Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Beautiful faces

I usually judge a book by more than its cover.  I like a good review or reputation, a synopsis or a preview skim, that opening paragraph that is ok or the description on the back that has the right keywords - oh wait that's on the cover, isn't it?  The back cover.
That said, I once bought a music CD based on the colours on the cover art - no regrets at all, the music was just as pink - effusive and beautiful - as the image that teased it.
Play full album here :) 
I recently became interested in my face - in judging or perhaps engineering what people see, say in a photo.
I've usually not been interested in my face in this way.  I usually just think of my face that "it is a face" - it does what it's supposed to do, I'm sure, medically/biologically, so I am glad.  That's my response to body image stuff for the most part - whatever, I'm gorgeous, whatever, it works, what--ever. 
Girls are supposed to (are pressured to) care more.  In Nigeria for example, I would sometimes throw on some lipstick and almost always wear earrings to fulfill the societal requirement that female faces cheer the world like a flower.  On days when I care, I'd wear mascara - the slightest extra definition of your eyes makes photos work.
I know the tricks, for using makeup to create cheekbones and slim-noses for example, especially thanks to Kevin, fabulous! LA makeup artist and consultant for our play The Misanthrope back in the day.  (I remember he was on standby/retainer for Sharon Stone for the Oscars and had to leave us with bags of makeup and lots of instructions because he would not be around to help us anymore...sooo, like over a month of dedicated work to sell one face at one show.)
Anyway, you learn about facial light, lines, and colour for theater.  I just refuse to throw away my 3D, 5D, 10D life to play a daft character lol.  Girl. 
Photo composite: Man at 5 and 50
A few years ago, I looked in a passport photo of mine and thought - wow, no wonder people respond to me in such manner at work - with a bit of distance and a bit of awe.  In that period I looked smart, a little too smart in the manner of a pickpocket or something - someone in search of an opening or a shortcut.  Yoruba: eni ti ori 'e n s'ise bi aago - my head (brain) going at a quick pace like a clock.  Also I was pretty, again in the manner of a pickpocket or something.  A fresh face, smooth, youthful and unremarkable, fake-innocent, to blend in with the wood, sand, stone, brown, and activity in the hypothetical town - a pickpocket wouldn't be someone with a distinctive monster face or they would get nabbed, right?  Oh well, the job I then got was to train engineers, so I guess my darting eyes didn't put people off too much.
I have many passport photographs saved over many years of visa applications, bank and job applications, and such nonsense.  I should look at them all sometime.

I've heard, mostly from my parents, about my nose being big.
It is a copy of my father's nose, so I am glad - because I like the guy.  I'd better tell him again - it's been a while since I said something mushy like that.  Like, yesterday I checked out his WhatsApp messages to me and there were some funny ones in there.  I coulda shoulda said these are sooo funny dad, but they were by now week-old messages and I would ... too complicated.   I don't often look at my phone or the messages it may contain.
I'm also glad because I think when a kid (a girl at least) has a big nose, she is less likely to 'throw her life away' herself since she does not think she's pretty (like an ornament, a flower), and she's more likely to be taken seriously in the public sphere because she's a little ugly like many serious leaders that the people know.
I remember also that my parents fretted over the crater in the middle of my nose which I got from nurturing and then popping a giant boil when I was 11 years old in boarding school.  I used to have a lot of pimples and disturb them constantly, and with the germs or whatever we were dealing with in boarding school, it was a short step from pimple to boil - then I got the biggest I'd ever had, that grew over a week or two to maybe 1cm^3.
The boil was excavated in an extravagant ceremony led by classmate and boil-popping hobbyist Inyang.  She now goes by her English name and photographs people for a living, let's protect her identity loool.  That day there was pus, there was a solid rod of caked pus-like material (at the instant when she dislodged that, tore it away from the tissue beneath, my days-long headache vanished) and of course there was blood.  And a lot of pap/cheese-like, watery-sometimes, yellowing and greening and graying and whiting rubbish pus.  It was fun.  Left a hole on my nose.  The hole is long covered-up naturally of course - nothing is forever - but the special contour on my nose remains.

I used to pick my nose.  And eat the flakes/chunks/goo.  I used to have an often-running nose.
Now I never ever eat it.  But I still sometimes pick.  Don't tell anyone.

Almost a year ago when I started to care - yes, this is about a boy that I like looool - I noticed my chin.  I have a real chin.  It has a droop of fat on each of its two halves.  It's not a girly chin.  It's a chin that wants to be noticed.  It's a chin that wants to punch and break your jaw.  A chin that makes you want to add on a Persian beard and braid the rich, dark hair and decorate the fat braid with a royal blue ribbon.
Haha, like they said, I should have just been a boy.  Lol.

I don't take many photographs.
One because - why the face?  Why not the ear?  Or the palm or an arm?  To represent a person.  So, no, I don't believe.  You can read this as me being ashamed of my face but you would only be a little correct.
Two, because I don't use photographs and usually lose them anyway.  Like the box-full I left in California with all my belongings while I moved back to Africa with two suitcases - all gone.
Three? I have more than enough.  One photograph is fun, as in fifty years ago.  Ten is a great and enjoyable variety and I have far more than ten.  But ten thousand photographs is junk, a landfill of garbage, or in 2018 of instagram, just data to be mined lol.
Four, relating to the fact of not using photos in life, is the fact that institutions just use photos to note that I am African/nonwhite/darkskinned so fuck off, and I am maybe a female yet annoyingly not a cheering flower so definitely fuck off.  I mean, if I'm a great painter, the point is not my face, right?  The point is my painting.
I am a great painter.  You fuck off.  LOL.

That said,
Yesterday I was looking to learn how to pose for photographs of my face that would look pretty or at least not alarming, because if you just capture this fantastically complex sculpture in 2D without a plan you end up with something that does not look like what people want to see - look like a grandmother or older, or a professor, clergy member or politician, or generally like an amoebic monkey - delete delete!
There was light from a window on one side of my experiment.  My face in the mirror tilted at a three-quarter-frontal grabbed the light on the bridge of my nose in a way that continued the arch of my brow and was very black-and-white-movies-professionally-shot.  Oh yeah, I really looked like a girl here, like someone's Casablanca female-movie-star fantasy.  The nasal arch highlit, there was also a dot of light in the middle of my nose, which I liked then thought sadly would always be wiped off if one ever did a professional shot.  They would call it a blemish and airbrush it away.  There would be no excuse to leave it in.

This whole charade with faces, who is really deceiving who?

In the past week I made my best discovery yet about my face: that it does not have two perfectly equal halves.   Ah, this explains why I look alluring from many various angles but usually not straight on, and it's related to this stuff I found online about how when normal people (like you) judge attractive faces (again, with this most popular of angles - the face straight at the camera, passport photo type) it's symmetry they're judging, with less symmetric faces being judged less attractive.
I found that my eyes are different.  Even my cheeks below the eyes are different.  In fact, looking 3/4 in the mirror on my right side I look remarkably more like my mother and doing the same on my left I look like my father.  Yep.  My right eye just pops more, it's bigger, bigger white and bigger dark part, sometimes not the same shade of white, slightly higher in my face and higher front-to-back too, with a more raised perky eyebrow over it even, and a chunkier cheekbone and fatter cheek below the eye.  My left eye is a little tired, relatively speaking, just seeming like a cooler, more thoughtful or easygoing person.  Looool.  That's how I've managed to trick everyone, eh, and to look like my mother and like my father and have people argue who I resemble.
Photo collage from "How Faces Change With Age"
Faces keep changing - I could hear my face shift as my mouth healed last year when I got a tooth removed.  I can feel my head shift when I learn a lot or work my brain hard.  I have a big head.  It will change some more.  You know, the left/right side will learn more about what the other side is doing and come to an agreement.  Or something.  Or not.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

New Kids On The Block

The Stick Animatic by Renua Giwa-Amu

MC Omo-Ola (Sola Olatuyi) in "Man No Be God"
music + theater + dance
More Music Videos

Aye, there's more, for example
 xanni (Opeyemi Sanni) - music, digital arts, design, UX/UI

I'm a proud mama loool.  Advertisement: REALbubbler. daily.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Rescue Me

Here are eleven romance novels titled Rescue Me:


Rescue Me 
Colorado Blues #2   by   Ann B. Harrison 
Determined to provide for her illegitimate son, Gina answers a 'mail order bride' advertisement.
But the Colorado sheriff gets more than he bargained for when the boy's wealthy grandparents sue for custody.
Can Rory come to terms with Gina's manipulation of the truth and build a future for the three of them?
Rescue Me 
Sunset Bay Book 1 by Christine Kingsley 
One night to escape...
Meredith Jacobs has long since given up passion for duty...but sexy search and rescue officer Cole Phillips is the perfect excuse to cut loose. In the tropical paradise of Sunset Bay, she can enjoy a carefree evening in his arms before she goes back to her all-work-no-play life.
At least, that's the plan.

One day to decide...
Cole's history with women has taught him to keep his heart under wraps, but beneath Meredith's prim-and-proper exterior he finds a fire to match his own. She stirs emotions far more dangerous than lust--and presents a challenge tougher than any special ops rescue mission.

One chance to change it all...
A misunderstanding keeps them at odds until an unexpected encounter brings Meredith and Cole face to face with the desire that flares between them. Has the bad boy finally met his match? Or this time, is he the one in need of rescue?
Rescue Me 
by Cynthia Knoble
series Quickies #1

​Reclining in a wingback chair in the smoking room of an exclusive gentlemen’s club, Rhys Davenport III celebrates his success. The youngest man ever granted admittance, he has reached the pinnacle of his career. The click of stilettoes cuts his gloating short, and he’s astounded at the appearance of a woman in the club, especially one even younger than he is.
   Amber Lindsay is a driven woman who has achieved remarkable success. A corporate leader, her accomplishments have guaranteed her entry into the club. No stranger to attaining her goals, she sets her sights on a new one, Rhys.
   Their passionate affair fizzles when a secret surfaces, one devastating enough to ruin more than their relationship, an indiscretion that could cut short her illustrious career. With his own reputation at stake, is his brief relationship with Amber worth the risk of losing everything he has accomplished?
Rescue Me 
Shades of Love #2 by Teri Fowler 
Part-time firefighter and full-time rancher Seth Coulter will do anything to save the family ranch. He applies to take part in a TV reality show featuring emergency service personnel in the hopes of winning the grand prize.

TV producer Maya Franklin is so jaded by years of living in LA that she can't quite believe Seth is as decent as he seems during his audition, so she rejects his application. The insane sexual chemistry between them leads her to his hotel room that night but a call from the studio, telling her they want Seth for the show, forces her to leave before anything can happen.

Seth and Maya are reunited on location and, this time, she's his boss. Despite her intention to keep him at arm's length, she underestimates Seth's determination to get what he wants, and what he wants is her!
Rescue Me
"Tropical Heat"
When Dr. Elizabeth Goodall is kidnapped and held captive in the African jungle, her only hope for rescue is counterterrorist operative Sam Pelton. But to escape from a brutal warlord, they must confront a powerful attraction that could prove more treacherous than the wilds of the jungle…
"Atlanta Heat"
Em Delaney has wanted bad-boy Macey March for as long as she can remember. But as a Navy SEAL under the command of her overprotective godfather, Macey is off-limits to Em…until a kidnapping attempt forces them to share tantalizingly close quarters—and a forbidden desire.
"Desert Heat"
Assistant D.A. Elena Martinez never wanted to fall for police detective Seth King. When they are teamed up on a charity hike in the Grand Canyon, however, their chemistry sizzles under the desert sun. But a vengeful drug lord is determined not to let them survive the canyon with their lives—and love—intact…

Rescue Me: A Novel
(Last Chance Rescue (Eternal Romance) Book 1)
by Christy Reece
A covert operative of Last Chance Rescue (LCR) Enterprises, Eden St. Claire has made secrets her life’s work. Seven years ago, an evening of emotional vulnerability and pure pleasure almost destroyed her. Now Eden wears her beauty like a mask, concealing any hint of vulnerability or the demons of her past.
A daring rescue of an innocent girl on a Greek island leads Eden to a new partner. Jordan Montgomery has been looking for Eden–though he knows her by another name, from another time. But his search for her is overshadowed by a case that’s gone international. A powerful, ruthless, organized network is stealing women and children around the world. And a lover, a traitor, and a killer all wait for Eden’s next move.
Rescue Me: 
A Sage McGuire Romance
by Sharon Kleve 

In RESCUE ME, Quirky, Private Investigator, Sage McGuire has her self-defense skills down pat, but still needs rescuing from a vicious lobster.

In addition to frightening crustaceans, she has a secret admirer known only as Smiley Emoji, a major confusing case, and a purse-snatcher she had to go mano-a-mano with.

Sage is obsessed with her lack of cooking skills. When she flunks a cooking class, she is still determined to fix Carter Morgan, her sexy-as-hell boyfriend, a gourmet meal he will never forget.

Just another typical day for PI McGuire.
Rescue Me 
(The Pride #8) by Jill Sanders 
Lane Austin would do almost anything for his local firehouse, even model for a sexy calendar. But now he’s allowed himself to be talked into auctioning himself off. What was he thinking?

Abby has just walked away from a terrible relationship that should have ended years ago. What better way to celebrate than having her cousin take her to watch a bunch of firemen be auctioned off to horny housewives? But when Jenna secretly buys Mr. September for her, her entire world and all of her preconceptions about hunky men will change forever.

Rescue Me 
(a quirky romance novel about secrets, forgiveness and falling in love) Kindle Edition
by Sydney Allan 

She's used to doing all the rescuing. But love has a way of changing everything.
Hailey Jensen is in the rescue business--animal rescue--and more than willing to risk life and limb for fowl or fauna. Just when life couldn't get better, her world crumbles. Her identical twin has cancer, and her marine rescue is failing before it even gets started. Lacking coping skills, she takes refuge behind sarcasm and solitude.

But, thanks to Dr. Rainer Hartmann, her sister's friend and a man who mistakes overbearing control for helping, she finds herself on the opposite end of the control stick. A wildly independent woman, Hailey fights with the determination of a bulldog as Rainer struggles to drag her out of despair...and into his arms.
Rescue Me 
by Catherine Mann

A rescued dog returns the favor in the latest Second Chance Romance from USA Today bestselling author of Shelter Me.

Detective AJ Parker left undercover work in Atlanta to join a small-town Tennessee police force, hoping for an easier workload and the solitude of his cabin. But the scars left by AJ’s previous work are more difficult to escape than he thought…

Mary Hannah Gallo works with the Second Chance Ranch Animal Rescue to train therapy dogs for traumatized patients. It isn’t easy, but her life is under control—until she meets the broodingly sensual AJ, who rattles her composure all the way to her toes.

After an assignment confiscating dogs from a backyard breeder reveals a dangerous drug operation, AJ must work with sexy perfectionist Mary Hannah to train an abused rescue dog—a dog now named Holly. While Holly proves to these two very different people that opposites can, in fact, attract, she also knows more than a few explosive secrets that could heal—or divide—the entire town.

Rescue Me
  • CD-Audio
Narrator  , By (author)  
Sabrina Daniels is looking for a new life after a bitter divorce from a controlling husband. She finds the answer to her dreams of the future in Kyle Morgan, who's looking for an investor in his Rocking M Ranch in Dreamwater, Oklahoma. It's a fresh start for Sabrina, and she's always wanted to own a ranch. Kyle's ranch is in trouble, but Sabrina is even more trouble, and he wants nothing to do with a woman who knows nothing about ranching. But Sabrina has the money, and she's a reluctant solution to his financial problems. Working side by side, Kyle and Sabrina find surprising common ground, and a sizzling chemistry neither can deny. They both have hearts in need of rescue, and love is the sweetest savior. 

These are just the romance novels of that book title, in English language, that are male-female, white/American, recent and online.
All of this makes me wonder just how many books there are in the world.  Wow.  

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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Paradise Road

It was a morning like any other morning, on a road like any other road. 

8 a.m.  
“Conductor, give me my change.”  
The dust, smoke, and everything were making life miserable for all of us on the bus.  Meanwhile, through one guy’s phone speakers, Kendrick Lamar was trying to sing his “If These Walls Could Talk” but it just sounded croaky - croaky like the bus radio. 
“Conductor, my change,” the same female voice called again, because the conductor had just got some change and served it round to those near the front. 
The conductor, the usual six-pack specimen of youthful Yoruba sexiness, gave an exasperated “ah” and hissed.  He would get to her eventually, he said, and anyway, he had warned everybody to only get in if they had exact change. 
“Conductor, if you don’t give me my change today…”  You know how Yoruba women can threaten.  Essentially, she said he should not test her, lest she show him who was mad between the two of them. 
Her stop came, and the conductor didn’t have the money to give her, so it was time for some more elaborate drama.
“Haa, fun mi ni change-y mi.”  Surely everyone could hear her now.  No, she was not joking. 
“Haaa, o’o ni fun mi ni change-y mi ni?” but this time she grabbed the conductor’s shirt just as the bus began to move again. 
Her bellow made you think of a long-time smoker, but then you finally looked over and saw that the voice was much bigger than the person.  She looked like a teenager, probably Muslim or at least from those areas of town where dozens of people shared each house, with a wife to each room.  That was what the shallow wells below her neck told me, and the nothing-flabby-or-bulgy around her abdomen, not to mention the well-defined “yams” at her buttocks, pectorals, and arms. 
Poor people got their good physique for free - no gym membership required.   She looked like she would be able to fight well, but not with a conductor.  Conductors really know how to fight, as you already know.     
She ran alongside the bus when the bus-driver decided to lose her.  Now as we slowed, she dragged the conductor off the bus. 
Her face was not bad.  In spite of the hyperactive sun in this crazy city, the girl had an attractive chocolate tone, somewhere between milk chocolate drink and double-choc Maryland cookies.  Maybe she was twenty, but maybe she was younger.
“Do you want to kill yourself?” one passenger scolded. 
“The boy should give her her fifty naira,” said another woman. 
“All these drivers are useless.  Give her her money and let her go,” said another. 
The girl held the young man’s clothes in a tighter bunch than before, but the conductor was being a gentleman and only grumbled rather than lash out. 
Somebody got down from the bus, but before going his way, he slapped the conductor’s head, saying he should give her the money and stop wasting everyone’s time. 
“I’ve given her twenty naira,” the conductor said with a smirk across his young and handsome mug.  “If anybody has change…” he announced again, but because he really had no change and no passenger was offering, his intention was to slip away.   
“You will give me my fifty naira today,” she screamed, still clinging to him. 
The bus started to move again. 
The conductor, expert monkey-bar athlete that he was, sprung back to his work-station, hanging in the doorway, but the girl ran after the bus and grabbed him again.  He really should have got inside the bus and shut the door! 
Things were looking dangerous so I threw what change I had - a twenty naira note - through the door, so that maybe the girl would stop to get it.  She did not.  She held on to the boy.    
The money did not make it out of the bus anyhow; I think the air pushed it back.  Meanwhile, the passengers started to shout “haa…hey…haa” because the bus was rolling down this granite-hard road with a human being hanging on to life by such a delicate thread. 
“These people are wicked!” somebody said.
Seeing my twenty ignored on the floor of the bus, I decided to tune out the girl, the boy, and their stupid matter.  Seriously: according to my mathematics, twenty and twenty naira was practically the same as a fifty, but maybe there was a deeper principle I was missing. 
Anyhow, the windsurfer girl was still on the ride of her life, hanging on the conductor’s arm.  The older passengers were nervous on her behalf:
“…if she should fall!”
“Haa, this driver wants to kill somebody today”
“Stop this vehicle!  Stop this vehicle!”
“These people are wicked.”
When the vehicle stopped, the men in front started shouting at the driver:  “If there was a policeman here, he would have given you the beating of your life,” said one.  The other spat, “Useless man!”   The first one said, “When everybody was saying stop, why didn’t you stop?”  The other shouted, “dangerous driving!”
The conductor picked up my twenty and stretched it to the girl but that was not acceptable.  She wanted her fifty naira.  The conductor begged the driver for change; the driver said he had none for God’s sake.  The girl threatened that if he tried to take off again, she would hold on to him and follow him wherever until he paid her money. 
The men in front abused the driver for putting the woman’s life at risk.  “God saved you that you didn’t kill somebody.” 
The women in the back abused the conductor for not giving the lady her correct change.  “Is it not your job?  Are you not supposed to have change?”
The conductor saw a potential passenger and called out his route: “Fifty naira, enter only with your change.”  The new passenger had fifty naira, the girl was paid off, and the bus rolled on to my stop. 
As most of us exited, I wondered how anyone could judge the case differently.  In my view, the one to blame was not the conductor, nor the driver, but the one who was prepared to give her life for fifty naira. 

9 a.m.
The suicidal girl’s mother, Alhaja, was the colour of Maryland cookies - not double-choc but choc-chip - not because that was her natural colour, but because she believed in looking fine.  “Fine” for her was something that was accomplished with time, attention, and a variety of beauty products.  A business woman when it came to time for business, Alhaja’s real love was romancing men – men the colour of Maryland cookies. 
On this Monday morning, she was transitioning back to business from pleasure, on the bus ride from the two-storey home of her “man-friend” near Ofada to her provisions shop in Lagos.  A carpet of thick, black eyelashes accessorized her red-and-green-blotched, maroon-and-molehair-specked face. 
One car tried to pass her bus on the left.  It was going too fast.  Some passengers saw it and shouted “haa” just before they heard that knocking sound “pa” and knew that they had been hit.  Why had their stupid driver chosen to swerve left at the same time, as if he had not seen the car? 
He was not really stupid; it was just that there was a pothole ahead and he could lose his door if he took the pothole at the high speed they had gained while descending the bridge.  Now that his bus was swaying out of his control, he was beginning to wonder if he had done the right thing. 
Soon, the driver had applied his brakes and his experience to stop safely.  Now he would - as usual - get down and look at the damage to his car and there would be a shouting match or, if the driver of the modest silver sedan wanted to prove himself a wild animal, well then, he was certainly prepared to beat up his face.     
Meanwhile, near the door, Alhaja’s wrapper had got caught in one of the many rod-and-wire parts.  Then the door had fallen off its hinge and started to spark like Ogun-meets-Sango, screeching like the cutter at the welder’s workshop. 
There was nothing very unusual about a door dropping on its knee on one side of a passenger bus, it was just that it fell just at the moment Alhaja reached out to unhook her wrapper and the metal parts scratched her arm.  Seeing blood, the woman panicked and decided to exit immediately.
“Ehn, this is not where I’m going to die,” she said to her ancestors and to her God, Allah, the One she had adopted at her marriage.  Her hefty arm, with its stretch-marks broad like tiger stripes, pulled her wrapper so hard that the door yielded a shred of it.  In a flash, her hefty legs with their violent tiger-scratches got her away from the death-trap. 
She tumbled free and ran to the street shoulder; to safety.  Her legs had not felt such a burn since The Second Republic.  She didn’t often think about her childhood, but this was the occasion to remember its major event.  In that memory, she was a child and she and her brother were living with their father, but on this day the food looked like rubbish and they hated it, so her brother told her that they had been stolen from their mother and now they had to go and find their true mother’s house. 
It was a strange but true story, and she’d been told that it happened on the day Obasanjo handed over to Shagari.  They, the two children that her mother had with her father before they parted ways, had got out and run through farms and streams to find her. 
She being three years younger than her brother, it had taken a lot of effort to keep up with him, and she had got sick afterwards.  It was her usual sickness, featuring high temperature, vomiting, fire that her grandmother lit to keep her warm when she said she felt cold; featuring sweat, convulsion, the meetings with bad spirit children that she could never remember, then her waking up after everything to find the spoon that had been used to stop her teeth from biting off her tongue, eventually getting well enough to finally ask for food - the ogi (corn pap) that she was allowed to drink as much as she wanted. 
That day as she escaped the bus, memories from 1979 flashed before her eyes.     
What the crowds saw was a bus that had hit a car but not very badly, the door hanging at an awkward angle, and a half-naked woman fled from the scene. 
The sight of her would have been more entertaining, but Alhaja wore what she and other market-women still called a girdle.  Her girdle was brown, a little transparent, and looked painful the way it pinched her belly and her thighs.  The idea was to hold the fat in and look approximately sweet-sixteen again.  It had served her well for years, but on this day it also served to cover her nakedness from the public.  
An instant later, she noticed that all was calm with the bus, and saw that she was undressed, naked in full view of strangers, on the interstate highway, so she ran back to get her wrapper.  As she dressed, she said thanks to God that she was still alive.  So far, she had only one grandchild; she would see many more insha’Allahu.  
The other passengers started to dismount one by one. 

10 a.m.
Alhaja’s mother was fifty-nine, so there was not very much for Death’s bony hand to gain by snatching her.  Her body was frail and her wallet was empty, but she was marked for tragedy anyway.  People would mourn her briefly, but those that would be really, bitterly mourned lay a few meters from her where the same angry force had crushed a fine SUV, taking the souls of a rich woman and her three-year-old son.  
Having claimed those three, the evil trailer had twisted and fallen to its side.  As it fell, its countless crates and glass bottles poured over the shoulder of the highway where motorcycles and tricycles had like magic been deserted so that more people didn’t die. The glass roared like the sea and glistened with the sun’s reflection.  The giant monster quit its thrashing and chose to lie down, docile like a puppy. 
The truck driver had disappeared before the impact or the crowd might have lynched him.  He was probably among them, sighing and sorrowing, trying to blend in. 
Traffic built up on the side street because cars couldn’t pass, and a crowd grew within minutes as more people arrived on foot wondering what was causing the hold-up.  As those ones stood about, they picked up the gist: trailer accident, dead bodies.  The young ones went away shaking, crying; the men gathered around, waiting for the removal of the corpses; while the women travelled on, spreading the grim tales, especially the tale of one dazed elderly woman trying to cross the street - how she had first tried to run this way and that, but the trailer would not leave her; how she had stopped running and let it smash her into the tarmac. 
“It was her time,” one said.
“It was too horrible,” said another. 
“May God have mercy on us.” 
“I will never forget how her leg kept moving like she had an electric shock.”
“What about the car they said was crushed like paper?”
“Why would I go out of my way to stare at such a thing?”    
“God have mercy.  Why is it always here?”
“There was an accident here not long ago.”
“Not up to two weeks.” 
“It’s the fastest road to paradise.”
“God have mercy.” 
Blame the bad brakes. 
Blame the steep descent. 
Blame the squandered budget. 
Alhaja, in her shop, suddenly felt dizzy.  She felt something evil had happened, but when she tried to guess what, she only saw clouds.  The state governor was planning a wedding party for his third child, and so in far away Kenya, 3,000 pearl-white roses had to die that day. 
It was past 10 o’clock and she really had better things to do than to sit in that dead place babysitting her grandson and making phone-calls.  Her mother would soon return from the prayer camp she had gone to since Friday, or her lazy daughter would return from another fruitless trip to scrounge for money at her lazy husband’s place.  Then she would be able to hit the road to meet with her debtors and suppliers.
Although she had already eaten breakfast, Alhaja felt weak, so she paid fifty naira for a Tasty - the new brand of clear and bubbly sugar-water.  After drinking that, she felt steady enough to continue working.  She read her recent text messages again and felt impatient to leave the shop.  She decided to phone her daughter to see if she was nearby.  Her own mother was trying to reach her in the wind and the clouds but she did not understand.  Just dead, she had become a spirit floating around town saying last goodbyes before going to her Christian paradise where she would be forever free.  
Free from poverty. 
Free from accidents. 
Free from the fear of dying. 
That same fear had led her to spend the entire weekend, from Friday till that morning, on a mountain-top where she had gone to pray under the guidance of a man-of-God.  The man-of-God had described a vision in red that meant death, and three steps to combat the almost-inevitable:  
According to him, the woman and her family were to avoid any toll-gate at which no toll-fees were collected.  It was at one such out-of-use toll-gate that death was hunting for her kin.   They would have to observe his warning until it was revealed otherwise, he said, since they did not know the hour of death, only the place. 
Secondly, he asked her to pay one thousand and six hundred naira for a chicken, yam, and other miscellaneous foodstuffs, with which he would offer special prayers.  He accepted a thousand since that was truly all she had, but before he could perform the cleansing rituals, death had caught up with her. 
In the meantime, since the toll-roads could not be avoided in practice, he said that whenever she or anyone in her family was near a bridge or any rising or falling road, they should call “Holy Michael” seven times to activate the archangel’s protection.   

At the former tollgate, at the first test, Alhaja’s mother had failed to remember the angel’s name.  While the poor woman stood there, scared, stammering and confused, the driver had ditched the truck and fled for his life. 

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