Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Forward Ever!

I felt myself on the ground outside the compound and the stares of people as they looked on at me. I wailed loudly and screamed in tears.
“You must leave my house today…you witch!” Solo said to me then turning to the onlookers he said. “If you want to prosper, flee from this girl…she is bad luck.”
“Solo abeg…wetin I do you? Abeg no chase me comot…I nor get wia I fit go.” I cried.
As the commotion continued outside, the landlord walked out to the balcony of his flat. Solo’s house was structured in a way that the landlord lived upstairs alone while all the other tenants lived downstairs.
“Solomon! Why the noise? What is happening?” The landlord asked Solo, his head peeked out of the balcony railings of his house. This was the first time I was ever hearing Solo’s full name.
“Oga landlord, this girl has finished me! I brought her into my house weeks ago and she swindled me. I have nothing left…nothing! My girlfriend left me because of her, she made away with a generous amount of my money and now my furniture has disappeared too, I have lost everything. How can one girl do this to me? How?” Solo said in tears.
My heart went out to him and I wondered how I could do all that to a grown man.
“You are very insensitive…how would you throw a poor girl out on the streets. I have noticed that she washes your clothes, cooks your food and takes care of your needs and why do you repay her with this?” The landlord thundered.
“With all due respect sir, I beg to differ. Bringing this girl into my house has been the worst decision I have ever made. I cannot let her back into my place…no way!” Solo said.
“Solo na beg I dey beg…nor throw way me for outside I beg.” I pleaded.
“Get out of this compound…get out!” Solo screamed.
“You have no right to send her out of this house. Is this your compound? Did you build it? Did you inherit it?” The landlord screamed at Solo.
“Well sir, it seems you do not understand me at all… you can leave her in your compound but you can’t force her into my house besides I pay my rent and have the right to let her in or out.” Solo screamed.

“My dear, what is your name?” Asked the Landlord.
‘Na…na Senorita sir.” I answer.
“Senorita…get up and come upstairs to my flat, you’ll be living with from now on.” The landlord said, flashing me a smile with his sparkling gold teeth.
I get up from the ground and squaring my shoulders, I catwalk towards the staircase of the house. Some of the tenants smirk and say;
“Iya Segun go use pepper for dis one yansh ooo…landlord don arrange new wife for himself ooo shio.” Said the first neighbor.
“Dis one na competition shaaa…Iya Segun and Mama Jibunoh wey don old finish…this our compound go sweet wella…deir action film no go be for hia ooo..” Said another neighbor.
“Oga landlord, you disrespect me ooo…how would you house her after I’ve chased her out of my house.” Solo shouted.
‘Shut your little mouth! When I was building this house, where were you? Get back into your room, wear a shirt and go and make a statement in the police station.”
“Good idea sir, I will make a statement and identify her as the culprit.” Solo threatened.
Oga landlord waved him off and walked over to open the door for me. As soon as I entered the house, he said.
“I have seen you all these while and I have always envied Solo. You will be my new wife and I will throw a big party for us.” Said the landlord as he hugged me.
I smiled at my goodluck and said to myself;

“Na how God dey bless pesin? From grass to grace, na im I dey so.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

BAD Luck!

As soon as those hands grabbed me close, I sunk into his warm embrace. I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears, ‘Benson was here!’
‘Benson! Oga Benson! Na you?’
“Na me ooo…” Benson whispered as he roughly kissed me on the lips.
“Wia Johnny? Wetin happen for our office?”
“Ahh…dat one na long tori ooo…”
“Abi Johnny don open office again?”
“How you dey? Hope say you dey fine?” Benson  asked, carefully deviating from my question.
I start sobbing quietly.
“Na for kitchen I dey work now ooo. I nor dey do seke work again.”
“E fit you ooo…see as you come fine like paw paw.” Benson says.
“If I hear…” I warn angrily.
“Why you dey vex…kitchen work fit u na.”
“Senorita nor come Lagos for Kitchen work ooo…nor dey talk dat kain rubbish.”
 “Okay…sorry, no vex. You dey go house?”
“Yes ooo…I dey live with Solo…e don even try for me sef after de time I collect im money.” I say and suddenly stop quickly. ‘Benson, wey de money wey I give you?”
“Which money?” Benson asked.
“De money wey I give una for dat business wey we talk…wia e dey?”
“Ohhh…no be me you give money ooo…na Johnny and e dey police custody.”
“Wetin? For wia?”
“My dear…abeg forget that tory…I just miss you die.”
I look at him and hissing, I turn away and head out towards the street. He runs up to meet me and pulls me close.
“Senorita…I know say wetin we do you no good at all but nor be me ooo…na Johnny.”
“Na so una come troway me for dustbin abi?”
“Me? When?” Benson denied vehemently.
“Na for dorty dem find me na…” I continue.
“What are you talking about?” Johnny asked, changing rapidly to English.
“Forget jare…make I dey go house. Tomorrow na kitchen work again.”
“Err…Senorita…abeg I need ya help.”
I stare at him confused, this was the man who just a few days ago told me about the money he had made due to business investments. I didn’t understand why he needed my help.
“Wetin you want?”
He smiled and placed his hands on my shoulders.
“Sweetie, abeg I dey find place were I fit sleep for today.”
“Wetin dat one come mean? I resemble landlord?”
“Senorita abeg, na you be my only hope. I take God beg you. Johnny carry all my money run comot…all de investment wey I make don waka. Abeg if I fit sleep for ya house, I go dey happy.”
‘Nor be me get de house abegi. Na Solo get am.”
“You fit beg am on my behalf? Tell am say I be ya broda.”
I look at him and immediately feel sorry for him, his shoulders slumped forward and his eyes looked tired and weary.
“De day Solo see me for express road, I tell am say I be orphan. I nor fit tell am long tori again.”
“Oya make I follow u reach house, we go agree wetin we go talk.”
Ten minutes later, we were inside the house, Solo was already at home and from the look he gave me, he wasn’t too happy that I stayed out later than usual.
“Solo gurevening.” I greeted.
“Where have you been?” Solo thundered.
“Na work I go…”
Solo turned to stare at Benson rudely.
“Who is this man with you?”
“Ehen Solo make I gist you. As I dey waka from kitchen na so I see one man wey dey for front, something come tell me say, ‘Senorita! Dis na ya broda ooo…’ na so I come shout im name. I come see say na my broda for village.”
Solo looked carefully at the man.
“I think I know you…you’ve been seen regularly at the next street right?”
“No…lai lai…na my first time to see Lagos be dis ooo.”
I fall on my kneels before Solo and beg.
“Abeg Oga Solo, e nor get wia e go sleep for today…abeg helep am.”
Solo grudgingly agreed, he stared at Benson for a while and said to me.
“I am going to for night taxi work, will be back tomorrow morning because I will be sleeping over at my friend’s place. Make sure you go to work on time tomorrow.”
“Sure…thianks Solo.” I echo.
As soon as Solo leaves the house, I fall into Benson’s arms in helpless relief.

I woke up as soon as I heard the door crash open. I yawned and stared at the intruder, it was Solo. Everywhere looked different, the whole house had been picked clean, there was not even one furniture left in the house. I was astonished as Solo was, my mouth hung open in shock.
“What happened here?” Screamed Solo.
I clean my eyes with the back of my palms and stare around the room in a daze.
“Wetin happen?” I squeak stupidly.
Solo crouches to the ground and sobs loudly.
“What kind of misfortune have I brought upon myself. Senorita! Oh my God!”
Neighbours started gathering, everyone had questions and no one had seen anyone leave the house with any of the furniture, besides the house must have been raided in the night while everyone was asleep.
“Senorita! Where is my television? My radio! My fridge! Where are my valuables?” Solo asks in confusion and despair. "I worked hard to get all those appliances and now, they are all gone. Not even a dust trail is left."
“Solo…I nor know…na sleep I dey sleep…” I croak.
“Don’t let me slap your senses back into your head. Where is your brother?” Solo screams.
“My broda…Benson!” I said in alarm “Benson! Oga Benson…wia you dey ooo?” I ask in tears while I look around the empty sitting room.
 “Who be Benson?” Asked one of the neighbours “Abi una get broda wey dey live for dis place?”
“Her brother came here yesterday, begging to spend the night. I let him in and…” Solo trailed off.
“Wait…where ya broda?” Our neighbor asks me.
“I nor knooooo…” I wail.
“You sure say na ya broda or ya boyfriend?” Asked another neighbor, a woman this time.
“Na…na for wia I dey do seke work, na dia I see am ooo…” I confess.
“What? He’s not your brother? Who is he? Who did you bring into my house?” Screamed Solo.
“Na de man wey collect dat money wey Anna give you. Na im I give all dat money, e talk say he wan use am do business…” I start.
Solo charged towards me like an angry bull. I felt the heavy slap on my face, then another till I felt numb with pain.
 I had finally crossed the line...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Let's Help Save MJ

Here's the harsh truth: My fiancee could die.

Here's the silver lining: He doesn't have to.

Here's the simple solution: Five minutes of your time.

Since he was eleven, MJ has suffered from Mitral and Aortic Stenosis - a heart disease that causes his valves to leak. In 2006 he came to the UK in order to have life-saving surgery that is not available in his hometown of The Gambia. It is now 2014, and having not been able to have the surgery due to lack of funding, we have now been advised to raise it ourselves. The cost of the surgery is going to be a huge £30,000 - far too much for a young, working class couple such as ourselves to afford.

MJ has been advised by his consultant that if he doesn't have his treatment within five years, he will die; however, there is now an added threat from the UK Home Office that he is also in danger of being sent home - to the very place he fled from to avoid certain death.

We need YOUR help to afford the treatment and consequently keep MJ alive. If you are unable to donate, then simply sharing this page can do a world of good. MJ is just twenty five years old with a disease that predominantly affects the elderly, and so with the necessary treatment, doctors are certain he will easily make a full recovery, but without it, he will only get worse. Together, let's stop that from happening. Let's help MJ live.

I’ve had quite a few reasons to quit Facebook and proceed with life out of touch from basically the world recently, but I’ve kept it alive purely to stay connected. Now, obviously I’m not BFFs with everybody on there, but that doesn’t fuss me because what I write and share wouldn’t reach many people at all if I expected to know and speak personally with every single one of them, and I want it to reach people. That’s the truth, and I expect a lot of others probably feel the same.

However, I recently posted an important article about my fiancee’s heart condition, how the only way for him to stay alive was for us to somehow come up with more than £25,000. I hoped, at least, that all of my friends would share that one particular post, because I thought that while we indeed weren’t all best friends and didn’t talk every single day or maybe even ever, the simple matter of caring for life was something we all had in common.

Out of almost 350 of my friends, I’d say that around twenty people shared it. It did end up making quite a stretch, because some of their friends subsequently shared it too, for which I’ll be eternally grateful; I got a few messages from complete strangers who had a couple of mutual friends saying how sorry they were about our situation, and a few of them even donated to my fundraising page. But I’m not going to lie. I’m disappointed – hurt, even – that more than 300 of them completely ignored my message.

Well… that’s unreasonable. Maybe they never go on Facebook, or have stuff going on themselves – we’re all human, after all – and so in that case I have to put up my hands and apologise. But sometimes it’s hard to be totally reasonable, especially when your fiancee’s heart is a ticking time bomb.

A line about MJ. We’ve been together for almost seven years. For the entire seven years, we’ve had this issue – in fact, he’s been struggling with it since he was eleven, and he’s now twenty five. We didn’t know until a few months ago that we were going to have to come up with the money ourselves, because we thought the NHS was going to help us out. Problem is, MJ is a Gambian national. It may seem fair enough that because of this, he has to pay for surgery that is completely unavailable in his home country, but I wonder if it would open your mind some to know that he came here in 2006 specifically to have his heart fixed, and they didn’t fix it.

They didn’t do it because the funding that was supposed to be available for MJ from Gambia was voided for some unknown reason after he was already in this country. In Gambia, he was having heart attacks. In Gambia, he was diagnosed with Mitral and Aortic Stenosis – a disease that causes his valves to leak – and he was subsequently told that he needed surgery they couldn’t give to him, otherwise he was going to die. So multiple times, MJ has been to the hospital here under the impression they would operate because that’s what he’s been told, but every time it hasn’t happened. It was only explained to us in 2009 – three years later – exactly why it wasn’t being done: because he didn’t have the money.

As a young, teenage couple, with MJ having no family around to help explain it, we thought the operation would be done and the money dealt with later. Not the case. So in 2010 we had to apply for a visa that would allow him free treatment, because I think we can all agree that £25,000 is a ridiculous amount of money to just whip out of your pocket. The Home Office then took two years – I repeat, two years – to merely refuse. When they did, we appealed. Again, they refused. Since then, it’s been a back and forth between us and them, with us saying that he needs this surgery within five years otherwise he will die, and them saying that it isn’t their problem. Now, because of the amount of time that has passed with MJ not being on the right visa, they want to send him home. That can’t happen. Why? Because MJ will die in Gambia. Still, their answer is no, and yet they want MJ to leave on a voluntary basis. But tell me: would YOU willingly walk to your own death?
So before they get really pushy, we need to try and raise this money. We’re on a time limit – two, in fact: MJ’s heart’s time limit, and that of the Home Office.

Social media connects the world. We share hilarious memes and cute cat videos, and yet just twenty of my friends clicked on a link not too long ago entitled: ‘Can you help mend my fiancee’s poorly heart?’ I think to ignore such a thing is to indirectly say that as far as one is concerned, MJ can die. It seems extreme, but does it really say anything else?

I don’t like to think that anybody I’m associated with could be capable of such a thought, which is why I’m asking you to at least share this post. Just share it. It happens with the click of a button, and you – one person – have just opened it up to hundreds, maybe even thousands more. I’m not religious. My faith lies in us. I believe that we’re in control of what happens to each other, and I believe that because of that we have a huge responsibility to help each other in any way we can. So I’ll continue to post my hilarious memes and cute cat videos for everybody’s entertainment, but remember this is the one I care about, and this is the one that matters. This is the one that’s about life and death, but hopefully, life.

I don’t want likes for this post. I want shares. I need shares. MJ needs shares. I’m British, and if I had the same condition as he, it would have been treated back when I was eleven. MJ has suffered for fourteen years because he comes from Gambia, so let’s not let him suffer any longer.
One more thing: By posting this, I don’t want to open up a dialogue anything political; I’m merely explaining the facts. All I want to do is make sure my fiancee stays alive. He’s young. He’s otherwise healthy. He’s human. You can help him stay that way just by sharing. That’s all I ask.
If you do want to donate in any scale, here’s our fundraising page.


Thank you, and again, if you like this post, please don’t let me know by pressing the ‘like’ button - let me know by sharing it.
Tweet me @karisgould if you have questions – I’m happy to chat - See more at: http://africansweetheart.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/fiancees-life-saving-heart-surgery.html#sthash.9X4yA1td.dpuf

Monday, April 7, 2014

Iya Rosa's Kitchen!

As soon as I walked into Iya Rosa’s kitchen, I told myself ‘Senorita! Dis place no be ya portion laiye…’
The kitchen was very big and quite messy too as the whole place was filled with flies, dirty bowls of finished soup and foods.
“Customer…” Shouted a very tiny looking woman who had a front gap-teeth. She walked over to meet us and smiled in welcome. “Wetin una wan chop? Abi na ya new gial be dis?”
Solo laughed and spoke to the woman.
“Iya Rosa…I wan talk serious talk with you today… I go chop but no be now.”
“Ahhh…hope say no problem?” Iya Rosa asked, sounding worried.
“At all. It’s my err…it’s this girl, her name is Senorita and I want you to give her a job in your kitchen.”
“Hmmm…. I see.” The woman replied as she stared at me from head to toe.
“I really want you to help her.”
“Na jolly just come?” The woman asked Solo.
“No…she is a confirmed Lagos babe but please I need you to teach her to be responsible.”
“Ahhh…she go response by force…” Iya Rosa said.
“Thank you.”
“I get vacancy for waitress, the one wey I get don carry belle follow one man. I hope say dis Seni wetin be her name sef?” The woman asked.
“Senorita.” Solo supplied,
“Okay… I hope say Senorita no go follow all dem men wey dey come chop for hia. Na fine gial she be and many men go pursue am.” Said Iya Rosa.
I silently rejoice at her words about my beauty and I smile at her.
“Senorita has a heavy debt to pay, she doesn't have time chasing after men. She owes me more than a hundred thousand naira and she must pay me or else she’ll leave my house.” Warned Solo.
I shiver in anger and fear. I didn’t want Solo to get angry with me for any reason at all.
“So we go discuss money wey I go dey pay am abi?”
“Yes…please give me all her salaries, I need to augment the sum of money that she took and return it to its owner.”
The woman smiled in understanding. Less than an hour later, I was given a pink checkered apron and my job began. The first three hours were stressful as I mixed up the orders every time and got disapproving looks from my new madam. However the best part was the glances I received from men who came to eat and my madam seemed to notice them too but made no comments.
My first three days at the kitchen were the best days in my life as many men couldn't tear their eyes off me. I was the center of attention and the fact that I hardly spoke to anyone had them all rushing to ask me to take their orders. Iya Rosa’s business boomed in those three days as she seemed to have stolen all her competitors customers.
One day, I wondered aloud why the place was crowded and one of the other waitresses told me that it was my beauty that attracted the men. I had long forgotten about my beauty as the tolls and stress of life had taken so much out of me but now at Iya Rosa’s kitchen, I can feel my beauty return.
It was almost eight pm and I was already closing up for the day with Jemima, the store keeper when one small boy of about ten years old walked up to and  said;
“Aunty…e get one broda wey dey find you.”
I crane my neck in a bid to see who he was talking about but couldn’t see anyone as the street was dark and Jemima, had turned off the lights and was already closing up the shop. She seemed oblivious to our conversation as she stood quite far away from us.
“Who be dat?” I ask.
“He dey for dia…e talk say make I give you this…” The boy said and placed a note in my palm.
“Hummm…” I whisper and stare at the money with interest, it was a thousand naira.
The boy having delivered his message, hurried away from sight.
“Who be dat?” Jemima asked as she walked up to meet me.
“I nor know ooo…na one boy wey dey find him street.” I lied.
“Na wah for people ooo, how pesin go send pickin comot from house for dis kain time?” Jemima said.
I nodded stupidly.
“So… make we dey go house.” Jemima said.
I noticed something strange about Jemima since I started work at the kitchen. She persistently followed me home each evening and accompanied me to work every morning.
“I wan go buy something for dat side…” I lied.
“Oya make we go dia na…” Jemima said.
“Abeg dey go house jare…I wan buy private something for dia.” I say again.
“Which kain private something? No be de woman wey you be, I be so?” Jemima said.
“Shio! You don turn bodyguard ooo like play…”
“Dat one you dey talk na tori… wia you wan go?”
At that moment I knew that Iya Rosa had assigned Jemima on my case. It was a very competitive market and no one wanted their workers stolen by other kitchen owners in the area. Suddenly like a miraculous dream, my breakthrough came, it was Jemima’s phone. It rung.

“Helloo…wetin happen? I dey come back na…why you dey talk like dis? Wetin I do again? Na eight o’clock we dey close na.” Jemima spoke into the receiver.
As soon as Jemima ended her call she looked at me in desperation.
“Wetin happen?” I ask.
“Na my Oga for house ooo… e dey suspect say I dey do one man for kitchen hia. He dey hala me sake of say I neva reach house.”
“Carry ya leg dey go ya house na…wetin you still dey do for hia.”
“Abeg no tell madam say I no follow you waka reach house ooo…” Jemima begged me.
“No problem.” I say.
As soon as Jemima hurried off, I look around and walk towards the direction the boy had shown me. I walked for a while and when I had given up hope that there was anyone looking for me, I felt the crumpled naira note in my palms and moved on.
“Fine sisi…” Hissed a male voice.
“Ehn! Who be that?” I ask.
“I dey for hia.” Said the man as he turned on the torch light in his hand.
I walked towards the small empty stall beside the road. The road was not too bright as there was no light and there was hardly any generator on.
“How far, how you dey?” Said the man in the stall.
I couldn’t see his face but his voice sounded familiar.
“I dey fine…abeg who you be?” I asked.
“You nor remember me again?” Said the man as he turned the torch light towards his face.
I gasped as soon as I saw him.
“Benson!” I whispered.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Solo's Kindness!

“Wait oh!!! Where is the money?” Solo asked in a baffled voice.
“Are you asking me? Ask Senorita besides she was the only one left in the house when you drove me home.” Anna snapped.
I heard Solo’s footsteps as he walked up to me. Tapping my shoulder roughly he said;
“Wake up quick! This faint will not solve anything…where is the money?” He asked me.
I was seriously feigning unconsciousness till the desperate urge to sneeze materialized from nowhere.
“Aaaaarrtttishoooo!” I sneezed.
“Senorita! Get up and explain the disappearance of the money.” Anna screamed.
My cover was blown so I had to stretch tiredly and slowly rise from the floor.
“Speak!” Solo demanded.
I have never seen him so angry in the short while I spent in his house.
“Oga Solo…u fit give me water make I drink? My throat don dry so…” I squeaked.

I received a heavy slap and another, then a blow to my head. At that point, I knew he was serious.
“Ahh…no be me touch de money ooo… na dem take am…” I squeak.
“Who?” Solo asked, ready to give me another blow.
“Na Johnny and Benson…na my oga and him friend. Na dem ooo…” I cried.
“How did they get into this house? How did you find out that money was in the house and in my bag…how?” Solo asked, pained.
I launched into the story, afraid that Solo would kick me out of his house for lying to him and stealing from him. By the time I was through with my tale, Anna was already heaping curses on me.
“Idiot…ashawo ten kobo…so this is how you run from one man to the other right? You have not seen anything yet… your days are over in this house.” She screamed.
“Senorita! You will work hard for that money and pay back every dime. Starting from tomorrow, I am taking you to Iya Rosa’s kitchen at the entrance of this street. You will wash plates, cook, and clean till every dime you've stolen from me is paid. Do you understand?” Solo said.
“Who’s going to wait for her to gather up the meagre shillings that she’ll pick up from her lousy chores at Iya Rosa's kitchen? I want my money now!” Screamed Anna.
“I have some money in the bank. You can wait while I get dressed, I’ll pay your money in full.” Said Solo.
I opened my mouth in shock. Solo was the kindest man I have ever known, I wondered how I would pay him back for all his kindness to me.
“What? Are you going to pay me with your hard earned money?” Anna asked baffled.
“I never begged you for that money, yet you forced it on me. Now it’s missing and I want to pay you back every dime I owe you, is that too much to ask?” Solo asked in anger.
“Baby, I can’t believe you’re doing this. Do you love her? Are you guys sleeping together? This is the reason you let her stay right? How could you do this to our love?”
“Do you want your money or not? Please spare my time and let’s get to the bank so that I can give you your money in full. You've always been insecure of our relationship and it started when Senorita entered this house. Look at her? Look at yourself? Who would trade her over a damsel like you? I refuse to believe you still have trust issues where I am concerned.” Solo said bitterly. 
“I’m not interested in the money anymore, you have hurt me more than I have ever imagined. Even after all this tramp has done, she’s still under your roof. I’m leaving and you know where to find me.” Said Anna as she stormed out of the house and banged the door.
“Praise God! She don comot for hia…witch!” I boo.
“Will you keep shut?” Solo said.

“Solo I dey sorry, I think say you go happy sake of say she don comot. E don tey wey dat gial dey do you bad thing…” I continue.
“Are you mad? You have no remorse whatsoever. I am in a dilemma because of you and here you are rejoicing.”
“Di…wetin? You never die na…” I whisper.
“Oya…wear your slippers quick, we are going to Iya Rosa’s shop now. Perhaps it’s time you started cutting your clothes to your size. Look at what your supposed secretary work has brought you.” Solo said.
I quickly wear my slippers and follow him out of the house, muttering under my breath.

“Me wey don do seke work go join kitchen for wetin? A whole Senorita like me! Shio I go show dem for dia say, seke pass seke!”