Author: Osemhen

That Time I Went On A “Blind Date”

Early 2011, one of my aunts (not so much aunt, as friend of an aunt but everyone is an aunt) called me to find out how I was doing and what my romantic prospects looked like. At the time, said prospects were zero. I was 22, right smack in the middle of youth service and obsessing with what my future would be. I was neck-deep in applications for Masters programs, scholarships, writing residencies. I had a crush or two and the feeling might’ve been mutual but I was more concerned with becoming an independent adult. To Auntie, however, I simply remarked, “No.” She’d found someone for me, she said. A relative of her husband. Let’s call him Julius because I can’t remember his name. He was “eligible”, meaning he had a job and she thought we’d be a good fit. She suggested I attend a wedding the following weekend so she could introduce us. “I can’t come, I have other plans with my Dad.” Okay, she said. Why didn’t I come over to her house the …

The Unglamorous Life of Working Parents

You make it seem all glamorous.  It being “working motherhood”. I was chatting with one of my friends and we were discussing my prayer intentions. I admitted being overwhelmed by my life and asking for God’s help with work-life balance. And she said, “You make it seem all glamorous but I’m sure it has its iffy spots.” “Iffy spots”? Understatement. Parenting. Drool. Dirty, drooping diapers. Reading said diaper contents like they’re tea leaves, foretelling your child’s health. Why so orange? Right, he ate carrots last night. What’s that?? Is that an almond? Oh, Lord. Half-eaten bowls of oatmeal on the kitchen counter. Torn classics because the kid likes my books better than his. Nonsensical nursery rhymes I’d never heard before 2016. Daddy finger, daddy finger, where are you?  Toddlers that tumble off beds. A subscription to Baby Centre. Hospital emergency room at 6 am on Saturday morning because the child ran an overnight fever so severe he glowed bright red. Motherhood. Forgetting your laptop at home but arriving work with your milk pump bag. Because…priorities. Work. …

Short Story Excerpt: Family Matters

When Renate checked, she saw that Preye had left a single message. Call Me. It was like her sister to be cryptic and annoying. Whatever it is, why didn’t she just text the entire message? Her hand hesitated over the green call button beside Preye’s name. What was the matter now? It was early evening still. As promised, Adeun had brought her to Freedom Park for the monthly Afropolitan Vibes. The band was still setting up and it wasn’t crowded, yet. Adeun had compared it to a concert gathering but it still seemed rather tame. They sat on a raised porch, facing an array of food bars and she’d ordered ofada rice; one of the few cravings she remembered from childhood. Adeun had tried to convince her the ofada wasn’t all that here. “I’ll take you somewhere else. They grind the pepper by hand.” “I’ll take what I get. When did you say they built this park?” “I guess 2010? I first came here in 2011 and…” He was interrupted by a squeal, “Deun!” He turned, …

A Thing For Lent

It’s almost cliché, isn’t it? My first post this year is on the first day of Lent. I think it’s safe to say Lent is my favorite part of the Catholic calendar. Does that sound weird? Lent is ash on my forehead. Lent is fasting and abstinence and purging my soul. Lent is haunting hymns. Lent is sorrow and pain and deprivation and all the things that are considered ugly about human existence. Lent is death. But Lent is also hope. It’s the reminder of everything this world is. Drought. Then rain. Aslan dying. And then resurrecting. Death. And Life after. Lent is honesty with God. Look, Lord. It’s just me here. With my flaws and imperfections and I’m unworthy, Lord. Many times, I even forget to pray.  Did I ever tell you how I sometimes envy Muslims their dedication to prayer? Seriously, good Muslims are #dedicationgoals.  I see them stop conversations abruptly so they can go pray. And I think with shame of all the times my phone buzzes that it’s time for my prayer, and …

Story of a Bleeding Heart

Kosidinma, my friend’s son passed away last week. His mother, Ehimemen wrote this for him. Words cannot express the pain I feel at your demise. You entered my life and made me feel like finally I had a purpose. A purpose that was mine only. Suddenly I knew I owed someone, I knew I owed you a responsibility to raise you as God wants. You gave me sleepless nights but it was all worth it because the look and satisfaction you gave after each feeding was priceless.  We had a connection which no one understood. Whenever I heard you cry, even when I knew you were having your bath, I jumped out of bed to watch just to make sure your crying was not for something that could have been avoided.  When people came to congratulate me, I was proud of the child I had begotten and created; bright, tall, independent and a whole lot more. I looked forward to your growing up because I felt you were going to be the next Albert Einstein… …

28.

I turned 28 two months ago. Usually, I’d write a blogpost to commemorate but I wasn’t in the right place mentally at the time.  I am now. What does 28 mean to me? It’s a question I’ve struggled with but also a question that’s very easy. 28 is familiar, like an old sweater. Like I’ve spent all my life waiting to be 28. Like I was born to be 28. I’ve never felt this way about any other age. Does this make sense? Physical identity meant a great deal to me when I was 28 years old. I had almost the same kind of relationship with my mirror that many of my contemporaries had with their analysts. Don DeLillo, Americana 28 is… The age of  “unlearning”.  The age of courage. Of being able to unpack the baggage, the myths, the cliches, the “home training”. They were useful…once. When we were younger and life was easier with a playbook, a rulebook. But life’s so much complicated. And it’s so much work to be likable. And how …

5 Ways You Can Make Your Home Safer Today

We hardly ever think about these things except to say, “It’s not my portion.” But events can blind side us on any given Tuesday and emergencies don’t discriminate between creeds or beliefs. The difference between an accident and a fatality is often the emergency response. Don’t even dull. 1. Buy a fire extinguisher/fire blanket. For N5000, you can get a decent fire blanket from your nearest fire station, hardware store (Game, for instance) or online. A fire blanket can be thrown over a small fire or wrapped around a burning person to starve the fire of air. You know those kitchen fires that start with a burning pot of oil? You need a fire blanket. Any old blanket won’t work; fire blankets are specially made with fire-retardant material so they won’t burn. In this country where fire fighters are practically unicorns (non-existent), you also need a fire extinguisher for those bigger fires that you can’t throw a blanket over. There are different types of fire extinguishers but industry experts recommend dry powder extinguishers for homes. …

Blessed Are The Merciful: Shelter the Homeless

 When I count my blessings, having a roof over my head comes in the top 5. I never take it for granted because at a point in my childhood, we were almost homeless. Our landlord decided he wanted to demolish our home and build a block of flats instead. We got a quit notice. We started building a house someplace else but were unable to finish it before our eviction deadline. We moved into the new house literally in the middle of construction. That was an interesting experience. 🙂 We had a happy ending. Not everyone is this lucky. I’m thinking of the Internally Displaced Persons who have fled their homes and livelihoods in the North because of Boko Haram. I’m thinking of unemployed young people in Lagos who sleep under bridges, in buses, in doorways. I’m thinking of the beggars on our streets. I’m thinking of the ones we call “mad” who really are just homeless people rendered anti-social by the way we treat them. “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.” We …

Blessed Are The Merciful: Clothing the Naked

“…I was naked and you clothed me.” Matthew 25: 35-36 I wonder what I should write about this. It seems easy enough, doesn’t it? “Clothe the naked”.  We should spring-clean our closets and give to the poor all the clothes we no longer want. The problem is that I hardly ever do this with a proper Christian attitude, with what some of my friends would call “rectitude of intention”. The clothes I give out are usually over-size or too tight or faded/worn or out of fashion. Cleaning out my closet is then less of a sacrifice, and more of a necessity. Yay. Free space in closet. Done good deed for the month. Gotten moral justification. Must shop. I don’t know. I think I could do better. I think God would want me to do better. Clothing serves two purposes. Protection from the elements and preservation of dignity. The last point is key because it also highlights something we often overlook: the origin of some of the clothes we wear. Behind many major clothing labels are sweatshops, in …

We Should All Be Mad

What are you mad about? When I was younger, I was taught/told that all I had to do was get good marks, pass my exams and graduate with a good degree. I’d have a job, and with it financial security and independence. The lines would fall in all the right places. And they did. For some people. Some are lucky to have jobs when they graduate. But for the majority, there are no jobs. Not because they’re unqualified, not because they’re incompetent. No. Sheer (bad?) luck. A tragic game of musical chairs and I am mad, so mad that my family and friends are unemployed or underemployed and there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. What are you mad about? My friend’s mother died earlier this year because she couldn’t get emergency dialysis done in the middle of the night. Another friend slumped while jogging. Government hospitals ask expectant mothers to come for delivery with candles, diesel, rechargeable flash lights. Women die in childbirth of the most routine causes. Babies …

The Woman You Married

Look. Look at her, the woman you married. Look at her dozing as she nurses your child, make-up still on her face, one shoe off. Look at her doing the last of the dishes in the evening, still in her work clothes. Look at her as she patiently spoons rice into your toddler’s mouth, barely flinching as the child spills yet another cupful of water on the floor. Look at her. Look at her “adulting”. Trying to adult. Trying to be her mother, and her aunts, and her grandmothers. Trying to do it all, like she’s seen them do it all. Wear lace, walk in heels, attend weddings, go to the market, manage the domestic staff, do the last load of laundry. Can you tell we’re actually just little girls playing dress-up in our mothers’ lives? Look at her, smiling gamely as the baby places hands sticky with drool on her face. Look at her teaching your daughter to lace her shoes. Look at her, sighing with disgust at the fact that her jeans no longer …

Blessed Are The Merciful: Difficult Conversations

Thank you, guys, for sticking around despite my inconsistent blogging. 🙂 How’ve you been? I’ve missed this. Anyways, I’m so behind on my posting schedule for the Works of Mercy series. I was wondering how I’d even catch up but then I realized that a number of them have the same themes. 😀 (No, it’s not cheating.) St. Paul is one of my favorite saints. His conversion story reminds me of God’s infinite mercy. How else could one man go from being a terrorist (think Isis-type of religious persecution of Christians) to being one of Christianity’s biggest proponents? Seriously. But in all the drama of Paul’s life there’s a character who’s sometimes forgotten. Ananias of Damascus. The believer through whom Paul’s sight was restored. The one who gave him his first instruction and then baptized him. This month, I’m focusing on the first 3 Spiritual Works of Mercy. To counsel the doubtful Teach the ignorant Admonish sinners All of us know dozens of “ignorant” people we would just love to “instruct” i.e. Tell how to …

The Art of Balance: Creativity and Your Day-Job

My friend, Ozoz, is a phenomenon. She’s a geologist, a blogger, a recipe creator, a “traveller by plate”, a photographer and a cook. She’s also a mom. She’s  given a TedTalk, appeared on TV a few times, held a photography exhibition and recently collaborated on #TechmeetsArtng. I, on the other hand, struggle with staying awake long enough to update my blog. Forget work-life balance. I’m not even sure what that is. I think about this often: how to balance my day-job with my creative life, my social obligations, my family life, my spiritual life …and a need to sleep. Sleep is winning, I must admit. Someone commented once that she’s not sure how I do everything. The truth is, I don’t. Some days, I should be writing and I just want to bake chocolate chip cookies instead. So I bake the cookies and eat them as I mindlessly scroll through Pinterest and Twitter. I console myself with this TedTalk by Nigel Marsh. I’ve listed it in my post on the  5 TedTalks Every Young Professional …

Food Hacks: For the Love of Moin-Moin

I wish I could say I was adapting to motherhood. But it’s not exactly true, is it? Motherhood doesn’t give room for “adaptation”. It seizes its share of your life, your time, your space.  And I could go on and on about how it’s a good kind of “baby takeover” or conversely, how important I think it is to maintain one’s autonomy in the face of a baby’s subtle manipulation (lol!) but this is not that kind of post.  No, it’s not. I want to talk about food instead. Specifically, I want to talk about moi-moi.    If Nigerians were into superfoods and all what not, moi-moi would be a superfood. It ticks all the right boxes. High-protein (especially when filled with fish), check. Bulky enough to be filling, check. Nutty umami-ness, check. I love moi-moi. I’m not so crazy about all the work required to make it. These days, though, I’m making it once a week. Thanks to two hacks I discovered about roughly the same time. The first is bean flour. No, not the …

Nigerian Blogs I Love: Ihunda’s Musings

One of my blog resolutions is to share bloggers I love with my readers. I think it’s important for you to know there are so many good bloggers out there.  I don’t remember exactly when I started following Afoma’s blog and Instagram feed. Right now, it feels like a long time ago. What delights me about her photographs? The colors, maybe. The charm she captures…the details. Her mindfulness (something I’ve been working on forever). We share a fondness for H&M blouses. And I must admit to a slight envy. Of her talent with the camera and the fact that she goes to school on a beautiful island.  And yes, she’s a student. A medical student. How cool is that?  Describe your blog with five words. Personal. Inspiring. Delightful. Happy place. Why did you start your blog? I was in dire need of self-expression. I was 16 and tired of talking to myself constantly (which I still do). I somehow caught the oversharing bug before I even knew it was a thing. If you look back …

Things To Give Up This Lent: A List of Ideas

We interrupt our regular “Blessed Are The Merciful” series to bring you this Lenten edition. 😀 So Lent begins officially on Wednesday. That’s tomorrow. Traditionally, these 40 days before Easter are dedicated to fasting, alms giving and prayer. The model is Christ’s example; he spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying. Most people remember the fasting; not everyone remembers giving alms and using the season to deepen our prayer life. And when we say fasting, people automatically think of food. Then there are all the various modes of fasting as practiced by the various denominations. 6am to 6pm fasting, one-large-meal per day fasting, dry fasting (no liquids, no food), one normal-sized meal per day and liquids (Milo, Lucozade etc.) to supplement… I could go on.    For clarity, these are the rules for fasting in the Catholic Church: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are prescribed days of fasting and abstinence (from the flesh of all animals except fish) for Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59. The ill, pregnant and nursing mothers …

My Natural Hair Regime: Daily, Weekly, Monthly

I’ve been asked many times about a simple weekly regimen for natural hair care. So I’m going to share what works for me. I’m pretty lazy about my hair, I’m not always faithful to this regimen,  I’m not an expert and if your hair is different from mine, your results might be different. That said, here goes. Taking care of natural hair involves balancing the protein and moisture needs of your hair. Experience usually teaches you whether your hair needs more protein or moisture. Mine needs more moisture. Daily Routine Fill a spray bottle with one table spoon of vegetable glycerin, two tablespoons of any oil of your choice (olive, coconut, jojoba etc.) and top up with water. Shake well and spritz your hair. If your hair is short enough, you can comb it. If not, just use your fingers to detangle it. Fun fact: nobody expects natural hair to be sleek and smooth. Don’t stress yourself. Style your hair. Sleep with a scarf on. It’ll preserve your hairstyle and protect your hair from drying …

Pregnancy Diary: Part 3 (Giving Birth)

Sooo…you might have noticed that it’s been awfully quiet around here for a while. I literally just found the time to open WordPress…and to breathe…and to take a proper shower…and to think…because, would you believe it, I am now a mother! A couple of weeks ago, a little human being whipped and nae-naed his way out of me. He did whip and nae-nae, I have video footage to prove it! I will be keeping that to show his friends when he’s a teenager and starts to annoy me. This was my perfect, ideal birth plan. At the 39-week mark, with my husband and aunt in attendance, go into labour. Manage the pains of first stage labour with activities like sitting on my exercise ball, long walks, baking, reading a book, taking a warm shower etc. After my water breaks, proceed to the hospital with my packed bag containing my music player, framed pictures of calming scenery, energy drinks and cookies for my nurses. At the hospital, chat with my nurses. Brave the pain. Dance a …

Forgiving All Wrongs

Hola, everyone! Thanks for being patient; this post was supposed to go up last week Sunday but I’ve been super busy with a lot of things. Thank you for all the likes, shares, kind words and comments on my last post :D. Like wow! I was a bit apprehensive about blogging about being pregnant but your responses made it worthwhile. I tried to respond to everyone but couldn’t and I figured I’d just go ahead and give you guys more posts. Know that I read and treasured each comment, and your prayers are a huge help. First of all, how did December go? In the midst of all the feasting and turning up, how did you help to feed the hungry? I hope the ideas I posted were helpful. Pope Francis officially kicked off the Jubilee Year of Mercy, ushering in a year of dutiful and deliberate kindness. The custom of a Jubilee Year is derived from the Old Testament: Leviticus 25: 8-13. In summary, the Jubilee Year was celebrated as a year when slaves and prisoners …

My Pregnancy Diary: Part 2

Thank you to everyone who responded to my call for feedback in my last post! It was very helpful and I will definitely be taking your ideas onboard. The winners of the giveaway are Ife, Sumbo and Nikki *rings bell* Congratulations! I’ll contact you directly on how to get your prizes. For everyone else, don’t worry. I have more giveaways planned this year! Now on to today’s post. Announcing our Baby I must be honest. Kae and I discussed whether going public with our pregnancy would be a good thing. The typical thing is to keep it private. Understandably. On one hand, there’s the superstition associated with sharing good news. Some believe it attracts envy, jealousy, ill-feelings, “bad bele” and in some cases, voodoo against the unborn child. Some others just want to enjoy these precious moments with only family members and close friends. And besides, being private about it means no awkward explanations are needed if there’s a miscarriage, a still-birth or other complications. Then there’s aesthetics. There are women who don’t think they look good …