THE LIZARD BY MY WINDOW

THE LIZARD BY MY WINDOW

He stands there,
Don’t know if he sees me,
He raises his head,
Because he’s a gecko.

As I stand there in a stare,
Wondering what’s on his mind,
He swirls in a tick,
Turns back with a smile.

What’s brought this?
Something’s dropped
From his gnash;
Limb of a cockroach!

The lizard by my window
Eats all the time;
He has no leftover when he eats,
No wonder he has no friend.

Excerpts from PAGES OF MY HEART

UNDER THE MANGO TREE

UNDER THE MANGO TREE

Under the Mango tree,

There we sit,

With our eyes on top,

Waiting for a ripe one to drop.

Under the Mango tree,

Everything is free,

We do our playing,

And go all crazy.

Under the Mango tree,

We pay no fee,

Since the fruits are free;

Our joy is awesome,

As we watch the fruits blossom.

Excerpts from PAGES OF MY HEART

KEEPING NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS

KEEPING NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS
The New Year’s day comes with celebrations all across the globe. It is an important landmark in the life of everything in the world, living or nonliving. Not only is it significant as a chronological entity. But it is also a time for self auditing. It provides one an opportunity to reflect on all the events in the previous year. It is a magical time when you want to put all the pains, anger, disappointments, etc behind you. You decide to set goals for yourself. So you draw up your “New Year Resolutions.”

I visited my friend on New Year’s day. Bobo and I have been friends since childhood. As usual, we discussed various issues ranging from politics and religion to football. We both shared stories of all that had happened to us in the past year. Some of the stories made us laugh. Others brought tears to our eyes. But that’s life. Whether we like it or not, good and bad always walk together.

“This year is going to be different,” Bobo said with a tight fist. “I have made my New Year Resolutions. It’s going to be different this year.”

“Really?” I squeezed my eye.

I couldn’t help laughing. Bobo, like most people make New Year Resolutions. So that was nothing new. I recalled that one of my good friend’s resolutions last year was to be more organised. He confidently resolved to keep a tidy library. I sat down on the only seat that had nothing on it in my friend’s study. Heaps of unopened letters and journals with thick layers of dust on them made the room look like the waste recycling centre. My eyes caught one of my books that I gave him as a present last year. I pulled it out of the pile of his “favourite books.” As I dusted the book and many others on that row, I wondered what would happen to his resolutions again this year.

“Trust me, my friend,” he said. “This year will be different.”

I must admit, Bobo is not alone. Like most people, Bobo makes his Resolutions on New Year’s day. But only few people make the changes they pledge to make. In fact, studies have found that “43% of people who made resolutions broke their “promise” within the first few days or weeks, and 66% didn’t make it past February.”

I stopped making New Year Resolutions a few years ago. Of course, I believe in making changes. But I don’t wait till the first day of January to make that decision. You can make changes anytime and don’t need to wait till the New Year’s day. The important thing is the decision to make those resolutions. You can decide on the day you want to start. It can be the beginning of the week, month or year. As for me, my landmark is my birthday. That’s when I make my own resolutions.
Whatever the time you choose to make your resolutions the most important thing is to keep them. The following tips may help you to achieve them:

Keep them simple and specific: You may have several goals you want to achieve. Perhaps you have the desire to change many things about yourself. Trying to achieve all of them at the same time is likely to cause disappointment. You are more likely to keep your resolutions if you focus on one or two of your most important goals.

Make realistic resolutions: Some goals may be desirable. But are they achievable? You should not aim for goals that are clearly unachievable. Examine your previous experiences and try to figure out what led to failure. In setting your goals, think of factors that may prevent you from achieving them and whether you can deal with those factors.

Write them down: Write your resolutions clearly and boldly and display them where you can always see them. By so doing, you constantly remind yourself of your commitment.
Set Small Goals or Goals in small chunks: Break your goals into clear short-term manageable bites. It is easier to see how well you are doing when you put the road to achieving your goals in phases. Success in those short-term phases will ultimately lead to achieving the main goal.

Power of Repetition: Habit is second nature. It is one of the most difficult things to change. You need to consciously repeat the new habit. If you find yourself drifting back to the old habit, keep on your determination. Don’t flog yourself. Instead, keep reminding yourself that there is no habit that you cannot change. It may help to share your decision with friends and family and let them know how they can help. However, you must put yourself in charge.

Reasons for the change: Constantly remind yourself why you want to make this change. This is especially vital in those moments when the going gets tough and you feel like giving up. You know why you are doing what you are doing. Let that spur you into action. Do whatever it takes to achieve your goal.

Reward yourself: When you achieve each of the chunks of your goals, congratulate yourself. Even if during the process, you have made one or two failures, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have done your best. Start on the next phase and keep going. At the end of it all reward yourself with something really good.

Those of you who have made new year resolutions, I hope you will keep them. All the best.

CAN YOU TRUST?

fullsizeoutput_20a0CAN YOU TRUST?

When you go to a restaurant, you expect to have a meal that has been prepared in a hygienic manner. You don’t ask the pilot to show you his license when you board a plane. You assume that he is certified to fly you safely. You don’t ask for papers to confirm that the plane has had regular services, and it is safe to fly. The taxi driver waits for you holding up a piece of paper with your name written on it. You follow him to the parking lot and expect that he has a valid driving license, and he is an authentic taxi driver.

Imagine attending your doctor’s surgery one day. “What can I do for you today?” the doctor asks. “Oh, before we start, can you show me your certificate?” you reply. Of course, that does not happen under normal circumstances. You don’t ask your doctor or dentist to show you his medical certificate before treating you. It’s all to do with trust.

Your child jumps on you. You hold her up, throw her up several times and even turn her upside down. She smiles with pleasure and urges you, “Again, dad.” Then she sits on your laps as you tell her stories. She doesn’t argue. After all you are her parent. She doesn’t have to read any book about trust. She probably even doesn’t know the true meaning of, and what it takes to trust. But she trusts you anyway. She trusts her parents to take a good care of her, to love and protect her.

Someone whom you believe not to like you invited you to a dinner. Would you accept the invitation or would you find excuses to turn him down? What about when you have just started a job? One of your new colleagues smiled at you when you entered the office. She even made you a cup of tea with biscuits. Within minutes, she told you everything about everybody. The other colleague gave only a brief smile. She talked a little but simply concentrated on what she was doing. Which of these two colleagues would you trust?

Trust is an important attribute in our life as human beings. As a matter of fact, it is fundamental to the human web. It is the strand that knits together the fabric of what we know and recognise as society. Good relationships are based on trust. Trust goes beyond relationships between two persons or among family members. It goes beyond racial, religious or ethnic bounds.

As a growing child, I saw the world as a beautiful place. I was surrounded by families and friends that showed nothing but love and care. Now grown up, I marvel at what people do to their fellow human beings. I could not understand how people who once lived together and did everything together suddenly became enemies, burning neighbours’ houses, slaughtering their children and causing many untold havocs. I see the trust I once had in my fellow human beings eroding on a daily basis. The world no more looks like the one I was born into. It gets worse everyday. Then I ask myself. “Can I really trust anyone? Can I trust people?”

One day, my friend visited me. “Did you know that Tom and Philippa are going through a divorce?” he asked. “Oh!” I replied. “He told me to keep it secret,” he continued, “but I believe that I must tell you since Tom is our friend.” “Oh!” I replied again. It is true that Tom is our mutual friend. As a matter of fact, I knew about Tom and Philippa’s struggle with their marriage. But Tom told me to keep it to myself, just like he told our friend, Franklin. He trusted us with his secret.

What does it really mean to trust? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, this means “to believe that someone is good and honest and will not harm you, or that something is safe and reliable.” The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “to believe in the reliability, truth, or ability of” the person. Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary defines trust simply as “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.” Trust thus encompasses an assured reliance on someone including his character, truth, strength and ability to keep one’s secret. It is that duty that is created by trust that a person keeps to be deemed trustworthy.

Some people trust easily. But for some other people, trust can be an enigma. There are many reasons while people may find it hard to trust or not to trust at all. When you have been hurt or disappointed by people you have once trusted, you don’t want to trust again. This cannot be more true than in relationship situations, business transactions, political leaders, sports teams, etc. If you were a woman who had suffered an abusive relationship you would fear to trust another man with your love. The reality is that, as long as we live, we are going to be in situations when we will have to decide whether to trust or not to trust.

We can make better choices about who and when to trust by trying the following principles:

Give Yourself Time to Think. Avoid making important decisions on impulse. It is always best to step back and give yourself time to consider all the aspects of the decision you are about to make. Think of the benefits but also consider what is at stake. You may need to do your own investigations about the person and seek the opinion of a friend with trusted judgment.

Beware of the Smooth Operators. These are people with sweet tongue. They can talk you into doing anything. They are the typical hard sellers who will want you to trust that you have got a good bargain. They may even make it look like what you are about to buy is scarce, just to lure you. Similarly, someone who wants to form a relationship with you may appear to be the nicest person on earth.

Beware of Fast Movers. If you have just met someone and, straightaway, he wants to be your best friend or lover, you need to be careful. Take your time to know the person well before committing yourself. Better to have a few friends that you can trust than lots of untrustworthy ones.

Probe into the person. What is this person really about? Does he want you for his own selfish benefit? Some people want to form a relationship with you for what they want to gain. They don’t care about what you gain or lose in forming that relationship. They are good at projecting false images of themselves. They may even flatter you to make you feel good. You need to ask yourself, Is this person really what he seems to be? Can we live together? Have we got common values? From talking to him, does he sound like someone who could keep a secret? What is his past like? Is he always criticising people? Is he contemptuous of other people? Has he got close friends or family? Does he like to help people? These are some of the questions that are worth asking yourself to enable you look beyond the superficial appearance of the person and discover his true nature to decide whether you can trust him.

Your Gut Feeling. You may feel an instant connection with somebody. You can’t ignore your emotions. But be cautious. Don’t make that the sole reason for your decision to trust. Your emotion can cloud your judgment. Take other factors into consideration as well.

In the world that we live, there is always going to be people who would hurt us. We can’t but form relationships. We just have to be more careful about who we trust.

WHAT CAN YOU DO WHEN SOMEONE DOES NOT LIKE YOU?

IMG_0358When you get on the bus or train, or walk into an office, the looks on people’s faces tell, more than words, that they do not like you.It is everywhere: on the road, on the bus, in the supermarket queue, at work, in the hospital, at the children’s playground, at the pub, at the church and even in our own family settings.

People are abound who do not like you. Such people do everything not to like you, even when you do everything you can for a better relationship. They may not like you for reasons of race, beliefs, gender and sexuality or several other reasons. But people can also dislike you for reasons that you cannot understand. Ironically, even if you ask them why they dislike you, they cannot come up with any tangible reason.

Look at the situation with Lucy Davies, for instance. Her boss was after her. There was nothing that Lucy could do right, as far as Sister Simpson was concerned. She followed Lucy everywhere, looking not only over her shoulders but also into her throat. Like Lucy, Dr Chuks suffered in the hands of his boss who saw nothing good about him. Dr Braver did everything to frustrate Dr Chuks despite the fact that he was a fantastic surgeon. Likewise, Sister Barnes was at Nurse Simmonds throat even when she tried to give her patient some hope.

We all encounter people who do not like us in our daily lives. But people do not have to like you. Likewise, you don’t have to like them. Sometimes we are stuck with such people at home and at work, and they challenge our lives. Of course, we feel bad if people do not like us. It is human to feel that way. After all, we human beings are social animals. We feel love and affection. It upsets us when someone shows the opposite. Moreover, we need each other to survive, and so we form friendships as we journey through schooling, childhood and throughout our professional careers.

But what do you do when someone does not like you? In certain situations, whether someone likes you or not doesn’t matter, and you should not let that stress you. This is the case, for instance, when someone gets up from the seat on the bus because you try to sit next to him, or pulls face when you stand next to him on the supermarket queue. Likewise, the guy who pulls his face just because you are different should not bother you. Those people don’t matter and you can choose to ignore them and let them live with the guilt.

What about in those situations when you are “stuck” with someone who does not like you? Such is the situation when you have to live with a difficult or unreasonable boss on whom your future largely depends. It’s easy to let a person with a challenging behaviour ruin your life unless you have effective ways for dealing with him. I have found the following strategies helpful in those difficult situations:

Calm down

The first rule when dealing with a difficult person is to keep your cool. You can deal with most situations if you follow this golden rule. When a person does something bad towards us out of their dislike for us we feel angry or upset. During that charged moment it is pretty easy to overreact. The first rule in the face of an unreasonable person is to maintain your composure. When you feel angry or upset with someone, calm down lest you say or do something you may regret later. The less reactive you are, the more you can engage your faculty to better manage the situation.

Keep your distance

Some situations are not worth the fight. Don’t waste your valuable time tussling with unreasonable people. Unless there is much to lose, don’t try to change or convince such people. Keep your distance when you can, but when you have to interact with them, be diplomatic.

Diligence

Show your ultimate diligence in whatever you do even when people do not show appreciation. This principle is a life skill and it will help to reduce your stress.

Avoid gossips

It is common in workplace for people to gossip about a difficult boss. Try not to take part in gossips. The same person who tells you something about your is the one who will pass what you have said to him. You will maintain your dignity and self regard by avoiding gossips.

Be proactive rather than reactive

It is very easy to make a wrong judgment about a person just because we believe that he does not to like us. When the person makes an honest criticism, we may see it as part of his dislike even when such criticisms are for our own good. You should view every situation with objectivity, minimise misinterpretation and channel your time and energy towards problem-solving. Avoid direct confrontation.

Try a bit of humour

When used appropriately, humour can be a powerful weapon to disarm a person with difficult or unreasonable behaviour. Dr Chuks, for instance, utilised this tool when he attended Dr Braver’s Christmas party. “What do you give your dogs in Africa?” Dr Braver asked, wanting to ridicule his African colleague as he devoured the pork shin. All the guests turned their attention at the African doctor. But before they could laugh to embarrass him, Dr Chuks replied, smiling, “Oh, we give them chocolate.” All the people burst into laughter. Even Dr Braver could not resist joining in, laughing and clapping.

Stand up to Bullies

As discussed above, you should pick our fights as not all situations are worth the fight. However, you should confront bullies when it is safe to do so. By so doing, you will reduce or eliminate their threatening behaviour, which will ultimately help to increase your confidence and give you peace of mind. Bullies tend to pick on weak ones. It is also to be noted that whilst bullies show an outward aggressiveness they are cowards on the inside. When someone they have perceived to be weak stand up to them they often back down.

Someone is always there

Finally, be encouraged that nothing lasts for ever, even your interaction with someone who does not like you. Sometimes all you have to do is to simply wait and someone else will fight your fight. Dr Chuks, for instance, was lucky to have Dr Saints taking on Dr Braver. Likewise, Samantha Guest had to fulfil her duty of candour to Lucy Davies and Angela Fletcher brought hope to Gail Simmonds.

DUTY OF CANDOUR

IMG_2721People often talk about Monday blues, the feeling you get on Monday after you’ve had and enjoyed a work-free weekend. You feel lazy, tired, having no interest, zeal or enthusiasm to do anything. Monday depresses people more than any other day of the week. No wonder, studies have shown that people are more likely to commit suicides on Mondays than any other weekday or weekend. Studies have also shown that most sick- leaves are taken on Mondays. That is the nature of this special day, the first day of the week.

All the nurses on ward 19 knew what Monday was like, as it was the main operation day. If it were the Monday blues alone, Lucy Davies would not be bothered. She knew what to expect, and she always prepared her body and soul for this busy day. But, when you have a boss who not only looks over your shoulders but also into your throat, you feel more blues. Lucy’s cup was full, or to be more precise, over full. That was how she felt, as Sister Bella Simpson followed her round and criticised whatever she did.

Lucy had always wanted to be a nurse since the age of three, after surviving a severe infection with meningococcal meningitis. She would like to care for patients the way nurses had cared for her. Now, a qualified nurse, she faced a murder charge. Her patient had died from a deliberate injection of a toxic chemical. She denied ever doing anything to harm her patient, but no one believed her. Even her colleagues would not rescue her. As for her boss, she could not wait to see her locked away for life.

The police had charged her on the basis that everyone had testified that she was the last person to see Mark Calder alive. How could she kill her patient when, as she claimed, she left the room straightaway? Someone else must have committed the murder. But who was that person? Unless she could produce an alibi, she faced a life imprisonment. Even as she was locked away in solitary confinement, Lucy maintained her innocence,

“I left straightaway, when Sister Simpson asked me to leave,” she informed the police.

“That wasn’t what they told us,” the police officer said. “You remained in the room whilst they left. Yes, staff saw you going to the non-acute bay. But that was several minutes later. That was what all your colleagues said.” And then he stared into Lucy’s soul. And after drawing a long breath, he drew his face closer to hers. “You see, your only alibi, Miss Davies, is Mark Calder. Only him can tell who injected the drug that has killed him. But he’s no more  with us. His young life has been terminated by her nurse, the very nurse that he had trusted,” the officer concluded.

Lucy knew then that there was nothing else she could say. And when the officer finally formally charged her, she knew that her only chance of acquittal hung on the reasoning of the jury. She would argue her case and prove her innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Lucy remained locked up in the high security prison. As the police left, and she was left on her own, she wondered if there was anyone, one honest person among her colleagues, who would see it as a duty owned to Mark to report who had murdered him.

DUTY OF CANDOUR available now for download HERE

CHRISTMAS REMINISCENCES

IMG_1541To say that Christmas is special is an understatement. The religious aspect of Christmas is unquestionable. But there are many things that make Christmas a unique festival. In the weeks leading to Christmas it always looks as if the ground would cave in under the feet of enthusiastic shoppers.

When it comes to Christmas shopping, I am a last minute shopper. I guess that’s because I am a man. Men typically leave their Christmas shopping to Christmas Eve. There’s something exciting about shopping at the very last minute. Because of time constraints you don’t have time to think long. You just grab whatever you can find but you must grab it before another chap gets hold of it.

Christmas in Africa where I grew up is not the same as in Europe. When I was a child there were no computers, no computer games, no mobile phones, iPads, etc. It was more of friends and families affairs with a great emphasis on the religious meaning of Christmas. Food was in abundance. Oh, I love Christmas in Africa.

Christmas time provides an opportunity for people to sell their animals.

IMG_1882

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my place, goat is almost always on the Christmas menu. People would try any means to bring their goats home.

IMG_1929

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was a child I used to wonder what was in the minds of the animals whenever I looked at them on the tether. I wondered if they sensed the risks that Christmas posed to them. They tried in their own way to escape their ordeal, including hiding in unusual places.

IMG_1522

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But Christmas is a time to show love.

IMG_0598

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is also a time for peace and reconciliation.

IMG_0616

 

 

 

 

And a time of hope

IMG_1296

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for visiting my site. I hope you have had a good Christmas and I wish you a happy new year. Please continue to visit my site as 2016 will be full of mind blowing blogs.

Mr Sluggard

imageThe Lazy Man’s Life

The cock crows, announcing the dawn of a new day. Mr Sluggard tucks himself further into his blanket. “It can’t be dawn so soon,” he murmurs. He has been in bed since seven the previous night, yet he wants to sleep for one more hour. Mr Sluggard’s friends knock at his door. “It’s time to go to the farm,” they announce. As the door handle turns, Mr Sluggard turns in his bed and yawns, “Oh, how I wished it could rain so I could sleep more.”

In my place they say, “The lazy man calls for it to rain.” When it rains it really pours. It’s like bullets have hit you, and the footpaths are impassable. So, much as farmers need water for their plants to grow, too much rain is bad for them. One can understand, therefore, how the saying walked into our everyday communication. Mr Sluggard knows this and he prays that it rains heavily.

“We can’t wait any longer,” his friends warn him. “We will leave you if you don’t get up.” He drags himself to the window. He yawns gain, and after scratching his head, turns to his friends. “There was a prowling lion on the road to the farm the other day. It’s a fierce lion. It nearly got me.”

“Ha ha ha,” his friends laugh. Unable to persuade him, Mr Sluggard’s friends leave him to slumber. Now it’s midday. He yawns as he looks through the window. “Why has it not rained?” he asks. Then he hobbles into his kitchen. Nothing to eat. He can’t cook. The sink is full of unwashed utensils. “This will do,” he says to himself, as he takes a bite on the previous day’s left over cocoyam.

Weeks have passed. It is a beautiful day. Mr Sluggard trudges to his farm with a stomach full of cassava. He can’t find the entrance to his farm. Weeds have overtaken the small farm, forcing life out of the crops. “I will need a very sharp cutlass,” he says to himself, as he turns back to return home.

He stands before the coconut tree and pleads, “Please drop a coconut, for I like the sweat taste of the coconut.” Nothing happens. He hisses and finds a group of people playing Ayo game. He joins them, hoping someone will bring a keg of palmwine. That’s how he spends his day.

Now it’s harvest time. His friends bring home loads of maize, cassava and yams, produce of their hard work. Their barns are full of yams. Mr Sluggard stands outside his friend’s house, his mouth watering, as they pound the yam. He knows exactly when to visit his friend. After clearing his throat, he remarks, “These yams are really matured. I’m sure they will be really tasty.” He knows his friend will always welcome him to dinner. After stuffing himself, and now looking like a python that has swallowed an elephant, he packs all the leftovers so he may have something to eat the following day.

He turns himself into a beggar, living at the mercy of his friends. He becomes the visitor who always turns up at dinner time, and the friend who doesn’t ever have, burrowing money here and there. He watches his children growing up to become servants and his whole family becomes a laughing stock.

That’s the life of a lazy person. The person who is unwilling to work or do something will always find an excuse. The time is never right for the sluggard. But laziness goes farther and more dangerous than the prowling lion. The body is wonderful. It does whatever you want it to do. The less you do, the less you want to do and the more useless you end up.

No one is born with laziness. It’s simply a habit we pick up as we grow up. But it’s a habit that can sometimes be deadlier than a disease. To overcome laziness, you need to make conscious efforts to change your habit. It is not an incurable disease. After all, it’s only a habit. Start by taking small steps towards change. Don’t yield to bodily comfort when you should be up on your feet to face what life throws at you. Don’t be like Mr Sluggard who keeps making excuses that render him useless. If only Mr Sluggard would realise that nothing comes easy. Don’t frighten yourself from the chances of success by imagined difficulties. There’s no excuse for failure. It takes courage and determination to ignore our physical comfort. Sometimes all it takes is just a little push and you are up and going. Try it and you will be a winner.

WATCH YOUR TONGUE

IMG_1300Watch Your Tongue

I don’t like making or receiving phone calls on public transport. I prefer texting, not so much because of confidentiality, but because sometimes that could be a nuisance to other people. I get irritated when people’s phones ring with some weird ring tones or when the person next to you speaks so loudly that your ear drums are in danger or in a language that you don’t understand. There’s one phone that I cannot ignore. That’s my brother’s. Femi will call you repeatedly until he hears: “Hello!” from the other end.

On this day, I was on the bus home after a busy shift. I heaved a sigh of relief that I found a nice seat where I could just settle quietly and hopefully have a nap. On a good day, it would take an hour to get home. The guy sitting next to me smiled, as I took my seat. He had a gentlemanly look. I smiled back, thinking, Not the type of person who would spend the whole time on the phone! Having made sure that I had set my phone to vibration, I settled down. I was about to dose off when my phone started to vibrate. At first, I ignored it as I always did when on the bus. My eyes blinked several times as the caller’s name appeared: Femi. “Oh no, not now,” I grumbled, as I put the phone back into my pocket. But I knew, of course, that I was joking. Femi would never leave a message on the smartphone. He would try and try until I picked it. So I wasn’t surprised when my phone vibrated again seconds later.

“Hello!” I answered, hoping that the signal would be poor and I could tell him that I would call back when I got home.

“Bawo!” Femi replied, breathing heavily. And that was it. My brother was unstoppable. Thirty years abroad have not robbed him of a good control of the Yoruba language. My sleep disappeared from my eyes as I kept nodding, laughing and replying with encouraging “O ti o!” “Beni!” and “Rara!” I was glad when Femi said, “O dabo,” signalling the end of our dialogue.

Although I did actually enjoy talking to my brother, I felt terrible that I had done something that I really disliked. I turned to the guy sitting next to me, and with guilt conspicuously written on my face, I said, “Sorry about this.”

“Ko si wahala,” he replied with the most amazing smile.

I nearly collapsed. I had not expected a guy of a different colour to understand my language particularly on a bus in a foreign country. “Oh, my God!” I screamed, ignoring the attention of the other passengers. The guy surely heard and understood everything that I discussed with my brother. Imagine what would have happened if I had said something bad about him or discussed things that were somehow implicating.

“Lola,” I said as I stretched out for a handshake.

“Tom,” he replied, still smiling.

Son of an oil engineer, Tom Solomon grew up in Lagos. Talking to Tom in my native language gave me a feeling that I could not describe. It was like talking to my own brother. We subsequently exchanged our contact details and have since formed a strong friendship.

This reminds me of Dr Chucks’s encounter with Pam Boggy, his medical student under Dr Braver. He had not expected to find a girl who could speak pidgin English thousands of miles away. That moment of discovery sent powerful impulses through both of them and formed a good soil for love to blossom.

Both stories had positive outcomes, one resulting in a lasting friendship, and the other in romance. My encounter with Tom could potentially have resulted in embarrassment had I assumed that the guy sitting next to me had no chance of understanding my language. The power of language must not be underestimated. Next time you sit next to someone who apparently looks different, there’s a chance he/she may understand your language. Watch your tongue.

What is it like to have dinner with Dr Braver?

IMG_1204What is it like to have dinner with Dr Braver?

I accepted the invitation to visit the Bravers with mixed feelings. On one hand, I could not imagine that a person who I perceived to hate me so much could invite me for a meal. I thought he was looking for an opportunity to humiliate me. He had done that in the front of patients, nurses, his secretary and medical staff. Now, he needed to ridicule me before his family. My other mind was telling me to give him a chance. Maybe he had a different side to his character. A normal aspect outside of work. Other doctors and nurses had been talking about the Bravers’ party for days. All the people that I mentioned it to indicated they would attend.

I was the last guest to arrive. At first, I was hesitant to join the guests. I stood on the front corridor hoping that someone would pop outside to have a smoke or something or a late arrival would turn up and we could go in together. There was a lot of talking and giggling going on. I could hear the chink of glasses amidst the chatter and laughter. Everyone seemed to be in full gear.

“My African friend!” Dr Braver exclaimed with his usual shallow smile, holding a large half empty bottle of Vodka in one hand.

“Good evening,” I said to Dr Braver and his wife. “Thank you for inviting me.”

“Oh, it’s always a pleasure,” Mrs Braver replied. Mrs Braver stood by her husband, smiling warmly as she welcomed me into the lavishly decorated banquet hall. She wore an Indian Satin with a matching heavy gold necklace. Dr Braver was looking really posh in his navy blue dinner suit, I almost did not recognise him.

We had expected to have Chinese take-away for the Christmas party, as Dr Braver had said earlier, because his wife could not cook! In truth, I could not say for sure if Mrs Braver actually did the cooking or someone else did. To be honest, I cared less who cooked the food and whether it was Chinese take-away or Cantonese sit down to eat. All I knew was that it looked good and there was a lot of it. The three long tables had all sorts of food displayed and this jumbo was capped with a large whole roasted pock that stood strategically in the middle of all the other food. I had never seen so much food displayed, even back home in Africa.

“Ladies and gentlemen. I cannot say, ‘feel at home,’ as you are already at home. The only thing to say, is that no one leaves until all the food is gone,” Dr Braver said, as we took our seats according to our names on the table.

I wanted to quickly eat my food and get out of this place. But that would look uncivilised. Besides, many of the food items on the table were strange to me. I didn’t have any problem with the pork and rice but I couldn’t figure out how to combine the various items.

“Here you go,” Mrs Braver said, as she placed the plate full of rice, roast potatoes, diced carrots, sprouts and the shin of pork in front of me. She must have thought that I needed a tonne of food to support my one hundred and twenty kilograms body. And she seemed to know my weakness. Meat. I could eat a whole cow.

“Thank you, mam,” I said. She didn’t seem to mind me referring to her as “mam,” which made me feel really relaxed.

I was struggling with the bone of the pork when Dr Braver stood up. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “I have no doubt you are all enjoying yourselves. Everybody seems happy. I am glad. When you are happy I am happy.”

We all clapped. Not really because of what he had said but there had been a lot of ethanol in our brains.

“And my African friend, you don’t have to crack your canines. There is enough flesh. Makes me wonder what you give your dogs in Africa,” he said and sipped from his bottle of Vodka.

“Oh, we give them plenty of chocolate,” I replied.

And everyone broke into laughter. Initially some people did not understand the joke but as the meaning became clear the laughter was truly unending.

“That’s a good one,” he said, after sipping again at his Vodka.

After the meal, we all dispersed into small gatherings. Dr Braver had undone his tie. He was no more wearing his jacket. His trouser was partly unbuttoned. He sat down in one of the settees, humming a tune with his pipe at the corner of his mouth and a newly opened bottle of Vodka beside him. Completely pissed off, he responded, “Yes,” to every question his wife asked him.

I got back to my flat just before midnight, feeling like I had swallowed an elephant. And as I lay in bed, massaging my stomach, I could not stop wondering what to make of Dr Braver. One thing was certain, the food was tasty and I had a lot of it.