She had started watching football with him only so she could milk those minutes that took him totally away from her. He would be seated on the edge of their sofa; head at an angle to the TV hung higher up the wall; his hands would stray to loosen his tie further every five minutes. She would lower his food on a tray to a stool that she nudged closer with her foot while abstractly asking: “Is that Messi?”

He would grunt and nod; his eyes darting around, following the white near-dot as it passed from foot to foot. She’d sigh and return to washing the pots she had used to cook.

Then she started to sit beside him longer. “Bayern Manchester is winning?” “It’s Bayern Munich. The one that Ribery and Dante are in. I told you,” he would say with a touch of impatience; like he was teaching Math to a slow student. “Oh yes. Dante with the nice afro. I remember him.” And he’d laugh and laugh that she remembered his hair while she delighted that she could still make him laugh during football hours.

After a few months, she started taking her meals beside him; joining in the “Goal!” chants; half-rising but followed closely by the drawn-out hisses that signified disappointment. She remembered their names; she checked and even started calling him from work to ask if he remembered about the 7:30 match.

After a year of telling Sule to buy them dinner from TFC so that she could ‘prepare to watch the match’, she was so conversant in the sport that she had the nerve to begin supporting the team rival to the one he owned ever single jersey of.

It came up when they sat across the church marriage counsellor. He complained about the transformation of his wife. Why were they eating snacks on football days? Why was she supporting the opposing team?

“Mr. Azuka, are you seriously bringing up football now? Your marriage is on the rocks and..” The befuddled counselor’s eyes widened when the wife spoke.

“Ah! Why won’t you talk?” She was addressing her husband. “You’re not different from that Torres that always misses the net! That’s why my womb is empty! That’s why we have no children! Shior!”

“Ah! Me, Chicasa?!”

“Yes, you!”

“Ah.. You’ve won, Chicasa! 1-0. 1-0!”

And the marriage counselor buried her head in her hands and died a little inside.


The Alchemist

Warning: Rambling ahead.

I had to take a bus home from work on Friday. It was a route I wasn’t familiar with; and as I dragged my feet to the bus stop preceding the bus stop preceding the park I was supposed to find the right bus, I was a little miffed at the innocent people who usually give me rides home.

But this isn’t about that. It also isn’t about how I decided to stop being a Grim Grandma about the while thing and maybe see it as an adventure. That’s something I find myself doing these days: hustle ke? No oh, I’m going on a Lagos adventure..

I became friendly with some girl with pretty locs on the first bit of my journey. She directed me to the park. I couldn’t wait to settle in and start the book I’d just uploaded to my phone.

Now, last week, I either stumbled upon something; or it randomly occurred to me that I hadn’t read (past the second page) the book, ‘The Alchemist’. It came up again in conversation on Thursday morning. So having completed ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ (great book, by the way!), I settled into my seat by the window and dug in.

I was on the twentieth page or so when a man who’d appointed himself comedian of the bus, advised me to put my phone away. It could be snatched, he said. He went on to regale us with tales of similar incidents and how he was immune to them. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I’d only recently lost my phone that way.

With my phone tucked safely away, I stared out the window, listening to Muse and had a couple of semi-epiphanies:

I’d been so eagerly tucking my head into books that I’d stopped reading the world around me.

I’d been so busy taking photos of streetlights and dark blue skies that I’d forgotten to just luxuriate in the moment; feed my eyes..

I’ve been living. I’ve been going out and meeting new people and seeing plays and being vibrant. But have I forgotten to pause and be? To just observe and.. see life?

Had I noticed the nearly-toothless man in rags at the bus park who looked like a homeless drunkard but spoke with the eloquence of an English professor?

Had I acknowledged my double standard of being inside/outside a danfo? You hate the danfo until you’re inside it; where you feel a little safe in the hands of the kamikaze driver who will take you to your destination twice as fast as your careful friend who parks when a trailer is approaching..

Why had I looked away from the pretty picture of the toothless baby gnawing on his mother’s bare shoulder that had me overwhelmed with the wish to be a painter?

I got home fine and continued the book. I’m halfway through when I stumble upon this:

“If you can concentrate only on the present, you’ll be a happy man. You’ll see that there’s life in the desert and stars in the heavens… Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.”

So tell me, coincidence/omen? This coming so soon after my semi-epiphany?

Maybe the treasure I seek is at the end of the book..

Don’t Give Me Your Heart; I’m a Klutz.

Don’t give me your heart to hold,

I’m a klutz.

Don’t give me any power over you,

I’ve no discipline.

Don’t dig a well in me

To draw your happiness from.

Don’t build a safe in my eyes

To store all your secrets;

Or hopes.

Don’t sing me a song.

Don’t write me a poem.

Don’t paint my portrait.

Don’t take my photo.


Please stop.

(“You can’t make homes out of human beings; someone should have already told you that..” ― Warsan Shire.)