I’d start by apologising for my silence, I’ve had plenty going on and I forgot I had a blog- seriously! It wasn’t until I got two beautiful emails from two gorgeous women that I realized how my silence seemed. I am ok, just dealing with a major change which I’d write about next.
I was writing a Facebook status that balloned into something else and I’ve decided to put it up here too. It’s about the sun and memories.
Once upon a time, there was country with the moniker- the land of the rising sun. I grew up with stories of the nation as part of the sound track of my childhood, the fruitless war for her independence, the bravery of her people and their intense suffering which was compounded by the cruelty of a man who is venerated today as a hero of democracy and denigrated as the father of tribalism and the heart breaking surrender of a people whose hearts were defiant even though their souls had wilted.
Although Biafra failed to set forth at dawn, I know that there is still a land of the rising sun. No it’s not Japan, it’s a sprawling community in Imo state that is called Mbaise.
However it is the setting sun that makes my soul sing- the ball of orange fire that seems a little spent, the gorgeous play of colours that light up the evening sky that always makes me want to get a canvas and oils and the memories of the days when life was simple and money meant nothing.
I once thought that the sun set at the street just after the house I grew up in somewhere in Lawanson. When we stayed in our grandmother’s house until evening and had to walk down the road to our house, we’d see the sun going down just behind the red house beside ours and how it made everything pale gold.
When I was ten; I left home for a unity school in Niger state, to say it was a culture shock would be saying that ocean has water in it. The food was terrifying horrible especially the evenings where we had scary food like brown tuwo/tuwo dawa (guinea corn) with okro on Thursdays, Agidi and beans soup on Saturdays or was it Tuesdays? Tasteless Jollof rice without meat on a day I forget now and the worst of all- white tuwo and egusi soup.
I can’t remember the Hausa name for this tuwo, it was corn tuwo not rice tuwo/tuwo shinkafa (we never had that). That thing was vile! I tasted it once and never ever allowed it part my lips for the three years I was there. What made it worse was that it was served on Wednesday evening which even now is rice time in my house, at the time my youngest brother was the pickiest eater in the world and to coax him into eating a spoonful of rice, there had to be fried plantain which is no longer on the menu because we are supposedly adults now.
The best place to watch the setting sun in that school was the side of the dining hall that faced the field and mango village- one day I’d write about the afternoon I went to mango village with Martha and Glory and the amazing consequence for me. I’d sit on the pavement on Wednesday evenings to watch the sun set and send messages to my mother about how much I missed everyone, the terrible seniors who are now forming nice on facebook (Yimu!), the harsh weather that threatened to deform my tender skin and the food that wasn’t even fit for goats. Since the sun was going down to rest just behind my house, I figured it could be tell her these things.
I can’t remember how Mr Dauda knew my name and how we became comfortable enough for me to tell him school was boring because I did not have novels to read, I got to know a lot of teachers in my first term and they knew me too, I have forgotten why. Anyway he took me to a room in the SS3 block that had so many novels that it took me three years to read them all, it was the school library. Adaeze and the library would make a decent novella or even a novel if a verbose writer took hold of the project. Maybe I’d write the story, may I wouldn’t but I will definitely write about Mrs Ginn (something tells me I misspelt the name) who would not start her class until I was dragged out of the library, what she saw in me I still don’t understand, Mr Ubom of blessed memory and Mr Jibokun who today cannot remember how much effort he put into helping me understand the aptitude for words that I’d been given.
Finding the library was my salvation, I stopped watching the setting sun and spent my time thinking of an unfinished book or deciding which one to read next. It saved me from losing my mind and when Victoria Kolo (that girl! That story!) wanted to hypnotise me into running away with her, it was the thought of my beloved books that kept me on my bed.
When I took this picture this evening from the front passenger seat of a vehicle inching its way from Asaba to Benin, I knew there was a story behind it. I had no idea that it would be this long.