Cooking gas has a way of running out on Sundays don’t you think?
When shops don’t open.
Living in a house downhill has its good side until you run out of gas
on a weekend.
I dialled my gas distributor’s number and promised to pay a
thousand extra for him to come to the shop and refill my gas. I
picked up my 8kg propane tank and climbed up the hill. Out of
breathe and tired, the gas distributor isn’t too far from mine, I just
need to climb up this rocky hills and get to him.
As I walked, propane tank in hand and out of breathe, a man
walked from behind me and since it was a narrow road, I made
room for him to pass but he wasn’t trying to. He stood beside me
“Hi, my name is Samson. I will like to know you” he said.
You see, deep down I had only one reply: to say my name was
Delilah and I was about to chop off his hair but I decided to be
cordial about it. And before now, I could have immediately pictured
him in a tuxedo standing next to me in a white dress but not any
I replied with a handshake moving my propane tank to my left
hand to free the right “I am Rebecca, but you can call me Becca.”
We walked and talked, while I kept switching my propane tank from
left to right, he didn’t offer to help and I didn’t ask. We got to the
distributor, I got my gas and paid. See, some time ago, I would
have been mad he didn’t offer to carry my propane tank or even
offered to pay but instead walked beside me professing his love
for me. But I have grown to not have that entitlement mentality
anymore, I know that not all men are gentlemen and that is okay, I
just have to choose a gentleman. I have learnt that being an
independent woman comes at a cost, that I can’t speak and claim
to be one thing yet act like another, I learnt that to be strong
means to scare some people away, and that is okay too. But I
learnt this lesson the hard way.
A couple of weeks ago, I was okay, at the top of my career,
winning court cases back to back and being a trailblazer. Every
young female lawyer wanted to be me. I was pretty hot, homey
and pretty badass, yet I was completely unhappy.
My mama is old schooled and she raised me as such, and as
much as old school is good, there is a part of it that should stay
right there ~ in the old school.
My mama said I couldn’t get myself a car, at least not yet; neither
can I build a house, because that will scare potential husbands
away. I couldn’t wear gold nor silver, she said my most expensive
piece of jewellery should not be worth more than the earnings of
and average Nigerian which is the minimum wage.
My career was growing pretty fast and at an alarming rate. Then
everything plummeted pretty fast and broke me to tiny shreds. My
best friend from Uni through law school, Zainab had made me
promise to visit her again in Lagos. I hated visiting her but I loved
her. She had told me to loosen up a bit and live life, to be happy
and enjoy every moment but I couldn’t. I had to live by the rules
Mama gave me to find a suitor pretty soon. Moreover, I was tired
of being a third wheeler, she always has her boyfriend with us,
goofing around while I stare into cold air, keeping myself busy ~
feigning lost in thought while I start to imagine why the store in the
US is called 7-11, or if truly male Kangaroos try to impress their
females with their biceps.
Coming back from the courthouse, Zainab called. She had been
calling the past few days and I never pick up. I could not stand her
throwing her happy life in my face all the time. I let the phone ring,
and then a text came in.
I read it and reread it, I sank to my knees throwing my bag across
the floor as I sobbed uncontrollably. Zainab was dead, she was
gone. I left work for a while and never wished to return.
I was a shadow of myself, life had no meaning to me. At 32,
Zainab was only three months older than I was. I watched as her
death shook me to my very core, I stayed home and cried all day, I
watched as my life and career took a nosedive. Didn’t answer
calls, not from clients or even my employer.
Three weeks of laying and crying then I made a decision, enough of
feeling sorry for myself, enough of wanting to be loved. I decided
to move past the hurt and never to mourn failed relationships
again. I decided that to find true love that stands the test of time is
to love ones self. I then decided to get the car of my dreams, build
the house of my dreams and never sell myself short. That the man
that will be intimidated by my wealth and achievement is the man I
have zero interest in. I decided to rid myself of all bitterness and
hate and to love, love, love and to live life like I am on a renewed
lease, like I am honoured the lease on my life isn’t terminated. To
live life like Zainab lived, to tour the world and to spoil myself silly.
TO KNOW THAT LIFE AND THE PEOPLE IN IT DO NOT AWE ME
So I got up, had my first bath in three weeks, opened my windows
and breathe in the fresh air and sunshine. I cleaned my room and
wore make up. Powered my laptop and went on a site and checked
how much a Mercedes C class costs. I read and searched the best
resorts in Zanzibar. I booked a flight for a holiday on a weekday,
something I have never done since I got my first job fresh out of
Law school at 23.
I started to make noodles then ran out of gas this Sunday. So as I
stood with this excuse of a man who couldn’t stop talking about
how much he loved me, I humoured him with a few replies as I
looked around the city through new eyes and my different
approach to live after three weeks indoor, I saw it differently. I
waved at a tricycle and hopped in as he was asking for my ‘digits’.
Monday morning, I called a freelance cab and booked him for the
whole day. I was in no mode to be squeezed like lifeless sardine in
a public taxi in an attempt to appear humble to find a husband. At
my office, the driver waited outside “I won’t be too long” I said as I
made my way through the reception, past my colleagues who
stared like they have seen a yellow elephant. I know I have lost
some weight but didn’t think much of it until now.
As I walked, my boss called out “Rebecca, who are you to think
you can walk in and out as you please? This isn’t your father’s
house. Where have you been?”
“Finding myself” I replied over my shoulders “and don’t worry, I
will get my stuff and be out of your hair.”
I packed my stuff in boxes and stopped by his office to tell him I
Myself and my one-day-driver made a quick stop at the travel
agents’ who confirmed to me that I could get a visa on arrival to
Tanzania. We made another stop at the car dealers’ and the
Mercedes they had wasn’t in black which was my preferred colour.
I made a part payment to pick it up when I returned from Tanzania.
Wednesday I wasn’t so happy I could not make first class on my
flight, it was sold out but nevertheless, I was excited.
On arriving at the resort in Zanzibar, it was everything dreamy. I
lay on the bed and again thanked God for the lease to life and for
the strength to be able to find myself after just three weeks, a
journey that takes others years wallowing in depression.
The guy at the reception looked nice ~ James. He had spent some
good sum for his manicure – crimson red acrylic nails in coffin
shape – and a Louis Vitton bag. I loved his fashion sense and
asked if he will escort me shopping which he gladly obliged. Friday
was a good day to go shopping, I could use Thursday to get to
know the city which I did and loved.
I enjoyed shopping with James, haven’t had this much fun in ages.
I got my nails did, eyebrows waxed, ate real Mexican food and
went to the cinema with hands full of shopping bags, we sat them
on the chairs next to us, I could hear complain as we came late
and took a while to settle but if only I cared.
James said he wasn’t working Saturday and we could go to the
beach and take pictures.
Saturday, James came with Jayden, I was a third wheeler again
but I couldn’t care. I got a whole new approach to life. I was more
concerned about myself. Pictures by the beach, pizza and more
shopping, those guys were fun. So many shopping bags I could
hardly find a place to sleep.
Saturday evening in my night gown, I had to go down to find a way
to reach James, he’s not answering his phone. I spoke to a nice
lady at the reception and she reminded me about the ‘Queen of the
night’ ongoing event at the resort, James could be there. He had
told me the day before about the event, it is a yearly tradition of
the resort usually by this time of the year where resort guests
come around a camp fire, singing and dancing and at the end of
the night, a Queen of the night is crowned. She gets a free week
long stay at the resort the following year, so she could be present
when another queen was chosen. It sounded fun but I was spent
from our adventures during the day, I needed rest.
James and Jayden were taking me to another part of town
tomorrow so I needed to know what time to be ready.
I got there, people dancing around the fire in a big circle, traditional
songs and drums played by the locals. James didn’t tell me it was
this fun, I thought as I tried to find him through the poor lighting
when someone pulled me into the circle. The dancing and drums
continued for a while and then ceased. Everyone stopped and
people cheered and laughed and clapped and pointed at me. The
guy in the middle leading the whole thing – whom I will later know
to be the son of the resort owner – pulled me inside the circle closer
to the camp fire and said something in Swahili.
The music started again, I was confused but since I promised
myself that I only live once, I decided I would enjoy and cherish
every moment for myself and for Zainab.
I released my grip on my nighty across my chest, flung my braids
back and danced my sorrows and pains to their graves forever. I
danced so hard I didn’t realise I had tears in my eyes. I screamed
until my voice cracked, cheering myself on.
I got on my hands and knees and danced until I couldn’t hear the
beat of the music anymore.
The music stopped. I got up, wiped my tears and made to leave
when the man held me by the hand and again said something in
Swahili and put a crown on my head as the people chorused “Your
majesty.” I was the Queen of the night.
As I walked back to my room, the lady at the reception who had
directed me to James barely 40 minutes prior smiled and slightly
bowed her head “Your majesty” she said.
It was hard to believe that just last weekend, I was laying on the
floors of my bedroom; oh the difference 128hrs could make!
The next morning, I woke up from what seems to be a dream,
except it wasn’t. I was a true Queen of the night, who danced her
sorrows away. I sat on the table staring at my crown and I could
truly say: I am a Queen, I can truly say: I have learnt the greatest
form of love, the hardest ~ the love of self. The hardest because I
have never known the proportion of love that was just enough to
self, I could never love my neighbour too much but I could love
myself too much and harm others; I love myself too little, I harm
myself. I now love myself just enough to make myself crazy in
love with this person called ME. I end up relating such love to my
I snapped out of my thoughts as soon as James and Jayden
banged on my door.
“Queen of the night? Are you kidding me? I leave you for a minute
and you become a dang Queen?” James said as he flung his
Michael Kors bag on my bedroom chair “Let me see the crown
“Your majesty” Jayden said jokingly.
“Are we leaving this early?” I asked.
“No your majesty, hotel management’s upgrading your room for
free for the remainder of your stay here. We need to get your stuff
across the resort.”
I couldn’t believe it, this started as a journey to discovering self,
now I am in love……. with myself!
Cooking gas has a way of running out on Sundays don’t you think?