I felt the skin on my back melt pushing me to spring up from the mattress soaked in my sweat, without thinking, I grabbed my towel and sprinted for the bathroom. You would have thought a masquerade was on my hinds. It was like hell was unleashed on my bare body. I turned the tap and luckily it wasn’t one of those weeks that NEPA made us experience urban drought, tonight, the tap flowed freely letting me pour bowl after bowl on my body.
Ha, is this happening or I was imagining things? It was the third time I was visiting the bathroom in 12 hrs or less and still the burning sensation remained after several cups of cool water dripped down my yellowish skin like abiku child that dodged the abortion medicine. I was one of those Nigerian girls that got a fair quantity of oyinbo skin yet I couldn’t tell if it was the color of my skin that made it unbearable to pull through this hell called Lagos.
Don’t get me wrong, I was brought up here and as a matter of fact, I am a Lagosian by naturalization. But this was not the Lagos I grew up in, or maybe I would rather say, I never thought it would get this bad. I vividly call to memory my teenage years when I barely bathed once and life didn’t cave in. I dared not make that mistake in this Lagos, this Lagos was balls of fire and everyone walk around like its fine to have it like this.
When I visit the islands, I see them behind the transparent glasses of their cars, carefully wand up with ac blowing like it was New Zealand, they think they’re better than the rest that had to wipe and wipe beads of sweat away from entering their eyes – that thing stings. But we’re the same, the same sun in Lekki, the same hell in Dugbe market, Oshodi, Alakija, Ikorodu, Ebute, Epe – same sun, same fireballs but different coverings.
Back to the tap, my peeling skin and Lagos fireballs. I used to thank my God that I don’t go out every day, and I know I am not alone but I am equally sad by the effect of this blazing hotness I see on others. My mother is a farmer, all day except weekends she labors away, fingers digging into black earth, knife clipping vegetables at their stalks under callous heat. I see her spent than years before, aha, it must be this hell. And I know like her, there are countless others under the scourge of this naked tornado.
My people do say, ‘a man that does not know where the rain started beating him will not know where it stopped.’ Let us chew on the wisdom of the ancient as we brood on some questions which if we can be truthful for once to our melting body, we will find answers. Whatever we make of these answers will be a dialogue for another day because today, my body almost caught fire.
I do not make light of these things I am writing about, and I beg you to take me as I am.
While we lament and grope in the tangled web that we have weaved for ourselves like we do not know what is wrong, I will briefly shame our senses.
You see this Lagos where we build houses like prisons, making sure we use every inch of our landmark and if possible that of our neighbors. This Lagos that we erect high fences like the tower of babel, as if the tallest fence will guarantee that when death comes knocking, we will be shielded – that was the start of our stupidity but it was the least of it. What’s my business if you decide to live like you’re in kpanti? I am a tenant, ordinary tenant, tenanti lasan lasan, what do I know?
Maybe you’re not one of them but thanks for the lords of surfing, this is in your face so I know you will carry my tale to those beyond the walls of books, Google and social media. Do tell them when you see them, in a language they will understand.
But the monster is none of those, this is the monster we created.
Pardon me, apart from my yellowish skin, I am also one of the Africans that tend to lol over western lifestyle and by human rights we are free to choose where we draw our fantasy, inspiration and aspiration from. I love Europe and maybe in my next life, I will stop by there with a dark skin for your knowing. I will be a dark skinned European, England to be precise. Oh, I know they’re not perfect, that’s by the way.
My idea of what the environment should look and feel like has been shaped by my mingling with high school musicals films and adventure films set in UK and America. I must let you know I have not traveled beyond 6 states in Nigeria but by books, I have been to many continent of the world – amen somebody. These and the few Karen Kingsbury’s books and the many non-fiction literature from the west I consumed, and still do have polished my imagination of what an ideal environment should look like. Plenty love for the surfer in me that find renewable and green energy fascinating too.
Left for dreamy me, I want to live in a countryside flanked by tall trees, meadows, garden full of scented flowers, orchards arrayed in colors of tropical and evergreen fruits. But you see, I am a dreamer and I found myself in Nigeria and not UK nor America. I have to put my head where my body is – in this hellish Hades.
I know they say the grass is always greener on the other fence, aha, but there’s a new school of wise saying that says, ‘the grass is greener when you water it.’ and I wouldn’t agree less, even my agriculture science class in secondary school told us deforestation was harmful for the environment. Now, I see the harm in floodlights.
Have you uncovered the monster? This is it. Climate experts tell us that it takes 10 tree to sustain the life of 1 person. They told us trees protect the harsh sun rays tearing through the ozone layer and hitting directly at us. But because we think ‘aba sense and baba sope’ philosophy will suddenly restore the already thinning layers, we block our eyes to the warning like a child swinging to the evil dance. They told us to plant trees and the trees will take care of our environment but we prefer cooling ac from Highlander jeep, Suv and branded cars that informed others ‘we are one in town.’ Patapata, we will use skin toner to patch it up or we will go to Dubai for holiday.
I am not jealous of their car and trips nor do I aspire not to own one in the future but what’s a car when hell awaits the next or even this generation? What’s artificial air when we can’t breathe clean free air, what will be the use of our refrigerator when 30 minutes after a cool splash, our backs twitch from the fanning embers of ozone thinning out? Maybe then, we will all deport ourselves to the overseas, some of us will go through Libya, oh sorry, through the oceans but we must all vanish when this skin starts tearing away like beef infested with lice and maggot – don’t even think about the sight of it.
This monster of erecting tall buildings and prison gates like the wall of Jericho is the start of our disaster. Go to Lekki, they think they’re building genius structures when they are simply helping our disasters to happen fast. Ikoyi is far better, at least the part I have been to understands the need for a green environment. The rest of Lagos is trashy, sorry for being brash.
We need to wake up to the giant monster we have molding. I see it with hands and legs. Government apathy to structural reformation will give it eyes, and the pompous desire of land owners, engineers that care only about bulging pockets will mold its heart. Not too long from now, fireballs will start falling from the sky skinning us alive, not even hundreds of river Niger, Kanji dam and Limpopo will stop the invasion of the monster we created with our wealth and lack of foresight.
We are headed for an invasion but unlike sci-fi it won’t be a movie, this time, fireballs will take over our planet starting from the world’s largest city, Lagos.
Watch out, the aliens are coming!