There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
Since the last October reflections article I wrote in 2019, quite a lot has happened. I wanted to write one last October but I just couldn’t find the words or the energy. Anyway, let me give a quick rundown of events from last year up until this point. After my exams in January 2020, I and three of my girlfriends had gone out to celebrate as was our tradition and we had quite the exciting night. Two of the girls had to return to Nigeria for the holidays and the two of us who were left behind said our goodbyes, with the hopes of reuniting in March. I had also gone to Rosie’s apartment to spend a few days with her since she too, was going home to Pakistan for the holidays. If only we knew the rude shock 2020 held in store for us, we would have made alternate plans.
Few days after Rosie left, news of the COVID-19 virus hit my city and the management decided to shut down the school. Those of us who were in school were given time to leave but I didn’t have a convenient place to go so I stayed back. My school has two dormitories occupied by International students and we were not allowed to swap visits between dormitories. It didn’t make any sense because you would think that all the students who were locked up in school at the time would be permitted to freely interact but this was not the case. We lived like prisoners for months and I really do not know how any of us survived. I made new friends of course, but even they soon left. When my friends in the dormitory could no longer take the mental impact of being locked up in one place and not allowed to even go to the other dormitory, they asked to leave. Then the school management came up with yet another ultimatum.
“If you’ve not payed your full tuition and dormitory fees for this year, you can’t leave,” the dean of the college said, not caring how we felt. The Chinese are rigid and hardly change their minds when they’ve made a decision and the saddest part of the whole thing was, we had to watch the teachers and some other Chinese people come into the school and leave of their own accord.
It was heartbreaking, to say the least. Why should I be a prisoner just because I haven’t paid fees? It was unfair and I cried so many times. I called my mum and told her what they said and she was frantic. She explained to me that the year hasn’t been kind as money was no longer coming in from anywhere and I understood. Again, I understood how important possessing the paper that apparently controlled the world was. My mother started calling almost every day to check up on me and asked so many times if I’d rather just come home, but I declined because the flight tickets at that time were ridiculously expensive and I knew it would put too much strain on her. Anyway, I stayed back in school, started my podcast, got more active on my blog and started taking pictures with Nabila, who brought all my styling ideas to life. These things helped me cope, including the calls from mum, video calls from Amina and Rosie, plus visits from my friend Bamson who would risk getting caught just to come to my dormitory.
Sometime in late August, the school decided to let us go out for a short period of time. It felt weird being outside for the first time in almost eight months and we felt all sorts of emotions. Fast forward to October 20th, 2020, my birthday. The End SARS protests were in full swing and since I couldn’t be there in person, I was actively part of the online protests on Twitter and Instagram. I woke up around 5am, checked my phone and saw I had received many messages on WhatsApp. My friends had sent me pictures and videos of the Lekki massacre and asked me to use my platforms to create awareness. I was devastated and sat rooted in a spot for several minutes. I went on twitter, saw even more videos and a cold sense of dread filled me. Was this what my country had become? When and how did we even get here? How in the world were we going to come back from this? My hands shook badly that morning, I couldn’t write an article and so I did the only thing I could do at the time, I picked up my microphone and recorded a podcast episode. I also made a YouTube video when I could gather my thoughts a bit. Again, I have no idea how any Nigerian got past the events of 20/10/2020 but, I guess we are much stronger than we seem.
Within the space of a month, I lost two uncles and while still trying to recover from the shock, I learnt my mum was sick in December. I couldn’t go home straight away as I did not have any money at that time and had to wait until I finished my exams in January 2021. I got home on the 28th of January, stayed a my best friend’s place in Lagos for a week to get my COVID-19 test before returning to the east. When I got home, the news of my mum’s demise knocked out the remaining air in my lungs. It felt like someone had literally pulled the rug from under my feet without warning. What was the point of returning home then? What would I do without my mother? Perhaps I should have accepted her offer to return home earlier. So many thoughts went through my head. Suicide? I thought of it for a while. Maybe if I died, I would be able to see her again and apologize for not being the ideal daughter. I hadn’t bought her all the things I said I would and I hadn’t graduated yet, she couldn’t be gone just like that. She passed while I was in Lagos and the funeral plans were already underway by the time I got home. I didn’t have time to mourn or grieve until the funeral was over and it hit me that she was truly gone.
She was my biggest cheerleader and was super proud of everything I did, so with her demise, my creativity vanished. I didn’t see the point of going on with anything. I was tired, frustrated and angry but I fought hard to regain control of my thoughts.
For the past few months, I’ve been trying to heal and now, another birthday is almost here and unlike the norm, I’m not excited. I feel somewhat empty and I’m dreading the feeling I’ll get when it’s 12a.m on October 20th and my mum doesn’t call to wish me a happy birthday. I’m scared but I know I’ll pull through, I always do.
I stopped thinking of what I didn’t do for her and started to think of what I CAN do for her now that she’s no longer here. So, I’m building back my motivation, I’m putting all my strength into all the things I love and building my brand up from scratch. I think she will be really happy and proud if I did all that. I’m growing each day and I know I’ll figure things out eventually.
2021 did come with some positivity though. I am a co-host on a radio program and it has been amazing to say the least. I’ve also learnt new things and become a better person as well. I’ve been wanting to lose weight too but since I cannot come and kill myself, summer body has been postponed till next year. Once again, I learned the value of true friendship and would like to thank everyone who has been there for me in one way or the other. I truly wouldn’t have survived this year without my friends.
So now you’re all caught up! What has 2021 been like for you? What major experiences have you had this year? It could be good or bad or both even but, let me know in the comment section. As always, I’ll be looking forward to your comments.