Underneath the Mask

"To love me, you need to scratch deep beyond the surface. For only then do you find the beautiful soul underneath the mask."
To some I am cold.
Yes I may appear cold, because even though I am a talkative if I am not cool with you. I might not even utter a word to you.

I call myself an "introverted extrovert".
If you are my friend, you know that I am one down to earth person.
I am full of life and adventurous to the best of my ability.

I have been called a bitch countless times.
My profession doesn't help much.
There are just those moments when I have to stop been sweet Lara and do the dictates of my job.

It's hard to be happy all the time.
Lagos drains you.
Every thing in Lagos leaves you exhausted...the traffic, toxic people, the heat, the humidity.

I learnt to wear this mask of mine a long time ago. It is my shield from pain. Lately silence has been my shield.

People hurt you and get mad at you for keeping quiet.
For not loosing it.
I kind of have a sharp tongue, so I avoid saying that which tongue cannot hold back.

If you are patient with me.
If you will see that soul
Underneath the mask.


My tale of 2 towns: **Experience as a Muslimah

Alhaj concentrate on your work, he said.
I wasn’t sure he was talking to me so I did not respond.
40 mins after…Alhaja you were told to stop writing and you continued, he said.
Why are you calling me Alhaja? I asked.
Because you tied a scarf (in this case a pashmina) on your head, the lady sitting directly opposite me replied.
I looked at her and then at him to confirm this statement and he smiled.
In Lagos, you are automatically tagged a muslim the moment a scarf is weaved around your head and if you are a Christian you are labelled an “SU”.
There is this level of respect that is accorded to women who are assumed to be religious. Scarf tying, veil covering and hijab wearing woman is considered a religious one.
The Area boys do not sexually harass you, you hear words such as “This one na SU/Alhaja oh” when you come across them.
In Ilorin….
I did not know that you are a Muslim; he said as I walked past him with a kettle to perform my ablution for the Asr prayers.
So you are a Muslim, another said when I told him my name. Why did you assume I am not a Muslim, I asked.
You are not wearing a hijab, he replied. But I am tying a scarf, I replied.
Well for us an hijab is what signifies you as a Muslim, a scarf round your head may be for fashion or you are covering your undone hair, he said.
I did not grow in a hijab wearing family, I replied and that does not make me less of a Muslim because I am wearing a cap. Well that is what we use in identifying our women, he replied.
Actually from what I am told my method of tying the pashmina on my head looks more like a fashion accessory than hair covering.
I cannot say I fault the views held in any of these towns, yes Lagos is a more liberal town. Any form of head covering for women is acceptable as religious. But for Ilorin, there is a standard in Islam which is followed. And no matter how we liberal muslim will like to have, there is still a standard. My mum and her siblings frown upon scarf tying, I probably would have become an hijabite at some point in my life. But I know my family, they won't even marry me off to a man who will want me to wear one. Their reason is story for another day.
But for one I don’t see myself any less of a Muslim simply because I do not wear an hijab. My pashima tying which I have since discarded since I moved back to Lagos is enough for me.

Benin Republic: A Pit Stop At a Cathedral in Porto-Novo

I cannot for the name of me remember the name of this cathedral we visited in Porto-Novo, not even Sandra who was looking for a Reverend Father to bless her newly purchased rosary can remember the name of the cathedral. You see this is Sandra's first time in a church since her accident, I practically dragged her into the church.

I always find religious houses fascinating especially cathedrals, there is always this attention paid to every detail of the structure.


Benin Republic: Out and About in Porto Novo

Sights from the streets of Porto Novo, Benin Republic


Benin Republic: A Pit Stop at the Musée Ethnographique de Porto-Novo

I am never really one for Museums, mainly because I am not allowed to take pictures.
Sandra planned the whole trip and I never paid attention to the itinerary. Our first stop in Porto-Novo was the Ethnographic Museum.

It was interesting to learn about the history of the people of Benin Republic and I got to steal some shots while the guide talked on. Entrance fee was 1000CFA, if I remeber correctly. The Museum reminds me of the National Museum, Lagos.

It was interesting to hear a totally different version of Yoruba, I could not understand jack and dude kept insisting he was speaking Yoruba. But after struggling to communicate in Cotonou, I was glad to finally hear a variation of my beloved language even though it was equally frustrating trying to figure out what was been said.