. . . so I decided to make hoodies for my sisters. Wait, that’s no way to begin. Let me start again. With apologies.

It’s been maybe two weeks since I last blogged. It’s been a crazy two weeks or so. First, this is books and arts festival season – I will try to tell you about that a bit later. Also, this is year’s end, the time business people must hustle like they haven’t all year long and try to save up. We all know how horribly dry January can be. And so, I have been running around like a headless chicken and I almost forgot that I was a blogger. Many apologies.

I am travelling home tomorrow, to Cross River State. We’re having an early Christmas party and I am very excited. We see about once a year – everyone is flung all around the country/world and we never quite manage more than that, and even then, we’re never all there. I have a huge nuclear family – one father, one brother and six sisters. Hard to get all these people in one place, but my father did this time. By royal diktat, something along the lines of “The party is on the 28th of November… I have ordered a huge goat (lure lure)… BE THERE!!!” So we have all been running around helter-skelter, juggling our schedules, checking with each other, griping, snapping, prevaricating even, but we understand that this is not an invitation as much as it is a summons, and we will be there.

Yes, so I was saying I decided to make hoodies for my sisters. The latest offering off the shelves of Chicfactory are these beautiful Ankara hoodies that are doing so well already (the orders are flowing in and you should order yours too: call 080-orderhoodie). I made myself the first sample, and thought I might make some for my sisters too. No, this is not as altruistic as it sounds. I love my hoodie. I know that I want to travel home with my hoodie. I know that I look damn good in it. And, I know my sisters will divest me of it once they set eyes on it. This is unacceptable. And there are so many of them (sisters), so who gets to get it? No wait, that is not an option. So I throw my hands up, what the hell, and set to making theirs. I decide it is an early Christmas gift, or a reunion gift, or a pleased to see you again gift. What it really is, however, is a ‘KEEP YOUR FUCKING HANDS OFF MY HOODIE’ is what.

As soon as I make the decision, the challenges present themselves. First, in order that nobody want my hoodie, theirs have to be much nicer. That is me versus them. Now, them versus each other, the hoodies have to be different to suit each person’s colour preference, taste etc, but they have to be equally beautiful so I don’t get accused of favouritism.

The second problem I encounter is number. I have already said I have six sisters. Three are full sisters, and three are half sisters. I really, honestly don’t have enough time to make six hoodies; the choice is obvious, and I am ashamed to say, easy. How do you explain that you love your siblings equally, but when ‘the chips are down’ you and I know who comes first. How do you measure love? So I tell myself I will make the first three, and if there is still time, make the remaining. I know this is a lie but it makes me happy to tell myself this, so I do. First problem solved. If the other three catch me, I will tell them the hoodies are a ‘we lost our mother 18 years ago’ gift. That should invoke sympathy in the hardest of hearts no? Right.

The second problem presents itself; there is not enough time to go to the market and I have to use the fabrics I have at home. I bring them all out and choose the three loveliest fabrics, with matching plain cotton materials to combine. For Racheal, the choice is obvious – she has always loved red. For Deby and Shasha, who cares? Do they even know what they like?

As I place the materials side by side and compare, I think of their reactions and smile. Here is what I imagine will happen:

Racheal – she will smile with gentle surprise, take the hoodie, admire it, say something like “You made this? I always knew you were creative, unlike me that anything that has to do with…” I would have tuned out. I will come to again when she says, “it’s really nice” and then try to justify why she feels it is nice, “you know I like red… the cut is exquisite…” as though it were a crime to just like it without rationale. Funny thing is, she is the one for whom I would hold my breath, for whom I would feel the most pleasure if she liked it, and whose disapproval would floor me completely. But whatever she thinks, she is always kind, even if she annoys the hell out of me. She is the one who informed me that I always wanted to sew, to bake, to write. Always pushing me, prodding, my one-woman cheer-squad and she is the best big sister anyone could have asked for.

Deborah – let me tell you what this one will do. She will grab her hoodie, admire it for 0.000001 seconds and toss it behind her, and immediately start admiring Racheal’s and Shasha”s. She will start to strike a bargain with Shasha to have hers too, she will remind Racheal about a dress she asked her for and say she is ready to make the switch now. All the while, she will be holding firmly to her own behind her back. That’s Deby. She is also the one most likely to say “this thing is not fine jor.” BUT, and this is huge, if I had a headache in Lagos, she is the one most likely to say “do you need me? I am getting the next flight out from Abuja, just say it.” She is the one who will send me her last food money to buy BIS. That’s Deby. Brutally blunt but with the kindest heart.

Shalom – She will want to wait for everyone to pick theirs’ first and she will be happy with whatever she gets; she will admire hers even if it is the ugliest with genuine admiration, and she is the one who will turn to me and say “but Pp, you know you don’t have time to be doing this when you need to make clothes for people to get by in that Lagos. Where did you find the time?” She is the one who will be ready to switch with Deby. But she is also the one Deby, or anyone else cannot take from, because her mild ways and kindness, gentleness of spirit and unassuming manner, at the backdrop her pointed nose and dimples that turn her smile to sugar would not let you. They say lastborns are spoiled. Not this one. She never really had a mother – our mum died when she was just 3.5 years old. How she turned out this way, who knows.

Well, to avert all this, since my sisters are pretty much the same size, diminutive women, I will pretend that the hoodies are mass produced and they can have a grand old fight while I watch, amused. But then they’d have read this and will say “ok Madam, who owns what?” LOL. Like I said, I am excited.

In closing, let me rant a bit.

Dear Governor Suswam of Benue state,

Please, we need an airport. By we, I mean, not only the people of your state, but the children of Northern Cross River State. It is crazy. Benue state says it is the “food basket of the nation,” and there is no airport. How!

I have been racking my brain for the past two weeks about how to get home. If I fly to Calabar, I will travel by road for five hours to Ogoja; if I fly to Abuja, it’s the same thing. Neither option is appealing. So I have to travel by road to Ogoja. That’s crazy. Benue State needs an airport. That airport will serve not just Benue, but all the people from the nose of Cross River state.

Mr. Governor sir, I hear your predecessor had a penchant for pretty young things, and he bought each and every one of them a tear-rubber car. Sweet man. I don’t know what yours is, but whatever it is, could you put a lid on it and build an airport? Please?

Apply to my state for help if necessary. It would be good for our tourism seeing as Obudu cattle ranch is closer to Benue state (1-3 hours depending on place), than Calabar (6 hours), so yes, it would be in the interest of my state to lend you aid in this project. Think about it. I face a ten hour trip tomorrow because of this failing. Thank you.

Yours in anticipation,

Weary prospective traveller.

On the bright side, I will treat it as an adventure and you will hear from me. Until then my dear people, stay out of trouble. Unless of course you can’t. Usually, I can’t.

Love and all my other bad habits. . .

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