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Monday, 24 July 2017

SINK OR SWIM…

So I’m back to this place – The thing about not knowing

“No one knows you anymore
You're lost inside the walls you've built
A prison deep within your soul”
-          Seventh Day Slumber (Missing Pages)

I feel tired.

I can feel strength in my body but my soul is tired. I want to move, my legs are healthy but my mind is broken.

Everything is on the surface. Like I’m talking and smiling, but deep within I’m in ruins. My dreams are so much better than my reality. If only I could sleep unending to numb this feeling.

I’m making conversations, I’m distracted but not fully. I can still feel sadness lurking within somewhere. It’s submerged in my thoughts. Shouldn’t I make the conversation linger to escape it? But I can feel the sadness trying to burst to the surface, to encompass me and take over.

I try to push the thoughts but no, it’s there forcing its way over me. I ponder a little about why I feel this way, is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Is there hope? Would it get better in time?
Then I remember it’s been years unending and still I’m struggling with this. It feels like it will never end. Yes it’s much better now, not as bad as before but still its damning effect on me is ever so strong.

“Why is everything so heavy?
Holding on
To so much more than I can carry
I keep dragging around what's bringing me down
If I just let go, I'd be set free”
-          Linkin Park (Heavy)

Sometimes there’s relief but when the battle resurfaces, it drowns me. To see the one you care about go through so much, to watch helplessly…it kills me. When my personal demons come for me, I break but yet I seem to have a way of riding through. But when it’s someone I care about, it hits me harder, worse than I can handle.

I want this to end. To know there is hope and that life would become whole again. My soul is sick and my mind is tired. So many questions, wondering how a life that seemed all set for greatness could suddenly turn around and be a source of great concern…

Been praying, hoping and trusting. But now I question if this isn’t one of the times I should accept defeat. Give up and feel better? Maybe my holding on for hope, for that day when final resolution shall come is the reason why I break.

“My whole world is the pain inside me
The best I can do is just get through the day
When life before is only a memory
I'll wonder why God lets me walk through this place”
-          Superchick (Beauty from pain)

Life is hard. My emotions speak volumes. It eats me from within. I’m helpless. Something money can’t solve. Nothing I can do.

I still remember that day I got the call, the day our lives never remained the same. That day I collapsed by the gate… seven years ago and we are still riding it. Been broken a thousand times over and now my strength can’t seem to carry on anymore.

“It's been seven whole days, seven whole days
Since I heard the phone ring.
Seven whole days, seven whole days
Since I heard your voice.
And I can't get the last words that you said,
Can't get those words out of my head.
It's been seven whole days, seven whole days
Of pure hurt.”
-          Lea Michele (If you say so)

I saw this recently online – “you can’t heal if you remain in the same place where you fell sick.”
 So I packed my bags and fled from my home.

The walls were caving in on me. Each day on sighting my compound, all the distractions from work wear off and I am reminded of the hurt, of what my reality has become.

I couldn’t breathe. I needed out, so I ran, I ran for my life…

“Run for your life, my love
Run and you don't give up
All that you are
All that you want
Run for your life right now”
-          The Fray (Run for your life)

Depression. It seems to be the new fad everyone is talking about these days. But it’s real. I have fought this struggle for years, contemplated finding premature peace but alas I wasn’t brave enough.
I don’t think I can bring myself to actually hurting myself. Still, I don’t think if I find myself drowning, I’d struggle to swim up for air. I’ll most likely allow myself drift to oblivion. 

Those days I’ll stay in bed all day, not thinking, just staying in because it felt safer being lost in time. But these days I have to work. If only I could freeze time, stay frozen, not having to deal with my reality or better still, have a memory wipe and start life anew, forgetting who I am, what I am and where I am coming from.

“The broken clock is a comfort, it helps me sleep tonight
Maybe it can stop tomorrow from stealing all my time
I am here still waiting though I still have my doubts
I am damaged at best, like you've already figured out”
-          Lifehouse (Broken)

Last month I was in a plane and there was a turbulence. I stared out the window and wondered just how much it would hurt before we all went out. I wasn’t scared, I was indifferent. I have been tried for years, so I thought, maybe it’s time to rest…

I find warmth just thinking of how it would have been if I never was born, how peaceful it would be if I didn’t exist, if I disappeared. Finally the pains would stop. The emptiness would be gone, the chills in my chest from the heavy knot wouldn’t be felt anymore. The feeling like the world is on my shoulders, walking around my room with my hands pulling at my hair, trying to burst from within myself…trying to stay calm but groans escape my lips, the stamping of my feet against my bed, the burying of my head into my pillows to drown the sobs, the suffocating shortness of breath, the squeezing of my eyes till it hurts and the slight headache that forms across my fore-head. All these would stop and I’d be gone for good, never to be haunted by these things I can’t control.  Freedom.

“When my time comes
Forget the wrong that I've done
Help me leave behind some
Reasons to be missed
Don't resent me
And when you're feeling empty
Keep me in your memory
Leave out all the rest”
-          Linkin Park (Leave out all the rest)

My life is hard, I never asked for it…never asked to be born but yet I’m stuck in this world of pain. I can’t release myself, but I need a way out. I know I should get professional help, but I don’t trust Nigerians and our obsession with religion. I have my bible, motivational books, I pray on my own, I’ve got pastors for that.

There’s faith and there’s science. I know for sure that the moment the doctor talks about religion as a way out, that’s the day I’ll fall off the cliff and my only way out would be to use sleeping pills to knock myself out all day…so I stay away from doctors to protect myself ‘cus I’ve heard the stories…

I know another way out. But something kept holding me back. Something kept drawing me in, making me sink in despair, drowning into the darkness...the sadness so overwhelming yet comforting…music is the way out, travel is the way out but I couldn’t...

“The more I stray, the less I fear
And the more I reach, the more I fade away
The darkness right in front of me
Oh it's calling out and I won't walk away”
-          Imagine Dragons (Rise up)

I ran from my home. I packed my bags and drove off. The farther I went, the easier I could breathe.
…a home ought to be that place you find comfort but now mine is my hell.

The first step I have taken to healing is running while praying I survive this. The second step is writing this, the third step is music, the forth step I think is wanderlust…hopefully after that I’ll be out of this sinking ship.

This is my road to recovery…

I choose to swim.

“I can barely stand right now.
Everything is crashing down,
And I wonder where you are.

I try to find the words to pray.
I don't always know what to say,
But you're the one that can hear my heart.

Even though I don't know what your plan is,
I know you make beauty from these ashes.

I've seen joy and I've seen pain.
On my knees, I call your name.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

With nothing left to hold onto,
I raise these empty hands to you.
Here's my broken, here's my broken Hallelujah
You know the things that have brought me here.
You know the story of every tear.
'Cause you've been here from the very start.”


-          The Afters (Broken Hallelujah)

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

EXPLORING BAUCHI 2 (War for the planet of the apes)

A friend at the window?
Our start up time for the day's activities was initially set for 7:00 am, but most persons were still asleep. The previous day’s journey was a long one. I think I was one of the early risers that morning.

I looked over at my roommate – Mute, he was fast asleep. I'm an early riser any day even though sleeping is one of my talents. I peered out the window, the environment was calm with no one insight save two baboons.

I put on a t-shirt, dashed for the cupboard to reach for my camera and off I went to take shots of the mammals. 




Pamilerin came over. We chatted for a while after exchanging pleasantries. The weather was good, the ambience of the reserve seemed safe for a morning run. We decided to go for a jog.

We got back to see the once lazy vicinity swamped by Baboons. The previous night, we were warned that the baboons do open the windows while the occupants slept. Key words that stuck – ‘windows’ and ‘slept’.

I figured we were past that, after all I had a rather peaceful night. Couple of minutes later, I realized the errors of my thinking. Mute joined us, as well as Tobi (Pamilerin's roommate). I spotted a Baboon chilling on our tour bus. I asked Mute to go with me so I could get some shots.


Remember the first key word – windows. Before going for the run, I left our room door shut without using the key since Mute was in. Mute did the same thing ‘cus we were hanging around the room. Tobi raised an alarm that a baboon had just entered our room! Heck! They said windows…no one warned us they opened doors too!

Things moved quickly from there on. I went through; adrenaline rush, disappointment, apprehension, respite, apprehension, anger, victory...

Adrenaline rush -
It was our room that got invaded. Our personal effects were at risk. Mute and I both ran towards our door but believe me, we were helpless as the chief baboon was guarding the door. The fierce look it gave us was enough to make us retreat.

All we could do was hope for minimal damage. My mind kept processing that the longer the baboon was in there, the more damage we'd have to deal with.
Mute picked a stick and charged for our door. The chief baboon went into attack mode, both of us went into flight mode.

It chased after us.

Pamilerin and Tobi were not spared. Four of us ran for our lives. Being chased by a baboon wasn’t part of the plan ni...I didn’t come all the way to Bauchi to get devoured by a baboon. I kicked off my slippers so I could move faster, thankfully I held on tightly to my camera.


The baboon retreated. By then the other baboons had gathered around our door. My heart sank.

It sank even further when I sighted a baboon run out of the room with my packet of popcorn. That popcorn was securely kept in a sealed back pack!

Mute was the brave one. I stood pointing at the baboon as it ran off with the popcorn. Mute charged once again towards the room, raising the stick he picked for self-defense in the air. The chief baboon wasn't moved. He ran toward us, growling. We all took off. Mute was behind us. I turned just in time to see the baboon widen its teeth around Mute's ankle. Thankfully, Mute made a swift turn, unaware of what he escaped.

Disappointment:

The feeling of hope I had on seeing an armed mobile policeman along with a man looking all confident alight from a vehicle died the minute I realized they were not there to help, but instead they came to watch free drama. *sigh

For a split second I saw myself snatching the gun from the man and charging in to the room, while spraying bullets on the damn animals. I wish…

We gave up trying to get rid of the animals. 

They had won the war, while we stood defeated. This was their territory and we were the obvious invaders. 


Apprehension:

My heart kept breaking while waiting for the animals to clear out. With each passing second, I imagined a tear to a shirt, my note being tossed in the air, money getting shredded. One of my phones was on the drawer by the cupboard, my new camera lens also! 

Before the war 
I didn’t want to step into the room again. I wasn’t sure my heart would be able to handle the sight. I knew the moment I stepped into the room, whatever was left of my fragile heart would shatter. Below are pictures of the damage;



Respite:

Wait, you thought you’ll see pictures of a completely thrashed room? Lmao. God pass you…

It was a big relief it wasn’t half as bad as I had imagined. Trust me, it could have been worse. Two other rooms got battered later that day when we went for safari ride. The mess was disheartening, I didn’t bother snapping it. Not a memory one would want to remember. The walls were stained, bed sheets soiled, drinks, food stuff thrown around, the chaos, damaged ceiling…it was a terrible sight.

It looked like my room was burgled. The drawers were all out, my clothes brought out of the bags and scattered on the ground like the thief was looking for something in particular. Thankfully my phone and camera lens were intact. The weird thing was, none of Mute’s things was touched.

Apprehension:

I started taking stock of my things. Everything seemed in order save for the popcorn the Baboon took. I arranged my stuff. Time to get ready for the day’s activities….that was when I realized my branded socialprefects t-shirt was missing…

Anger:

After searching for 15 minutes and still not finding the shirt, I began to feel really pissed off. The hate I felt towards the baboons was real. Mute was like give up already na? 

As in, there was no corner of the room I hadn’t checked. I turned my bags over, still no shirt. It was quite infuriating. I would be the only one not wearing the branded shirt and there was no way I could ask for another one.

I looked at Mute and realized he wasn’t exactly helping to search for it (okay, Mute this is the thing I said I wasn’t going to tell you that day, that you will read about it.) I looked at him just standing there, watching me tear the room apart. I began to suspect he was the one who hid it, you know that annoying prank we play on people...

Dude just stayed watching me…
Victory:

I didn’t confront him. I needed peace to reign. A part of me believed he hid the shirt. I took a deep breathe.  A thought came to mind – what if the baboon took it and then is later seen running around wearing the t-shirt! Like in those documentaries where we see monkeys dressed in t-shirts while chained to a stick.

That would have been the end of me. I’d be the butt of all jokes till the end of the journey…Enime, Tunji, Tobi and Val wouldn’t let me hear the last of it on the way back to Abuja. That thought scared the crap out of me. I didn’t know when I walked out of the room, ignoring my suspicion of Mute to go looking around for the shirt. 

Then this happened:

Oh that feeling of sweet victory! I was going to breathe just fine in the bus after all

Heaven smiled on me and I was spared the horror of being verbally slaughtered by jokes. The embarrassment would have been terrible to handle. I would have gone back into my shell and that would have been the end of the fun for me.

As usual, when you get out of a shitty situation, that’s when you can laugh about it. Everyone came around and I was laughing while narrating the entire experience, even branding it part of the adventure. But when it was happening, God knows it wasn’t funny at all….

Those that know me well know the oddest things just keep happening to me. Sort of like, my case is indeed different…

"My life gets kinda boring, I need something I can confess..."- Secrets (One Republic)


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

EXPLORING BAUCHI

                              This post is best viewed on a laptop or tab to keep the arrangement of the pictures in tact.

I travel for relief....

After lamenting on social media about how work was clutching life out of me, and how I felt like I was losing who I am, I craved a trip to somewhere new, somewhere I could forget about work and just get back to me.

"We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic to creativity.
When we get home, home is still the same, but something in our minds has changed, and that changes everything. “ - @ay.firefly

Remember my Easter post? I wrote about my desire to tour the Northern part of the country but plans didn't work out well. click here for post

Well, I finally got the opportunity and I owe big thanks to Social Prefect Tours (Check them out on Instagram – @socialprefecttours). I have to give it to the Social Prefect team, the entire trip was worth it, even better than I anticipated. 

Seeing my name printed on the gift item (notebook) was everything, the personal touch was very welcoming
In the Easter post, I also stated I wasn’t comfortable travelling with ‘strangers’. Well, lets say the lyrics of Jack Garratt’s song got to me. I mean, I keep saying I want to break out of the norm, explore and actually live life. The only way to stay true to my words is to start living it.

“Speak and open up your heart
It’s something you should do all the time
Keep exploring, seek and find
You know you might surprise yourself”
-          Jack Garrat (Surprise yourself)

I opened up my mind and signed up for the trip. Though, I got my close pal - Mute, to sign up as well. I had to go with a friend just incase I couldn’t blend in due to my anti-social ways. 

Group photo before take-off

When we first boarded the bus, I gave Mute a nudge and whispered, ‘everyone else seems to know themselves. This is so going to be a personal journey for me even though we are in their midst.” He replied saying that was his sentiments also.
That changed few minutes later as I realized they were really cool travel buddies and I eventually blended in. My friend, Ivan, would be proud of me, when he learns that I finally played the concentration game and was about the fourth or fifth person standing out of over twenty participants. :D

Officially, this has got to be one of my best trips yet. Not largely due to the scenery, the road trip or photography, but to a large extent due to the wonderful persons I traveled with. Their zeal, open mindedness, bonding with young entrepreneurs - people who have consciously decided to take their future in their hands...it was refreshing being around all that energy.

Our take off point was Millennium park in Abuja. This was the first time I went on a journey without checking out its position on the map. After we crossed Nassarawa and Plateau States, that’s when I realized how ‘Northish’ Bauchi State is. But I was already on the bus and there was no going back.

What’s a trip without contingencies? I take such as part of the adventure. When the bus developed fault along the way, while a few complained, I simply got off the bus to take in the Plateau air and practice my photography. This one was small ish compared to when I had to sleep on the road in a foreign country during an excursion to Benin Republic. That was 2008 or so.


I have a new travel rule – No headphones when travelling to a place for the first time.  I want to have a complete experience of the place, open up my senses to the elements and feel saturated by it all. No distractions. This was the plan but it got even better. My mobile phone had absolutely no reception throughout the three days. I was totally cut off from the outside world and it was perfect.


"Half the fun of travel is the aesthetic of lostness" - Ray Bradbury


***
On arriving Bauchi, our first stop was the Government House, after which we visited the Emir’s palace.


From there we embarked on another journey to Yankari Game Reserve. It was indeed a journey. Even from the gate of the reserve to the facility is a journey on its own. We settled in, had dinner (one thing you can’t take from the Social Prefects, is the proper food provided - breakfast, lunch and dinner were all on point!)

The next day the exploration began proper though it started in a weird/funny way. Mute, two other travelers (Pamilerin and Tobi) and myself had an encounter with the Baboons (a.k.a area boys of Yankari). Post for another day

There was the walk to the restaurant for breakfast which gave us the chance to take in the beauty of Yankari Game Reserve;

             


There was enough food;



There was dance (though I hid behind the camera to prevent taking part);

 


There was the pre-safari ride photo shoot;






                                                                                                   
There was Yankari museum tour (pictures courtesy of Tunji);



There was the Safari ride (though most of the animals have migrated, I was still able to see a few animals);

                                                                                 
                                                    
                             

There was the swim at the Wikki warm springs (initially I was scared of entering the water, but I summoned courage and well, I kinda rocked the underwater video clips)




video

This video has gone viral on Instagram, currently has over 19k views and counting...

There was karaoke night;

video
 On our way out of Bauchi the next day, we witnessed the Durbar festival;

The Emir
I’ve always said I prefer travelling with company over going solo, but this time, travelling with a group of people with shared passion for travel was a whole new experience. The excitement and energy in the bus was enough to kick out my introverted personality.

Travel breathes life into me....

                                                                                                                                                      When we travel, our minds open up to new things, possibilities, we get enlightened, refreshed and savor the beauty of nature. Life is not meant to be lived in one place. There’s so much out there to experience. So much more life has to offer…something deeper and real.

"Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it's a chance that goes on, deep and permanent in the ideas of living" - Mary Ritter Beard


 

To feel alive for me, is to travel.  Incorporating travel with writing, music and photography is a big part of my life.

"Traveling. It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller" - Ibn Battuta
I’m deeply grateful to Kike for introducing me to Social Prefect Tours. The trip to Bauchi is only the beginning of many more trips with them. 

A week plus after the trip, I’m still filled with excitement, still bursting with life, energy and possibilities….chilling with Mute, making new friends, taking in the sights and sounds of Bauchi has given me a fresh breath and I feel alive again….


"Buy the ticket, take the ride..." - Hunter S. Thompson