They said life can be hard being a woman. We agreed. Then they said life can be hard being a Nigerian woman, and we still agreed. The part they did not add is “Life can be hard being a short Nigerian woman with the face of a teenager”.
I am a cute, small bodied, short, 45kg weighing, teenage faced woman that has been through a lot in this life. Edit. I have been through a lot of hilarious things in this life and that is the inspiration behind these series.
You see, at a point, I used to be very angry when the situations I will describe below happen. But now, I view it as some sort of occupational hazard. And well, I (and others) use it very much to our advantage... when possible.
So these scenarios range from someone in the banking hall asking me if I can read and write which was after I had graduated from secondary school (well, in all fairness to lady, maybe I was looking quite unkempt, but then again that is why I will never open a bank account with that particular bank) to someone asking me if I am old enough to drink coffee when I was 25. You can imagine my shock! I didn’t even know there was age limit for coffee.
Anyway, so while I was in the UK, someone in the family was graduating from University. While we lived in London, we had to go to Leeds for the graduation. 5 of us went for the graduation, plus the celebrant - making 6 in total.
At the end of the ceremony and so much eating, it was time to head home. When we got to the station, we realized we had missed our train. You see, we were to catch a train from Leeds to another city where we’ll get the train to London at 7pm. We assumed 7pm was the time for the train from Leeds. The only option was a new ticket. New ticket was 80 pounds each! 80 pounds! Haaaaaaaaa! Multiply that by 6!
We considered taking the bus. But after going to 2 bus stations and several house of parliament type deliberations, we realised it was too much hassle. The last resort? Everybody chip in! After so much bits & pieces, we were able to gather money, but was short by 40 quid.
No solution. We finally decided to go and beg! We go to the station office to beg - only for us to see a sign that read kids go on for half price. Then someone had a bright idea! We paid for 5 adults and 1 child. The person issuing the tickets had a good look at the group, then went ahead to issue the tickets.
We get on board the train and I lay down to sleep after all the mental stress from thinking of the possibility of trekking from Leeds to London…sigh.
Anyway, somewhere along the journey, in my semi-consciousness, I hear a ticket checker come around to ask for tickets (my heart starts to beat in slow motion).
- Checker: (read this in British accent please) can I see your ticket please?
- Person 1: Here are our 6 tickets. 5 adults, 1 child.
- Checker: And where is the child?
- Person 1: Over there, sleeping. She’s had a long day
- Checker: Poor child. (slowly starts to walk away) Cheers guys!
You see, controlling laughter in these kind of situations is the highest form of self-discipline one can achieve. At age 25 I was passed off for a child. Not a teenager o, child!
Oh well, we got home safely.
This was my first proper memory of using my size to well, my advantage. Oh wait! Writing this now, maybe my parents had been using me for similar benefits. I should ask them, the money should be mine after all.
4 years after this incident, another one happened.
Travelled for a tourist holiday to Ghana with some cool peeps. As a tourist, you gotta visit all those ‘famous places’. We headed for the Arts & Culture center and the next stop was where Kwame Nkrumah as buried, the mausoleum.
I was so busy taking pictures of everything I saw on the road as we were walking from the Arts center to the mausoleum. This made me behind everyone else. As I walked into the compound, they were all gathered around the entrance waiting for everyone to gather together so we go in at once.
Let me back up a bit. On this trip, we had suffered several mishaps. Lots. The bus that drove us to Ghana was held at the border. Why? The driver that drove it the last time did not sign out properly at the Ghanaian border so it was assumed that the bus was still in Ghana and it has overstayed for seventy something days. 5 cedis per day. 1 cedis to 120 naira. Do the math.
We therefore had to spend our money transporting ourselves into Accra from Aflao at around 10pm. So we had basically overshot our budget and needed to save costs as much as possible #TravellingOnABudget.
Back to the entrance of the mausoleum.
As I walked to join the group, someone was whispering something to me. As I moved closer, I realised the person was saying ‘You are a teenager’. Well, my brain automatically autocorrected that statement to ‘You look like a teenager’. I’m like yeah, I get that a lot *big grin*.
As I walked towards the gate into the mausoleum, someone says the same thing again and then I got a bit confused. Got to the gate and I heard “14 adults, 1 teenager” and I saw a finger pointing in my direction. Needless to say, they had passed me off as a teenager.
The old man at the gate did not even ask questions. He just said we should go in. I thought to myself "ahn ahn! You won’t even doubt it small?" *clutches chest*
All my attempt at slaying my outfits was essentially a fail! Epic one. Sigh
Obviously the cost for teenagers getting in was cheaper than that of adults and like I said, we had to save right?
I have embraced this fact - that I am able to be passed off either as a child or as a teenager, So, please holla if you know anyone of anywhere giving kids and/or teenagers money. I play both roles perfectly, apparently!
This made me laugh so much! Thank you so much P for sharing with us. One physical attribute I definitely wish for is a bit more height. Thankfully, at 5ft 5, I'm not particularly short I think, but a couple more inches wouldn't have hurt - and I'm shorter than my three younger siblings! I'll blame it on the Nigerian tales of not eating enough beans while growing up. Needless to say, my kids will have a good share of beans!
Hope you enjoyed this piece guys. What's your experience? How tall (or short) are you? Can you relate? Any other funny experiences as a result of your height. Will be great to hear!