My mom and I are close. My dad would always say that my mom and I could plan and overthrow a sitting government and nobody would hear about it. There has however been some strain in our relationship recently, since all she talks about whenever we chat on phone is who got married and who had a baby while I pretend not to know the game she’s playing. Now, one of my favorite things in the world is ugba; I think in English, it is called locust bean. I have been in love with the delicacy since I was a child. I use it in my sauces, stews and soups, plus it is just divine in gravy, which I have often. So whenever my mom goes to the village to see her farm, she always gets the best ones and sends them over to me. There is a driver from Agofure Transport Company who acts as a courier for my mom and I, seeing as he plies the Warri route. The guy and I have even become sort of friends, so much so that whenever I have something to send to my parents, he comes to my house to collect the items personally. And when my mom gives him something for me, he brings it to my house himself. This system ensured I never lacked ugba, fresh pineapples and recently mangoes (my parents have a farm in the village which grows the best mangoes in the world).

So anyway, I was very surprised when she called me the other day and said she was sending me something and that the delivery person would call me when it arrives. I thought it was the driver that we usually used, so I already knew the drill of how the stuff would get to me. My mom however said no, that she’d been too tired to go to the park and she’d just handed the stuff to a friend of hers.

You see, when my mom is up to her tricks, I know. The driver usually goes to her house to collect whatever it is that she wants to send. And since when did she start having friends who deliver parcels? My mom is not exactly a spring chicken anymore and her friends are mostly her age mates. I knew something was brewing, but I did not want to give her the satisfaction of thinking she has made me uneasy. So I told her that I would be waiting for her friend’s call.

Eventually a female voice called me and said my mom gave her something to give me and that she would bring it to where I was as a favor to my mom. My first thought was to decline, seeing as I was home, but I was curious and I told her where I was. When she got off the phone, I quickly ran her number through true caller and got a name which I took to Facebook (this is 2016, and you cannot surprise people anymore, duh). I saw the face of a very beautiful, light-skinned girl on Facebook, whose occupation was stated as nursing. Lol. Typical mummy move, I thought. Because my mom is a nurse and she believes that nurses are the best wives any man could have.

Anyway, I waited for the woman at home. She arrived at nearly 7pm and delivered the parcel. We made small talk. She said she was a nurse and the daughter of my mom’s friend, who was a nurse also. (Some nursing dynasty, eh?). She was clearly impressed with my house, and it was obvious she had done her research about me on social media, because she knew quite a lot. When she began hinting at it getting late (too late to go home), I told her I would drop her off anywhere in this Rivers State tonight. I mean, I said ever so courteously, it was the least I could do, seeing as she went through all this trouble to help deliver my sweet ugba to me.

My mom called the following day to ask if I liked the ugba and the mangoes plus fufu from my step grandma (many people were involved in this conspiracy, it would seem. Even my sister). I played her game, acting all casual, thanking her for the stuff and not mentioning anything about the person who delivered them.

Since then, my new nursing friend has been “in the neighborhood” twice and “just decided to drop by”, and I just look at her and laugh. Truth be told, she is very beautiful, but I truly feel sorry for her and my mom and my sister and my step grand mom (plus all other traitors involved in this scheme). As Owerri people would say: they are knocking on a tipper carrying gravel. Complete waste of time.

*

So I went to NNPC on a work related errand the other day. When I got there, I decided to use the elevator. The elevator looked really rustic, just like most of the building, and it was just the third floor I was going to. But for some reason, I still got into it. Some other guy got in as well and we went up. He tried to make small talk about politics – tried, because I was mostly unresponsive. I have learnt that the people of Rivers State are crazy people; I mean, all of you saw the violent mess that was the elections. So I mostly don’t discuss politics in public, lest I am left with a scar on my face, seeing as my views may not be popular.

Anyway the elevator suddenly stopped halfway with me and this guy inside, and I figured it was some power cut, and that it would move on shortly and we’d be on our way.

But my brothers and sisters, for the next two hours, we were stuck inside that thing and I saw my life gradually flashing before for my eyes. Thankfully it was one of those elevators with door parts that serve as rafts. So we had some air coming in. But I was totally terrified. I kept asking myself why I just didn’t take the stairs as active as I am. I kept thinking of all the people who would mourn me if I died there (lol. Well they say I have an overactive imagination, no?). I thought of PP tearily making an obituary update, and the people that would say I was probably shagging that guy in the elevator before it stopped. lol.

Eventually some sort of workman came with some people and they started trying to pry the door open. We were stuck on the second floor. And this in itself was a good thing, because if we had been in between floors, it would have been impossible to get us out. Eventually they pried the door open, used some iron wedge to hold it and I jumped out, making a mental note never to take the elevator in a Nigerian publicly-owned building ever again.

This is what Ayo Sogunro meant when he said: “Everything in Nigeria will kill you.”

*

On a final note I talked about the emails that I get from some people in trouble and how I keep going to the same people for help. Sometimes I feel completely helpless when someone is in trouble and there is nothing I can do. It almost literally breaks my heart. Life has dealt some people very bad cards. You can imagine when finding food to eat becomes a problem for someone.

I need help, people, and I need some of you to help me. I want some people who can commit to making small contributions monthly to help some of the people who reach out to me. I want to have a number of people who will make a commitment to donating a particular amount of money each month (no matter how small), so that we can do some good and help some LGBT youths in need. Nothing is too small, even if you can commit to 2k monthly. Whatever you can give will go a long way to helping others. I will make the process as transparent as possible and give you people updates as we go. Remember that we can be the answer to the cry of many, and let this become what we are known for – helping the ones who are in trouble.

If this tugs at your heartstrings, please shoot me an email at portharcourt.boi@gmail.com and we will take it from there.

XOXO

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