Post Card from London: London Rats


Bros, hopefully all is OK with you over there in Nigeria. It has been years since you last got a postcard from me. I have been engrossed in activities beyond my control but, at least, I am able to catch a breath of fresh air for now. Within the coming months you will get more postcards detailing some of my culture shocks and escapades in London. Our departure from MM International airport Lagos was a very exciting one even though the Immigration and Customs officers made it look as though my visa was fake, or was it a pretext to ask for a bribe from me?
uk-riots-8Upon arrival at Heathrow airport, the friend who came to pick me up did not turn up with a car; though he always took pictures with shiny and beautiful cars which made him appear as though he owned a collection of luxury cars. We were friends and had also grown up together in our village somewhere in Ika South LGA of Delta state. We left the airport on a train to somewhere called Peckham, before finally taking a bus to his flat. The flat is a 6 bedroom apartment shared by 6 adults nonetheless with 3 toilets and showers. It was a surprise that they have apartments similar to face-me-I-face-you in London. He enlivened my thoughts and issues with some ‘shacks’ which he had reserved; the name of the shack is Tennent’s lager. I later heard a joke that Tennent’s drinkers never own homes; story for another day. Nonetheless, we drank till late in the night. He removed a mattress from under his bed which he used to cover the remaining little space in the room and went to bed. I crept onto the 8 spring bed, which is a mattress left on top of wooden frames.

After a while, I started dreaming. My thoughts were, “why can’t Nigeria and its useless dreams stop bothering?” I was suddenly jolted up by a small bite to my leg. It was not in a dream bro, lo and behold, before your man is a London rat. As big as a rabbit, it was a shameful surprise! ‘A whole London!’ I wondered if I should dive for its head, how best not to wake my host if I had to kill the rat and I wondered if RSPCA people – RSPCA is an animal rights organization as we have human rights organization like Amnesty International- will sue if the rat got killed. While those thoughts ran through my head, the rat escaped. As I searched for it and wondered how on earth it escaped, I traced its route. To my greatest surprise, the house is partitioned with wood. London houses are built with wood, even the so-called “storey buildings”. I went back to bed. In my next postcard you will hear about what happened in the morning. My first London morning.

Kind Regards,

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Photo Credit: The Conservative Tree House


My people, “You are too fat” is not polite greeting!


My people, “You are too fat” is not polite greeting!

You know how random people walk up to you and grab your love handles? Or jiggle your Christian mother hands and make comments like “Yah tu farht?” Well I have always wondered how they would feel if I walked up to them and rubbed their bald spot. Maybe even patted them consolingly on the head and said “Yah tu shoht”!

And what about those ones who run into you after almost a decade since they last saw you and by way of greeting, open their mouths and gabble out any variant of the following:

“Nne na wa o, you have added so much weight o.”

“Ha, I did not know you had it in you to be fat o, you were so skinny growing up.”
“Chineke, is this you? Heiiiiiiiiiiii, you are fat o!”
“Biko, biko, biko, take it easy o, or you will soon explode. I hope you are doing something to manage your weight o!”         *sigh*

I wonder if they realise how much effort and willpower it requires to refrain from saying, “Yeah, I am fat, da Lord has been good to me and things just seem to be falling in place at the right time. Hence the joy and peace of mind which keeps me looking a little bit more robust than most. But heyyyy, let’s talk about you. You look so emaciated, what happened? Is all well with you? Is everything going on fine in your life? Did your husband leave you? Were you sick or something?”

Or even better still, “Yeah, I know I am fat, but I am working on it, I go to the gym at least 5 days out of 7, and have an intense training regime I follow strictly with my trainer. Errr, you do look a tad bit uglier than when we last saw ten years ago. Are you doing anything to improve your looks?”

You see, we “fat girls” could say all that but we don’t, and you know why? Well maybe because we are well brought up people with church mind. Is that easy to understand?

No? Please try.

Try to imagine for instance, sitting beside a lekpa skele, the type we call “painfully thin”. Like this friend I had in school who would wake up in the morning and make a bowl of eba which she would then judiciously proceed to finish and scrape the bottom of the bowl. Five seconds later, she would complain to anybody who stopped long enough to give her a listening ear about how she was starving.

Her favourite phrase, “I am soooo hungry, I have not eaten since thirty minutes ago and even then, I only managed to finish one bowl of eba!”

As in “only”? You try. Well, the orobo sitting beside you managed to add 5kg just from inhaling the steam that arose from the one mudu of eba you “managed” to single-handedly demolish? Well done, you too much.

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