This time last year, I was in my hometown for my grandmother’s burial. I wrote this on Facebook on this day last year.
It’s exactly 1.19 kilometres from my mother’s house to my father’s and it took me 24 minutes to walk that distance this morning, I must have stopped to greet a dozen people, including a man whose name is Stone whose senses are a wee bit scattered. I remember joyfully walking that distance with my mother and brothers on our way to see Mama Christiana and the other Umuorue people. We loved walking because only then could we see Mimosa pudica and touch its leaves, we would watch with glee and fascination as the leaves wilted and “resurrected” after a few minutes, at that time we called it touch and die.
We’d greet everyone we met unlike in Lagos where we only greeted people we knew, in the village you might ignore an unknown face and he’d turn out to be your great grandmother’s uncle’s best friend’s son or simply your grandmother’s only sister (this actually happened).
The landmarks that shaped my memories are almost all gone; at Ama Ehuma used to be a big tree, it was very wide and very tall. One Christmas, the Christians cut it down because it was the home of the spirits- like the spirits cannot find another home. Today you’ll find a rusting sign on that spot- “Jesus is Lord over Umunanwiri Village”, maybe the spirits live in the sign now…. who knows?
Instead of the dusty road of my childhood is a tarred road courtesy of a certain Hon Emeka Ihediora who did for us what many promised (including a former deputy governor from my town) us but could not do. My children will walk that road with me and won’t need to cover their noses when cars approach.
Like my mother showed me, I’d show them the beautiful sunflowers that line that road, we’d touch the mimosa leaves and watch them wilt and resurrect, we’d greet everyone we see and I’d tell them about the people who’d walked the paths before them, tell them the stories of their mother’s people, their myths and fables. Unfortunately I can’t show them the wild pea that my Papa Vincent had planted for me just because I’d liked the flowers, maybe I’d plant it for them. Do you know where I can get the seeds?