For My Father’s Mother: Mama Ekaette.

The women in my family are strong, hardworking, affectionate and powerful in their own rights. Truly, in my eyes they are all heroines and their stories deserve to be told. Follow me on this journey as I try to bring  to life these women both dead and alive who have made me who I am today…

Mrs. Catherine Ekaette Uwanaka was my grandmother from my father’s side. She was one of the bravest, kindest and most loving person I ever met and losing her was very painful. My grandma was a conundrum. I could never really understand the way she thought sometimes but she always made perfect sense to me. She was a very very discreet woman who believed that everything should be said in hushed tones and that not all thoughts should be said out loud.

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When my sister and I were much younger, my parents sent us home to her for every long vacation and she insisted that we leave our English language behind in the city and adapt to her way of life. She would take us to the farm and the market and we could never keep up with her startlingly fast paced steps. For an old woman, she walked very briskly and we always ran to catch up with her. I remember vividly one time I went somewhere with her and on our way home we saw a man who was deaf and dumb. I asked her: mama, is that man deaf and dumb? She was so embarrassed because she was very proper and didn’t like to talk about other people. She looked at me sternly and asked me if I needed a microphone to ask the whole community my question! And then she burst out laughing. It wasn’t until we got home that she quietly said: yes my daughter, he was indeed deaf and dumb…

My grandma was the most enduring woman I know. She got married very early, was widowed very early and buried five of her children in her life time, still she was always cheerful and completely submissive to the will of God in her life. She taught me how to forgive quickly and completely and she was a perfect example of never keeping a grudge. She taught me how to cook by the fire, how to plant a seed, how to pray in my native language, how to sit. She had her quirks, oh she sure had them. My grandma would never throw away anything! She saved everything. One time she went to Church with the price tag hanging out from her scarf! We had a really good laugh about that one. She drank a cup of tea with every meal. She would reheat the tea over and over and over…She was our angel, but she wasn’t without her flaws. She would conceal rather than confront, she always wanted everything to be hush hush and sometimes she would rather be quiet than speak up and give correction. That is probably the only flaw she ever had. Oh! She was gracious and very grateful for every little thing given to her. I remember giving her a wrist watch that my mother had given to me, she wore it till she died. Mama danced her gratitude whenever she was given anything regardless of what it was. She absolutely hated red nail polish, long nails and loud makeup, she believed completely in modesty and God knows I loved her deeply for all the lessons she instilled in me.

She has been gone for  many years now, but if I close my eyes, I can still see her standing at the gate of our country home, screaming her welcome and full of hugs whenever we came home from the city. I can remember her long hugs and prayers and her deep sadness whenever it was time for us to go back…and if I listen hard enough, I can hear her saying the Grace in our language: “amara nke onye nwe anyi Jesus Christ, ihunanya nke Chineke, na nmeko nke mmuonso. Nna duru anyi ugbua ruo na mgbe ebiebi…amen.”

I love you mama, I will always miss you.

I Ate Alone!…

 

Happy New Year my people! I hope everyone is having an amazing January so far? It’s been a minute I know, but truly I have turned a new leaf. I gave up on making New Year resolutions a long long time ago, simply because I never keep them. I just try to live better daily; it just seemed like the sensible thing to do.

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Recently, I have been learning to enjoy my own company, to go places by myself and to just be. It has been a bit hard because I am a people person and I love to be with my siblings especially but like I said, I have been trying my hand at being alone.

So some time ago, I got up, got dressed and went out to lunch by myself. It was 100% weird, and several times I wanted to just get up, abandon the food and get out of dodge. Somehow though I soldiered through the meal and I learned something new about myself. When I stopped stressing out about how I looked sitting by myself eating alone, I actually had a good time and I walked home smiling. I shall do that more often, something new and something unexpected. I hope that this New Year is filled with new things, thing worth smiling about, things to make you happy and excited to get out of bed and face the day, something to make to make you bounce up and down again. Do something new today.

Eat alone at a restaurant without my cell phone, check.

I need something different. I don’t know what is, but I need something new”Anonymous 

Guard your heart…

 

Two Sundays ago, it felt like my pastor had it in for me. I could have sworn he was speaking to me the whole service and I was so convicted. You see, I always say this: I love love. I am very quick to give my heart away, to fall in love or to just believe that each time, it could be love. Every time I do this, and every time I get hurt. I get hurt and it’s all my fault because I had no business giving my heart away like cotton candy. You see even the Bible tells us to guard our hearts, it is our duty to protect our emotions and the issues of the heart. So my pastor went on and on and when he said: God knows how delicate our hearts are, that’s why He put it inside our rib cage. He had to build a whole chest to guard it because He knew it needed to be safe. When my pastor said this, I felt like someone splashed a bucket of ice cold water on my face!

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It was definitely a wake up call for me. It is pointless to always blame other people when you get your heart broken. It is time to start accepting your portion of the blame and realize that not everyone deserves your heart and your devotion. Often times, we are so quick to say stuff like: oh! I am very emotional, or I love with everything I have in me but then nobody gets hurt but you!. It is time to become emotionally intelligent and also to ask God for the spirit of discernment. Too much time is wasted casting our precious pearls to the swine, we literally take ourselves, our emotions and our bodies which are precious pearls and cast them to people who have no business touching them in the first place.

These situationships have to go! Neither here nor there, neither hot nor cold, here today gone tomorrow. If there’s no clear definition of intent what then is the point? This heart is staying inside my rib cage where it’s meant to be, not on my sleeve, not handed away like party favors! Because giving should be reciprocated, if not you’ll give and give and give and one day, you’ll wake up and realize that you gave yourself all away and there might be nothing left.

Above all else, guard your heart. For everything you do flows from it.” –Proverbs 4:23

 

 

Like Curry and Thyme…

Hey guys!

How have you been? 

So I had an epiphany in the kitchen this evening, like I always do… I come from a large family, so we do a lot of cooking every weekend; my mum is in charge of the soups and I’m in charge of the stew. I’d been sick on and off this past few weeks and so while I was cooking today, I was quite tired and a bit distracted.

I honestly cannot count the pots of stew I have made in my life time, I can make stew in my sleep. So here I was this evening, drowsy, nursing a swollen eye and a throbbing head, standing over the cooker, making stew. 

I made a mental note of all the ingredients I would need and I thought I had it all, but as I turned off the heat, I realized that I had skipped curry and thyme. I was slightly alarmed because those ingredients are crucial to the way I like to make my stew. I had concluded in my head that I had botched the stew for this week, but boy! Was I wrong.

After a unanimous taste test by my brothers, the consensus was that the stew turned out to be amazing! Better than the last few they said. And here I was stressing out that I didn’t add curry and thyme.

Curry and thyme proved to be dispensable in my stew this week, and just like that, I figured that we can do without a lot of things that we think we need. It also reminded me of the time I went off social media for a while and I realized that I didn’t die! You see I used to be very attached to my phone and my social media accounts; but when I signed off for a while, my life went on! I actually had very deep, very meaningful conversations with my family and a few of my friends. I went out more often, and I took notice of the world I had been missing by burying my nose in my phone.

A lot of things we think we cannot function without, we often find ourselves doing just well without them. Toxic relationships, situationships, gadgets, you name it! When you try to do without them, you’ll be amazed how easy it will turn out to be, because just as my stew did just fine without curry and thyme, when you let go of some stuff, you will be just fine!…

On mangoes and cheating spouses…

I love fruits, I really do. My favorite fruit has to be grapes, especially when they are frozen. I can write an entire post about my love for grapes. Udara is a close second (I don’t know the English name for it.) The number three spot goes to…You guessed it!!! Mangoes. Particularly the sherri and German species.

I have bought my fruits from the same woman for as long as I can remember and I truly consider her a friend. When I saw her in February after years away from home, she gave me a bagful of fruits and we spent a good thirty minutes catching up; I digress. You’re probably wondering what mangoes have to do with cheating spouses, here goes:

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So unfortunately, Udara season is over *insert tears of anguish* but the silver lining is that after udara goes, mango resumes LOL so it’s almost a win win situation for me. This afternoon on my way from Church, I had my smile in place and I headed to my favourite fruit stall. After our usual banter, I looked at her wares but the mangoes weren’t calling my name. They didn’t look ripe and they weren’t just appealing. I was still rummaging around, trying to find some good ones when I looked at the stall next to hers and saw the most beautiful, perfectly yellow, succulent sherri mangoes. I was so torn. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by buying from her neighbour but I also wanted the ripe mangoes from the next stall.

I managed to stifle my longing for the luscious mangoes, bought a few unappealing mangoes from my friend and went on home. Let’s compare our spouses to those mangoes shall we? I recently watched a show where people who have cheated on their spouses were interviewed and they gave their reasons for cheating. Majority of them cheated because their partners weren’t as appealing as they used to be or because the magic simply wasn’t there anymore. Those excuses are lame mehn! If the magic is fading, make new magic, rekindle the flames or whatever! Stay with the wife/husband you promised to love till death did you both part!

I guess my point is if I could walk away from those delicious mangoes, you can walk away from temptation!

Everyone must choose one of two pains: The pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”-Jim Rohn

Tell Me…

If you are a writer, there is nothing as daunting as a blinking cursor. Nothing as taunting as that little black line, blinking away daring you to write but you have no words so you just sit there and stare, stare at it until you slam your laptop close in frustration. There is nothing as frustrating as reaching for your phone because you thought you heard a beep only to find that it was a phantom beep; no one sent you a message, no one is calling.  Your mind is playing tricks on you because you want your phone to beep, you want a call or text or something! nothing as painful as scrolling through your timeline, seeing your friends celebrating milestones, and achieving great things. There is nothing quite like sucking it up, repressing that surge of envy and typing them a congratulatory message…

“So and so asked me out and I don’t want to date any of them, I don’t have the time to date because I am trying to…” it’s painful to hear because you cannot relate but you smile anyway. The only man that has spoken to you in months is the doorman at your apartment, asking you if you had a good day and telling you that you have mail. Tell me what is worse than seeing your plans unravel, adjusting and resizing your dreams because they just won’t work out like you hope they would. Does it get lonelier that screaming in the shower and standing there till the hot water runs out and you are forced to get out of the tub?

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A lonely street…photo Credit: Me

What bigger lie is there than “I am fine”? Even when everything inside of you aches, when uncertainty and doubts and insecurities have pitched tents in your head, but you smile anyway because it is easier to say “I’m fine” than to try and explain why you cry yourself to sleep every night. What hurts more when your friends fail to support you and be there for you when you need them the most? Or when you stop confiding in them altogether because your problems are starting to sound depressing even to you? So the bottle of henney you stashed away in your room becomes your best friend and you spend hours and hours on social media because it feels good to watch funny videos and to read about other people’s misfortune for a change…

Your social media presence is quite strong, your posts and pictures are carefully selected, and well picked out and the likes are pouring in by the numbers. But then you make the mistake of  giving  yourself the false belief that if people don’t like you in real life, at least they like your pictures and status updates. Tell me what is more ignorant than saying “Oh, He/She is fine, I saw their status update and pictures the other day” don’t you know that people are not all they seem to post? We often lie to ourselves, especially we Africans that everything is alright, that all is well. Nobody takes mental health seriously and if you say you want to see a shrink or seek psychiatric help, you are instantly labelled crazy.

This probably wasn’t a happy post to read was it? But it’s real, and if we tell ourselves the truth, we have all found ourselves in one or more of the aforementioned situations. Lend a listening ear, a hug, your time or whatever it is you can if you sense that the people you love might need it. Do something!

This is real, I am one to talk; I should know.

Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

You say you’re ‘depressed’ – all I see is resilience. You are allowed to feel messed up and inside out. It doesn’t mean you’re defective – it just means you’re human.”― David Mitchell

 

On Broken Teeth and Broken Roofs..

So I mentioned a while ago that my tooth mysteriously broke right? Right. So this tooth broke and I was living in terrible pain for months. My nerves were exposed so I could neither eat nor drink nor chew nor even smile. I was in deep torment but I did not want to deal with the extraction. However, last week I bit the bullet and went in for a tooth extraction and though I am still recovering from the process, I feel awesome! I feel so relieved, I am gradually able to chew again, to smile again, to do all those things I couldn’t do and it has been bliss.

Now, let us liken a broken or decayed tooth to the friends we have. The Bible tells us of a man who was paralyzed and bed ridden and was in a very helpless situation. His friends heard that the Lord Jesus was in town and they took their friend to go see him. When they got there the place was so packed that there was literally no path to carry their bed ridden friend inside the building. When it seemed like all hope was lost, they looked up and saw the roof and then they climbed up to what I will assume was someone else’s house and they broke the roof. When the roof caved in, they lowered their friend in until he lay at the feet of Jesus. Of course this caught the Lord’s attention and when he looked at the faith of his friends, the sheer ferocity with which they believed that He would heal their friend, He said the word and the man who had been carried in through the roof, got up and walked.

This is to me is friendship, love in its purest form. When they got the house and found it full, they could have been discouraged and left but they didn’t, they broke the damn roof of a building that did not belong to them! They did the impossible, they believed for their friend who did not believe as much as they did and that singular act brought about their friends healing. Let me ask you what I have been asking myself; will the friends you have right now break the roof for you literally or figuratively? Will they go the extra mile to see that all is well with you? Do they pray for you, correct you, encourage you, cover in you love, defend you and put your needs above their own? Will they open their home to you if you need shelter or their wallets to you when you are in need? If they do not, then perhaps this is worth thinking about. I do not take friendship lightly, I never have. It is a sacred bond, and a very big deal to open up to someone, let them in, and tell them your deepest thoughts and dreams, to love them even when they sometimes hurt you, to tell them things about you and your past that very few people on earth know, not even your parents! that to me is sacred and is not an opportunity to be given at random.

My tooth was broken and hurting and it had to go. People that add no value to you have to go. I have been asking myself how good a friend I am; will I break the roof for my friends? I will also be the first to admit that I am not always a good friend, I become so self involved in my own issues and I forget that others need me and are going through issues too, and I am trying to change. I have few friends, and I love them and pray for them and cover them as much as I can, I will not rest on my oars though, I will keep striving till I become that friend that the Bible teaches us about, the friend that sticks closer than a brother/sister.

Ps: My beautiful, precious, adorable niece is here and I will share her pictures and her birth story in the next post so watch this space!

True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island… to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him or her is a blessing.”- Baltasar Gracian