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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

TEAR GAS EXPERIENCE

          I was sitting in the office  one Wednesday while i was still a staff with an on street parking company preparing to close for the day, while waiting for the field officers who were supposed to sign out with the electronic biometrics on my desk and aslo return the POS to me.  Suddenly my eyes began to sting, i thought an insect flew into my eyes, but the sting hurt me more and tears began streaming down my eyes and i could barely leave it open. While i was still wondering what caused it, i heard colleagues of mine screaming as well that tear gas had been released. I was shocked to the bones. Tear gas in the office? who would release tear gas in the office? I could understand motorist getting angry about vehicles been clamped or towed away, but getting angry to the point of releasing tear gas was just taking anger to a whole new level. Lots of my colleagues were coughing and expressing their displeasure. None of us could open our eyes, infact most of us had to use the wall as guide to get out of the building, we got temporarily blind, and we were on the third floor which was not easy to get down with eyes almost closed. I had cartarrh immediately, i could hardly control the tears and the carrtarh running down my face. When i got a bit far from the office i could finally open my eyes. We never got to know who released the tear gas.
It was a good thing i did not use mascara, history would have repeated itself like it did in 2006, during my service year.
          As a Corp member serving in Oyo, Oyo state in 2006, i was always traveling to Benin where my twin sister served as a Corp member as well. I preferred Benin because it was livelier than Oyo. Though i enjoyed the peace and quiet of Oyo town, but sometimes i felt really bored.
         I served in a missionary secondary school and lived within the premises with other Corp members, because it was a school, i had opportunity to travel a lot during the termly holidays.
On one of such trips to Benin, i saw a flier of a show taking place at Time Out, with Tuface as the major performer on the list was also Blaqface and other artists and comedians. I was highly elated as they were my favorite artists.
        My sister and i decided to get a VIP ticket for five thousand naira in order to have a good view of the artists and get a comfortable seat. We got the ticket a few days before show and got word that there would be enough security.
The Dee day arrived and we arrived just in time before the show began, got our good VIP seat. True to their word, there were lots of police men,SARS, mobile policemen and  Military men. We felt really secured because we had heard lots about how notorious shows could get in Benin.
There were some celebrities, now i can only remember Clem Ohameze now, because he sat adjacent my Sister and i.
Some local Comedians were already thrilling us with their jokes while we laughed heartily. Some local artists also performed. These went on till 12 midnight when the anchor of the show invited Tuface to the Podium. We heard his voice before he came into view so that the audience would believe that he was really around for the show.
Just then, we heard a loud bang, my heart skipped  a beat, i assumed it was an explosive because i had so much faith in the number of uniformed men i saw before coming in.
      while i was settling back in and anxiously waiting to hear Tuface thrill us, my eyes began to sting. It was so pepperish, while i was trying to ask my sister, she said her eyes were stinging as well. I noticed that everyone were blinking uncontrollably. I was seriously trying to fight back tears, but my eyes stung too much, by now tears was flowing freely like River Niger. It got worse because i wore a mascara,so i could not tell which hurt more, the mascara or the tear gas. Then i heard people screaming tear gas, tear gas!! That was the first time i experienced tear gas. The next thing was sporadic gun shots, this time i was very sure it was not just explosives.
      There was confusion and pandemonium everywhere. People running in all directions, and there was just one entrance which was also the exit door. The lights went out, we were temporarily blinded by the teargas sting, so this time around we couldnt see anything. It was so dark. People were hiding in all corners,colliding and calling each other's names out.
By now my sister and i held tight to each other even though we did not know how to get out  or what to do. The worst thing that could happen was to lose sight of each other in that darkness.
This was one reason we did not want to attend shows in Benin, but because we were assured of safety we decided to come and look at how it turned out. What do we do? How do we get home safely? I regretted wasting five thousand naira on a ticket that became useless, i wished i used the money for something else, but regret would not help us at that time, all we needed to do was find a way out.We asked ourselves numerous questions, because no one knew what direction the gunshots were coming from or who fired the guns. We saw people trying to protect themselves with these white plastic chairs to avoid  stray bullet, we did same, it was not like it would have protected us from the bullets, but it was better than nothing at all.

After what seemed like eternity, we found our way out into the street, now where do we go from here? There were no taxis or bikes around and it was far from Iyobosa street,off Ekenwa road where my sister lived.
          We wandered aimlessly about a bit, though there were lots of people from the show as well loitering the street, luckily for us we met good Samaritans who gave us a ride to My sister's house. We were as scared as chickens in the vehicle, we were afraid of getting raped or attacked, but that was our only option,because we could not sleep on the street neither could we trek the distance. Finally we got home and i could only breathe a sigh of relief, all the fears were gone, by the time i looked in the mirror, i laughed hard at myself, the tear marks on my face was black because of the mascara, and that was the last show i attended in Benin.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

LINGERING EFFECTS OF TRAUMA

I thought i had overcome my fear,until i heard a loud and hard rapid knock on my door. I woke up startled,confused and trembling like a leaf. It took a while before my brain registered the environment. My heart thudded and beat so fast,that i almost could not differentiate the loud pounding from the banging on my door. What time is it? And who could be knocking on my door with such arrogance and no decorum? Did something happen? Are they robbers? All these questions raced through my pounding heart,i could hardly breath,by now a large chunk of saliva had gathered in my throat,i was swallowing hard. I stood rooted to a spot,did not have the courage to peep through the window to find out who and what woke me up rudely from my sweet sleep that was interrupted. I heard a man's voice,asking me to put off my security light. He still kept knocking, by now my sister and i didn't want to make any noise,so we did sign language. I picked my mobile phone to check the time,it was a few minutes after six in the morning. What was anyone's business with my security light even if i decide to leave it for a whole day? In fact i have left it like that for weeks and no damage was done. My sister and i still kept mute,till the lunatic shifted to my neighbor's apartment. After he left,my mind strolled down memory lane. It wasn't a pleasant memory,but i can never forget it.  A few years ago,while living at Mararaba, Nasarawa state,an incident happened,precisely in May 25th 2010. I had gone to work as usual,then closed by 6pm,my younger brother and twin sister were around as well. We had dinner,watched a movie; while preparing for bed,i received a call that a dearest Uncle had died. None of us could sleep till midnight,weather was warm and trust PHCN;they had taken the power supply. So it was pitch black,no moon. It was quiet,except for crickets chirping and dogs barking. I lived in an eight flat self contained,as at that time the compound was not yet fenced. The Landlord kept promising to build it but did not until we moved in. My apartment was the fourth,all my neighbors were young as well.
Suddenly at 2am we were rudely woken up with loud bangs on the burglary and so many voices, we locked our burglary before going to bed, but left the door ajar with the curtain down. while they were banging the burglary, they were also flashing very bright torchlight inside. It was as bright as an Halogen Lamp. While trembling like a jelly fish, we were also very confused. We wondered what was happening and who they were. ''Open the door'', i say ''open the door'', they kept ranting and banging. My younger brother whispered to My sister and i, these are robbers oh. Robbers? we chorused rhetorically. What do they want? why are they here? What are we going to do? My mouth went suddenly dry, cold sweat broke all over me. These armed robbers seemed very impatient and were getting angrier and angrier. My twin sister and i quickly said a short prayer and began screaming at the top of our lungs, ''thieves, thieves''. Neighbors help!. No neighbor came to our rescue, neither did the respond to our call for help. It wasn't like our room was sound proofed or anything, but why are the neighbors not responding? I felt like someone who was in a nightmare, and was praying someone would wake me up from it. By now, these thieves who obviously came prepared, had started removing the burglary that led to our small corridor, by now we had closed the main room door. We heard them speaking pidgin English. ''Una wan prove stubbornness ba?'' We go burn Una alive today! By now they had removed the burglary with their tools and were on the corridor banging on the main door. Some had torn down the bathroom window net, another almost pulled out the kitchen window burglary. We usually leave the generating set ( i pass my neighbor) on the corridor. They began pushing the door, we pushed back, because we didn't have enough time to look properly. We finally had to let them in, when they opened our generator and poured out the fuel on the corridor floor and were about to light it up.They rushed into the room about ten of them;and we still heard more voices outside, and shouted "lie down all of you, Una no wan open door for us"? We obeyed and didn't respond. Though before they entered i had successful hidden our most expensive phones in my undies bag i hung on the clothes hanger( i was using a Nokia 5310 X press music,including my twin sister, while our brother owned Nokia 5320 X press Music) at that time and kept the cheap ones close by. Fortunately for me, i left my laptop at the office.One of them specifically for our communications( phones). I quickly pushed the cheaper Nokia (torchlight), My twin Sisters Motorola razor and another cheap Motorola i owned to cover up as my brother's own (congregation of cheap phones lol). The next question was, where are your wallets, before i could respond, they had located my hand bag and that of my sister. they opened it, removed my wallet, and i pleaded with them to take the money and give me back my wallet. Surprisingly, they removed the money i had in there ( N12,000) twelve thousand naira only and (N10,000) ten thousand naira from my sister's wallet and flung the wallets accross the room. They asked for our gold  jewelries, we told them we didn't have gold jewelries. They checked around and did not find any. Naturally we aren't jewel crazy, so did;t have to hide any. These boys did not wear face mask, they wore heavy boots and carried several weapons. I noticed that, they made sure not to call each other by name, instead, they referred to each other as "AREA". They were checking out the congregation of cheap phones we offered them, they flung back the cheapest Motorola, even in our moment of fear, we giggled silently because they rejected that particular phone.They went outside but did not leave the compound, another group wanted to come into the room, the group that robbed us said, "Area! nothing dey for dat cabal, just leave dem". I believe it was God who acted in our favor, because they could have easily raped my sister and i. They Robbed for an hour, before they left our compound. It was much later we discovered that they came with a twenty four seater bus and were as many as twenty. We discovered that our neighbors were robbed as well. By 5am we all met to recount our tales, my sister and i discovered that we were the only ones who gave them difficulty to get in, and we were the only ones that weren't molested or beaten up by them. Our neighbor's rooms were ransacked, but instead they only asked us where money, jewelries and phones were. In the morning, we heard of other people who were robbed and raped by these gang,we were most grateful it was just robbery, but very traumatizing. We went to report at the Police Station, the officers said, they had similar cases reported by many other people and asked us to pay some money so that our case will be attended to? You can imagine my shock, my eyes almost popped out of its socket. After being robbed by armed robbers, the police still wanted money? Where do they want us to get it from? My neighbors and i left the station in annoyance.
We informed the Landlord, then fixed the burglary door, window and net, but the trauma stayed. I became afraid of my room, i felt safer outside, whenever i came home the incident would replay in my mind. We could no longer sleep at night. Each day we prayed to overcome the fear, gradually it reduced, we were able to sleep again, until we moved out of Mararaba. We thought the fear had been overcome totally, until that lunatic came knocking on our door, and all the fear and memories i tried pushing at the back of my mind came rushing like a water fall.

Monday, June 10, 2013

My ordeal with Skinny Jeans

I work in an organization that allows Staff wear casual outfits on Thursdays and Fridays. On Mondays to Wednesdays i wore corporate clothes. Usually i complain about Skinny jeans because of its tightness and probably any health hazard it could cause. I remember writing an article on the disadvantages of Skinny jeans, even though it looks very beautiful and fits who ever wears it. I never bought any for myself, i just wore normal jeans,because generally i dislike putting on any clothing that would cause me any kind of discomfort. For that reason i do not follow fashions in vogue, i only wore comfortable clothes that fits me. A good friend of mine traveled to London and bought me a skinny jeans. I thanked her and collected the jeans, i could not tell her i didn't wear skinny jeans, because i appreciated the fact that she thought about me during her trip. Secondly i appreciate gifts a lot, no matter how little,it always gives me good feelings. One Wednesday evening i decided to wear my new skinny jeans to work the next day ( Thursday), i always prepare what to wear to work the night before, so that i would not be late for work the next day. My parents taught me to always be punctual, especially to work, so i always arrive at least thirty minutes early. I woke up by 5am on Thursday as usual, prayed, then showered and began dressing up. It is not easy wearing skinny jeans, i wonder how ladies/girls wear it comfortably. i had to keep jumping up to pull it very well. It held onto my laps tightly like a bandage, by the time i was done, i was breathing so hard like someone who went for a twenty minutes jogging. I caught my breath before i left the house. The house i reside is five minutes walk to the main road where i usually board taxis to Area One. I do not know what went wrong that Thursday, i could not find any Taxi,i waited for almost fifteen minutes. Lots of people were also waiting for Taxis, so when any Taxi showed, people struggled so hard for it. Finally, i was lucky to find a big Tundra Pickup going to Area One. It stopped right in front of me, so i didnt have to struggle. Unfortunately for me, i opened the door and tried to climb in, but could not raise my legs high. I panicked and thought something awful was wrong with my knee, then i realized it was the Skinny jeans i wore. I tried the other knee, i still could not raise it. By now, some impatient people behind me also wanted to get in and were already getting angry because i was blocking them. I didn't want to lose the opportunity of missing the Pickup, because i was already getting late for work. I had to improvise quickly on how to get in, so i entered like a child in a kneeling position, it was embarrassing, but i was desperate. I heard some people laughing at me, but i didn't care, at least i had succeeded in entering and getting a seat. I silently cursed my skinny jeans for causing me the embarrassment and regretted wearing it, i wondered why Taxis were scare on a day like that. I successfully got down under APO bridge and boarded a bus going towards Nyanya/Mararaba. I got down before Nyanya bridge to take Okada to Karu, where the office is located. I got an Okada, but was also faced with another problem, i could not sit on it, because of the SKINNY JEANS i wore. Oh my God, what an unfortunate jeans i wore. I had to beg the Okada rider to bend the bike really for me to be able to sit on it. He had to bend it very low as if i was wearing a mini skirt. I saw the look on his face, because he would wonder why he had to to bend that low for a lady wearing a trouser. On my way back from work, i got a ride from a friend, so i did not go through any ordeal. I have not worn that DAMN jeans since then, but if i have to wear it, then i will have to take drop to where ever i am going to, and most definitely not to work anymore. Lol