Life is hard, life in Nigeria is Hard, and in Lagos it is HARD, you gerrit?
These past weeks there is no day that goes by that I don’t think of my mummy. Yes, you can call me tata but you think living alone in Lagos as someone in their early 20s is easy?
What brought the ‘I want my mummy’ tantrum was my health. I fell into the wicked hands of malaria and typhoid. I knew I should go to the hospital, take my injections like a brave girl, force myself to eat, take my drugs which I did but do you know how lonely it felt doing it alone? That there was no one to put a wet cloth on my head, to tell me doh every second, spoon feed me and all?
The second thing was this special breed of people I met recently: Lagos landlords and agents. They will show you a semi-mini flat and be like, “this one is 400k, agreement and agent fee is one-tenth of the rent, and we collect two years at once”. They will tell you all that with a straight face. Agent fee for house I found myself? And why two years? Do I look like a Dangote? This is after they are done scrutinising you, asking questions like “why is a small girl like you looking for house alone. Are you married? If no, (I don’t rent out to single women) what tribe are you?” Don’t forget electricity bill for light you won’t even use, or gas (please don’t even mention DSTV), and data for your phone.
After all these you’ll expect Lagos to have mercy on you. This new Ambode inspired traffic will keep you on the road all night. Some time last week I left the office by 5pm, got home almost 10pm. Even if it is village I am going to, or from Warri to Port Harcourt, what’s all this? Then I get home and someone is expecting me to cook dinner? Sorry, please let me eat in my dream.
There’s always that little bird that will fly to the village to tell your relatives you now live in Lagos, these relatives will call and be like “you’re now in Lagos? Working? We thank God o! Please send me…” How long are you going to say no? Or give excuses? Better send them so you can drink water and drop your cup in peace.
That’s not all; the devil will still try his luck with you. He will come in the form of people’s fathers (and mothers, yes, mothers). As you are broke and trying to keep sane, trying to ignore your worn out clothes, trying to rationalise why you shouldn’t buy new jeans or braid your hair, trying to finally put that economics you learnt in secondary school about opportunity cost to good use; these people will come around with “let me look after you, how much is your rent? I will pay it. You want jet? I will buy it…”
In spite of all of these, you still want to be a good child, assist your parents, contribute to the church, and pay your tithe. I know people who earn less than 50k and are paying fees for one or more of their siblings, send money home to retired parents for one thing or the other, send one aunty/uncle ‘small thing’. Some are holding down a job(s) and running bachelor/masters degrees in the stress and frustration that is Nigerian universities.
It is not easy. If you are a young single 20 something year old in this Lagos, struggling to keep your head above the water, well done. Cheers to you. But remember, you cannot come and go and kill yourself and die away. Not every day work, some days buy yourself your favourite food (try that turkey and chips at Bar Enclave) with a cold drink, raise a glass and drink to yourself.
You go make am. You go dey alright.