There is a Housing Crisis in Lagos.
In a colonial kitchen, we discuss the dearth of creative architecture and the housing crisis in Lagos. All the houses now look the same! They don’t even have usable windows! What are these kitchens! They cost so much!
We’re young and passionate about the state of things. This house is very different, however. It has been standing for a hundred and thirty five years. There is so much history in its corridors, but the man upstairs wouldn’t give us a tour unless we pay him.
In the cab on the way home, we continue the discussion, extending our disappointments to Nigeria’s (lack of) collective maintenance culture & the failures of government (present and past). I mention that I read a book on Nigeria’s coup culture so naturally we also discuss the Army class of ‘66.
History is the drunk friend at the party leaning on our shoulders — demanding several things of us; mindfulness, caution, change. Once in a while it bends over and retches — showing us unpleasant aspects of our past. It is pleading, it is warning: let it not happen again. Ozoemena.
Last week the police held a gun on me and forced me to transfer some cash to them. I felt so helpless. “Accidental discharge” is a word I grew up hearing all those years ago in Port harcourt; and as I looked down the barrel of the gun and into the eyes of its holder, it occurred to me how easy it is to become an accident; a mistake; another statistic.
My issues with identity manifest as little balls of anxiety and disconnection at the bottom of my throat. My nights are spent questioning what I’m most connected to. Yesterday, I had to introduce myself to a bunch of strangers and I said “my name is Oluchukwu, I like pretty feet and I hate my job.” But who am I, really?
Over the past couple months, I haven’t had anything to say; writer’s block being half the reason. The other half is that I got lost in my head trying to figure out and balance the weight of my words.
I’d like to say that I have learnt to appreciate the value of silence, of quiet. My views are not as important, not as necessary. When my Twitter timeline brought election tribalism to my screen, I took a social media break; it was the first one to last more than three days.
I watched ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ and read a couple of books. I had so much free time I couldn’t believe it. I intend to make it a near permanent thing — only using twitter when I deem it useful.
The real truth, however, is that I’ve had nothing to say. I have been so uninspired and apathetic about everything. Then I saw the picture above in my gallery and little pockets of light shone through the apathy and the rays carried joy with them.
I worry about identifying with the sadness. When people tell me they love how good i am at writing feelings, all I hear is “hey Oluchukwu, thank you for describing my sadness.”
I worry about not writing joy-filled things. Although you can’t really dictate what life throws at you, you can hold on to little joys.
Like a picture. Like Avatar: The Last Airbender. Like foreheads. Like nice feet. Like a picnic with a bunch of cool people. Like a pretty woman scratching your back. Like your friends saying they love you. Like winning a game. Like cold juice and plantain chips. Like standing in a colonial era kitchen discussing architecture and the Lagos housing crisis.
P.S: If you are interested in fiction from me, I got a story published in March. It made me very happy because I rarely get published, and more importantly, it is a story I actually think is good. But, I’m clearly biased, so you should check it out and decide for yourself. Let me know what you think.