When I was a child, I did not like Peter Pan. He wanted to stay a child forever, I did not.
Some of my earliest memories are of wishing to be old enough to go out by myself, to finally look at the top of our wall divider and see what secrets it contained, to be able to wake up as late as I wanted to (I loved sleep very much back then) and to be able to read whatever book I wanted to without having my aunt read it to me in her annoying voice, besides she was slow.
One of our neighbours was named Chinyere, she was thirteen years old when I was five and I fiercely wanted to be her. She went to school by herself, she chose her own clothes and most importantly she was allowed to go and buy things for her mummy without adult supervision. I thought that had to be the height of life, to be thirteen and free. I had watched enough genie movies to know that if only I could get a lamp, I’d get a genie who would grant me three wishes and the first had to be making me a thirteen year old girl.
Do I need to tell you that I did not find the lamp? A part of me is still searching.
I have gotten my own place and I will be moving in next week. So I have started getting prices for the basics required for a new flat, I usually love window shopping but this weather hasn’t been friendly and the prices of things are scary- heart attack scary. I started my internship in 2013 and since then I haven’t been to the market for the purpose of serious shopping. Market trips for me have usually been about accompanying one of my parents and they would pay. You know how another person’s money always seems inexhaustible and the prices of things don’t really hit you.
So when I went to a shop that had some really beautiful pots, I was smiling until I was told the price. I was still reeling from the shock when I saw the same kind of kettle we had at home.
“How much for this kettle?”
“Five thousand naira, Ma.”
The young men selling burst into laughter at my expression, my jaw touched the floor. I still haven’t recovered from the shock at the prices I got at the Mouka foam depot, Depot o! A two story building complex with nothing but Mouka foam and the prices almost made me shout and cry for my mummy. You see, I had already had a crazy day due to work related issues.
It hit me that one of the reasons we as a people are still docile and take crap from our government is because most of our young people (18-29) live sheltered lives. Most of us still live with our parents and get subsidy on most things, we are cushioned from the realities of inflation and our almost worthless Naira. By the time we are ready to leave the nest and face the market place realities, we have been too beaten down by life, years of unemployment and the reluctance to rock the boat now that we finally have something going and the challenges of starting a new family coupled with the lethargy of responsibility. We cannot start a revolution because we are too old, besides who revolution epp?
Am I calling for a revolution? No but I do know that we cannot continue this way, something has to give and soon too. Sadly we are even going to experience even tougher days in the future, the foreign exchange mess will blow up soon. When people were ascribing “dollar” as the reason the prices of goods were going up, it only made me laugh. You see, very few people were importing anything (apart from phone sellers because we will buy their gadgets regardless of the prices) back then, most of them were simply recalibrating the prices of their old stock.
When these guys start bringing new stock- the guys that sell electronics, clothes and other associated matters like shoes, wristwatches, the guys that sell our imported food items and most importantly, the guys who make and import drugs. That’s when we’ll know just how bad it is.
This evening, I was chatting with my friend Baby and the conclusion we came to is that it is not easy anywhere (Baby is in the US) and we have decided that we want to be children again. We don’t want responsibilities and other such nonsense, we don’t want to pay bills no more. We want FREEDOM!!!
Right now I just want my mummy to hold me and rock me like she used to when I was a child, I don’t want to face this Benin markets and the goods with the terrifying prices. I don’t want to face the sun that’s blasting like we are in a furnace, I don’t want to face my lean bank account, I don’t want to face the roast yam and utazi that my aunt (who’s in her 70s) is insisting that I eat or she’ll start crying again because I don’t eat (I don’t even like yam for Christsake!), I don’t want to face anything!
Can I be a child again? To have someone take me everywhere in their air-conditioned car, to have someone else work night and day to ensure I am comfortable, to have someone chose the clothes I’d wear for the week (that is one of my least favourite chores), to not have anyone ask me when I am getting married or why I am still hiding the boyfriend (rolls eyes) and to be able to believe that it can get better.
I want to give up on adulthood, I am tired abeg. My phone was stolen on Monday at Oshodi, I still do not know how it disappeared from my closed bag. When I realised that my phone had been stolen, I wanted to jump down from the bus and throw a major tantrum that would get me on CNN and Aljazeera. I also wanted to fly back to the place where I strongly suspect that I lost my phone and defenestrate the thief.
When I finally find the lamp and my own genie, I am going to wish to be five years old again even if I can only get twenty-four hours. I’d play for as long as possible, shout as loudly as I can and fully relish the life of a child. Adulthood is a trap, the unwary fall in again and again.
Peter Pan had tried to warn me, I didn’t listen.