LOCKDOWN NETFLIX BLUES

LOCKED UP without committing a MONEY HEIST
ALL NIGHT AND A DAY every day the same
THE SILENCE OF THE MARSH within hums in the DARKEST HOUR
As you pray for an EXTRACTION
Or hopefully a reprieve from THE CROWN
Yearning for an escape to nature to see plenty GREENLEAFs
Or the calmness of the OZARK before the Brydes
But life as you know it seems FRACTURED
Amidst the roaming free wild life lurks a TIGER KING

The pandemic was EXPLAINED but…
It’s still TOO HOT TO HANDLE
Alas, I can’t see THE ANGEL
That was sent to free BRIAN BANKS
Indoors is indeed safer like when the NARCOS reigned
Best to be a DESIGNATED SURVIVOR who still wears SUITS
Than to attempt a PRISON BREAK
And end up 6 UNDERGROUND
Thus I stay true to myself cos I’m SELF MADE
And I can’t whisper DANGEROUS LIES to you

So we wait for a MIRACLE IN CELL No7
With prayers led by 2 POPES
Hoping that WHEN THEY SEE US again
It won’t be after another 93 DAYS
It has indeed been A FALL FROM GRACE
without a crime requiring THE LAUNDROMAT
Deprived of soccer in this BIRDBOX
With only BARÇA DREAMS for comfort

But I am an OVERCOMER and this is not THE LAST DANCE
The MARRIAGE STORY of me and life will surely continue
The LOVE MARRIAGE REPEAT sequence goes on
I am a TOP BOY, not one of THE SONS OF ANARCHY
So join me because THE MESSIAH is coming for us
And very soon we will be more than 50 SHADES FREED

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The ex-Coronite without Corona

So I’ve been trying to live in a way that will prevent me from catching the Corona virus. Not that I’m worried about it, as thankfully there are only two cases in Nigeria (and my pastor and friend Abayomi Agbetoba have assured me I can’t catch it 😇🕺🏽), but because it can help me develop some healthy habits which can help prevent God knows what.

I feel like I’m a child back in Corona school learning basic hygiene again. It has been quite tricky and is almost like living with a sense of paranoia. So I have sanitizers in my car and in my office, but still I use the ones at the entrance of the hospital and by the lift as well. When I go to any public place where sanitizers are available, like a robot my hands go under the dispenser or submit themselves to the usher assigned to ensure I’m clean after shooting me with his thermometer gun. I’m singing happy birthday while washing my hands but struggle to get past the second round of singing and my poor fingers seem to be getting more wrinkled. Wifey and patients are not complaining though 😁

The hardest part has been avoiding touching my face. I never knew I did that so much as this has been quite a task. Like the fasting man trying to ignore food in the food court, I’m constantly challenged as my face has suddenly become very sensitive with areas I didn’t know exist on it now calling for attention. Every now and then, it’s like an ant is crawling along my face and before I know it…..scratch, rub, touch. Bristles of my moustache also plead to be caressed as do the stubble of my shaved beard; the vibrations from the top of my ear want to be stilled, the unfurling annoying hairs growing out of my nose asked to be pushed back or pulled out…….Argh!! 😣

The most confusing part is having to inevitably touch suspicious surfaces after sanitizing or washing my hands. It’s like I should I have a sanitizer up my sleeves and release a puff like Spider Man after each suspicious encounter. Shaking some hands make me nervous and I’m trying not to, leaning more on the naval salute I learnt from my dad’s attached rating many years ago. Watching my driver with my side eye as his hands go from face to steering to nose (not inside he protests) fills me with a sense of doom and has me sanitizing the wheel when it’s my turn to drive, lest I drive like Ole did some months ago.
Collecting change (money) just freaks me out. Cash always looks infested, and putting it in my wallet or pocket makes me feel like a vector, wondering how I will end the cycle as my keys and pen and phone are sometimes in the same pocket 😥😨😱

I’m dreading my seasonal allergies which make my eyes itch and my nose erupt in repeated sneezes. Dabbing into my sleeve which each tish-choo and walking about in tears and red eyed will test my dear wife’s love. I’m sure even you will look at me with one kain eye as you pretend not to see me and waka pass quickly 😏

I will keep trying though and I am getting better. It must be terrible living in a country where the disease is widespread, and one can understand the lock downs. My biggest comfort though, comes from the facts. The mortality rate is low, I’m not elderly (yes o, I’m still young 😜) and I have no co-mobidities. I’m living in hot Lagos (which the virus reportedly despises), a city with no recorded deaths, and I’m even asking if any black man has died from it yet….all positives must be claimed 💪🏽

I have no doubt that man will overcome this virus. The knowledge God has put in us is too rich and provides solutions to the trouble some of us find for ourselves. That said, the virus reminds us of our limitations and our mortality or immortality. We just have to seek the right things to do stay alive. To avoid the corona virus, wash your hands, be rational and don’t panic. To stay alive, pray and do what other healthy things you know you have to do 🙏🏽😊

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A Different Valentine With The Same Old Love

 It was 14th February 2002 and it was Valentine’s Day again. Well, I had resigned myself to a quiet day since I had nothing going for me. Depressingly my video cassette recorder got bad the day before, so my plan to watch an action movie while romantics were snuggling was not to be. However it happened to be an old friend’s birthday so I got dressed at about 7pm, doused myself with some perfume and equipped myself with a card and gift for him. This had everyone fooled as my neighbours were convinced I was off to a secret date. I didn’t try too hard to make them think otherwise, who wants to be the jonsed up guy! Besides, I guess I was secretly hoping I would meet someone worth talking to at the party. I arrived at the party which was a small indoor gathering with seven people when I got there. There was one girl there who I thought was rather cute and we got talking. About fifteen minutes to 8pm she made to leave, but I kept talking. About 8pm she insisted she had to do a Cinderella so I squeezed her phone number from her not wanting a glass slipper. She gave it to me and I was rejoicing in my change in fortune, but that was when the madness started.

 

 Suddenly two men with guns walked in and introduced themselves as armed robbers! We were all asked to lie down, empty our pockets and submit our phones. Thus went my newly acquired phone number. Sadly for me I had just emptied my bank account and stupidly had like N8000 on me; that all went too. We were then searched and my wrist watch and car keys were obtained. We were then shepherded to the kitchen and locked within.  That was our cue for prayer and we started praying in hushed tones. There were about twenty of us now as some guests had just arrived and the robbers brought some hostages from the next door where they had visited before gate crashing our party. I cowered into a corner, praying quietly, not wanting to be seen by new friend so she would think me a coward. I mean, I could take one of those guys but you don’t argue with a man holding a gun?

 

 Every now and then the door would open, quietening the prayers and they would request for a different member of the household. After a “long” while, just when I was hoping they had left, the door opened and they asked “Who is the owner of the Honda, plate no. DM 379 AAA?” Recognising the number of my beloved Daphne, I answered and was led out. They asked for the keys, which I informed them was with them. We searched for it to no avail and I was led back into the kitchen.

 

After another “long” while we were relocated to a bedroom and the lights were turned off. We were advised (guns still brandished) to shut our eyes, bow our heads (no, this was not an altar call) and follow them if touched. The person was sitting behind me was whisked away and for the first time that night I got really, really scared. The door was shut and we took turns in calling our family, friends and acquaintances. This roll call revealed three girls were missing. We imagined the worst and started praying again. I then realised my new friend was right in front of me. I was happy she had not been noticed (she is rather pretty). I took the opportunity to play Sir Lancelot as I tried to comfort and reassure her all would be well.

 

After yet another “long” while, the door reopened and the hostages were returned. The head thief then called out to the celebrant’s mum and told her they were only looking for money and had not found any. Apparently my N8000 was worthless to them. He reassured us they had only threatened the hostages and that none of them was hurt. He then showered some blessings on her (everyone in Nigeria IS “born again”) to which we all chorused “Amen” repeatedly. They left without saying the grace, warning us to be still. About thirty minutes later we came out. The siege had lasted two hours.

 

 My poor Daphne was still there but had been “slapped” as the driver side window was broken and two bottles of wine I had stowed in my trunk were gone. We had a fellowship of thanksgiving, I took some wine, ate some chicken, reassured my new friend (memorising her address this time) and eventually left. Looking back there was so much to be thankful for. No one was manhandled in any way and the only major losses were telephones and that telephone number. We were all talking and laughing after an encounter with armed robbers, who had reported they did not find anything, guaranteed us they had not hurt anyone and left us with prayers.

 

Every Valentine’s Day since then I am reminded of this gift of love and protection from God. Indeed every now and then I am reminded about how much He loves us. As we celebrate another Valentine’s Day, let’s remember that with God, every day is “Valentine’s Day.”

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FELT IT

A cab drove up beside my car in traffic this morning. There were three ladies at the back and one of them caught my eye. She was at the far right, furthest away from me but I got a good view of her as she stared out of the open window.

She had that look of gazing without seeing. Her face was a mask of quiet despair with a least a teardrop in each eye itching to roll down but held back. Her pain was palpable even though she wasn’t agitated. I wondered what the problem might be….

a sick child/relative or indeed a personal medical issue?

a domestic problem with her husband/boyfriend?

Financial worries?

a looming deadline without a solution in sight….

I will never know what it was. I felt like replacing the lady beside her who was eye-glued to her phone, so I could have a conversation with her. Even just talking seemed like it would be a welcome assistance as it usually is. She also looked like she needed a hug (not from me though). I kept stealing glances at her not knowing exactly what I would do if she caught my eye.

My car moved on and she disappeared from my life forever, having been in it for only about twenty seconds. Right then as I seemingly let go, I knew what to do. I closed my eyes and said a prayer for her. It was a heartfelt prayer, the type you know God will answer. I felt better and I know she will too later when she feels the warmth of the hug from Jesus.

I pray you a blessed day too 🙏🏽

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ON THE EDGE

Alone in his hostel room, oblivious of the background noise filtering in through the window, Femi lay on his bed, pensive. He was now at the crossroad he had known was coming for quite a while. The last two years had been a slow waltz to this junction. He was just pushed to the edge by what had happened an hour ago.

He had wanted to be a doctor for as along as he could remember. His grandfather was a doctor and his dad was a doctor. His Dad’s friends who were doctors also had this distinguished look about them, as did any visitor to their home who introduced himself as Dr X. The Misters were quite ordinary to him. Thankfully he had the brains to back up this ambition and he sailed through primary and secondary school seamlessly winning a scholarship in the latter. The first attempt at JAMB was a stumble, but the return match was a knockout. He got admitted into the best University for Medicine in Nigeria.

Ibadan. The first year turned out to be a year of the continuation of adolescence, and he was distracted by the booze, the girls, the music and the parties. Skipping classes to indulge in the aforementioned was easy as University offered freedom of thought and choice. A crash preparation for exams ensured he got the barest minimum to leave the Preliminary year for Med school and get in proper. The dream got trickier from then on.

He was enthusiastic at first as he was lumped with like minds, and delightfully he found most of them to be unpretentious. The excitement at cutting up cadavers in anatomy class made him doubt his sanity. The lectures were a bit confusing and his notes lagged behind. Then came the first test. After spending three hours in three different libraries and not getting past the first paragraph of the textbook, he panicked as he lay on the bed in his hostel and wondered if his brain had been stolen. He slept for three hours and started reading from the second paragraph, ignoring the stubborn first which had eluded him. After four hours he had read three pages. Staring into the dark night’s stillness perched in his room’s balcony, he meditated and knew some things had to change. He had to change his friends, none of who were in Med school, he had to cut the drinks and parties, he had to stop the chase as he luckily didn’t have a girlfriend then. He had to cut all distractions if the dream was to come true. The second MB exam in two years was the rate limiting step to being a doctor they said. The remaining three years were a breeze they claimed. So he would pick up all of the above then and life would continue.

It worked! He passed the exam! He rekindled his old life as planned, and the lecture hall gave way for actual patients in the hospital, complete with wearing ties and a ward coat daily. He looked the part and swagged. The euphoria dissipated after seven months when he learnt that in order to specialise and be a top dog doctor, he had to do another six years after completing this remaining three. The residents as they were called, lacked a social life, looked unkempt and were constantly bullied by the consultants. They looked unhappy and unfulfilled. Dad never told him this, but then he hadn’t schooled in the Nigerian system. He had only said becoming a doctor wasn’t easy. Femi was confused. His dream seemed farther away. In that trance he passed through the next one and half years without medical school really passing through him. He partied, played football, drank, generally fooled around, hid at the back behind his taller classmates on ward rounds and struggled to read when tests came along. His good friends helped him before and during those tests and the next exam which he barely scaled through. He wanted out of medical school but couldn’t think of what to do if he dropped out. The only option was to go abroad and play football for a third tier football club as the only other skill he felt he had was on the field. How would his dad and mum feel? They had invested so much in him. He wasn’t happy. He was confused. And then came the moment of truth.

It was an Obstetrics and Gynaecology tutorial consisting of just eight of his classmates with the consultant. There was nowhere to hide. The question came and everyone was expected to give an answer. He was blank. His plan was to repeat something someone had said earlier in response as he was number five.

“Ah, you. You can’t know the answer so don’t bother,” said the consultant as he shifted to the next student. Words cannot describe the embarrassment and emptiness Femi felt.

On the bed, deep in thought he knew the day he had to decide if he was leaving medical school or finishing was finally upon him. Gutless, seemingly without an option and because the dream lingered, he decided to finish it and then reconsider. Luckily his next rotation was a rural posting in a town called Shaki. The plan had been to drop his bags, return to Ibadan to laze and party, but that changed. Thankfully his subgroup of eight students had seven of the more brilliant ones in the entire group. He leeched on to them in those seven weeks and they were keen to teach, as were their supervising doctors. The patients saw him and his colleagues as doctors and allowed them “experiment” and practice all the things the knowledgable University College Hospital denied the medical student. There were no distractions and he was sober. He didn’t even play football. He found joy in reading and medicine again. He read as if he had a test at the end of the rotation although there was none. He knew it was his life examination he was preparing for and indeed undertaking at that point in time.

On returning to UCH, he was more confident on ward rounds and didn’t know when he drifted toward the front right under the nose of the consultant. He was applauded for demonstration of skills and asked to teach some colleagues he respected for their knowledge. Soon he was made group captain. Nine months later he officially became a doctor. There was nothing to reconsider at that point. Six more years? Bring them on.

Today Femi Omololu is a Consultant Obstetrician Gynaecologist of good repute. He continues to overcome challenges everyday, just like you.

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VISION 2020….and Life

God said to me as the new year beckoned

You are right Femi. I still have plans for you. Big plans.

You are right Femi, I love you and my grace upon you is limitless

You are right Femi, I see all you do; the good , the bad and the ugly

Thank you for your confession and thanksgiving Femi, it is that humility which pours my grace on you

I see your heart Femi, I see your goodness, I see your yearning, I see the simplicity of your desires

You are on track. You love me and you love your fellow men and women and seek the good in all

You are far from perfect but your corruptions are comparatively mild; they are not new to me. Indeed many a Saint have suffered worse

But you remain rooted in Me, albeit occasionally malnourished, but replenished by my Word and your introspective humble prayers…..

Moving forward you know what to do

You don’t really need me to tell you

However I did when we spoke this morning and I will tell you more as we continue to converse

You know what not to do

It is ingrained in you through your knowledge of, and relationship with me

You know your purpose and you are on track. Just keep at it and go onto the next level

As much as you allow Me, I will guide your thoughts and actions

Because I love you I will protect you, but you know what you have to do to get what you want from Me

In spite of you I will be there for you. You are special and I have a special place for you in my heart

So go boldly into the new year. Refresh where you need to, delete where you must, and enter into the next paragraph as you continue your life journey

I am right beside you now like I have always been. I will never leave you, although you tend to wander away occasionally

But I am always ready to receive you back and forgive your prodigality as I am always there and here for you.

Femi, you belong to me and I will not allow anyone or anything take you away from me.

Be rest assured. We enter 2020 and beyond…..together.

p.s

He asked me to share this with you because He feels the same way about you and He has the same message for you

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Thank You For The Music

It’s quite healthy to get into a time machine every once in a while. Memories of youth, innocence, discovery and laughter are often the destination. For me such trips often take me back to Apapa or Ijanikin and always have music intertwined. My lastest trip didn’t take me to the jungle, but landed me in the era preceding that where I discovered music.

The 70’s music were an introduction to the beat and strings for my growing brain. Mrs Solanke, my white music teacher at Corona did her bit in stimulating me to like music with her piano lessons and quasi-nursery rhymes, but my full introduction was via my dad’s cartridge and LP collections. And of course, television.

Bob Marley was the first musician I grew into. Amazing how one can get high without weed and be infected by someone high on it. I quickly learnt the words and sang along. Another Fela album release, “Zombie”, fully instilled the afrobeat in me with “Shakara” and “Lady” having been forerunners. Boney M’s “Nightflight to Venus” was a must have as ”Rivers of Babylon” and ”Brown Girl in the Ring” were played at every party. That was my graduation from entertaining my parents and aunts with my bum shaking dance(not twerking o) to Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey and Dele Abiodun’s juju beats. Tina Charles taught me how to dance more funkily with her “Dance little lady dance” song. At Yemi Pearse’s birthday party which took place in his house in the summer of 1980 after we graduated from primary school, my classmates and I head bobbed and swayed to ”Rappers Delight”, an introduction to a whole new genre of music that would rock the world. The puffs of music that would culminate in a full bout of Michaelmania in the 80’s were being gently inhaled then.

However this latest trip is about ABBA. Those two men and two women who sang very sweet songs. There was something about their music that just made you feel sweet, mushy and opened your mouth to sing. They invented Sing-A-long, as far as me I am concerned o. That cartridge was played over and over again till the tape came out. We literally knew all the words to all their songs. I remember watching a movie about them in Apapa Club and my good friend Folanrin Sojinrin, teaching me some anatomy I hadn’t paid attention to before then. The entire movie theatre sang along with them. When the movie MamaMia came out, you bet I was singing along again with Meryl Streep and the rest of the cast, all goose bumpy with tears in my eyes.

I had the same experience last night while watching MamaMia the Musical at the MUSON centre. It was a well played out show with an all Nigerian cast, stimulating a different kind of memory from my New Edition watch last Christmas. It was interesting to see my children, who are about the age I discovered ABBA, quickly catching on and singing along. It made up for my missing out on Detty December, Burna Boy in particular on Christmas Day. This was Clean December. Moremi the Musical and OMG are other recommendations in that realm. But I highly recommend MamaMia. That time machine ride was one in which I could almost smell the 70’s.

“I Had a Dream”, in which I had a lot of “Money, Money, Money”. I then fell in love with a “Dancing Queen” named “Chiquitita”, who was also a ”Super Trouper”. I asked her to ”Take A Chance on Me”, but I was rivalled by a guy called “Fernando”. I knew ”The Name of the Game” but had to send out an ”S.O.S.” So I asked “MamaMia” for advice, yep, ”My Mother Knew”. With her guidance, my rival met his ”Waterloo” as the “Angel Eyes” said ”I do, I do, I do” to me 😍. “Honey Honey”, “The Winner Takes It All,“ and after a taste of me, she ”Voulez vous(ed)” more.

“Knowing me, Knowing you,” I’m sure we will all end this read by saying these words to ABBA……”Thank You For The Music” 🙏🏽🎼🕺🏽🤗

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