Sacred Secular

Submitted into Contest #33 in response to: Write a story about a character making a big change.... view prompt

32 comments

General

STORY SETTING:

The setting of this story and the events in it is Nigeria. The cities referenced are all Nigerian cities. Lagos is Nigeria’s biggest commercial city, Abuja is its capital, and Port-Harcourt is the social place of the south. Oil was first discovered in the Port-Harcourt region, so it was the first attraction to many white men.

STORY:

I was born in the ’90s. This was a time when we only saw nude images in what was colloquially termed ‘sacred’ magazines or special TV series, which happened only at nights. The airing time of these special TV series was intentional because only adults would stay up later than 9; this was the culture. Children were more peaceful beings, so they simply get sleep at any time—regardless of place.

I remember 15 years after my birth, when my father was fortunate—to my misfortune—to find a single picture of a lady whose smile I simply loved and nothing more, I promise. This lady’s picture was the branding image of a particular toothpaste, but there was a problem. She was putting on tight pants, quite revealing it was that it disclosed two things: her broad V-shaped underpants (mildly say, a non-G string) and the elegant partitioning of her relatively asymmetric buttocks.

So, here I was confronted by the world’s fiercest dad, my father, as to why I really had this picture on my phone. I froze. You must now infer what followed.

Indeed, time flies. How have we moved from sneaking to see unclad images, to ostentatiously displaying it everywhere we can? More about movements and transitioning, I recently relocated from Abuja to Lagos. I have never been in such steep trouble as I was in the first two months of my arrival. Just when I thought I had battled the severest of trials in Port-Harcourt, here comes Lagos where I have to wake up to myself. Truly, Port-Harcourt’s is only a shadow of what I now see.

Frankly, never in my life have I seen nudes in physical locomotion, not in movies nor moving images, but reality—in real people moving and transacting their daily businesses. “Ha! Does she not have clothes? Where’s her bra? This one isn’t wearing underpants! Such small breasts!” My comments were incessant and never-ending. Olawale, my host, would give off peals of laughter as to mock me. He follows this gesture with “Welcome to Lagos. You’ve not seen anything yet”; this would end our roaming as we return home before the evening dusk.

The sacred of our 20th has become the secular of our 21st.

Adjusting in Lagos was gradual. Alhamdulillah! I had thought my body was under control, but no, this situation is different; I would need tights, not just boxers. I mean, I cannot be seen ‘rising’ unexpectedly, if you know what I mean. Friends, my only offense was coming to Lagos to work.

In the part of Abuja I know, people were covered. Even so in Minna, people wore C-L-O-T-H-E-S; clothes that do their singular job—cover! Some northern clothes covered almost everything; that’s the power of the hijab and niqab. Generally, almost everything was in the clothing, so it was safe. But this is not the case in Lagos. Here, almost everything is outside the clothes. Recently, I have grown to the conscious routine of ensuring that I am ‘suited’ for the daily trials to come. I must mention that some days come with new and innovative images, gladly I don’t get too shocked; such benefit of preparation! I reckon that there is no such thing as being over-prepared.

Brothers, I write these things to you so that you will not forget to pack those essentials if you are coming to Lagos. Most people here do not wait for the night to do the ungodly! In Lagos, there is no time, and no one wants to know the time; any time you wake up is your morning!

Wait! One more thing you may struggle with when you first arrive here is the lack of civility and order. Because most people are in haste, they think things are done faster in the absence of courtesy. You know what they call it? “open eyes”. One with “open eyes” dares walk into anywhere and demand immediate attention!

The other day I stopped over at a kiosk, that food vendor’s place, close to Balogun market. It’s no longer a kiosk ever since the city’s enforcement officers started harassing street traders in illegal stalls forcing many of them into hawking. This food vendor makes her sales between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. Her customers are a diversified group: the white-collar worker like myself; the street beggar that needs strength for the daily business of begging; the young Igbo man that deceives his buyers to believe orange denims are blue since his shop is heavily lighted with blue-colored bulbs. There is also the bus conductor who doesn’t want to start his day with junks, and the apprentice who takes a cut from selling street-food—in fancy packs—to her bosses.

As I joined the queue of customers that morning, I watched, as a first-timer would, how almost everyone tried to make a request or a modified request with aggressive tones, even the vendor was no exception. I observed how this aggression was also apparent in their body language. This pattern gets even interesting: most customers whose tones were combative received smaller rations, and because the queue is usually in favor of the vendor, she didn’t care; she made them pay for being ruder. When it got to my turn, I made a simple request and allowed her follow through it without complicating the menu. She must have sensed something different… “you just come Lagos?”. That was her asking—in broken English—if I recently moved into Lagos. The queer smile that followed after that question affirmed that she didn’t need an answer; she knew the answer. Perhaps I got some reward for being civil; maybe I got more food than I paid for.

Many cities bear a similar story. But regardless of this decadence, we are not hopeless. We can tear down these flaws with our lights if we truly shine. I believe in the value each of us will bring here, and I hope the system here doesn’t drown those virtues before we realize our purpose. Beyond this clime and geography, we will keep upholding the truth to ensure that the ultimate transformation, that of our mind, is continually strengthened.


March 18, 2020 01:56

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32 comments

Lily Kingston
22:19 Mar 24, 2020

AMAZING STORY! I really like the message at the end. Very well written.

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Jeremiah Osibe
22:48 Mar 25, 2020

Thank you very much, Cara!

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10:36 May 26, 2021

Thanks for reaffirming my dislike for lagos and any other fast city in Nigeria 🥰. Nice one there.

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Jeremiah Osibe
03:38 May 29, 2021

Haha! You're welcome! :)

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Jephthah Odei
16:01 May 04, 2020

Well written, a great piece i must say, Jerry, you're doing well, permit me to say Oooiiiiin!!!!

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Jeremiah Osibe
12:27 May 05, 2020

😅 Thank you, Jeff! Keep doing well and stay safe! 😊

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Thank God Friday
07:27 Mar 24, 2020

Great story, An interesting read. I've learn one or two about Lagos from here. Be "...suited for the daily trials to come." Keep in mind that, I will "...not forget those essentials when coming to Lagos." 👏👏👏

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Jeremiah Osibe
11:28 Mar 24, 2020

Lessons are like treasures in a sea, and we never run out of them if we search the waters. 😆 Thank you, Thankgod. 💕

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Peyton Guffey
23:17 Mar 23, 2020

this is a great story!

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Jeremiah Osibe
05:16 Mar 24, 2020

Thanks, Peyton! Thank you!!

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Eke Eke
08:58 Mar 23, 2020

This is great

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Jeremiah Osibe
11:07 Mar 23, 2020

Thank you for reading, Eke! Thank you.

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John Opeyemi
07:49 Mar 23, 2020

I love this. Creativity. Lovely storyline. Welcome to Lagos my brother. 😂

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Jeremiah Osibe
07:53 Mar 23, 2020

😂 Thanks, John!

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Ola Hotchpotch
03:57 Mar 23, 2020

beautifully written.enjoyed reading.

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Jeremiah Osibe
05:57 Mar 23, 2020

Thank you, Ola. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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Victor Momoh
22:16 Mar 21, 2020

This is a story that I personally can relate to... I moved to Lagos some months ago and its been a similar experience...Sometimes I wonder why everyone seems to be angry and in a haste.... Awesome piece I felt the story shouldn't end!!!

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Jeremiah Osibe
08:32 Mar 22, 2020

Oh! Victor, I'm tempted to say "welcome to Lagos, my friend." 😂 Thanks for those kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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21:40 Mar 21, 2020

Awn😋 this is interesting Mr. Jerry, More creativities to ur mind sir👌

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Jeremiah Osibe
08:34 Mar 22, 2020

Thank you, Abulganiy! Thank you! 💕

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Ishaku Abner
20:26 Mar 21, 2020

This is a breathe of fresh air. A new style from the one I read from you! You're growing Jerry!!!

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Jeremiah Osibe
20:47 Mar 21, 2020

I'm wide-eyed, Shak! Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it too. 😊

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Rhema Osibe
22:25 Mar 19, 2020

Bravo Genius... Not just a mathematician but a poet who knows the power WORDS! 🖊

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Jeremiah Osibe
22:38 Mar 19, 2020

O, King! May you live long! I'm glad you like it. 😊🤗

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I.K Igwe
19:02 Mar 19, 2020

Simply brilliant!👍 So, you are this good with creative writing too?😁

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Jeremiah Osibe
22:25 Mar 19, 2020

Dear I.K, I'm glad you think it's brilliant. Thank you! 🤗

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Sam Knight
18:05 Mar 19, 2020

I always knew J to be an epic writer😍I expect nothing less💯 The solution baffles me😔 cux it deals with our individuality

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Jeremiah Osibe
22:29 Mar 19, 2020

Sam! Thank you for believing in me! Truly, it speaks to our individuality. I believe in your shining light, and I trust that our collective beam will do the healing. ❤❤

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Wale Ayodeji
17:36 Mar 19, 2020

As a local, you've depicted how Lagos is viewed by an outsider and it's beautiful to read. I must say again; "Welcome to Lagos".

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Jeremiah Osibe
22:22 Mar 19, 2020

Haha! Thank you, 'Wale. 😊

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16:30 Mar 19, 2020

I love this 😂😂

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Jeremiah Osibe
17:20 Mar 19, 2020

Oh! Kenny, thank you for reading. ❤❤

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