Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Wear the Bottom Box Today


To be honest, I have never really had a ‘bottom box’. Special clothes, shoes or jewelry kept away to be worn for that special event. I am not even sure why. Maybe if I did, then I would still have all of my mother’s gold jewelry.

Where am I going with this?

Why don't you click here to read the full blog on Pulse.Ng?

Thank you

Salt.




Sunday, 9 April 2017

Stirring the Embers



My world changed forever on December 28, 2016.

My sister, my AburoChild, Shola Adefolalu Gaska (Sholly) who, as far as I knew was an active and healthy 36-year-old was reported to have died in the hospital. Her husband Qba gave me the shocking news. As I type, I cannot tell you truthfully that I understand what really happened to Sholly. Anaemia, Fibroids, breathing problems and all sorts of confusing pieces of information were being thrown about. Anyway, on January 2, 2017, five days after she dies, her loving husband decided to cremate my sister without allowing ONE single member of my family see her. We are told that as her husband, he had the legal rights to do so. I guess, the law allows him to be heartless too.

Did we ask for an autopsy report? A million times. At first Qba sent us a report which when translated, turned out to be a sort of ‘death notification' and NOT an autopsy report. Next time we asked confronting him with his ‘lie’, he said that since the matter was now with the Police, they would send it to me the ‘official way’. I guess the time for the ‘official way’ has not come because I still do not have the report.

Are we sure an autopsy was even done? Well, we hope so and we have been told that the Prosecutor’s Office in Poland that is investigating this case ordered one and has the results.  Great, there is an investigation! Yes, from the Polish media, we understand this to be true. So, why can’t we get the information from the Prosecutor? Because contrary to what the Nigerian Embassy in Poland made us believe, the Polish Prosecutor is not investigating the case on behalf of the family. They are doing so on behalf of the Polish state. They don’t give a hoot about us. Or what do you want me to say?

For us to get any information from we need a lawyer to register us as ‘interested parties’ to the case in Poland. So, find and engage a lawyer, right? Yes, sounds easy but first we have to find one and then be able to pay him. We are still struggling on both counts. Oh, go to Poland yourselves, it will be easier to find a lawyer and also you need to see where ‘they ‘put Sholly. To go to Poland, you need a visa and the Polish embassy only one human being handling visas so every time you go to their website to seek an appointment date, what do you get? Yes, no available dates. I know. I have been trying since Feb 28. I will keep trying.

Anyway, so in January 2017, my family sent petitions to the following asking them to assist in unravelling the mystery surrounding Shola’s death and hasty cremation:
·       
            The Nigerian President and the following leaders:
·         The Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
·         The Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives
·         The Majority Leader, Federal House of Representatives
·         The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs
·         The Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs
·         Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora
·         The Head, Nigerian Consular Section
·         The President, Republic of Poland
·         The Ambassador, Republic of Poland
·         The Mayor, City of Krakow, Republic of Poland
·         Policja General Commandant

I just want to thank EVERY single person that signed the  ‘JusticeforShola’ petition on change.org. platform. Your support was just phenomenal and I know it helped get our story out there.

A media conference led by Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin was held in February during which she called on the FGN to step in and help the family get the bottom of this matter.  In addition, several media, print and online have featured the story.

To date, the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs has stepped in to the matter and thanks to him, the family was able to meet with the Polish Ambassador in Abuja on February 28, 2017.

We have also sent a request to the Attorney General of the Federation to help us take up this matter officially with the Polish Prosecutor’s Office. This was one of the steers we got from the meeting with the Polish Ambassador. We understand will give us access to information and will make the Polish authorities take this matter seriously. Sadly, the AG’s office basically told us it could not help and that we should go back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In our country, clearly, you have to ‘know’ people to get help.  As God would have it, He is my MegaConnection. It’s all good.

I must thank the Polish Police Headquarters though as I did get a response from them acknowledging receipt of our petition. They said it 'was handed over to the Criminal Department Provincial Police Command in Cracow with the purpose of further verification'. That was on March 16. I guess they are still verifying as I have not heard anything since then. But at least they replied right?

Also, the Majority Leader’s office is also aware of the matter and has promised to bring it to the notice of the NASS.  For some reason, I have a lot of confidence in this promise. I pray I am right to do so. Do you know him? Maybe you can ask him how far for us too? Sometimes, I just ask myself: If a Nigerian man did this to a Polish woman here in Nigeria, where would he be right now? Yes, your guess is as good as mine. One thing is clear. He will not be roaming free forming 'I don't want to talk about it'.

Anyway, moving on, my family and I are very eager to get updates on this matter. We cannot afford for the story to go cold. We believe that is what the Polish family is hoping will happen. Their hopes shall be dashed because I will not allow this story go away. It might go quiet but never away and that is one of the reasons for this post. To stir the embers again.  

Maybe somebody who knows the Attorney General will ask him ‘how far’ for us. Why can’t his office help? Maybe somebody who knows the person that gives appointment for visa in the Polish embassy and will help somebody. Maybe somebody who knows the Gaska family will talk to them as ask them to just do the decent thing and tell us what really happened to my sister. Maybe somebody in this country Nigeria, somebody that has the power will demonstrate care and concern like Dr. Oby Ezekwesili did. Now, she acted like a real woman, a mother with a heart. Unlike some others. I shall not name names. But I hope ‘they’ read this and ‘they’ recognise ‘themselves’. All I know is no condition is permanent and Life is a boomerang. What you throw out? Be sure you will get it back.

So, let the embers be stirred quietly. Yes, Sholly rests but there shall be no rest for anyone that might have had anything to do with her passing. Yes, I am, daily, doing my very best to ensure that Grief does not become my middle name but there can not be any peace for anyone sitting on the truth in this matter. Let no one think that my silence on this matter means nothing is going on. 

I have stepped back somewhat to give God full room to do what only He can do. And dear people of the Gaska family, when God is working on something, he does not always show his hand.


But let all those who will get in his way be afraid.

Very afraid.
I used to love this photo......

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Henceforth, Let No Man Say Unto Salt



I was very proud of myself at work today.

In line with my post Woman Cry Out decision, when people said 'Sorry for your loss or Sorry about your sister' to me today, I smiled instead of sighing and refused to allow my face to crest-fall. (Is that a real word? 😊).

I smiled and said. "It's fine. Please don't be sorry. My sister rests".

You see, I don't want you to feel sorry for my loss anymore. Sholly is with Jesus so I've really only gained one more heavenly connection. Now, I have a whole three connections up there. Like my colleague Busola said "I wo nikan tan. You are heavily heavenly connected". I laughed. Even now, I smile as I remember. It sounds so cool.

I'd been waiting for WCO since December 29. It's one prayer conference where I always, always, meet God. I knew He would be waiting for me there as the Balm in Gilead. I knew that the kind of anguished wailing I needed to break through into a new season could only be done there. Anywhere else and people would be afraid.  People of God, I wept my heart and eyes out.  And God held me and let me. He comforted me and took away the 'need' to be sad that had crept into me without me even knowing. 

And people seeing me, sighing and telling me sorry fed that need. All through the day, I would go about being OK, doing life and then someone would come up to me and tell me 'Ah, heard about your sisters. So sorry' and boom! I had permission to regress into that warm sad place. It would take me about 30 minutes to get over it the point where I could move on but that day would pretty much be over. Because grief had become my master and I was its slave. No! It had to stop.

It was not people's fault. It was mine but thanks be to God who always gives me victory! I left the WCO venue knowing that I had been loosed and this is why I come today to say:

'Henceforth, let no man say unto Salt "I'm sorry for your loss"

I've not lost Sholly. I know exactly where she is. She's up in Heaven blissing on with my mom and my Papa, my Prof. It feels so good to be so sure. I pray we all live such that our loved ones will be sure too when we move on from this side of eternity to the next. This is why, as I close,  I am asking you for one favour.

If you really want to help me, I ask that you yearn with all your heart after the God I hope you have seen in me through all of this. It has not been easy. There have been times I have wanted to curse people. For real. But God restrained me by telling me not to hinder His own judgment. So I chilled. It hurts but God continues to hold my broken heart in place and strengthen me every day by showing me mercy and love. It is this God I ask you to seek and make your priority.

Now, THAT, I would love. 

Shalom!

#CelebratingSholaWithMyLife
#PlayingMyLifeLoud
 #PostWCOSaltStance


My Heavenly Connection
*exhaling*
All is Well. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Salt "Hooks Theory"



Is it me or does it feel like there is a conspiracy to kill one's joy going on around us? Sad news just seems to abound. To stay above it all, I keep saying to myself, over and over "My Jesus, you are my Joy and you are Bigger".

Functional Depression. That's what I call what has ailed me at different times in my life. Especially in my late 30s and early 40s. Now, I recognize the warning signs better and snuff them out before I am consumed. 

Functional Depression, according to Salt,  is the kind where on the inside you are in a dark place but on the outside you are all smiles and brightness. You can still do life and those around you have no clue because you are still functioning. 

If you've read any of my Diaries of a DNW and were paying attention, you'd have caught some shards of those times. 

What's funny is that until recently, I didn't even know that what I was going through was depression. I just thought I was really sad about some aspects of my life and just wanted to deal with it in a dark place all by myself. Sometimes I would pray. Sometimes I would not. 

But always I would write. Always, I would play inspirational music. Loud. Ask my children, they will recall a time when CeeCee Winans "Waging War" was on repeat play all day and all night in my bedroom. Because I was waging war for my life and my mind. They thought I was just being "Mommy". 😊

And that's another thing. My children. God's gift to an undeserving me. No matter how dark the moods. No matter how crazy the self-defeating and destructive thoughts, they have never been able to trump the wonder of me being mom to these three wonders of my life. The gratitude I feel in my heart eventually begins to poke holes in the arguments of the taunting voices.

What am I trying to say here? Please in this life you need to have hooks. Yes, hooks. So Jesus Christ is my spiritual hook but my writing, my music, my children and my MGM (when he's not being the cause of my stress himself *rolling eyes while smiling*

They are my sensory hooks. There has to be something or someone that 'anchors' your sanity to the ground. Something or someone that calls your name louder than the voices in your head can scream. 

I love God with all my heart. I'm thankful to him for giving me my hooks. It doesn't diminish my dependence on him in anyway. On the contrary, through them, by giving them to me I see how much he cares for me and loves me. And when I remember that, the fog begins to clear. 

If there is anyone in this family that EVER needs someone to talk to, reach out to me. Being depressed is not a sin. So don't be ashamed or shy. I'm not an expert but together we can talk, pray and best of all try to find your hooks. If you need more than I can offer, we can find someone with the right skills for you. Please none of us, no one we know ..... Should become a statistic for research on depression. Please. 

Stay lifted above it all my people! 
And now more than ever, let's hold fast to our Saltiness❤.
Love you but God loves you way more.

*exhaling* 
 PapaGod, please breath over this post so it communicates my heart. Or better still, let it communicate your heart. In Jesus Christ name. Amen.


(So after I posted the above on my Salt Talks Whatsapp and Facebook pages, I got a number of inbox messages  and DMs asking me to explain this my 'Hooks' theory. Here was my post in response)


Please, I'm not a Shrink. 
I don't have a single 'kpali'. 
This is purely Salt speak. Based on my 48 almost 49 year old reality. 
Don't quote me. But it works for me.

Sensory Hooks" are people or things that you see, hear, do, taste or touch/feel that give you so much pleasure or lift you so high that the lies of the devil become laughable. Inconsequential. Nonsense. Nothing. 

Think about and figure out what your own hooks are. It's important. Vital. 

Jesus Christ IS Lord of our lives. He is Real but we can't see him.  (I can't or haven't at least). So, sometimes,  I think we need GodGiven and GodApproved things our five senses can relate to. People we love, things that bring us as much joy as our salvation in Jesus Christ does. Just more tangible. 

We need such in our lives to shut down those voices in our head. To negate the darkness.  To give us hope. You know?
But like I said, don't quote me. 
All I know is my "hooks" help me. 

Take a moment and think of what you own hooks might be and then the next time that cloud tries to settle over you, think about or action one of them and see.....

I await your feedback.
Ah, forgot to mention. Yellow is one of my 'Hooks' too.
It's my new black. I wear it in some form every day. To say afloat.


Friday, 17 March 2017

He Always Leaves Room



It has been a pretty rough ride for me these past months but I can say, hand over heart,  that God always leaves room for thanksgiving. I cannot think of one single day where I did not have cause, in the midst of my grief, to praise God. And I actually believe that it is those times of gratitude that have saved my mind. Being able to find things to thank God for kept hopeless despair at bay.
In this post, I just want to share some of the ways God has left me ‘room’ to thank him even in my darkest hours.

I remember getting the news of Sholly’s passing.  In those first crazy days, the one person I kept thinking about was my Papa, my Prof. How would he have felt? It was bad enough having to deal with my Aunty Silifa. Oh my, I cannot tell you how happy I was, even as the tears coursed down my face that he had passed two years earlier. How would I have consoled him? I sent up thanks to God for sparing my father such pain and grief.

It;s all about you my love.
It will always have something to do with you
Bliss On my AburoChild!


Then God gave me another reason to be thankful when the horror of what would have been occurred to me. Had I not gone on a business trip to the Netherlands in March 2016, the last time I would have seen my sister before she passed on would have been when she got married in 2010. Ah! That would have been so, so, so painful. But my God so good, so loving, so merciful who knows the end from the beginning, he organised my life to make our times in 2016 happen. Those days, those nights and the photos we took together are now priceless memories.

My older children, through all of this, have also been schooled. There are some things I believe my MGM and I would not have to explain to them anymore about relationships. There are some questions we will ask them in the future that, now, they will understand. You see, they have been there with me right from the beginning of this drama and looked on and listened as it all played out. They are wiser and for that, I thank God. By God’s grace, they will not make the same mistakes my sister and I made.

In this craziness, I have felt support like never before from around the world. In those first few weeks, I had colleagues come from work with their lunches telling me they would not eat if I did not eat. I had old classmates from miles away calling me, sending me music and scriptures and just encouragement. One Sistafriend cooked all the food we ate on New Year’s Day! Another is the face and passion behind the entire Justice for Shola campaign on Change.org. One SisterFriend I had not been in touch with too often read the story in the Punch Newspaper and in a blink  led a whole set of ladies to set up a Whatsapp Prayer group just to cover me and mine in prayer through this all. While yet another took it upon herself to organise the media conference with Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin.

How can I forget the Sistafriend who took it upon herself to foot the bill of our stay in Abuja when we went to meet the Polish Ambassador? The major inroad we made into the government? The person that hooked us up and got us the appointment with the Polish Ambassador? Yes, an old secondary school senior! There has not been one day that has gone by where I am not touched by one Godsent Angel or the other and I thank God for that. I could not be experiencing all that and be hopeless.

Because of this, I've had family who hadn't spoken to each other in a year, speak all in a bid to get to the bottom of this. I gave thanks. Sholly did that. Through this, young ladies are taking steps to equip themselves with the information they need to make better relationship choices. I have had messages from women married to people from different cultures thanking me for pointing out things they had never thought of before. It’s so rewarding to find some value to this pain, you know?

Always.......
(courtesy of Google imagines)

There are just so many things to say but I am sure you get the picture now. I have lost both parents and I have had to deal with (and am still dealing with some really painful things) but I can tell you for free that losing Shola is the most painful thing I have had to deal with in my life. Yet, I am blessed enough to be able to find the ‘room’ that God has left me to thank Him.

And one of the biggest things I thank God for is for giving me another opportunity to live through something that really demonstrates that ‘what does not kill you will only make you stronger’. Through this, I have learned the truth that in our weakness, God is made strong. I have had to rely 100% on God’s strength in me to go on and I mean it. There have been moments when I lay on my bed and doubt the possibility of me making it through the day. But I ask God to help me anyway. And he does. Each time that happens, I know again, that God is real.

Out of this horrible mess, solid good will come. Tangible good. Yes, many more things to be thankful for will come. And my sister’s name will be linked to each one of them. I will see to that and God will help me. Of this I am sure.

So, let me just end by asking a favour. No matter what you are going through, please look out for that ‘room’ God is leaving you, to thank Him. It’s there. You just have to think about it.

Shalom.


Monday, 6 March 2017

I'm Not Strong



It's true. People think I am. But I really am not strong. 
But I do belong to and serve a very Strong God who also happens to be my PapaGod.
Part of my service to him is obedience. Because he loves me and to prove I love him too, I try to always choose obedience. 
And to obey God, I can't obey the devil.
And all the devil has been telling me to do is crumple up in a dark corner for the rest of my life. He uses different words but basically the same meaning: You will never find peace or really smile again so why bother? Just give in to the darkness within. Fall down in a heap of tears and give up. Roll over and stop fighting....and some days, the invitation does lure me....seems so much easier. 

But no, I refuse it! 

Not because I'm strong. 

But because I just want to obey God. Because I know him enough all by myself to understand that he loves me still.....and while not being able to call Sholly this evening or any other evening hurts like hell, that unquestionable love is still at play. 

So, while I'm not strong,  I carry on the inside of me a very big and strong God and daily, since February 22,  he's been helping me deal with my days. Like for instance the day I saw this photo on Kuba Gaska's FB profile. Honestly, I think he needs help. A  photo of you smoking a cigar. So maybe it was there before Sholly passed, you mean that,  in the midst of your grief, you have had time to change it to the second one? Wow. Which of these is the photo of a man grieving the loss of a wife that he loved. 



*exhaling*

The Strong God in me helps me process my thoughts calmly. Knowing that I need not fret because he's got this. In church today, as I thanked God, I wept as I found myself thanking God Sholly was no longer married to a man who could behave the way Kuba Gąska is behaving. Yes, Sholly, I mean it. From all we have seen since you passed to date, you are better off where you are. The Gąska family never truly  loved you. And it breaks my heart to say it. But this photo is the final straw that has broken my 'I believe Kuba loved Sholly' back. Should they choose to break their 'code of silence', the whole Gąska family? They can try to tell me why I'm wrong.

In the mean time, I shall just set my face like a flint in the direction of The One from whom no one can hide. There are steps I need to take in the physical and I'm taking them. But I know that this battle will only truly be won in the spiritual. 

Most of the time, my weakness overwhelms me but it is this one assurance that gives me strength. 

And Peace.

Sholly, Bliss On o jare Aburo mi. 

Rest my Love.

It's OK if I'm not or don't feel strong all the time because our Strong God is Strong all the time, all by Himself and He's got this. 


P.S Should any one read this, especially if you are Polish, please look at the two photos above and if you can explain why Kuba would use these as his Facebook profile photos at a time like this and you care to share.. I'm all ears. 

*smh* Nkan be. 



Monday, 27 February 2017

Now, Healing Can Begin...


I had my doubts about how I would feel after the Service of Songs and the Celebration of my sister's Beautiful Life. I feared that not being given the chance to see her, hug her one last time and say my farewells would prevent my heart from accepting that it was time to allow healing begin. 

But I was wrong. Thank God.

Yes, thank you PapaGod for demonstrating how powerful celebrating and honoring our loved ones can be. You see, as deep as my hurt is; as broken as my heart is and as devastated as I am about Sholly passing what pained me even more was how she was treated in death. 

How Kuba could treat Sholly, a woman he claimed to love the way he did baffles me. I refuse with every fiber in me to believe that 'that's how the Polish people are'. No, an entire country can't be cold, selfish and heartless. There is something fundamentally wrong with Kuba and his family. And I want to believe there are some of his country people who have heard of this story and know deep in their hearts that something is just not right about all this. 

Anyway, I digress. Sholly deserved better than the Gaska family gave her. She deserved to be celebrated for who she was and the joy she brought to many. Those who loved her and had been touched by her life deserved an opportunity to come together to celebrate her young yet impactful life. 

And that's what, to the shame of the devil and the glory of God, we achieved on Wednesday, February 22, 2017. And I'm so thankful to God right now. Because, even though I cried myself to sleep that night, contrary to my fears, I actually did wake up the next day feeling lighter. The pain in my heart, while still there was less suffocating.

The sights and sounds of that evening  at the City of David; Sholly's smiles on the screen; the  carefully selected and symbolic songs and hymns had taken the place of the images in my head of my sister being sent off in silence to be cremated all alone like she had no one. Came from nowhere. Was never loved.

Righting that wrong brought me peace and for the first time I was able to sincerely invite God in to begin our journey towards healing. I took my time to plan this service; every bit of it and while it didn't go 100% as planned I feel blessed especially as everyone that attended that has spoken to me has said the ceremony was beautiful. Just like my Sholly.

It's still tough and I still cry everyday but I feel the healing going on inside me. I'd like to encourage you to celebrate the people in your life deserving of same. You don't have to wait till they are gone.  

Celebrating our loved ones is good and even though Sholly has gone home, honoring her helped me tremendously so imagine how you will feel doing same for loved ones you still have here with you. 

Shalom❤️

P.S
As I heal, please be assured that I'll also continue to chase after the truth.
Healing is one thing, closure is another. For closure, my family and I need to know what really happened to Sholly. 


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