just had a fall pure and simple , love has nothing to do with it.
With the National outrage in India over the rape and murder of a 27 years old Veterinarian and another 23 years old rape victim being set on fire on her way to testify in court, I can't help but recall an incident that happened years ago. I got to thinking about the way our society perceive rape and how more often than not , the victims are the ones who get punished. We tend to blame the victim rather than the perpetrators. This incident happened years ago, I was a teenager and living in Aba with my family. Our neighbors had a daughter named 'Chinyere' whom everyone termed ' Promiscuous'. Opposite our house is a two storey building owned by a rich Merchant who has 3 sons. One of this sons is a well known trouble maker called 'Osy'. On the day the incident happened, Osy pretended to be sick and so was left alone at home . He then called Chinyere to come and prepare spaghetti for him. Unknown to her he had 5 of his friends waiting and when she got there, they raped her one after the other . After the crime, they seized her clothes and pushed her out on the street stark naked. You would think people will condemn Osy and his friends but the reverse was the case. Chinyere was severely beaten by her parents and that was it. For months, Osy and his friends boasted openly about how they flogged her with belts when she refused to open her legs and other details of the rape. The girl couldn't walk through the street without one of them taunting and mocking her, she was about 19 years old then. Last I checked, both perpetrators and victim are still alive, all married with kids. Looking at the incident now from the perspective of an adult, I can't help but wonder! Why the parents thought their child deserved to be beaten and the Criminals spared? Why no one spoke out for that innocent girl? Why the perpetrators were the ones mocking the victim and not the other way round? Why the victim had to bow her head in shame while the perpetrators walk with their shoulders straight and their heads high? Could it be that deep inside, our society doesn't really see rape as a serious crime? Could it be that deep inside, we tend to think that anyone who gets raped had it coming? Why is it that judges in court are quick to tell victims to dress the way they were dressed the day they were raped? Why are there more excuses for the perpetrators than sympathy for the victims. I can't even begin to imagine the trauma, that girl had to go through , first in the hands of her torturers and then in the hands of her parents or the shame she had to face afterwards. Our society has to start looking at rape, not with the eyes of the rapist but with the eyes of the victim. We need to first chase away the Wolf before we blame the hen for being careless with her chicks. Women and girls please be careful, who you trust and where you go. It isn't safe out there and at the end of the day the only person that can truly take care of you, is you. Like the songwriter wrote' No one else can feel the rain on your skin'. Be safe this season.
I am in that place I can rant of my lot Wondering how I got such a twisted plot If only the sky can be blue all the time And both morning glories and bluebells rise the very same time. When the puffed up, Swaggering cock crows proud and gay When won't the squaking hen saddled with a brood of chicks be grey Don't you think she has earned the right to cackle Bowed down as she is from the rock's straddle Her hope, yellow feathered on fragile stilts A couple of decades bridging between lift or wilt A hope quite unfounded as you reap what you sow Better some hope though unfounded than just salt and woe When hope Kisses faith a new seed is sown With back-breaking labor and rags where new clothes are sewn Please hold the grim reaper at bay not to strike so soon For if he comes before the glorious decade, the sun has set at noon.
It is interesting to note, how necessity can strip us of most if not all our discriminatory inclinations. A classic example of this is ride sharing. By ride sharing I don't mean taxis, I am talking about good old okada sharing. I chose Okada to illustrate this point because you can't get closer to another human being than when you are on the same bike with them. You are literally joined at the hip. If you live around Volks, Iyana oba, Agbara, Badagry axis of Lagos, I am sure you can relate. A bike man would take you from Folks for instance to Mile 2 for 600 naira , he might take 500 naira on a slow day, if you are taking the bike solo. If on the other hand you are taking the bike with a partner, the bill gets split in two and you end up paying 300 naira or 250 for the same distance. It is a win win situation and everyone is happier for it. Needless to say, you hardly see people riding solo. The general practice is to get a ride partner and this is where discrimination goes out the window. The sole criterion for choosing a ride partner is direction , nothing else counts; age, gender, ethnicity, religious inclination , they don't count. A pastor can share a bike with a Juju Priest and so can a Christian and a Muslim, an Igbo man and a Yoruba lady . Total strangers who might not even recognize each other if they meet elsewhere but they share the same objective which is save that 300 naira, beat the traffic and get to Mile 2. I have personally shared bikes with over a dozen Men and women that I can't even pick out of a lineup and it got me thinking. If necessity can so bring us together in such an indeliberate manner, who says we can't deliberately cultivate tolerance and live in harmony irrespective of the lines that divide us. At the end of the day , you realise that we all have one objective; We are all trying to make this journey called life as smoother, as less painful, as less tasking and as easier as we possibly can. We can do way better than we give ourselves credit. #betterthanyesterday. Written by Ngozi Ubogu.
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