Guest Post: Time Machine: When You Wake Suddenly in 2024…! By Lanre Shonoiki

Imagine living in 2024...

I really miss pencils; as I dare not an item on my check list as I run my hands over the paper-thin, colorful hologram that assaults me with the present hour’s tasks. My Google-6 account has finally come through with a source for the “pseu-me” I have hunted for so long. Now, save a little “paper-work” Babat1de’s day-old demand was all but met; to the very last detail.

A fat male hispanic e-alias in his mid-twenties, with a history of crime, prison tattoos, an artisan-grade educational (maybe a PhD in Engineering); yet rich. Even in the apparent world, the last specification had proven hard to tie in with the others, taking all of thirty minutes to find someone willing to part with such a rare avatar. Luckily, a 12 year old hacker in Sudan had kept one from an e-crash, and now offered it on the black market for 2000 Globelli; twice the cost of all the other items I had to deliver before returning to deep-sleep. An antique 2011 Apple I-pad and a Montblanc Timewalker were timeless pieces, but this “pseu-me”; the best deal I ever closed. It’s amazing what sells these days.

I tap in the sale and wait a millisecond for my account to run up in one currency as the only other trickles away; time. Live-time now rivals Gulfstreams in price, following the 2024 reaching and breaching of the critical atmospheric oxygen stats. Active living is now being rationed to preserve what was left of the human race after two-thirds of Europe and Asia died of asphyxiation. I’m barely two days out of deep-sleep, but my joints are doing much better than the last time. I’d worked through mild arthritis to secure three days of live-time after four months of DS. Even for a woman, I’m blessed to get that long, given that my child-bearing days are over and Waino (my e-country) didn’t think my 30-year-old body exciting enough to raise funds from the millionaires that could afford half a year alive. I smile… I’ll rise above them soon.

Six o’clock, I log on to my pending divorce and lightly hug Se7un’s “pseu-me”. It’s hard remembering what he actually looks like. I watch the sexless arbitrator software red out the terms in a voice more human than the last one’s. Parting with Tu3de had been a little hard and the ex-arbitrator’s droid-like tone hadn’t helped much. It had made me imagine myself at the gates of hell, awaiting my final transition; my divorce from joy. Solace would have helped then, but I need none now. Se7un is a jerk… A rich one I couldn’t have resisted in such hard times. Promises of living three months a year had convinced me I could make it work until I realized all he wanted was my daughter. No, not her body; her mind. See, UNICEF had rated her “genius” at birth, earning her 100% live-time in that she was adjudged one of the few that could undo the woes of humanity. Se7un had only come to hack her off me… end of story.

More than I love my daughter, I know she is my freedom. Should she live up to her ratings, I get to “live” for the rest of my life. And she was close… Her most recent “pings” put the actualization of her time-machine model a few months out. Smiling, I pick my pen to write her, laughing at the irony of the new world. I’d always imagined the inventor of the time machine would read and write… She never writes back… She can’t. –GN!

Photo credit: www.colemanzone.com

Guest Post: Two Quick Book Reviews! by Lanre Shonoiki

It’s been almost a week since I made a post. My few final weeks in the University are already filled with several deadlines and my examination time table is out! But I’ll ensure there’s at least one new post every week.  For the first post this week, I share two quick book reviews by Lanre Shonoiki my witty friend and classmate. The Thing Around Your neck and Eko Dialogue are two of my favourite books read so far (this year)… Enjoy!

THE THING AROUND YOUR NECK (written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

Here, Chimamanda transitions from the novels, Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun, into a collection of short stories, told in the effective, simple language she is highly reputed for. Skepticism on the minds of her fans about her ability to rightly tell bits of narrative doesn’t make it beyond “Cell One.” Characters practically walk out of the pages and lead you through experiences so real that you sometimes fear you turned the last leaf over yourself. The exuberant youth who learns from the shattered to value life (Cell One); the retired lecturer whose life resonates with wraiths of friends and lovers past (Ghosts); the faraway wife on the verge of “adopting” a “younger sister” (Imitation); the as-like-as-chalk-and-cheese writers on Jumping Monkey Hill; the re-dejected Kamara with autistic lesbian tendencies and a handful of others all resound the depth of Adichie’s knowledge of the situations, challenges and psyches of Nigerians. Accounts presented are rich, personal, convincing, seamless and above all beautiful in all their circumstantial imperfection. By the end, readers would find themselves culturally and essentially educated, critics would be rendered speechless, publishers and editors would have found a new standard of reference and writers would have found a higher level of story-telling to aspire to. Thumbs up Ngozi! The hat trick is complete.

EKO DIALOGUE (written by Joy Isi Bewaji)

Simply hilarious!

Some would describe this book that’s barely twice this whole review as ‘small’. ‘Effective’ should be the word. Joy manages to share the true Lagos experience in a hundred and twelve twenty-line pages. (A handful of BBC’s best reporters have tried in over a million words and the thesis is still on the drawing board.) Eko Dialogue is a collection of broken “gossips” on the lives of unrepentant survivors as they rive through the Lagos city cum hive, tricking and treating barely living bodies and semi-nobodies in a bid to make it back home at night… for the next day’s dose of the city’s travails. A fine broth spiced with slangs, grammar-murdering bus conductors, unforgivable vanity junkies and people who haven’t the faintest idea who they are, Eko Dialogue is a book you will keep not just for reference (I bet some of the stories bring personal experiences to mind), but for the occasional laugh you need to fix a broken day.  A few typos make the read slightly bumpy, but be rest assured that you would get good value for your money… or the minutes of cajoling it would cost you to borrow a friend’s copy (no one would let this book out easily). You’ll be through with the book in a few hours, but the book will linger a little longer… to punctuate the next time you haggle the fare with the conductor or listen to the pastor bid you sow “special seeds”.

Guest Post: A Perspective on Motivation by Lanre Shonoiki

By Lanre Shonoiki

2002… My little brother was about 10 years old when we saw Drumline, the American Movie, for the first time. He, like I, enjoyed the decent storyline, the lovely snare cadences and Devon’s final victory. It about ended there for me; for him, it didn’t. Psyched, Kunle began his quest to become a snare-drumming pro. Soon, he bought two straight canes and made a fine job of carving drumsticks out of them. And then… he went on rampage. Over the next nine months, the whole family had to wear ear plugs as he beat cracks into the bottoms of 6 of the 8 buckets that served the house, beat frays out of the surface of his leather school bag, joined his high school’s drumming band, developed a minor case of RSI* and mastered every Travis Barker demo he could download from the internet… or so he thought he did. The facts that the house suddenly enjoyed all-round quiet for a full week and our new Mr. Miles wore a grave look unbefitting someone on leave prompted me to press his best friend for answers. I learnt that Liz, his adolescent crush had given him her honest opinion about his yet poor drumming skills, two days before the school band left him out of the Independence Day March past. His nine-month career had ended… badly!

2006… Towards the end of my JAMB-enforced gap year, a craze for motivation swept over the Nigerian populace. I watched from a psychological distance as sweet-talking men made millions off desperate Nigerians who somehow connected guarantees of success in business with reading motivational books and listening to successful entrepreneurs.

What do you do with all the motivation?

In all fairness, the masses did get what they paid for; truckloads of motivation. But then, they missed out on the vital garnishes these motivators were either not so willing to share or just knew nothing about. A little vector mechanics, a pinch of statistics, a firm understanding of Darwin’s theories and a honest assessment of the Nigerian business environment would have put the motivatees in better shoes for trekking the long haul motivation was about to take them. I bet you’re wondering, “Vector Mechanics?” Sure! Direction was the greatest flaw in the whole motivation scam. The average Nigerian didn’t know what he wanted to do, what he could do and what the nation would let him do. So, he just accepted in good faith Mr. Kiyosaki’s perfect formula for success in business. Problem is, more often than not, his latent talents say otherwise and a conflict of directions is created. So, the opposing vectors cancel out and the rigid body called Mr. Somebody has barely moved an inch. But who’s to be blamed? Barely 200 years ago, Charles Darwin did a remix of Statistic’s all-time best-selling track We can’t all be successful and titled it The Theory of Natural Selection. He sold over a million copies in our Social Studies textbooks. Did we even listen? No? Okay, I’ll simplify. Almighty nature suggests that the much-coveted top of the pyramid is super-small; just enough crawl space for very few people… survival of the fittest. This coupled with the adverse Nigerian social structure, I doubt Donald Trump would have made it through high school if he had been raised in Bariga… You dig?

 

2010… For the past five years, I’ve watched a lot of us swat biannually in the direction of the 4.5 mark as funny grading systems and damnable study conditions snapped at our feet, pulling us down the GP ladder. Too early, too late or just at the right time, many of us gave up and settled in our comfort zones with exclamations like “I can’t kill myself” and “O boy! Na hose dem dey take suck this my GP o!” Funny? The hardest lessons are learnt that way. (WARNING: You are strongly advised to stop reading here if you’re not in your finals.) Lesson one: A number of us were never graduating 1st class even if we sold our souls to the devil in exchange. It’s not that we are lazy, retarded, under-motivated or anything of the sort. It’s just Darwin’s Natural Selection at work. And life is like that; it’s not what you work hardest at that you succeed in… It’s what you’re cut out for. We’re like trains; running on tracks that aren’t suited to us might slow us down and eventually derail us. Lesson two: Success is not a path function; it’s a state function. Earning good grades is not the only way. Your best bet is to find the path to the top, that best suits your talents with the least cost to your soul and body. Entertainment, sports, art, commerce, even motivational speaking; the options are plenty.  By the way, Kunle is in his second year in Medical school. For him, gunning for Ben Carson’s status would neither be a tall order nor a wrong call because I believe he has found his niche. Find yours and make all that motivation count.

 

*RSI: Repetitive Stress Injury: a painful condition affecting some people who overuse muscles as a result of regularly repeating an activity such as operating a keyboard… or incessant drumming in this case.

Guest Post: Time Machine by Lanre Shonoiki

Bike Man

Bike Man on the Island

Granted, this sounds like another lofty claim, but had I never made use of this appliance myself I wouldn’t have believed it too. Its operating mechanism starts with an air-splitting chortle; as though the gods are mocking our attempts at twisting the hands of time. The transition platform shudders under my feet as the contraption kicks to life and assumes a rhythmic rumble. My eyes are fixed on the dial running up the radial calibrations on the speed gauge. Slowly but surely, the air around me starts to rush by, gaining speed and finally nearing the regime of a cyclone. I raise my palms to my face; they’re sweaty. So are my ears under the nearly deafening shield of the helmet I was made to wear. Yet, I still hear the steady buzz of the power engines; though unsure whether through the vibrations underfoot or those near my ossicles. My heart is racing, my mouth is dry. I can feel the air sweeping back the fur on my arms as it dries my eyes to the brink of pain. The solace I find in the backward rush of the clear blue sky overhead is not enough. I’m as scared as a cornered stray dog…

But the okada man couldn’t be less concerned about my situation. He hums a local tune a few decibels above the revving of his bike’s engines as he weaves deftly through staggered rows of traffic-jammed cars on Ikorodu road. Save for the horrid look on my face, Neil Armstrong would have been jealous of him, me and our little time shuttle on our intergalactic journey. Oh yeah! We did bend time. While other commuters waited at bus stops for commercial transport that rarely arrives in good time, I was fast approaching my destination; the JAMB office. It was past noon and I had to get my little sister’s result slip ready for the post-UME exams slated for the next morning. Necessity had finally pushed me over the mountain of excuses I had for not patronizing commercial bikes. For one, the fact that the cost of these jolly rides always encourages peace talks between the walls of my pockets discourages whimsical ascension of the soft leather seats. Worse still, there is the occasional mishap when a misdirected bike spills its load -passenger and rider irrespective- onto the road and probably into some innocent by-standing NEPA pole… or occasionally, into the hungry tires of a moving trailer. Ew!

Never mind though, the busy businesswoman who has to reach Ikeja from Victoria Island in 30 minutes isn’t complaining. Neither is the UNILAG student who has an 8 o’clock lecture on some Monday morning in the first few weeks of resumption for a new session. On the machine, he’s over both Herbert Macaulay and University Roads in 8 minutes, notwithstanding mud splashed from yucky puddles onto his new True Religion jeans, notwithstanding the occasional burn he suffers when his trousers ride high and his right leg kisses the hot silencer… and OMG! The dirty helmet!! If the privilege of not riding confined in some ramshackle bus with hard, wooden seats is not enough consolation, then the vainer benefit of sometimes sharing a bike with a well-endowed chick might just be… Or far more fulfilling, the fact that while he cruises towards a seat in front in a class of 200 (with no Public Address system), towards a sure 3% of the requisite 65% attendance for writing examinations and away from the assault of the overzealous midday sun; Lanre, his prudent, meticulous and safety-conscious classmate has to wait on the campus shuttle queue… for another 45 minutes.

Lanre Shonoiki is a final year Chemical Engineering student at the University of Lagos. An avid reader and freelance writer, he lives in Lagos.