Lagos is…

*For more information on the prompt that inspired this piece, visit here*

Thinking out loud—like Drake and Nicki Minaj before me—I cannot see myself living out the rest of my days in the US. Life here feels too safe, too simulated, unreal. Or maybe it’s just Southern California… In any case, I’ve often wondered why I feel so disoriented here, why it feels like my life has been on pause, body and mind expanding but heart and soul withering. I think now that having grown up in the most ridiculous place in Nigeria, it’s hard for me to be in a place where there’s so little drama.

Lagos is the smallest state in Nigeria, it is also the most populous. You can literally (well not literally) feel other people through the walls of your house. You can hear their dogs barking late at night. You can hear them worshipping at the mosque early in the morning. You can hear their generators going on when the power goes out. You cannot however anticipate whether or not your father will turn on the generator. You anxiously wait to hear him open and shut the house door, and when you hear the generator wheeze into life, you feel the most content you have ever felt. If he doesn’t turn on the generator, you will be forced to read one of the Karen Kingsbury books that your mother buys in bulk. When you have finished reading all of those, you decide to pick up some Shakespeare—who knew Hamlet would be so good?

Days in Lagos when there’s no light are spent reading, thinking, snacking, gallivanting, texting boys that are as bored as you. Nights in Lagos are another thing. There are no mosquitoes elsewhere like the ones in Lagos because it’s so damn humid. There’s nothing like nights without light in Lagos cause that’s when the mosquitoes come out to play. Sometimes they sing in your ear, sometimes they tickle your thighs, sometimes they make you cry. Lagos nights don’t let you cry because thirty girls ganged up against you or because life is so sad and beautiful. Lagos nights make you forget all the good & bad in the world, because they consume you, because in those moments, there’s nothing but slapping and scratching and crying. But if you’d never been struggling with sweltering heat and darkness and mosquitoes when the lights and the AC came on, how would you know real joy?   

Lagos is going to your mom’s office on Saturdays because there’s a Mr. Biggs next door and they make the best fried rice in the world. Lagos is going to the movies not to see a movie but to hang out with your friends and being ashamed because they all have Blackberries and you have a Samsung. Lagos is sharing bland pizzas with your friends and their not caring that you have a phone with ABC on the same key. Lagos is walking to your best friend’s house in the boiling hot sun trying to avoid falling in the gutters because people drive so damn recklessly. Lagos is being scared every time you leave the house. Ignore the men that shout at you for wearing shorts in 90-degree weather, ignore the men that roll down their car windows and lick their lips. Don’t talk to strangers; they might hypnotize you.

Lagos is not for the weak. Lagos is however, for people like me, who need to constantly feel something.

Post submitted by Kanyin


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