We love our clichés in Nigeria; ‘to be fore-warned is to be fore-armed’ and ‘a stich in time saves nine’ are two of my favourites. As a Nigerian woman, however, I have found that when leaving my house for work, or to see a movie, or for any occasion, it is very important that I include several important items in my handbag in case on an emergency. Such items could make the difference between having a very happy or a very frustrating day. Here are 5 items which I always try to have in my handbag:
This is basically emergency cash a woman takes with her on a date, so that she has the option of beating a hasty retreat if the date goes poorly. I learned to always have a ‘stash of cash’ on me anytime I go out when I went on a date in my first year at the University and my date asked me if I had transport money. Luckily, I did have cash on me, but that situation made me very conscious of always ensuring that I had a little cash on me whenever I was invited out for a date.
Emergency cash could apply to non-date situations in Nigeria as well-such as driving and suddenly noticing a short fuel queue. It is good to be prepared for anything. After all, the functionality of ATMs in times of need cannot always be guaranteed.
I however draw the line at walking around with large bundles of cash in your handbag; the kind of amount that would make you start to sweat profusely each time someone glanced innocently at your bag.
2. An Actual Torchlight or A Phone With A Torchlight.
Look, this one should be a no-brainer in my opinion. Power cuts in Nigeria are as ubiquitous as broken promises by politicians-it is the norm. You would be surprised how often the need for torchlight comes up in a Nigerian day: at work, when there is a power cut, and your office has no windows. Or at work, when there is a power cut and the toilets have no windows. Or at home, on any given evening.
You also need to carry a charger around with you, to ensure that your phone is fully charged.
3. Imaginary Armour/A Thick Skin (To Shield You From Unsolicited Advice).
Ah Nigerians, the Emperors of unsolicited advice. Such wonderful gems of advice include ‘go and marry’, ‘go and lose weight’, ‘go and add weight’, ‘go and do your hair’ and ‘go for deliverance’.
This list could go on forever.
It is particularly worrisome that for instance, the people who say ‘go and lose weight’ are usually not in the best of shape themselves. Somehow replying them with ‘go and buy a mirror’ seems rude.
Always arm yourself with confidence, and try to surround yourself with positive people who will uplift you and give you constructive criticism when needed.
4. Sanitary Pads & Tissue Paper.
Recently, I had to use the toilet at the Nnamdi Azikiwe international airport in Abuja while waiting for my flight to be announced. As I walked to the toilet, a well-dressed woman approached me and asked, ‘please do you have any tissue paper? There’s none in the toilet’. I obliged and gave her some tissue paper, but I sighed inwardly. An international airport with no tissue in the toilet-I felt ashamed.
The ‘better safe than sorry’ cliché is apt for this situation. Let your handbag be lined with tissue paper and sanitary pads, and give yourself some peace of mind.
5. Chewing Gum/Breath Mints.
As human beings, it is a given: we all experience some degree of bad breath after eating meals with ingredients like garlic and onions, or after drinking milk, or just from not drinking enough water. This is why companies that manufacture chewing gum, breath mints and similar products will always be in business.
It is a good idea to have a pack of mints handy in your bag or in your drawer at work, so that your breath is always minty-fresh.
I have encountered with people with such bad breath that I thought that if the Nigerian government could package such breath into weapon form, surely, we would win the war against Boko Haram once and for all.