Psych Ward Diaries. Addendum 1.

The past few weeks have been pretty chill.

I got this serviced apartment here at Victoria Island Lagos, to stay for a bit.

I do not earn a monthly salary. Every now and then money comes into my life somehow, and then I’m responsible for staying alive and well until the next financial inflow.

I initially paid for a week or so. I don’t have enough money to pay for a longer stretch of time at once. Maybe I might if I put my mind to it, but I’m still raw from my last attempt at trying to rent a space nearby. At Lekki Phase 1.

I paid N400,000 into the bank account of the real estate agent. The “Mr Olu” who walked me into the compound, greeted the security guard, opened the doors to the apartment, and showed me around.

N400,000 was supposed to be rent for a year. Or six months I think. I’m not sure now.

That was last year. I never got to move into the apartment. I never saw “Mr Olu the real estate agent” again. I later realized that the email address with which he corresponded with me, was different from that on the agency banner hung out on the building’s front gate.

Say the banner of the actual real estate agency had the email “olu_something@gmail.com”. This guy’s email was “olu_somethingg@gmail.com”.

The second email has two “g”s.

I knew his email address was weird, but I assumed it was because the intended one was already taken. That can definitely happen with email addresses.

So I thought he was just making do with an address which was lexically similar. What I did not notice at the time, was that the email on the actual agency banner did not have that anomaly.

I mean, it’s not like you scrunch up your nose to scrutinize every letter in the email address on some banner outside the building where you intend to rent a space.


All of that was last year.

I went to the bank to make a complaint. They said they would freeze the recipient account, and that the fraudulent guy wouldn’t be able to withdraw the funds.

That was good to hear. They said to recover the money I would need to contact the Police. The Police had the authority to request a reversal of the funds transfer.

I stopped by the Police station to narrate my ordeal. At some point they said there was a special department that dealt with digital fraud and stuff. Said I would have to pay about N200,000 for a start, to access the services of this department.

Haha.

I was trying to recover N400,000. To do that, I had to pay the Police N200,000.

For a start.

Hahaha.

I took some time to weigh my annoyance. Was I angry enough at Mr Olu to undertake such expenses even if they could eventually add up to, or even exceed the amount I was trying to recover?

Hmm. I didn’t think so.

In all it was a very confusing experience.

It all felt so legit. I’m still not sure if I was intentionally dispossessed of the funds, or if there was some sort of a misunderstanding.

Like, there was another guy- some like, seventy year old man I spoke with on the phone.

He said he was the owner of the house. The Landlord. Mr Olu was just the agent. Helping him get new tenants. The “landlord” was asking me questions like:

“Hope pe iwo o kin p’ariwo ninu ile? Awa o like ariwo o.”

“I hope you don’t make noise where you stay? We don’t like noise makers here o.”

Like, how can a seventy something year old man who asks such questions, and who sometimes doesn’t answer my calls because he says he’s in the mosque, not be legit? How?

I don’t understand. I honestly don’t.

At some point I called the numbers on the actual real estate banner. Some guy responded on the other end. Said he was the one the agency was named after. That he was Mr Olu. The real Mr Olu.

I told him someone was impersonating him. I spent some time expressing my frustration and annoyance on the phone. He said all that was difficult to believe, because I was the first person to make such a complaint. Sensible point. But not at all placating for me.

Honestly it was this whole annoying episode. I’ve just had to take my mind off it, and pay attention to more inspiring and encouraging things.

Mr Olu. Has his office on Lagos Mainland. At Palmgrove. Talking to me and showing me around the apartment like a responsible human being. Fraudulent motherfucker.

It was to my utmost shock, that the security guard said he didn’t really know the fake Mr Olu. Said he was just some guy walking by the house, who proposed to show some prospective tenants around.

The fact that he had access to the building and keys to the apartment gave me the impression he was undoubtedly legit. Legit to the point that I thought he would feel insulted if I asked too many questions.

Motherfucker.

“Mr Olu”.


I’ve been trying to buy a motorbike. A cool dual-terrain kinda bike. I’m looking forward to some off-roading soon.

I found this guy on Jiji.ng. Jiji.ng is like the Nigerian EBay. He had a cool Scrambler for sale. I liked it. He was located in Abuja, the country’s capital.

While I made preparations to send him the funds for the purchase and delivery of the bike, he was telling me stuff like “Don’t worry, there’s no problem. I’m a family man.” to increase my confidence in him.

Family man.

Mister Olu was very likely a family man too.

Bruh, I’ve been swindled by family men, don’t even go there. Don’t even try that line on me Mister Man.

My N400,000 from last year is still nowhere to be found.


It recently occurred to me to call Mr Dayo.

Mr Dayo from the Psych Ward. The fellow inpatient.

The sixty year old ex-hockey coach.

The last time I saw him, I was at the hospital for a post-hospitalization checkup. So the doctors could see if I was properly recovering from a mental illness I never had in the first place.

Mr Dayo was sitting on a chair in the walkway. Looking very relaxed. We spoke for a bit. He seemed very comfortable and chill. I had collected his phone number earlier. I said I was going to call him later, after he had been discharged.

That was close to two years ago.

I haven’t exactly been in the frame of mind to make the call. I’ve been dealing with struggles of my own:


So, post-hospitalisation, my parents enrolled me in a university.

It’s this university that’s owned by this pretty prominent church in Nigeria. The church’s ideology is principally based on concepts like deliverance from demonic oppression and the breaking of ancestral curses and the holy murder of destiny-devouring witches and other such esoteric phenomena.

The university was founded by, and is managed by the church.

At 5AM every morning all of the students gather in the chapel to cast and bind some demons real quick before commencing the day. Repeated failure to report at the chapel could get you suspended.

On average, students spend about 2+ hours everyday collectively binding and casting out demonic powers.

And that is just the very tip of my disconcertion iceberg with regard to that university.

I would never in my right senses have agreed to be enrolled there. But I was fresh out of Psych Ward. Fresh out of 3-months of daily antipsychotics, and full of daily-reinforced doubt in my decision-making abilities:

I obviously didn’t know what I was doing with my life. Everyone obviously knew what what was good for me. Everyone except for me myself.

A couple months after being discharged from the Psych Ward, I ditched my supply of antipsychotics and lost all of the Psych-Ward weight. I gradually became more and more certain that the entire Psych Ward thing was Bullshit. And I became angry at everyone who made it or let it, happen.


I’m going to call Mr Dayo today.

I’m chilling in this alright apartment at Victoria Island. I have no serious doubts with regard to my sanity or mental wellbeing, and I’m plotting some schemes to enable me discontinue my enrolment at that soul-eroding university.

Life is good.

I call Mr Dayo’s number.

The phone rings for a bit.

Someone answers. It is a woman’s voice.

“Hello?”


This post is one in a Series. Feel free to view the other pieces here.


Image: On the balcony of a room at the Prest Waterfront Hotel, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.

Traversing Lagos at Night During a Pandemic-Induced Curfew.

Unknown Location, Lagos Nigeria.

I stare down at Google Maps on my phone.

The Lekki peninsula is an awkward polygon, completely bereft of any useful informative detail. My physical location is marked as a big blue circle that seems too large for the strange polygon it is situated on.

Edge is just useless ugh.

I switch my phone’s connection from 2G to 3G. I’m not even going to touch the LTE because I’m trying to save my battery. It is one percent. It has actually been one percent for like the past two hours.

In my experience the last one percent on the iPhone is equivalent to like the 20 percent that comes before it.

That last one percent is surprisingly indefatigable. I know. But of course I am still not going to touch that LTE right now.

The junction is dark. There are no street lights. As usual. That’s Nigeria. The only roads that have reliably functioning street lights are those named after the people who the residents of that area generally consider to be prominent.

Usually if a street is not named after a prominent Nigerian, it’s going to be very dark at night because the street lights are highly likely to be nonfunctional.

I approach one of the guys on a commercial motorcycle.

I’m going to Victoria Island. How do I get there?

I know how to get to Victoria Island. I just do not know where I am. The bus driver who drove us from Eleko had to go through an unorthodox route because he needed to circumvent the police roadblock which was situated along the usual course. And so now I’m in this place that I do not know, and in which a gradually accrued familiarity is taking time to develop because there is not enough illumination to make sense of my immediate surroundings.

The motorbike guy says something. The sentence he utters seems to be completely comprised of valid English words, but there does not seem to be any meaning in his utterance as a whole. I think he is trying to be sarcastic and make fun of me, but his joke seems like it seriously lacks a point.

I hiss and keep walking.

Ah. I see the policemen at the roadblock now. The infamous policemen. They are right under Jubilee bridge. I do not think they are bothering pedestrians. I walk towards the junction beneath the Jubilee bridge.

Jubilee Bridge, Ajah, Lagos.

I am trying to find a means of transportation to Lekki Phase 1.

I have already paid rent. I don’t think I am interested in spending a night here in Ajah. I must make sure to fully utilise every kobo of that rent that I have paid. I have to get to Lekki this night.

Plus there is this pot of rice and beans I made last night. I was already falling asleep and I had to keep waking myself up to check if the food was done.

It is in the fridge. I just need to land at the apartment and microwave it. I put some chopped-up KFC chicken in some tomato sauce along with some corned beef. There was some snail meat in the pot at some point but all of that is definitely gone now.

That is what is on my mind right now. This Ajah environment is extremely unappealing to me. I need to get to my rice and beans and KFC chicken and tomato sauce and corned beef. I need to get away from this place.

Some guy raises his voice at me. He says something with a somewhat derisive edge to it. My interpretation of his needless derision is that some people could find the shovel I have slung across my shoulder, confrontational.

I bought this shovel from the Game store at the Palms shopping mall a few days ago. I needed a sturdy shovel to uproot some palm tree stumps on a freshly acquired piece of land in a considerably remote area of the eastern part of the state. The moment I saw the shovel, I knew I had to buy it. It came with a 90 year warranty. Ninety fucking years. A shovel has to be like indestructible for it to come with a fucking ninety year warranty.

So yeah, it’s been an interesting day with the shovel. It’s been explicitly admired by a considerable number of people today. The driver who dropped me at Eleko took some time to marvel at the shovel and comment that it really was worth the price.

I keep walking about and talking with the commercial motorcyclists. I need to get to Lekki.

Jakande, Lagos Island.

We’re zooming forward on the bike. The road is so empty. This curfew thing must be very serious. A guy zooms past us on a power bike.

Ahhh. This one is a boss. In this lockdown you’re zooming about like this. Me I don’t know what cc your motorbike is that is giving you the energy to zoom about like this. Sha be going. Mister power bike.

The commercial bike rider slows down. There is another roadblock ahead.

Oh my God. What is all this. I thought we were past all of these roadblocks.

We turn around, in search of an alternative route.

We exchange ideas as he manoeuvres his bike towards safety. He says he knows of a different route we could take.

We keep going.

The Different Route.

How far! Anybody dey front?

Nobody dey, nobody dey. Dey go dey go!

A fellow motorcyclist lets him know that this new route is without any road blocks.

We keep moving.

There is a somewhat large Mercedes Benz building by the left. Ah this reminds me of the Mercedes Benz Arena in Berlin. Ah that was a few years ago. I think that one was bigger though. I remember I used to skateboard around the premises—

Mayowa face where you’re going. There is a pandemic. And there is a curfew. And it is late.

And so I focus my attention on what is ahead of me.

The motorbike guy tries to inflate his price.

I negotiate.

Two thousand Naira. From Ajah to Lekki Phase 1. Because you’re the one putting money inside my bank account abi.

You better keep going Mister Man.

Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1 Entrance.

I alight from the motorbike and pay the rider. We exchange pleasantries and part ways.

Ah I am going to have to walk all the way down Admiralty way now.

With this heavy-duty ninety year warranty shovel.

Oh God.

I keep going.

Ride-hailing services close by six because of the curfew. I think public transportation closes at about the same time. I have not had the time to learn how to drive a car. Skateboarding for transportation is pointless in Nigeria, and I did not feel like booking a driver today.

Oh this is so annoying.

I see a Dominos Pizza by the right.

I march towards the entrance, shovel slung across my shoulder, trying to decide if one XXL Triple Meat Pizza (or whatever it’s called) will be enough, or if I’ll have to buy another one in addition. At least all of this walking about will be compensated with something.

As I approach the door, the security guard calls out to me.

Wait what? It’s closed?

How about delivery?

What? Delivery is also closed?

Oh my God. Now I am really beginning to feel the impact of this curfew. What is all this?

I keep moving.

Africa Lane, Lekki Phase 1.

It is 10:30 PM.

I open the door.

Somehow I managed to get not just my physical body here, but also the heavy-duty ninety year warranty shovel, and two full bags of drinks from the 24/7 supermarket along Admiralty way. I just kept filling the trolley with drinks out of annoyance. Nonsense pandemic. Rubbish lockdown. Nonsense curfew.

I put down all of the shopping bags.

Hm I think I have a story today.

Image: View of Lagos Island from the Third Mainland Bridge at night. This was actually a different night.

A Story of Headlamps, Watchmen and Machetes.

At The Bus Stop.

It is 11:30 pm as I arrive at my destination bus stop in Ogun state.

It is late. I am just returning from a meeting with a new friend at a restaurant in Ikeja. When I was leaving, I told my father I would try to get back early. I didn’t really mean it, but I did not expect to get back this late.

I stand at the bus stop, contemplating the best way to get to my parents’ place. Usually there are commercial motorcyclists waiting to convey passengers, but it is too late now. There are no motorcyclists around at this time of the night.

It is the rainy season, so the roads are flooded. Roads in Nigeria are generally untarred, except for the major ones. Most of the roads in this country are brown and uneven and bumpy and dusty. In actual fact, I am very hesitant to call them roads. I really just see them as stretches of land on which grasses do not grow because motor vehicles roll over them every now and then. Those things can not be called roads.

And whenever rain falls- and believe me rain does fall in this part of the country, the ground becomes sticky and muddy and bad. Puddles form which are almost as wide as the roads themselves. Motorists try to avoid these huge puddles of brown water by driving along the edges of the road. If it wasn’t for the water in those puddles, I am very sure you could place a bed right in the middle of the road and lie there for an entire day- and absolutely no one would disturb you because everyone was too busy driving along the edges of the road.

As I stand there wondering what to do, a motorcyclist rides towards me.

“A motorcyclist at this time of the night? Ah. Today must be my lucky day”, I think.

I tell him where I’m going and we discuss terms. From his accent, I can tell he is Hausa- from the northern part of the country. Or maybe Fulani. It’s not like I can tell the difference.

“Oga I no fit go that place o. The security wey dey there get very bad mouth- I no like am.”

He explains to me that he cannot take me to my destination. There are some very unruly night watchmen who patrol that area, and he does not like having anything to do with them.

I plead with him and persuade him. Eventually he agrees to take me like three quarters of the way for the full price. I get on his bike. I think it’s a good deal.

 

 

—————————

Encounter with the Watchmen.

“Ogbeni! Pa headlight e jo!”

“Abi eti e di ni! Ani ki o pa headlight e!”

A number of watchmen walk towards us, shouting at the motorbike rider to turn off his headlamp because the light is in their face. They are speaking in Yoruba- one of the major languages in the southwestern part of the country. But the motorbike man is Hausa and from a different part of the country, so he does not understand what they are saying.

“They are saying you should turn off your headlamp, please turn off your headlamp.”

I translate to him in English. He understands, and proceeds to turn off the headlamp of his motorcycle.

Apparently I am too late. The watchmen are already irked. All of a sudden, one of them strikes the motorcycle rider very hard across the chest with the flat side of his machete.

The sound is loud and travels uninhibited through the silence of the night.

“Ahhhhh!!!! You beat me on my chest?! You beat me on my chest?!” The Hausa man cries out.

“Why did you beat me on my chest?!”

“Ogbeni o je ma se were nibi! Nigba ti an so fun e pe ki o pa headlight e o fe gboran abi, on se agidi!”

 The watchmen are obviously unstirred by his righteous cry of indignation.

“Please get down, please get down”, the Hausa man says to me as he gets off his bike and drops it to the ground. He abandons his activist pleas for justice and takes a few moments to clutch his chest and cry out in pain.

“Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!”

The watchmen keep chanting to themselves in Yoruba, unfazed. Justifying their actions and threatening to follow up with more.

After the Hausa man has managed to come to terms with the pain he is experiencing, he continues confronting the watchmen.

“Why did you beat me on my chest?! Why?! Why did you beat me?!”

The volatile watchmen do not take kindly to being confronted. They keep chanting about headlights in Yoruba, raising their voices and brandishing their machetes menacingly.

I am genuinely scared for my safety. I try to do all that I can to prevent the situation from escalating. I gently rub the Hausa man’s shoulders.

“Aboki abeg. Abeg. No vex abeg. No vex.” I attempt to placate him.

“Ejo e ma binu ejo. Ejo e ni suuru. Ko gbo Yoruba ni. Ejo e ma binu.” I try to plead with the watchmen, explaining that the Hausa man did not understand Yoruba.

I don’t think anything I’m doing is working. Everyone is still shouting. Imminent danger still weighs very heavily in the air. I feel very bad for the Hausa man. His English lexicon is very limited, so he does not even seem to have enough words to express his pain.

All of this continues for a few minutes. The Hausa man keeps asking questions, voicing his immense displeasure at the turn of events. The watchmen continue threatening him, and I press on with my completely ineffectual attempts to defuse the situation.

At one point one of the watchmen turns to me and says “Mister, you better go on your way. Or else we will turn on you next.”

On hearing that, I immediately abandon my diplomatic venture and begin to briskly walk away. I’m not in the mood to be assaulted by machetes.

As I leave, the Hausa man’s voice gets louder, with renewed vigour and disgruntlement. 

“Why did you beat me on my chest?!”

I begin to think maybe my soft words were actually calming him down. I turn around briefly to see the watchmen surround him and begin to batter him with their machetes. I turn around and walk faster.

As I walk away, a pang of guilt grips me. In a way, the motorbike man is suffering because of me. Yes he brought me here because he was trying to make a living, but I was the one who persuaded him to come. He did not want to do so initially. I feel distressed because of this, but at the same time I realise I am helpless in this situation because any attempt to take up his fight would seriously jeopardise my wellbeing. So I keep walking.

When I am at a safe distance, I turn around and peep to see if the bike man is still conscious. I am not able to see anything because it is dark, and there are no streetlights. I feel a deep sadness and pity for the innocent man’s suffering. I promise myself that I will give him a significant sum of money the next time I see him.

Eventually I hear the engine of his motorbike revving to life, and I see his headlamp come on. The infamous headlamp which was responsible for everything that had happened. I am glad to know the Hausa man is still largely alright. I heave a sigh of relief, and then I begin to run, in case the tyrannical watchmen decide to turn their attention to the bike man’s passenger.

 

Image Credits: https://privateofficernews.org/uganda-man-attacks-security-officers-with-machete/