Saturday, 12 June 2021

Life and Everything in Between (Episode Ten)

 


The market was stifling and filled to the brim with people eager to buy wares from traders before sunset. I pushed my way through the crowd as I headed to the shop of my regular seller to purchase spaghetti and smoked fish for dinner.

 

The day was undoubtedly hectic. I had spent hours staring at the screen and calculating figures I wish I understood. Sometimes, I wonder how I’d been able to work at this establishment for more than a year without getting a query or sack letter. Then, when I head for work every morning, I wonder how I’d be able to tackle the day’s task.

 

My stomach flipped in excitement as I remembered Munir and how we had spent lunch analysing foreign celebrities and their net worth. Munir was the delight at my workplace. Now, I looked forward to rocking new outfits and going to work because of him. My face broke into a grin as I remembered how he made it possible to fix a date with his brother.

 

Munir ticked all boxes. He was handsome, tall, intelligent, religious, and willing to assist me in growing my career. He had a radiant face that lit up whenever he was excited about something. His eyes were charming and…

 

How you dey, customer?” Mama Kunle asked, drifting me back to reality.

 

I cleaned my sweat-filled face with my handkerchief and smiled at Mama Kunle, a petite woman with bright eyes and sparkling teeth. “Good evening, ma. How was market today?” I asked as I settled on the seat in front of the shop and sighed deeply.

 

Mama Kunle sold different kinds of goods- ranging from rice to beans and spaghetti. She had once told me that she was a widow who used the proceeds from the shop to fund her children’s school fees. It was surprising how she always looked contented and happy despite her situation.

 

Mama Kunle smiled at me. “Good evening, my sister. How work?”

 

“Ah, boring as always. I cannot wait to leave,” I said as I got up and picked a pack of spaghetti from the table.

 

After such a busy day, the best way to end the day would be to prepare a delicious plate of spicy spaghetti laced with fish.

 

Mama Kunle chuckled. “You don dey talk this one for more than one year. Work tire you, but you no wan leave,” she laughed hard, and I joined.

 

I paid for the spaghetti and smoked fish, and five minutes later, I was in front of the pepper seller, waiting for her to attend to the buyers that had arrived before me.

 

As I glanced through the market impatiently, I caught sight of a long-limbed man walking towards where I was standing. He held a baby to his chest as he stared at me. He was dressed in a green shirt and pair of trousers and looking at him, I was confident that I knew him from somewhere…but I couldn’t place it.

 

Asalamu ‘alaykum warahmatuLlaah wabarakahtuhu,” he greeted with a thick Yoruba accent.

 

I replied to the tesleem and cleared my throat, eager to hear him introduce himself. It was evident that he had approached me because he knew me from somewhere.

 

“Do you remember me?” he asked.

 

“No,” I responded.

 

“I was in the Department of Banking and Finance. We took some courses together. Do you remember me now?” he said with a laugh.

 

I chuckled as I realised that I had finally placed a name on the face. “Lukman, right? You were a friend to the class prefect.”

 

“Correct!” he grinned at me.

 

“How have you been? It’s been…years!” I laughed.

 

“AlhamduliLlaah. I currently worked at JAIZ Bank and am married. This is my child here. His name is Al-Ameen.”

 

“Masha ALlaah,” I caressed the cheeks of the cute-looking baby. “He looks so lovely.”

 

“Yes, thanks. So, what about you? Are you married?” he asked.

 

“No. I haven’t gotten married.”

 

“Why?” he asked, and I was taken aback by his question.

 

“Well, I haven’t found a suitable man to get married to.”

 

He laughed skeptically. “How is that possible? There are lots of suitable men looking for women to get married to. That can’t be the reason, Rafiah. Or…are you doing ako? You will always find one if you’re truly ready.”

 

I rolled my eyes in disgust. “That means I’ll try harder. Thanks for your advice. My regards to your wife,” I forced a smile and walked away, looking for another shop to purchase pepper and tomatoes from.

 

My face scrunched up in a frown as I remembered how he had been so inconsiderate and judging. Well, all these would be over when I get married to Munir!

***

Hours later, I had arrived home with exhilaration seeping inside of me. The thought of Munir distracted me from Lukman’s negative comments.

 

As I was dressing up after a cold shower, my phone chimed on the bed. My heart raced faster as I hurried to check the Caller ID. It was just who I was expecting; Munir.

 

Asalamu ‘alaykum, Munir,” I greeted as I clicked the answer button.

 

Wa’alaykumu salam. Arrived home?” he asked

 

My heart leapt in excitement as I heard his voice. “Yes yes! Currently preparing to make dinner.”

 

“You should become a chef so that this talent will not go to waste,” he laughed.

 

“Indeed. Stop flattering me,” I chuckled.

 

“I’m not! The breakfast you brought to work two days ago was a bomb. The aroma filled the whole room. Lest I forget, what was that?”

 

“Boiled yam and scrambled eggs.”

 

Wow wow wow! You’re living the life, Rafiah. Though, I don’t like boiled yam.”

 

“You wouldn’t believe what happened this evening,” I stated as I settled on the bed.

 

“Tell me about it.”

 

I narrated how I had met Lukman and the insensitive words he had said. Munir sounded angry and disappointed over the phone.

 

“I’m sorry about that. Some people derive joy in poking their nose into people’s affairs. What would he lose by exchanging pleasantries and going on with his business? People sha!” Munir stated.

 

“Thank you, Munir.”

 

“My brother is eager to meet you. I’ve said so many nice things about you to him,” he laughed, and I imagined his eyes twinkling in delight.

 

“I’m nervous, though. It’s rare to have the opportunity to sit with one of the famous writers in Nigeria,” I smiled.

 

“Farouk keeps getting the accolades! Well, I’m off to read the biography of the world’s richest basketballer, Michael Jordan. I don’t want fame. I want money,” he chuckled. “I’ll see you tomorrow, in sha ALlaah. Good night.”

 

“Good night, Munir,” I replied and hung up, lowering my head and wondering when Munir would pop the question…if he would ever pop the question.

 

I remembered what I had said when Asmau asked if I could propose to Munir. “He’s got all the chance to propose if he is truly interested.”

 

“My sweet sister!” Rasheedah sang as she stormed into the room, dressed in a red gown and black veil. She was holding a big bag, and her face was filled with an over-do of makeup.

 

I rolled my eyes and wore my baggy shorts. “You went out with Khalid?”

 

She sat beside me and placed a finger across her lips. “Reduce your voice, na. You don’t want to imagine what will happen if Dad finds out that I’m still seeing Khalid.”

 

“Why are you still seeing him?”

 

“His parents will arrive soon, and we’ll get married,” she said and brought out goodies from the bag. “Khalid bought this for you,” she handed me a bowl of ice cream.

 

“Compensation for keeping my mouth shut?”

 

She laughed. “Stop that. He just decided to buy it for you.”

 

I opened the bowl. “Just be careful. Dad will be unhappy if he learns about this.”

 

“I know. It’s just a matter of time. His parents arrive in five days.”

 

“Okay, oo!” I replied as I took a scoop.

***

“Rafiah,” Dad called as I was heading to the kitchen with the bag of foodstuff.

 

I placed it on the dining table and walked towards his favourite sofa, where he buried his face in a newspaper.

 

“I’m here, Dad.”

 

“Sit down,” he said as he folded the newspaper and looked at me. “How was work?”

 

“It was fine, Dad,” I replied, settling on a seat beside him.

 

Dad was putting on his gray shirt and faded denim trousers. He stared at the rug and looked up at me again. “We left off a discussion some weeks ago before Rasheedah’s dilemma came up. So let’s discuss it now,” he said. “There is no career in writing. So why do you want to let go of a reputable career like accounting?”

 

“I don’t have a passion for accounting. However, writing is also a viable profession. We have successful professional writers like Khaled Hosseini, Stephen King, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.”

 

“That’s not the point, Rafiah. You studied accounting in the higher institution. You spent four years studying this course, and you are currently working in a reputable company. Why would you let go of this because of writing?”

 

“Writing brings me fulfillment. I can only envision myself as a writer,” I said, wondering how I got the courage to say all of these. When I arrive at work tomorrow, I would tell Munir about all of it.

 

“Why are you making this decision now?”

 

“I wasn’t bold enough to make them years ago. I think this is the time to choose my happiness. I want to explore writing…” I was saying when Mom appeared in front of us.

 

Her hands were trembling, and her face was filled with tears. Our faces blanched in shock as we caught sight of the piece of paper she was holding. She handed the note to Dad, and he grabbed it instantly.

 

SubhanaLlaah! SubhanaLlaah! SubhanaLlaah!” Dad screamed in shock.

 

Perplexed, I took note to see what was written. I let out a loud gasp as I read the content.

 

‘You’ve been warned!’ was written in red and the tip of the paper was soaked with blood.    


Don't miss out on the previous episodes:


Episode One


Episode Two


Episodes Three & Four


Episode Five


Episodes Six & Seven


Episode Eight


Episode Nine



Wednesday, 9 June 2021

How to Become a Minimalist: 5 Surefire Ways

 

People often inculcate the habit of accumulating possessions over the years. However, there is a new trend that has taught people to buy less and accumulate fewer things. A simple minimalistic lifestyle will teach you that people and the experiences we face in our daily lives are more important than the possessions we keep accumulating, which can affect our physical and mental health negatively.

When you become aminimalist, you will discover that acquiring lesser things will keep you focused and make you more productive. Becoming a minimalist is the change you require whether you’re planning on taking a different path in life or moving into a smaller apartment.

The following 5 steps will guide you on how to become a minimalist in the most effective manner.


1.      Assess your priorities and discover your personal values

The first and most important step to becoming a true minimalist is analyzing your life and identifying what is most important to you.

You have to discover those aspects of your life that add values and how these values motivate you. For example, you can write down the three most important things in your life. Your core values could be that you value family and friends, happiness, and new experiences. This shows that you value essential things over materialistic assets.  Focus on making the things that add fulfillment to your life a priority and identify the aspects that are taking space. Concentrate on these values and gradually make room for your priorities.


2.      Evaluate your personal  belongings


After setting your priorities and discovering what is most important to you, the next step is to evaluate your possessions and find out if they align with your life values or if they are a form of distraction.

When you evaluate your possessions, you will realize that you own too many things that add little or no significant value to your life. They affect our spending, waste our time, and drain our energy.

How do you let go of belongings that add no value? Take inventory of your possessions and slowly eliminate those things that add no value to you. You could begin by assessing your wardrobe, kitchen items, office items, etc.


3.      Evaluate how you spend your day



Becoming a true minimalist is not just about de-cluttering your physical assets. It also requires letting go of activities that drain your time and make you less productive.

Evaluate how you spend your day and find out if a large chunk of the tasks you engage in actually adds value to your life. This will prevent you from engaging in unproductive activities while you have the freedom to engage in tasks that will assist you in accomplishing your goals.


4.      To become a minimalist, assess your goals and aspirations


Everyone has goals and aspirations that make them feel revived as they wake up every morning and work towards fulfilling their aspirations. These goals shape the way we live and the tasks we perform. However, not all goals are productive and not all aspirations align with becoming a true minimalist.

 This makes it important to evaluate your goals and see if they align with your priorities. Analyze your goals and find out if they are worth your time and if they will truly add value to your life.


5.      Start small

It takes a gradual process to become a true minimalist. It shouldn’t be rushed. Simplify your life by taking these steps one at a time. For example, if you are bent on de-cluttering your house within a specified period, ensure that you start small and focus on one area at a time till the task is completed.

Becoming a true minimalist will make you live a simple, productive, and healthy lifestyle. Wondering how to become a minimalist in 30 days? The above tips will be a useful guide.


What other steps do you think will make you a true minimalist? Let us know your thoughts!

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Life and Everything in Between (Episode Nine)

 



Mom silently stirred the pot of ogbono soup as the smell of beef stock whiffed the air. She tasted the soup and crushed another seasoning cube.

 

“What? Are you here to stare or assist me?” she asked with a frown, noting the way I had been studying her since I joined her in the kitchen.

 

It was a Saturday and two days after Dad decided to call off the wedding. Khalid’s parents had promised to return to Nigeria to explain why they had to postpone the wedding. The house had suddenly turned quiet. Mom no longer spends the day talking about hiring the best caterer for the wedding or ensuring that she sends the invitation to every family member. Instead, she would spend most of her time in the living room, looking deep in thought as she stares at the TV.

 

“Mom, you can’t continue like this. It’s obvious you’ve not been yourself since Dad called off the wedding,” I stared at her with pitiful eyes.

 

She swallowed hard and turned off the cooker, walking towards the shelf and grabbing the bag of semo. “What do you expect me to do? Dance around after learning that all my efforts have been wasted? Rafiah, I’ve spent months planning this wedding. Finally, I’ve told my family and friends. Everyone knows that my daughter will be getting married grandly. What will I tell them now?” Mom said with a shaky voice.

 

I could see her eyes swell with tears as she leaned on the wall. “They’ll laugh at me, Rafiah,” she said with a scrunched-up face.


 RELATED ARTICLE: Her Last Breath (Episode One)


I reached over to her and pulled her into a hug. “We’ll get through this, in sha ALlaah. Let’s wait for Khalid’s parents to visit. I believe what they say will determine the success of this wedding. Please, Mom, try not to think about this. I know it’s hard for all of us…but we have to try to remain calm. Troubling over what people say will solve no problem,” I said as she cried in my arms.

 

“Thank you, my daughter,” she pulled away and cleaned her eyes. “Will you help me prepare this semo? I want to rest in the room.”

 

“Of course,” I responded, turning on the tap and filling the pot with water. “Have some rest, Mom.”

 

Her steps faded away as I placed the pot on the fire. I was walking out of the kitchen when someone bumped into me.

 

“Oooh!” Rasheedah chuckled as she regained composure. She surreptitiously whipped up her head to check behind her and returned her gaze, grinning from ear to ear. “I didn’t want Mom to notice that I’m going out.”

 

I stared at her incredulously, wondering how the lady, who had bawled her eyes out when Dad broke the news, was smiling affectionately. Rasheedah was putting on a red pleated gown and black veil. She toyed with the hand of her new leather tiger-skin bag with her lower lips curved in a smile. “What?” she laughed.

 

“What is going on? Where are you headed?”

 

She moved closer to where I was standing and whispered. “I’m going to meet Khalid.”

 

“Khalid?” I glared at her. “Does Dad or Mom know about this?”

 

“Nope, they don’t. So, Rafiah, you think it’s easy to let go just like that? To accept that you’re not getting married to the love of your life?”

 

“Have Khalid explained the meaning of that matter-of-life-and-death statement? I hope you understand why Dad made that decision?”

 

Rasheedah tapped her legs impatiently. “Look, Rafiah, I’ll get married to Khalid. I know that for sure. His parents are coming next week. They will see Dad, and all issues will be resolved. Just like it used to be,” she adjusted her veil and gave me a warning look. “Please, don’t tell Mom I went to see Khalid. I believe you’ll keep this as a secret.”

 

“Yes, whatever. Just be safe,” I stated as I returned to the kitchen to open the pot of boiling water.

***

I had just gotten to the company’s premises when I caught sight of Asmau and Jamal seated in the car. I could see Jamal placing a kiss on Asmau’s forehead and saying words I could not hear from a distance. Asmau laughed in response, grabbed her bag and alighted from the car.

 

As she strode towards the company’s building, she spotted me standing by the gate and waved her hands with her smile. “See my bestie!” she exclaimed.

 

Before Jamal drove out of the building, I greeted him with a wave. Then, I walked towards where she was standing and pulled her into a hug. “My pregnant bestie, Asalamu ‘alaykum.”

 

“Wa’alaykumu salam. You look beautiful, Rafiah. I love your blue skirt,” she trailed my outfit with a smirk. “Munir’s doing.”

 

I rolled my eyes. “Oh, please. Munir is just a friend and nothing more. By the way, I saw you and your husband doing mushy-mushy in the car. Well done.”

 

“That’s one percent of our mushy-mushy. You haven’t seen us act romantic,” Asmau laughed as she resumed walking. “What’s up with you? You look unhappy.”

 

“Ah, nothing really,” I cleaned the beads of sweat that had formed around my forehead with my handkerchief. “Rasheedah is still seeing Khalid. You wouldn’t believe it.”

 

Asmau shrugged. “I’m not surprised. How are your parents doing?”

 

We stepped into the building and hurried towards the counter to fill in our names. “They are trying to be fine. Should I feel guilty for feeling somewhat relieved that the wedding plans have been halted? I’m not pleased that the wedding might not hold. I’m just glad that there is no pressure anymore. Mom doesn’t bug me about finding someone real quick, and relatives do not visit anymore to lecture me about making marriage my top goal. No one wants me to stop by Oregun to meet a caterer or pick flowers from Ojota.”

 

Asmau stared at me with furrowed brows. “You should feel guilty.”

 

“Oh, astaghfirLlaah!” I muttered as we entered the office.

 

Munir was standing by the window with a phone pressed to his left ear. My heart flipped in excitement as I caught sight of him. How could someone be so handsome, cute, kind, and intelligent at the same time? If there was a perfect man somewhere, Munir had to be the one.

 

I never imagined that I could look forward to resuming work every single day. The thought of seeing Munir dressed in one of his crisp shirts would make my heart race faster. Asmau settled on her seat, and I walked towards mine, placing my bag on the table and trying hard to keep my shivering hands steady. I knew Munir would spot me and walk up to me. As I turned on my computer and noticed a familiar figure approaching my desk, I knew that I was right.

 

“Asalamu ‘alaykum, Rafiah. How are you today?” Munir greeted with a bright smile.

 

He was dressed in a black shirt and a grey pair of trousers. I smiled in return, trying hard to ensure that it didn’t come out too wide. “Wa’alaykumu salam. I’m fine, AlhamduliLlaah. How are you, too?”

 

RELATED ARTICLE: The Precious Figure (Episode One)


“AlhamduliLlaah. So, I spoke with my brother yesterday. He was shocked when he read those emails. But he didn’t send them. Farouk might be a snob sometimes, but he would never ridicule anyone.”

 

“Who sent it, then?” I asked.

 

Munir tried to hide a smile. “My younger brother, Adam.”

 

My face blanched in shock. “Your younger brother?”

 

“Yes. Farouk kept his phone on the table in the living room…and guess what?  Adam decided to play a prank by replying to your emails. We’re so sorry. Adam has apologized. Farouk was so furious. I mean, what if it was a business client?”

 

“Wow. So, it wasn’t Farouk. Okay. Apologies accepted.”

 

“He wants to make it up to you. Would you be chanced this weekend? Farouk would like you guys to meet up and talk about writing.”

 

“That’s great. I can always adjust my weekend tasks. So it’s a yes.”

 

“Okay. See you during lunch, Rafiah,” he smiled and walked away.

 

I smiled in excitement as I prepared to start the day’s task.


Don't miss out on the previous episodes:


Episode One


Episode Two


Episodes Three & Four


Episode Five


Episodes Six & Seven


Episode Eight

Sunday, 23 May 2021

5 Unique Ingredients for a Delicious Asaro (Yam Pottage)

 


Asaro (yam pottage) is one of the most popular dishes in Nigeria. It is a delicious and appetizing meal that can be eaten at any period of the day.

If you’re a big fan of asaro and you’ll like to find out an ideal way to make it rich and delicious, read the procedures below and try it out!  We have several Nigerian yam recipes and this is just one of the best. Learning how to prepare yam porridge doesn’t take much time. The steps have been explained in this article.

First, let’s start with the ingredients!



Five unique ingredients for a delicious asaro.

We’ll be revealing include the following yam porridge ingredients:

(1)

3 atarodo

(2)

Ground crayfish

(3)

1 smoked fish

(4)

Stocked fish

(5)

2 tsp of iru (locust beans)

 

Others unique ingredients for a delicious asaro (yam porridge) include:

A medium-sized yam

2 tatashe (red bell pepper)

2 spoons of palm oil

1 cup of washed and chopped ugwu leaves.

1 large onion

3 medium-sized tomatoes

Smoked fish (optional)

Ponmo (optional)

Turkey (optional)

2 seasoning cubes

Salt to taste


RELATED ARTICLE: Chinese Fried Noodles



How to Prepare

Wash the meat properly and boil them. Add the stockfish and smoked fish when the meats are soft. Remember to season them well because you will be making use of the stock later.

Chop the meats and fish. Get a medium-sized pot and place on medium heat. Add palm oil to the heated pot. Some people prefer their yam porridge without palm oil. However, we’ll be going with palm oil. Add half slice of onion when it is hot.

Afterwards, add a spoon of well-washed locust beans and leave for about two minutes.

Afterwards, add the blended pepper, salt, and seasoning cubes. Cover the pot and leave to fry for fifteen minutes. Stir the stew occasionally to prevent it from burning.

While the stew is still on fire, add the yam into a pot and add water to cover the contents. Add salt and parboil for over 8 minutes. Do not leave the yam to be too soft.

Check the stew and see if it is well fried. This will happen when you cannot taste the sourness of the tomatoes and the pepper has considerably reduced.

Add the stock and leave to cook for about three minutes. Afterwards, add the parboiled yam and the chopped meats.

Mix and reduce the heat of the gas. Cover the pot and leave to cook for about fifteen minutes. The yam should be soft before you move on to the next stage.

When the yam becomes soft, use a wooden turner to mash part of the yam. Leave to cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the ugwu leaves and switch off the heat. The leaves will simmer with the residual heat in the pottage for another 3 minutes. Some prefer to use scent leaf in their yam porridge while others prepare their yam porridge with spinach. Just choose what works best for you.

Serve your delicious yam pottage with fruit juice, yoghurt, or any other drink of your choice! These unique ingredients for a delicious asaro (yam porridge) will make your meal sumptuous. You should try it today!