I woke up this morning to the harsh harmattan breeze and the dry, dusty smell that comes with it. It’s slightly chilly and when I look outside, I see that our cars are covered in dust. It almost doesn’t make sense to wash cars in this weather. I’ve been playing catch up with the car washing thing in this season and I’m tired of it. With the way the weather is, you would need to wash your car at least twice a day or after every trip, for it to remain clean. Harmattan is different in each area. Here in Lagos, it gets slightly chilly in the morning, then once the sun comes up, it gets really hot and then at night, the chill comes back. The dust is one constant. Whether it is chilly or hot, it gets extremely dry and dusty. Everything is covered in dust. At home, the furniture is covered in dust. I ignore it.  I ignore the cars too. I like my cars clean, so it is quite annoying to go around in a dusty car. The comforting thought is that a lot of cars are also dusty. I don’t have a driver to wash the car every day. And going to the car wash every day seems to be a waste of money, especially since I don’t have a lot of that flying around these days. And you can smell the dust. You actually breathe in the dust, at least that’s what it feels like.

I don’t really like harmattan that much. But it has some advantages. You can wash clothes anytime and they’ll be dry in a jiffy. There’s no flooding during the harmattan season. The markets look cleaner, in spite of the dust, and are less smelly. Meat keeps fresher for longer on the market slabs. I don’t mind market shopping in the harmattan. I can walk anywhere and everywhere. My feet get dusty, but I can cope with that. Most roads are easier to drive on. At least you can see clearly how deep the potholes are! Harmattan is in the air!

Something else in the air in this season is love! Eros particularly. Some share phileo or agape as well, but the reigning king right now is eros. A lot of planning is going into preparation for tomorrow’s celebrations. In Lagos, it is quite a drama. I have made it a point of duty not to step out of my house on Valentine’s Day because the traffic is horrible. It starts early and lasts the whole day. And don’t you dare try eating out or going to the movies on the day. You might end up spending the time in traffic or on long queues. Everyone is on the move, celebrating love. By the 15th, things usually come back to normal and people evaluate their enjoyment or lack of it. Some are brokenhearted, some find new love, some are hopeful, some are thoroughly disappointed. Hardly anyone is indifferent.

So, let me ask, how are you preparing for this year’s Valentine Day celebrations? It falls on a Friday, which is a plus. It means the celebrations can extend through the weekend into Saturday and Sunday. I plan to have an easy weekend. No unnecessary outings, to avoid traffic. Just taking it easy. My loved ones will receive love messages from me but no celebrations will happen. At least not this weekend. Things get really crazy here. I don’t want to be part of that drama.

Thinking of it, love is so important to humans, it is almost as important as the air we breathe. Everyone wants to love and be loved. And we should celebrate love. It’s just that the way love has been interpreted in today’s world makes it so physical and superficial! Also very temporary and conditional. Love is bandied anyhow. You meet someone new and they say they love you. Really? What do you know? Is it love by appearance only? No depth of knowledge?

What goes through my mind when there’s such a statement is like radio chatter, where you hear what is being said like a noise in the background, but you can’t decipher it because you’re not really listening to it. It goes something like this:

I love you, I love your face, I love your dress, I love your figure, I love your bank account, I love your purse, I love your wallet, I love your car, I love your phone, I love your house, I love your position, I love your fame, I love you picture, I love your packaging, I love your body, I love your skin, I love your colour, I love your money, I love love love…….

In all our loving, let us remember the love that is above all loves. The love of God for us. Unconditional, undeserved, unending love. That is the love that will keep us. When we have that love, we can build on the foundation of that love to love others genuinely. God is Love.

Have a love-filled Valentine’s Day!