Monday, 10 November 2014

What It Means To 'Not Have Light' In Your House For One Week


If you live in Nigeria in this day and age (e go beta), to 'not have light', as we say when there is power failure, is simply a norm, as normal as breathing bad air, who makes a fuss about that? But when you don't see it blinked for many days, you begin to wonder, "could they have cut our light?", an expression we use when the power holding company disconnects us because we haven't paid our bills or "has the transformer spoilt?" It had to be one of the two.

This comes with a lot of lifestyle changes that you naturally adjust to; you don't need to be taught any more than you need a tutorial to modify your lifestyle if your salary drops from five zeros to four zeros. And in Lagos, where most houses have electricity-driven boreholes, no light automatically correlates to no water.

Assuming, you are a girl, a Christian and somewhere in the middle class, this is how your typical day would look like. You're most likely going to wake up late because you either slept late tossing on your bed till 12 am, not being able to ignore the heat and sleep before your brain finally got the point: no A.C. this night or the alarm that would have woken you up is stifled under a phone that died eons ago; who uses proper alarm clocks these days—the so called digital age?

So after saying good morning to the Lord and skipping Bible study 'cause of your lateness, you feel your way to the bathroom, bringing down the toilet lid after peeing to reduce the poignant stench of ammonia emanating from the stored urine in the bowl and when you can't take it anymore, you barely flush it with the water you gleaned from various containers and spray some air freshener. Or else, to save you all that stress, you urinate straight into the bathroom hole—at least it requires less amount of water to rinse the tiles than to flush the toilet—doing the doo doo at work place because you can't afford to do it at home.

You bath with a half bucket of the remaining borehole water in your gallon and when even that is a hard-find, and you live in a street with no commercial boreholes, you buy a bag of 'pure' water and empty a few sachets, savouring every drop like you were bathing with liquid gold.

For breakfast, you have stale bread (which only escaped putrefaction because you began to leave the fridge door open from the 2nd day of no light) augmented with liquescent honey and cold tea which you're forced to have to soothe the sweltering condition of your house. You will have bananas for lunch and Indomie as dinner 'cause it makes no sense to cook a meal for one and have to warm it twice daily till it's bland, all the nutrients are gone and the vegetables are limp.

You avoid applying face powder 'cause you'd only achieve a cake plastering if you did so with the sweat that colonized your skin every morning quickly taking away the memory of the cold water bath you just had. You however, put it in your bag 'cause you must apply it at work.

You prepare for work making sure to stuff into your handbag, your smart phone and the back-up phone, usually a Nokia, their chargers, your iPad, it's charger, your rechargeable lantern, it's charger and rechargeable torch knowing that there will be light at your workplace. If push came to shove, there'll be a generator.

You end up going to work late because motion is slowed when there is no light; it takes more time to feel for things and you have to iron your dress with a stove iron and warm any left-over food before leaving. You're not itching to go home today, cause you're enjoying the A.C.ed environment and allowing time for all your gadgets to charge till a 100%.

Back to your house, your once yellow-skinned pudgy plantains from Oyingbo market have turned black and are now coated with white fur.

The television, just like the ceiling fan, hangs like another piece of art decorating the sitting room. The bedroom is rid of cobwebs 'cause now you notice them by being forced to look towards the ceiling with your back on your bed, when normally you'd be peering into the screen of your laptop seeing a movie or playing Solitaire. Sleeping becomes a hobby cause there's nothing else to do. And oh! you remember the Bible you didn't read and pick it up to read, but then you sleep off after a few verses.

The sound of your neighbour's generator suddenly is unbearable and you feel like thumping downstairs to give them some word. Now you envy them for having a generator. It was always them envying you for your inverter. While they burned fuel and dealt with noise and knocked engine wahala that came with operating generators, you simply enjoyed power without stress. But now, the tables have turned.

Your curtains are permanently rolled up, windows are open, you sleep skimpily clad and you slap your drumsticks every now and then. And depending on the situation, your dream is of enemies chasing you if your light was cut or of you as superman if the transformer spoilt.

When light is restored after one week, at first sight, you're like, 'is this light?' Getting an affirmation, you quickly bring out all your empty gallons, buckets and containers, even cups and plates, fill them to the brim, flush your toilet properly and do a thorough scrubbing lest the urine leaves a permanent yellow streak on it, wash the clothes you've piled up and then have a bath with three full buckets of water like you were thrown into shit, plug all your gadgets and plump down on the sofa to continue your movie series. You're back to your regular life. Up NEPA!

©Radiant~November 2014

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