I like Funtime Coconut Chips, well I like anything that has coconut in it or coconut flavour, like my easy-peasy coconut pancake or coconut cake which I’d finish an hour after baking it (I do not, cannot eat hot food, curiously I can’t stand cold cake). Most of all, I love coconut and Baba Dudu- which I cannot find anymore. My mother brought the best Baba Dudu from Cotonou, they had a kick- spicy heat that their Nigerian cousins couldn’t match.
Before I launch into one of my many Baba Dudu tinged memories- I really do not need an excuse to talk those long ropes of awesomeness that were sold for one naira for nearly all of my childhood despite the steady inflation that turned bolombolo from a ten kobo delight to a ten naira abomination, I wonder how much they go for now.
I am not a disciplined writer, the type that puts on her phone or computer screen the exact things that lit her brain’s writing center- I do not, cannot write on paper, it’s so stressful. Anyway, I bought Coconut chips today from a hawker who beat the 400m world record as he raced after my speeding bus to collect my money while searching his pockets for my change. Duncan Mighty’s Dance for me enclosed me in the cocoon spun by my headphones.
Just as I opened the pack of Coconut chips, Lionel Richie’s Dancing on the ceiling came on and I became a girl again, the one who danced on her parent’s sofas with her Obinna aka pesky younger brother, to this song. Gravity might have deprived us from that ultimate high of dancing upside down but we made up for it as we bounced from sofa to sofa, nodding like lizards on kwale weed and mumbling the words we could barely decipher.
The next song was ABBA’s Dancing Queen and I had a sudden vision, it was of a tall, handsome man in a red coat and the woman beside him was a petite brunette and I realised it was a memory. There was a TV show my brother and I loved, it was of a circus troupe and the man was the ringmaster. It was fabulous to the five year old and three year old who watched it religiously, you see they wanted to fly off trapezes with the ease these people displayed, to perform the cool magic tricks without parental supervision and to be allowed to go to school by themselves (their mother would have collapsed at the thought).
As the song ended, I remembered our favourite song- Don’t play your rock and roll by Smokie. It was the second song on that side of the cassette, “Living next door to Alice” came first- that rock ballad that really wasn’t about Alice, we’d patiently sit through the song because we could only operate the play button on the cassette player, rewind required a finesse we weren’t yet capable of.
When it started, we’d be ready. Left hand outstretched and right hand strumming imaginary strings (my left hand did my strumming), heads swaying in crazy rhythm and strange harmony. In those moments we weren’t the pampered children of loving parents, we were leather jacketed, guitar burning, jagged haired and black eyed rebels without a cause or course, disturbing the world with a hundred decibels of angst.
I wonder why I was so discontent with being a child, if this adulthood that I inhabit is the same thing I so desperately craved as a child. I want my money back. I wonder why I didn’t realise how beautiful it was to live with the knowledge that anything is possible in the future, to not know limitation or failure, to live in the kind shadow of time and in the warmth of childish ambition. Well I was a child, how could I have known this? I mused as I nodded my head in rhythm with Smokie as I sat in the crazy Ikorodu road traffic that Google had warned me about a few minutes earlier.
There’s a question I see literally everywhere, I inhale when I see it and wonder. The question is “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” I was never sure what my answer was but as I walked beside Ojuelegba bridge this evening, the answer hit me. I’d become a dancing magician and rock star.
PS: As I was ruminating on the decision to write this, you see I am also that woman who’d rather write novels in her head than a page on a screen. The bus I boarded from Ojuelegba took a circuitous path and drove past the house we lived in when I was a child and the decision made itself.