“This is Mustard!!”

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Teachers’ Diary

Not at BHS! Yes! At BHS! “Butterskist Productions presents microwave Sweet Popcorn”. Housed in crimson red egonomical boxes, I picked a box. Good for Silverbird Cinema movies night or day. Never mind the calories, ‘will deal with those somehow’, I promised myself. Four steps beyond is a table of traditional English “Old Coleman’s Mustard”. Mustard! Ancient, in all its forms – shoots, leaves, flowers, whole seed, powdered, or prepared are flavourful. Its seed contains no cholesterol, only trace amounts of vegetable fat, and about 25 percent protein. Good news to the hypertensive, get one today! Leaf mustard contains calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin B. Mustard is also imbued with curative powers and is said to be an appetite stimulant.

Furthermore It is a digestive aid and a decongestant. It increases blood circulation and is often used in plaster form to treat inflammation. You can find it to buy, in Lagos, at Shoprite or Park and Shop, or at Apongbon, with salad dressing sellers. As for its taste it’s; tangy, hot, pungent, yummy, catchy, spicy, savoury, pungent- what have you? Very subjective to describe! Mustard the spread, mustard the colour, each in its own right, captivating. I stepped back a little and beheld the fiery yellow and crimson red displayed right in the middle of racks and shelves, busts and mannequines, stacks and mobiles of clothes and accessories. “Sweet and Cutting; medley and tango coexisting in perfect harmony”, I wispered to a lady that was contemplating the mustard, “neither disturbing the other” “O yes, yes indeed!” She replied. “Man should have the capacity for both!” She offered.

I don’t ever stop being amazed, irritated, delighted, disgusted, relieved, miffed, elated… when I go into a convenience or much bigger departmental shop. The genius behind “dropping food items in clothes” is ultimately to up sales, isn’t it? You go into a shop with £20 and your shopping list, purposefully to buy just the items on your list, but come out with much more than you went in for! You tell yourself that you definitely need the things you’ve bought outside your list. You tell yourself that you have only taken advantage of the prize drop, which essentially is another trick to up sales. At the till, you pay the difference between your needs and wants, greed and the by-products of your covetousness, that is, your add-ons. You pay with your credit card or over draft – yet again oweing! You leave the shop, sweet and sour! You’re angry with yourself, angry that your resolve is weak, always weak no matter how hard you try. You lambast yourself again and again alluding to the words of Paul, “O wretched man/woman that I am, the very things I resolve not to do is what I do…” Human weakness! A reflection for another day.

I moved away from the tables of mustard and popcorn, to look for the turtle neck I’d come in for in the first place! It is getting cold and we are in the early double figures now. I find the necks in differing lengths and girths and picked a giraffe-necked one for a firm snug from my hair line to the base of my neck. The influence of mustard is obviously in the air as I picked a striped yellow and brown one! Back on the Picadilly line, I meet my near-mustard yellow hue again. The cabin is rush hour full so I have to hold onto the mustard hand rail. Mid way between our third stop, the train comes to a sudden stop. Nothing to worry about, just those kind of stops that happen on the London Underground. As is usual, the driver graciously apologises for the delay and tells us the approximate delay duration. It all goes quiet, just a clearing of throats here and there; eyes avoid eyes as it’s rude to stare, everyone appears to fix their gaze on a spot of their choice and so did I, on my mustardy-hand rail.

In my mind’s eye, I went back on my PM Shift in that home I was allocated to, yesterday. What a ‘crazy’ shift it was? I responded to three seizures in the space of ten minutes, the second episode ending up as a Seizure Epilepticus! All three had been triggered by Adam’s frenzied search. 6 foot -19 year old Adam has severe learning disabilities, autism and obsessive compulsive tendencies. Obsessions and fixations are common behaviours to people with autism. These could be to a routine or to an object. Adam’s fixation at the moment is on MUSTARD. I had been in the middle of administering Jamie his gastrostomy feed when a sudden crash of plates and cutlery jolted my head up, A sudden rush of adrenaline threatened to burst open my veins! Like a flash of lightening, I saw Adam make a dash behind the servery and begin to anxiously rummage among the pots of condiments and spices chanting mustard! Mustard! Mustard! His carer followed closely behind and attempted to guide him away from the food. He calmly reassured Adam that he would get some mustard in his food and negotiated for good behaviour before any appearance of mustard! Adam would hear non of it.

He was flushed with aggression and determination, his arms flew everywhere! He bellowed and shouted, and screamed and demanded to see Mustard! By this time his uproar had triggered Sue’s tonic-clonic seizure followed by Gary’s serial ones then May’s tonic seizure. Thankfully, the first and last needed no rescue medication their recovery being under five minutes. But Gary, after three clusters of convulsive seizures and an administration of Buccal Midazolam which failed to restore normalcy, required the attention of the ambulance services. Adam stood his ground simmering only when mustard was fetched from the kitchen – then and only then would he permit negotiations to begin.

By sheer happenstance, the radio that had been quietly in the background, saying its own thing, brought on this song; “Search for the Hero inside yourself – M-People 2001” What a timely coincidence, I thought of the song! Unshackled by the knowledge of social ettiquettes and codes of conduct that cognition requires of the learning-able, Adam searched franctically for what could only address his sensory need. “Adam’s heroic search produces his coveted Mustard”, I chanted to no one in particular. Believe me I say, there are great abilities in learning disabilities! What a great lesson for those without learning disabilities that vigourously applied rigour effects changes.
“You’ve got to search for the hero inside yourself”
“Search for the secrets you hide”
“Search for the hero inside yourself”
“Until you find the key to your life”.

Search, is essentially what you may need to do more of. It is a charge, an urge, a call on you to rise up from your sleep dear reader. Search for the hero inside yourself! Stop leaving your studies till tomorrow – ‘procrastination is the thief of time’. Wake up in the night to read up your notes, to tackle some calculations, to revise work done! Attempt your homework, don’t copy your friend’s! Do not be satisfied with your average marks and the “let my people go” grades you tend to ‘collect’! You cannot know what is in that textbook until you open it and read it up. My dear, pick up your text book, dust off the dust that’s accumulated from disuse and read! study! revise! You can’t possibly keep on cheating your way through life, copying other people’s work and stealing other people’s ideas. They are not better than you are! Why are you such a defeated and unperturbed person? Task your own brain, set your self sturdy targets, read widely, pray ceaselessly! Stop expending your time and resources on all the forms of examination malpractices you know and have heard of. Stop hanging out with mates that are contended with ill-gotten progress in studies.

Perseverance and long- suffering pay with regards to your studies. Studying naturally takes a measure of rigour. Rigour is never pleasant, it never comes easy. Many times, you may fall asleep on your books – never mind, it happens to every one! Take a nap when you are tired, to refuel. Better still have some fresh air, take a short walk and get back to studying. The more rigour you put into ‘burning the candle well into the night’, the more success you are likely to have. Have faith in yourself and in God! Who told you that it is only the children of the rich and well connected that ‘make it’ in life? That thinking is a myth! You keep on studying and trust God to help you. He says your faith needn’t be more than a mustard seed! What are you waiting for? Go on! Search for the hero inside yourself until you find the key to your life.

Omoru writes from the UK