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Saturday, August 6, 2011

THE HIATUS; 'Do not speak to the Press!'

  We all take breaks. It might be in our relationships, in our jobs, in our dreams, from something WE love. I took a break and it feels like a big hole in my heart. I guess that is what happens when you take a break from something you love. You get this incomplete feeling, you feel like something is missing. You go to bed the sleep does not come. You do other things but you know there is something left. I have felt that way these past weeks. It is not as if I did not want to but I could not because circumstances beyond my control came to play so I took a hiatus. My hiatus is officially over. I feel the hole closing up and healing up. My unexpected break is over. Therefore, what is one of the things that kept me away for so long? I answered the call to serve the fatherland. Sometimes I ask myself frankly, did I really answer the call out of my own freewill or was I made to. Give me a moment to think. I am back, it was not my choice and I would never have chose it, same goes for more than half the population I was in it with, sorry I meant am because I am still in it. We are made to spend one year as cheap labourers serving the fatherland they say but what has the fatherland done for me that I have to serve it? Nothing! From my days as an infant until my undergraduate days, nothing was done for me. All the fatherland could do was make the cost of living so high that our parents groaned under the pressure to send us to school with their sweat and blood. The fatherland made the system of education look like a child’s play. The fees are high, why couldn’t they make it free? Build more infrastructures for us?  Pay our teachers’ well so they do not carry out their frustrations on us? Some of us got free education through the public school system in the primary and secondary school stage but the education is horrible, the teachers act as if they are forced to teach, so you guess what happens. Let us not go into the tertiary education where strikes keep us at home for months on end. After that, this same fatherland makes it compulsory for you to serve it before you can gain gainful employment. Employment to make money and spend on your parents. Yes, the money for serving is up but how long will it last in this harsh times? The one year of becoming cheap labourers and pawns in the hand of the fatherland (moment of silence for those who lost their lives serving). We are uprooted from our comfort zones and thrown into the unknown; some of these zones turn out to be volatile and deadly. The fatherland knows this but he sends us there. When we end up dead, they dole out 5 million to our parents. What is that after a parent has suffered for years and spent more than that awaiting to reap millions from their investment?  Wouldn’t that pawn alive make that in just a year or more? Use that money to buy his first car? Look at it this way why not give us that money now we are alive so we can start up our own businesses, further our education and not end up unemployed after serving you? Why send people to far places and they end up in schools after that they come back to their comfort zones, unemployed and with practically no genuine work experience? Why not use that one year and train us in our fields of interest or create alternative interests we can learn not necessarily white-collar jobs so after this one year we can start our own businesses as entrepreneurs, create employment for others and help the dying economy? It has become a circle that after, since we know nothing else, have no skills we end up in white-collar jobs working for others to get richer, we see it as the only option. We are not groomed to think out the box and strike out on our own so we end up in banks, oil companies and telecommunications  when our small scale idea , if we were groomed to take steps could have grown to become a huge company like them too. After the one year, we say to ourselves we’ll go back to our dreams but we never do, we get lost in it all, the system makes us tired and kills the urge we had. The fatherland has placed us in a box and yet he wonders why it never grows. The fresh minds of the fatherland die rapidly in dead end jobs, they are so tired to stand up and fight for him. Yes, I am not happy that I too have fallen into that box. One year of my life will be wasted in a box when I could have done great things starting now with my fingers, discover the person I am meant to be and grow stronger doing what I love. Each day I wake up,i go to a work I do not love, I come back home drained out and unable to think of anything else because I have become a circle of routine; wake up early, work, come home late and sleep. Nothing productive is achieved for me, towards my growth in becoming who I want to be. The fatherland breeds unsatisfied youths who feel they can do nothing about it. The society has done it to us, by saying ‘after school you serve, get a good job, get married and have kids.’ Look at that sentence or is it a phrase ‘get a good job’ why is it ‘get’ and not ‘create’?  If you leave me, I will go on and on
  ‘Do not speak to the press’ Every time I heard it, it sounded ominous and the warning bells rang. Why would someone say that repeatedly if they have done no wrong? If your conscience were clear, you would never say that. I heard that a lot in the prison I was never allowed to leave. We wore our white prison uniforms; the sight blinded the sun when he looked down at us. I got to prison late. There were no accommodations, luckily, I got space. We were thirty-eight souls in each room, if there was an epidemic we would have all died. The rooms were too small, the restrooms unimaginable. Every time I went there to do my business, my business refused to come out, maybe it saw the environment. The food was ok they say, I never ate it. They say it is better than most of the other prisons because ours was a special prison. The clinic was an apology. They hoarded the drugs; any complaints received paracetamol, two tablets of it. It was the rainy season, they had no inhalers but pink liquid syrup, and they had that in excess. What happened to the drugs that were supplied to the clinic before the prison was opened?  Did I forget to mention I did not get my prison uniform until the week I was meant to leave prison? The cost of living provided by the Sherlock merchants in there was too high; I felt a pound of flesh leave every time I patronized them.  I heard we were entitled to a cow each day. I guess a lion ate half the cow before it got to us; my index finger is bigger than what we got. I heard a plate of food for each person per meal as budgeted is 500 naira but we got 100 naira worth. Some of us slept in twos in the tiny bunks, others slept in the church halls and on the floor. I also heard the prison kit for each person was budgeted at 70,000 naira. When I got my kit, I had never seen such substandard wears in my life; the poor people in the war country of Sudan wear better. The quality was an apology. To sum it up, they were worth 8,000 naira. No, they were not made in China wears, those are better, they could not have been made in the beloved city of Aba either, we were clothed but we were naked, any little movement the clothes gave way and revealed the rest. On the bright side, I met many lovely people who became my friends; they made my days bearable in prison. I thank them all for their friendship.  It is time for me to go now; you can imagine the last words I heard before I left prison, ‘Do not speak to the press.’ Are you the press? What is the worst that can happen to me? They trace my prison code through my name and increase my probation period. I hope they do it; I have always wanted to take the fatherland to his court and see the headlines in the papers. ‘THE FATHERLAND versus FRANCES, A SLIP OF A GIRL.’

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