Tosin Oshagbemi Begins.
When the idea of a meet was first mooted few months ago, the NS forum designated for that purpose got flooded with a lot of positive responses from members who walked the virtual streets of the Naijastories site on a daily basis. As it turned out, many of us had been itching for an opportunity to find out what every other NS person looked like in the real world and to interact on a more intimate level. So, this idea of a meet-up gradually metamorphosed, riding on its instant popularity, into a more elaborate plan that finally culminated in the big event (Oh! Maybe it wasn’t so big after all) that went down at the Elegushi beach, last Saturday.
I jumped out of bed and scurried out of the house that morning of 14th April, which actually was a rude departure from my usual Saturday routine. On a normal Saturday morning, I’d stay in bed hours after dawn, hugging my pillow and sleeping my eyes out – my own way of making up for the lost hours of sleep during weekdays – and then when I finally woke up, I’d do some laundry, treat myself to a meal (usually junk stuff) and settle firmly into the world of football. This morning however, I set out, heading for the beach with every intention of playing catch up with people who had been a very big part of my cyber existence, and very possibly, catch all the fun I could find. What I didn’t realize though, was that I would witness more fun than I had imagined – and unfortunately, more pain too.
We arrived one hour late, after a fairly bumpy ride that saw us almost ram a philandering okada rider who had swerved into our path so suddenly. On arrival, we met a deserted beach. There were no merry makers and certainly no sign of anything regular people would consider fun; no music, no girls in eye-popping, jaw-dropping beachwear – just lonely nature taking its course. There were a few hustlers here and there; some leaving and a few others bringing in their wares in order to prepare for the business of the day. At the gate, we had been flagged down by some desperate looking men who insisted we had to purchase tickets before we could proceed. Tolu, my friend and contingency plan (he was completely unaware of this), had attempted to charm them into beating down the ticket price.
“Oga, you no sabi this face? You no suppose charge us like this o”.
The men who had obviously learnt to follow such jocular conversations, stood their ground politely, refusing us a rebate while flashing us half-hearted smiles and requesting for ‘something’ for the weekend.
It didn’t take long for us to realise our haggling was an exercise in futility, so we paid and were promptly allowed in. Once inside, we were much closer to nature. We listened to strong tides beat against the shore and watched trees swing elegantly, responding to the strong caressing wind. It seemed like the perfect place for a meet-up of writers. The problem, however, was that despite the fact that I was late, there was still no sign of anyone. I was there stuck, a few metres from the shores of this great ocean with this guy who could pass for anything but a writer. I turned and my eyes met his evil grin. He also had an I-Told-You-So expression written all over his face. He had earlier suggested that we’d be first to arrive while we were on our way.
“No one leaves for the beach this early”, he had protested when I stopped to pick him up that morning.
“This is not just a group of anyone, buddy”, I replied. “Writers are very serious people”, I concluded.
I had left out the detail that some writers were damn too serious for my liking and that I needed him to tag along in case the meet turned out to be an assembly of nerds.
With so much time on our hands and nothing else to do at that moment, we removed our shoes and promptly walked down to the waterfront. What followed was a ride on strong tides. It turned out to be truly exhilarating as we watched the Ocean pour, wave after wave, to pay homage at our feet. It was indeed very rewarding while we waited for others to arrive.
Then there was a little twist. A strong wave thrashed on us and then, my wallet which I didn’t realise had been spoiling for some action, flew out of my hand and rode in such majestic manner toward the centre of the Atlantic. Knowing what was at stake, I gladly played the role of the wallet saver. I dug deep for some inner strength and initiated a hot chase, pursuing after the wallet before it got out of sight.
I felt I had had enough after the wallet incident, so we walked away and immediately started scouring the beachside to see if others had started arriving.
Seun Odukoya continues.
I had had good reason to connect with Elektrika really early; really early that fateful day, so I was out of the house early (duh). We met; and I think for the first time in a long time…well; that is none of your business.
We started for the beach in reasonable time; it was a bit after nine. Unfortunately I forgot to account for Ikotun/Ejigbo/Isolo traffic (which is a constant regardless of what day of the week it is); so we ended up spending more time getting to the Island than anticipated. It was therefore, understandably embarrassing when Tosin called me at a few minutes to ten to say he was there already – and I was nowhere near the Island.
Anyway, I got to the Island – Marina to be specific when Ms. Savage (Tiwa) called to tell me she was there and waiting. Uh oh.
I quickly sent her number to Tosin, asking that he connect with her so she would not be alone. Little did I know that 1; what she had said about bringing a friend was true, and 2; thanks to a taxi mishap, they had connected with our very own Shai who is NOT shy.
Without much ado I and my companion made our way to the beach…and the first person we saw was Tiwa; waving the phone I had just dialed up at me. I then found out that due to some *clears throat*, Tosin had not connected with her. Ugh.
As we stood there introducing ourselves, I noticed a young man and woman walking towards us. I recognized Tosin; because I had seen a picture of his somewhere before but I did not know the lady. And I was pleasantly surprised to find it was Amy78; Amaka. Shai kept pointing above my head; when I turned I saw a guy standing on a raised platform about twenty feet above sea level who looked deceptively quiet. But I was not fooled. Not for a second.
That was my introduction to Thomasmann aka Dr. Zhivago.
I noticed Shai was carrying a bottle that contained a white liquid that did not usually look that white. I remembered something he had said to me earlier about ‘lacing my drink’ and acted like I had not noticed.
And so, the ‘NS Meetup 2012’ began.
‘NS Meetup’ 2012 Begins
Some ‘joker’ remarked that he expected to see ugly people because of the kind of stuff he had been reading on NS (I don’t know who told him writers are supposed to be ugly); but that all in sight were beautiful except…well; yours truly and an extra-large senior plus size woman (not an NS member; thankfully) whose mammaries looked like dinosaur eggs from Jurassic Park. She kept staring at Shai trying to make up her mind on one of three things; to either sit on him, swallow him or take him home. I guess she found someone who looked like he could survive the encounter better – because something Zhivago was saying distracted me; and when I looked up she was gone.
So we started talking – getting to know each other. There were a couple of debates…one about poetry and poets, and the other about spousal abuse. It was interesting to drop a couple of issues in the midst of such creativity and intelligence – and then sit back and watch different perceptions and personalities word it all out. Despite the fact that he was constantly distracted by the demands on his attention, yours truly managed to learn so much. So much.
Shortly then, Gooseberry called that she was around and like the gentleman I am (forget the haters); I went to get her. She looked like she was headed for an award ceremony and at first I wondered what that was about – till I saw the way a certain Dr’s hand lingered on hers as I introduced them. I cleared my throat, hitched up my shorts and minded my business.
Shortly afterwards, another call came in signifying the arrival of Scopeman with two of his buddies in tow – a dark skinned friendly fellow whose name escapes me now (how convenient) and a slim girl named Ayoka. A few seconds after we met them they vanished, raising a few interesting questions in my mind.
Scopeman was carrying a box of wine. Goosie had also ‘donated’ about five bottles or so to the pool, and the whole thing had started to look like a ‘Writers/Alcoholics Anonymous meet…but fortunately the ladies (and Tosin; surprisingly) had brought a whole lot of other stuff to lighten the effects of whatever we quaffed. I doubt anyone went home with anything worse than an aching jaw (probably from laughing too much), but apparently Tosin’s friend Tolu got into more than he could handle – and therefore the journey home was an experience in itself. I’m glad they made it safe.
Around this point, Amy brought up an issue and asked if any one there had the same issues she has sometimes; that of finishing projects. Scopeman responded, saying at the end of the day – it was an issue of discipline. Thomasmann said he found writing novels or lengthy works extremely tiresome; that he would rather start and end a short story and be done with it. Yours truly agreed.
Somewhere along the line, Scopeman noticed that he was/seemed to be the only one who kept and extensive and impressive database of Nigerian authors in his head; a ‘fact’ he found somewhat distressing. He would speak for a bit and then ask; ‘Do you know so and so author?’ His unwitting victim would shake his/head, and Scopes would sigh. After that happened like one million times (LIE) he became ‘upset’. He kept asking; ‘if you don’t read Nigerian authors, who do you expect to read you?’ And then he promised to do something about it; half-jokingly, half-seriously.
I fold my hands and wait for him patiently.
As all this was going on, a young man who was distracted by ‘personal issues’ kept stealing surreptitious glances at a lady who was trying so hard to be gentle and quiet; even though her personality said different. At the end of the day, personal issues triumphed and I watched the ‘death’ of a ‘romance’. I’m trying – albeit surreptitiously, to resurrect it. Amen.
Tosin kept disappearing and reappearing – and at some point I was bothered, but it seemed as though he had a couple challenges. But as I expected from someone his size – he handled them quite well, and it all turned out okay.
Somewhere around here I got yet another call that John Olubiyi aka Greatness4life was around. He had some issues related to work, but he had somehow made the time to come out. He said he would be gone in fifteen minutes at which I smiled; and he ended up spending almost an hour. I mean.
At this point, the beautiful chef of the day Elektrika broke out the plates while the guys ‘retreated’ to quickly discuss ‘issues of a male nature’. And then everyone settled down to enjoy Elektrika’s cooking. Around this time, Greatness took his leave and Seun Odukoya saw him off for a bit. Shortly afterwards, the t-shirts were broken out and shared with the owners who were around – and then it was time for photo op.
From left; Shai, Elektrika, Oyinade (barely visible behind Elektrika), Amy78, Dr Zhivago, Tiwa, Tosin, Gooseberry, and Scopeman.
It was something beautiful to see though…all those pretty/handsome faces decked out in black tops proudly announcing ‘Ever Heard Of NS?’ Props to Elektrika for that one.
Oyinade (@mardey) and Shai
Clockwise from left: Tosin, Scopeman, greatness4life, Thomasmann, Waka-pass, Amy, Goosie, Elektrika, Tiwa (or at least her hands), Shai (talk, dark and carrying two cups)
A few minutes later, Tosin had to leave so he left, carting away Gooseberry, Thomasmann and Amy along with him. There was some more time spent hanging out and then – it was time for Scopeman to leave. Miraculously, his friends appeared again and we all walked them towards to exit. As we saw them off, @Phronesis came in, looking nothing like I expected. Cool brother too.
So after Scopes and his friends had left, yours truly spoke a bit with Phronesis and introduced him to the rest of us. We came back to our seat by the sea to find a nerd who looked like he belonged on NS sitting on it. We had – or rather Seun Odukoya had a small discourse with him on the Figurine movie…and then it started drizzling.
It was just five of us left at this point; Shai, Teewah, Oyinade, Elektrika and yours truly. We decided to leave then – it was a few minutes after five.
Seun Odukoya Ends.
So quickly we put our things together – but not before presenting our ‘nerd’ with a bottle of harmless wine; we did not want him and his glasses to end up in the ocean, and with a fond ‘with the compliments of Naijastories’ encouraging him to find the site and join. And then Seun Odukoya presented Oyinade with the book ‘Tomorrow Died Yesterday’ by Chimeka Garricks, also encouraging her to write a review AND to join NS.
And then we packed our things and officially ended the meet.
Of course, since you know we all left the beach together headed in the same direction (ten meters from any point), the story continues. But as far as the NS meet is concerned, the story ended two sentences ago. This is the appendix.
Thank you to @admin for bringing us together. Thank you.
On to the next one.