Thursday, 26 April 2018


Hello hi,
First of all, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who made my birthday special with the birthday wishes, calls, prayers, gifts, presents, and more importantly, their presence in my life whether from a close or far distance.

Turning thirty years old is commonly referred to as a very important moment, especially for women; some people actually call it the big 30. Honestly, I have no idea why and I hope to find out soon; I’m still new to the game, as a matter of fact, I am just 2 days old into it since my birthday was April 24th. Maybe it’s because many age groupings start with 30 e.g. 30-45, or maybe it’s because one’s body’s metabolism is expected to slow down or perhaps, it’s because this is the age at which more modern women start to reproduce or because women automatically fall into a higher risk group of maternal complications during pregnancy (too much health research in my head!). Regardless of what it is, something magical and new is expected to happen when one turns 30. Some people feel like it is a good age while some dread it; as for me, I had a lot of bitter-sweet moments in the months preceding my birthday.

At first, I could not stop talking about it once we got into the year 2018. I whined about how I felt like I was becoming “old”, how I had not made any real plans for the age, how I had not achieved certain goals which I had made for the previous years, how I was not sure of how to celebrate my birthday – whether to have a party, or a quiet dinner or travel somewhere far by myself. I thought about doing something new and crazy, something that would shock those around me but being one of the most monotonous people on earth, it was hard to come up with anything novel. A colleague and friend of mine suggested getting drunk for the first time in my life but nah, I immediately thought about acute liver failure. Ooh! maybe I could have a one night stand! But I considered the risks involved, whether I used protection or not; for example, what if something went wrong and I got pregnant or caught an infection? What if he was a stalker or he made a sex tape of us? What if I became emotionally attached to him and then, became the stalker? Or what if he ended up being the brother or cousin to my future husband?! I knew I could not get through with it so I gave up. Someone once described me as “too careful as a human”, I guess they were right. The next thing I thought about was shaving off my hair; that sounded like a good one especially in this #wakanda era. It had been ages since I cut my hair and it needed some regrowth so this could be the time, I said to myself. I could cut my hair and have a photo-shoot.

So I got ready mentally (or I thought I did) and I told my friends and family. I arranged the photo-shoot for the weekend before my birthday and the plan was to cut my hair a day before but first, I had to take off my braids. However, I had some meetings on the day I was to loosen the braids and ended up not doing so until the morning of the photo-shoot. I still booked a haircut appointment for that afternoon and moved my photo-shoot from morning to evening. Just before going to cut the hair, I developed cold feet. It was a really bad one, similar to the type you hear about brides or grooms developing just before their wedding. I was panicking and felt unwilling to part with my hair of several years. I needed some words of encouragement so I began to call my friends and family; I called at least 10 people at a stretch but nobody picked up. It was weird because it was on Saturday midday and usually, most of my friends/family members would pick up around that time. I continued to call until it was past my hair appointment and that was how I did not cut my hair. Yup, I chickened out and so I ended up taking photos with hair. It was not what I had planned but it did not turn out bad after all (pictures below).

As I got closer to my birthday, I was beginning to fall into denial and trying hard not to think about it until my good friend called to ask me to list 5 material/physical things that I would like as a birthday present. It took me about 10 minutes to think of a single item; it was very hard for me to think of anything I needed and even the things I ended up saying were things that I was not even sure that I wanted them badly. It was at that moment that it dawned on me on how blessed I am and have been. Of course, there are some non-human gift items or things that I want or feel like I need but to think that I had every material thing that I need was a pure testimony of God’s love for me and my family and I felt a sudden surge of gratitude. I was no longer worried about becoming 30 and instead of thinking of un-achieved goals, I began to count my blessings over the past 29 years. I had received so much including the gifts of life, great friends and family, having a PhD, my travels to over 20 countries in 5 continents (except Australia and Antarctica), having lived in 3 continents, having my first official audition for a commercial, improving on my makeup skills (still not perfect but at least now I don’t look like a clown when I do my makeup J) and many more including things that may seem otherwise from a blessing such as recently embarrassing myself by crying in front of my supervisor and a few others (it’s gat to be the hormones from becoming 30!),  getting out successfully from relationships that were not meant to be, and having and surviving my first car accident (I sincerely hope that is the last though).

After reminiscing about all of these, I felt truly happy to become 30 and on the morning of my birthday, I knelt down, smiled and exclaimed to God “Yay, I am 30 years old today and I am a grown woman! Thank you!”

My goal on my birthday was to look pretty, have ice cream cake and have a good time with loved ones and those were the things I did thankfully. Right now, I am just waiting excitedly for more beautiful and new blessings to come and I pray for grace and favour always. However, I have to say some things never change for me though (or at least have not yet), such as the rule of eating my name inscribed on the cake all by myself J

Thank you again for the birthday wishes.

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Wednesday, 14 March 2018


Hello hi,

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote. Since then, time has gone by quickly but I am excited to say that I have already accomplished one of my goals for this year, which was to get my full driving license. Yipee! I just passed my road test yesterday and I am beginning to feel more like an adult J I hope the month has been going well so far you too.
Today, I’m writing about something personal, as I often do. So here it goes…

Not having one of your most loved ones around is difficult; I miss my father every day, possibly every minute but there are some moments when the feeling hits me the most. One of such moments is whenever I get on a flight, which is a lot more than many people do. You see, my father always bought my flight tickets and would ensure that I sat by the window so that I could enjoy the view of the plane ride. To be honest, I usually slept off almost immediately after the flight took off but it made him happy to know that I sat there and that made me happy too; and before I realised it, it had become a habit for me. I remember the first time I did not sit by the window because I purchased my flight ticket myself and forgot to reserve my seat in time, that day I wept bitterly throughout my flight because I felt the loss of my doting and meticulous dad. At that moment, it began to dawn on me how much more responsibilities and attention to detail I would need to pay in life. And so now, I try my best to always sit by the window and even though I still cry on every flight, it’s easier to face the window and cry with no one noticing.

However, that is not the moment I want to talk about today; today is about another which hits me even harder. I knew this moment was coming and I waited patiently until I got the email last week. Alas, it was time again! Time for my yearly eye check-up, one the optometrists said I could not afford to miss. For many other people around my age that I know, eye check-ups perhaps once in two years might be considered necessary but in my own case, it had to be every year because I was told that I was considered to be “high-risk”. And even though my insurance only covered the bill once in two years, I still had to go; not just for one check but for two because I also needed to visit the retina specialist. I disliked the appointments which I had been subjected to for over 20 years of my life. They almost made me feel “enslaved” because it felt like I did not have a say in it and personally, I do not like being told what to do. Bad as the appointments felt, I always went with my dad as he would also get his eyes checked. Even if he had already checked his eyes at some point if I were in school, whenever I returned home, he would still go with me and check his again. He would also constantly remind me to take care of my eyes. It became one of our bonding moments as we both would go to see our eye doctor together and he would sit and wait for me, because my appointments were always longer. His eyes were not as “bad” as mine so it was hard to say that mine were genetic. And if and when I needed new glasses, he would help me to pick the frames. Although I still did not like the appointments, because to me, they were just another day of repeated eye drops, blinking, flashing of touch lights and asking me to read letters like I was in nursery school, they were much more bearable to me with my father by my side. But now, I had grown and become a spinster which meant that I had to attend the gruesome eye appointments alone.

So today at the eye clinic, I sat down and as usual, the technician did some pre-tests while I asked her what each instrument was measuring. After the initial screening, the optometrist came in and greeted me smiling. I could instantly tell that she was a nice lady, contrary to some doctors that I had met in the past who did not seem to genuinely care about the patient but instead, were more eager to get through the tests like a robot. We started the second stage of my tests and I could not help but think about my dad as usual and a tear rolled down my face. She gave me a tissue; I did not feel embarrassed as I knew she would assume that my teary eye had been due to the many tests. We talked about how I occasionally had itchy eyes which she said was as a result of dryness. I thought that was ridiculous as clearly I had lots of tears, but she told me that those were not the type of tears I needed; I needed more mucous which could be gotten from OMEGA 3 oils and fish, especially salmon. I learnt something new about types of tears and I was also happy that I had one more reason to eat plenty of salmon. She prescribed a suitable lubricant for my eyes; I told her that I did not want to use the one which my close friend, also an optometrist, had advised me not to buy because it caused vessel constriction.
We got through reading the letters in the mirror, with me wearing my glasses.
“That’s really good” she said nodding her head impressively, “You almost have 20/20 vision”.
My eyebrows rose and I smiled widely.
“With your glasses, I mean of course” she added the caveat quickly.
I burst out laughing; it was the first time anyone had ever said that to me and I told her that I was very happy to hear such an ironic statement.

She continued with my other eye checks including eye pressure and in between, I said to her with a voice almost void of hope and close to a whisper “please don’t dilate my pupils today.” She looked at me and I felt like I could see compassion in her eyes. She responded in a soft voice “it is very important that you get them checked every year.” I nodded; I had been told that by most of my previous doctors and so my asking them not to do it never really changed anything. They would put the stinging eye drops in my eyes anyway and then my vision would slowly become so blurred that I would rather stay with my eyes shut. It was a feeling I did not like at all and it made shiver to think of what being blind might be like. So I already knew the answer to my question when I asked her not to put those drops in my eyes, just the same way I knew the answer would be a no, when I asked her if there were any new medications invented that could cure my eye sight. However, a few minutes later, she then asked me if I had seen my retina specialist yet and I said no. She said she would look at my eyes a bit more and if she did not think there was anything urgent, then she would consider not putting the eye drops since I was going to see the retina specialists soon and they were going to check it there anyway. I was elated to hear the news and hoped that she would not see the need to.
She finished all required checks and gave me the good news that she would be skipping the eye drops for today but I would need to go to the retina within the next couple of weeks to get them checked. I thanked her profusely and she shook her head, smiling. I was good to go; my prescription had not changed, she said.
“So my eyes did not get worse?” I asked brightly.
“No, they did not.”
“So maybe they will get better soon” I half-asked, half-stated.  
She laughed and told me that she was impressed with my optimism and so she will not try to dampen my hopes. “Maybe they will get better, who knows?” she said.

By the time I left her office, my spirits were lifted and I had learnt a lot more than I usually did at my appointment – about types of tears, allergy versus dryness of eyes, salmon and fish oils, Pterygium and Pinguecula; some of these I already knew about but today, I learnt in more details. Most importantly, I felt happier today than I ever did at my eye appointments because it occurred to me that with my glasses, I could see better than many people could (with or without their glasses). For me, that was the best icing on the cake – to know that my vision was 20/20, even if it was with help.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

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Thursday, 1 March 2018


Hello hi,

I hope you are doing great! I'm sorry that I did not get to post anything in February. I kept thinking of writing but there were many things going on - Ash Wednesday and the beginning of lent (for Catholics), Valentine's day for all plus I had a bit of travel and I started a 30 day challenge (which I only did for 1 week, lol). See picture of challenge if you’re interested; I am thinking of starting it again today.

On Valentine's day, I was travelling for a conference. Usually, I wear red on Valentine's day because I like such cliché dressing, lol; yup I also wear red or green for Christmasday. However, the day coincided with Ash Wednesday and since my faith comes first, I wore Ash/Grey colour. At the airport, I was with some colleagues, one of which was wearing red unconsciously i.e. not because of Val's day. An airport staff was going around and she handed some chocolates to her - "Just because you're wearing red; Happy Valentine's day" she said. I immediately felt left out and at that moment I wished I wore red, lol.

Anyway, for Lenten season, as encouraged I decided to give up something I like - meat i.e. beef and chicken. And so this meant that I could not have any of the delicious meats I saw at the conference lunches and dinners, such a bad timing! I am eager for Easter to come. 

But not to lose track of what Lent is about. For those of us believers, this is a period of fasting and abstinence, praying and almsgiving. This period should remind us that God loves us and gave his only son for us and so, we should love one another as we loves ourselves. We are also to remember that we should focus on heavenly things because everything else is vanity. As it is said on Ash Wednesday when the priest paints our foreheads with ash got from the palm fronds of Palm Sunday "from dust we came and to dust, we shall return." So I urge you to continue to pray for yourself, loved ones and even enemies and to be kind and generous to your neighbours, literally anyone next to you. In addition, if you do not want to fast, you can abstain from anything – coffee, alcohol, secular music etc.

And for this month, I pray that it brings us all more revelation of God’s love and grace to us. Stay blessed.

Happy new month.


Please follow me on Instagram @Ugochiukah and twitter @vivio_gogo

Friday, 26 January 2018


Hello hi,

I woke up to multiple tags, mentions etc. on Instagram and at first, I was wondering what had happened, then I realised that the buzz was about a video I had posted some days ago on Instagram. The video (here - showed me sitting next to an empty seat in the train while many were standing and I wrote briefly about one of my many encounters, which I will elaborate on here. Well, Instablog9ja posted it, thanks guys! You’ve given me some seconds of fame J LOL. On a serious note, I am glad that it was re-posted as it’s given me a platform to create awareness on this issue.

Picture of my umbrella comfortable sitting during a train ride :)

So, I read some of the comments – I could not read all of them as they were too many but the ones I read were enough to give me an idea of how to respond. Before I continue, I have to say that I was impressed with how passionately people commented on these posts, whether positive or negative. It shows how invested and observant people are in certain matters and secondly, it shows how sensitive the topic is.

In the beginning, it took me a while to notice that I almost always sat alone in the bus or train. Somehow, my bag always had a seat of its own and I honestly did not mind because my bag is usually heavy. I just assumed that if people wanted to sit next to me, they would ask me to remove my bag, which had happened on very few occasions. However, one day after a period of time, I started to feel like it was possible that majority of the people here were too nice to ask and so I tried to stop keeping my bag on the other seat. Guess what? My other seat still remained empty! And so I went back to keeping my bag on the seats. At that time, I still had not associated this pattern to my background or ethnicity; as a matter of fact, I barely gave it any thought. I have to admit I was comfortable sitting by myself, either reading a novel or listening to music during transportation and did not care less until one day, an African friend of mine was in the bus with me. As usual, my bag sat and he questioned why. I responded casually “because nobody would sit there anyway”. He laughed and said that I was correct. I was surprised at how quickly he agreed with me and later on, he explained that he had noticed that many people did not like to sit next to black people in the city and so his seat was usually empty or the last to be sat on. I was shocked to hear that and honestly, that was the first time that the thought of any association of this seating pattern with my background crossed my mind. I shrugged like I did not care and responded “that’s fine then, my bag can continue to sit” and tried not to give the matter anymore thought.

Fast forward to some months later, I was visiting a couple of friends in Sweden and we all got on the train together. We sat at some empty 4-seater area, i.e., those areas that have 2 seats on each side opposite each other. By the next stop, some other passengers had come on the train and one of them did not have any seat. So I began making gestures to show her that we had an empty seat but my friend told me not to bother myself, that people did not like to sit next to black people and I responded “In Sweden too?!” And that was how we began to talk about our observations. As usual, I tried to explore other options - maybe the passenger did not feel comfortable sitting in the midst of 3 people that she did not know, especially if they all appeared to be friends but my friend shook her head; she said she had also noticed it when she sat by herself and repeated exactly the same thing that my other African friend had said - about the next seat to her being the last to be sat on.
Although I had heard similar views from 2 Africans and a few more people after then, I remained unconvinced. The researcher in me needed to do her own research to make valid conclusions and so from that day, I began conducting personal experiments. I tried to make difference excuses – perhaps it was the seat that I sat on, maybe the seats were reserved for the elderly or maybe they were faced in the opposite direction of travel and so people would not want to sit on them; perhaps, people preferred window seats; perhaps, I did not look very friendly; perhaps, it was the way I carried my bag, maybe it looked too bulky and a passenger would think that it would hit them; perhaps it was the manner with which I sat, maybe I spread my legs too widely and so I was taking some space of the other seats; perhaps the music sound from my earphone was too loud; perhaps I made loud phone calls inside the bus etc., you name it, I thought it. I tried to test out my different “research hypotheses” by changing seating positions, squeezing myself to create more space, trying to relax my face to look more friendly (at the risk of even looking weird, lol), holding my bag in different positions such that my arm hurt sometimes, not making calls in the bus (which I hardly ever did anyway), and in general making changes that I thought would be suitable to invite another passenger. After many different adaptations, I came to the realisation that indeed the seat next to me usually remained empty or would be the last to be filled, at least 90% of the time! Although, I agree that that there are some exceptions e.g. some people naturally prefer to stand on the bus or do not bother to sit if they are going to get off soon, or that some seats are reserved for the elderly or disabled (however, you can sit in those areas until an elderly gets on the bus or train and that’s when you are required to stand), I had seen enough to make my own research conclusions. I finally accepted what some of my friends had earlier pointed out – that the reason why people did not frequently sit next to me in transit was most likely because I was African or black.

Now, is this racism? I am not an expert on this topic; therefore, I did not label it as such (if you read my Instagram post). However, I definitely think that there’s some form of systematic bias, whether conscious or not, and I am even more convinced of it now, based on the responses that I got from people after I posted that video on my Instagram page a couple of days ago. A lot of people attested to it and one of my friends pointed out that even when people eventually sat next to you, they would only sit with half bum-bum (buttocks), i.e., they tried not to let their bodies touch you. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that strangers should fall on your shoulders when they sit next to you; of course there should be a respectable space as much as possible, however, it’s quite obvious when someone sits next to you with an attitude depicting that they would rather not have. I had told myself not be concerned about such issues and I have been doing a great job at it such that I barely notice this behaviour as much as before. So why did I make that video? Because it was perfect timing, I was bored on the train, it happened and I like to make random videos. And why did I post that video? Initially, I was not going to but coincidentally, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine that evening and she was telling me about an awful experience that she had just had, which she thought was based on bias and discrimination. Hers was of a much more important issue, it’s personal so I cannot write about it. However, our discussion made me feel like it is important to shed light on issues relating to potential bias, as often times, people are not even aware that they are victims or the causes. Therefore, I posted the video.

So I hope this post addresses some of the comments on my Instagram or on Instablog9ja. I can understand that some people living in the same country but in other cities might not have the same experiences. I guess if you live in a city densely populated with Africans, then people would be forced to sit down next to you because they cannot afford to stand throughout their journeys, all the time; that is not the case for me as I am usually the only black person on the bus or train in my city unless I am with a fellow African friend. It is also possible that people in such diverse cities are more exposed and so tend to show less attitude of bias. Whatever, the case might be, I’d say make sure you don’t let people’s attitude towards you make you feel less of yourself.
Having written all these, I’d love to wish everyone a happy weekend and please feel free to check out my blog stories here on my blog and on Bella Naija (my last post on Bella Naija can be found here). Until next time, continue to spread love. xx

Please follow me on Instagram @Ugochiukah and twitter @vivio_gogo

Tuesday, 9 January 2018


Hello hi,

Happy new year! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and holiday and you are recharged for this year, 2018. My last Bella naija post can be found here.

It’s hard for me to believe that we are already in the second week of 2018. It’s even harder for me to believe that although I have written out my New Year resolutions and goals as I usually do, I have not yet started on some of them. I hope you are doing much better in that aspect than I am, LOL. Every year, I write down what I want to achieve for the New Year and the things I want to work better on or some habits that I would like to drop, so in essence my New Year goals and resolutions. I like to make these handwritten and pin them on my office board, right next to my desk so that way, I can see them often. Usually before writing the new one, I look back at my previous year’s goals to know which ones that I would be carrying over; I was doing that this year, when I realised that I had been carrying over a few goals every single year since 2015. It made me realise that perhaps I was not working hard enough on some of my goals, which is quite disappointing. So, I decided to grade my previous (2017) goals which I had written and see how far I had come. Of course, not all of the goals have equal weighting but I just assumed so, just for the sake of marking. Guess what I scored? [see below for answer, hee hee]

Given, some things are beyond one’s control but at least, I have to make more effort such as setting objectives and plans to actualize my dreams and I cannot honestly say that I did that for some of these goals. This is not to say that I am unhappy or ungrateful about where I am right now. Heck no! Especially as I know that I thankfully achieved some dreams that I never even thought to write down last year to work on. However, I am determined to make better plans to achieve my 2018 goals and then leave the rest up to God. As they say “planning is everything but plans are nothing.”

So I’d like to challenge you all to grade your previous goals and work harder and better this year. For me, 2017 was an eventful and exciting one with some challenges and overall, testimonies. I pray that 2018 is even a better one and that by the end of this year, we will give more testimonies about God’s grace and favour in our lives.
I look forward to giving you more stories this year and feel free to send your stories you might want me to share on my blog.

Have a blissful 2018. X

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Tuesday, 26 December 2017


Hello hi,

Merry Christmas! It’s hard for me to believe that the last time I posted on my blog was almost a year ago; to be precise, it was on February 23rd 2017. This year has been eventful, with moments of tears and joy, lots of hard work and achievement and full of God’s grace and mercies. Throughout the year, I had many people asking me why I had stopped writing or had not posted on my blog or Bella naija and I felt a bit sad that I was not sharing my stories that may have been a form of entertainment to others. In addition, it made me slightly feel like I was not using my talent to the fullest extent. To be fair, it was a very busy year for me and there were many times that I wanted to post something including on Easter Sunday, on my birthday, graduation etc.; I always had stories on my mind and never for once did I forget about my blog. However, there were a few reasons why I did not get to share any stories and I will share a few of them with you now:

  • ·       Firstly, I never stopped writing. This is true as I still have lots of backlog of stories which I hope to share eventually and also, because I started doing more of a different kind of writing – academic writing. So while I may not have shared things on my blog, I got to published a few research papers and my dissertation which was over 200 pages, phew! While this obviously had an effect on my blog sharing, I have to say that this was still positive for me because I still shared meaningful work that could potentially contribute to saving lives. So this was a huge achievement for me.

  • ·       Secondly, I felt guilty even without being blamed. So as a student who had lots of school work and research deadlines and with some of school heads following me on social media where I used to post my blog stories, I felt like it might look as if I had way too much time on my hand if I wrote and shared my stories. Like I said, nobody ever accused me of being incompetent but that did not stop the subconscious feeling from growing and so with time, my posting and also writing plummeted because every time I wanted to write I thought about some work I could be using the time to do. However, looking back, I do not think this was the best way to handle things because truth be told, research work can never finish. Since writing is a form of escape for me, I actually think that I may have gotten more work done if I had written more as this would have helped me release stress and tension, lots of which I was under at the time. The most important thing I should have done was appropriate time management, which would involve allocating time for different things so as to have a balance between work and personal life and once it was time for personal business, then I should not have felt guilty. Oh well, I have learnt this now and I hope I can apply it to my life in the future.

  • ·       Thirdly, I started to care too much about what other people thought, if I would be judged for perhaps writing about controversial issues. So there were times, I wanted to write about relationships for example, and then I would stop after wondering whether my story would be professional enough to share since I now had more professional connections. This defeated my purpose of writing because as I explained earlier, writing for me was a way of expression. I neither write to be liked nor to please anyone; I just do it as a hobby and I barely even get paid for writing. I also do not wish to pretend to be someone else while writing because then, it would serve no purpose to me. So now, I have told myself to just write –whatever comes to my mind, my fingertips, I would write as long as I am able to by God’s grace.
  • ·       Finally, I started to care too much about criticisms from people who assumed that they were parts of my stories - my writing casts. There were many times I would share a story and someone would call me to question why I wrote about them. Often times, they were correct and sometimes they were not which they never believed when I would tell them, It is funny and great to see how relatable stories are and how people are happy to read about others but get really defensive when they think they were written about. One of the last times it happened, it was a guy who I used to think I liked and after then, I started to lose my zeal to write or share my stories because I did not personally want to hurt anyone. It took me some months to wake up and realise that as a writer, there was only so much I could control because many stories stem from our environment, including our imagination, the names used in the stories and our experiences. Therefore, if you are in a writer’s life, you might get written about whether you like it or not. So I would say, if you happen to become a “cast”, be honoured as not everyone was important enough to make it into a story and if you don’t, consider yourself lucky at least for that time being as you might make it at some other point.

To conclude, I have come to a decision that I will not apologise for my writing for any of the reasons above and based on this, I will be writing and sharing more stories in 2018 by God’s grace. Like I said, it’s a God-give talent, why waste it? After all, my blog says: “My thoughts, my dreams, my stories, my life...!

Very big thanks to everyone who has supported my writing and blogging throughout the years and encouraged me to write. I wish you all a very merry Christmas, filled with love and joy. Enjoy the season and spread the love. X

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Twitter: @vivio_gogo

Thursday, 23 February 2017


Hello Hi,

I hope you've been great. I'm back with another story. In the spirit of Valentine's day past, I wrote this piece. Enjoy and feel free to comment. Please also like and share with friends etc. xx


The Huffington Post

Amaka had grown to be a wiser woman over the years. Her past relationships and those of her friends had taught her to prioritize what was more important in life. With every wrong relationship she had experienced, she became more certain that she was closer to her prince charming and farther away from her frogs; that was hope to her. She had had multiple heart aches and every time she went through them, she updated her list of qualities that she did desired and those she did not. The interesting thing about her list was that she also had a segment titled “my weaknesses.” This was where she listed the things she had come to realise were her bad habits or things that she felt she needed to work on, in general, as she believed that no one was perfect, including her. She wanted growth, to grow into the woman that the kind of man she desired would also desire. And from all the years, she had discovered that her Achilles’ heels were gifts.

Oh yes, Amaka loved gifts very much, regardless of what they were. As long as they came wrapped or in pretty boxes, she would get excited and very happy. It was not because she was materialistic, she was not; rather for her, gifts used to be a sign of love. Growing up, she grew accustomed to the little gifts she received from her parents, especially her father, and other loved ones on occasions such as Christmas, New Year, Birthdays, from trips and even sometimes on random occasions. She also had no hesitation or problem with giving gifts too as that was her way of showing love and appreciation. However, things had happened over the years to Amaka that made her review her perception about gifts.

These changes started little by little but became more prominent with her ex-boyfriend, Chima. The first time he flew into Nigeria to visit her from the States, he bought her an IPhone which made her ecstatic; the next time, it was an IPad and the time after that, it was an Iwatch. “He must truly love you”, her friends said as they all stared at the gifts in awe. She was also excited but something felt off to her. It was not only because she did not think that he could genuinely afford the gifts but somehow she felt that the gifts were being used to cover up for something that was missing. She just was not sure of what it was but she began to realise that every time he got her upset, he would appear with a gift and then, they would sweep everything else under the carpet like nothing happened. She tried to convince herself that there was no way that he would buy her so many expensive presents if he did not love her. Things got really sour with time in her relationship as cheating rumours were flying around as well as stealing rumours and slowly her trust for him started to plummet. But every time she found a reason to break up with him, he got her a gift to keep her with him. This carried on for a few years until she got a dreaded call one morning. The lady on the other end said she was his main chick and he had run away with some things she had helped him buy without paying her. “Things like what?” Amaka asked, holding her breath; “Many things” the lady replied, “including an IPad, IPhone and I-Watch.” That was the day Amaka’s relationship with Chima ended, after two long years; years that she would never get back.

But time had gone past since then and she had grown although she found it difficult to go into another relationship or accept gifts. It was no surprise that she had developed trust issues and in every new relationship, she wondered if she was the side chick. Now, she was dating another man, Ikenna. They had been together for about 6 months and she was beginning to feel more confident in their love or at least that was what she thought until he disappeared on Valentine’s day. No gift, no cards, no message from him except his reply to hers wishing him a happy Valentine’s day. She had sent him some chocolates and even though she was not expecting any expensive present, she had thought that he would at least take her out for dinner or try to spend the day with her. She was disappointed and when she voiced her concerns to him, his response did not make any sense to her.
“You know that Valentine’s day is just another day and we don’t have to wait for that day to show love” those were Ikenna’s words. 
“Yes, I know that we don’t have to wait but I still think it’s important to spend it with loved ones, just like Christmas, birthdays etc.” she replied annoyed.
“Fine, we can go out for dinner this weekend and we can stop on our way to buy a gift, if that’s what you want.” Ikenna replied.
“That’s not what I want…” and so their argument continued.
Amaka had questions and she wanted to know where Ikenna had been on that day, who he was with and what he had been doing. He had refused to give her any meaningful answer the entire week and every day, they had a new argument.

A week had passed since the event but Amaka was still not satisfied and became more doubtful. She brought up the issue again and this time around, Ikenna walked away and came back into the room a few minutes later. “I know what will cheer you up” he said, “I have a gift for you.” Amaka instantly turned away. “Don’t think you can buy me with gifts!” she snapped without looking at what he was holding. She refused to look at him or receive anything and insisted on finishing her conversation. So Ikenna was forced to keep the presents away and answer her questions. He was shocked by her attitude and so was she, although she also felt proud of herself for rejecting his gift, whatever it had been. For her, she had succeeded in achieving a milestone in overcoming her major weakness and she had shown Ikenna that she could not be distracted by material things; something she felt like she should have done with her ex-boyfriend. They had a long conversation that night and Amaka came to the conclusion that Ikenna was not being honest with her. Although she did not mention it to him, she knew that she had to break up with him soon and just before she fell asleep, she told herself that she would do it the next day before she left his place.

It was just past midnight when Amaka woke up to use the bathroom. As she walked back to the bed, she saw the wrapped present. Ignore it, a voice said to her but she wondered what harm it would do if she just took a look; after all she had already made her point clear to him about not being able to be purchased with gifts. She was just curious to know what was inside. She took a look at Ikenna and he seemed to be fast asleep. So she carefully unwrapped the gift as quietly as she could. She covered her mouth to prevent her from screaming when she saw what was inside; it was a Rolex diamond wristwatch and she stood there in admiration until she was startled by Ikenna’s voice.

“Do you like it?” He asked; she almost dropped the watch in shock. She was speechless and confused at that moment because she had been so sure that he was asleep. She was not sure of how to respond so she just smiled. He got up and kissed her “I knew you would like it” and then took her back to bed. That night, Amaka cursed in her mind “Damn curiosity, Damn gifts!” she said to herself. She was very upset with herself because she knew that once again, the breakup which she had scheduled for the next day was no longer going to happen on that day.

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