Earlier today, I was browsing through the videos on my phone looking for redundant videos to delete. I have dozens of videos that were donated to my phone from WhatsApp groups and a certain friend in obodo Amelika who sends me every funny video he discovers and the unfunny, scary ones too. When I got to the December 2016 videos, the thumbnail of one of them brought back memories that had me chuckling even before I opened the video.
I made the videos, three of them, at the Umunawiri (my village) meeting Lagos branch End of year/Christmas party and they all had one thing in common- my father was in all of them, he was dancing. I remember now why I made the videos in the first place, he was so happy as he danced that I had to capture that joy on camera even if I was going to promptly forget about it.
The songs the DJ played were the pop songs that had sparked up clubs and parties and beer guzzling sessions, songs that Daddy couldn’t even tell the names of the artiste responsible for them (if he knows your song and your name, you can safely erect a billboard and state that you have ‘blown’ and you can be addressed as mega superstar). Yet he danced, uncaring/unaware that he had no rhythm or that the music was too ‘young’, the man kept moving and smiling and clapping as he segued into a new move (he has three moves which he recycles and remixes).
Something struck me as I watched the videos I had made, even though I had focussed the camera on him, I still captured other people at the party and my memories of that day replayed in my mind; it hit me that no one was making a big deal of his dancing. They were either dancing or watching the dancers while balancing plates of food on their laps, no one was pointing and laughing.
I inherited my father’s lack of rhythm- my mother’s a great dancer, I wonder why I didn’t get her ability to burst dem moves (I am not saying Daddy cannot dance o, abeg o), or her enthralling beauty. What I got instead was her penchant for loving her own company and losing herself in books, her voice- which to be honest, is nearly identical to that of most of my maternal female cousins; and most importantly- a fifth of her storytelling prowess.
You would probably have to kill me to get my spirit or is it my soul? dance in public, my earthly body definitely wouldn’t do it for all the cajoling in the world (if there was a substantial inducement in Pounds Sterling however, who knows what might happen). When I finished watching the videos, I realised how much I’d let myself get bogged by things that didn’t make sense.
You see, if I am not extremely very certain I would succeed at a thing, I definitely would not attempt it. Not for love or for money, or for fried overripe plantain with shrimps in scrambled eggs and Coca-Cola on the rocks. So, I have lived a life of careful exactitude, measuring risks and gathering all variables to be weighed and analysed- I should have been an economist or anything that makes use of those set of skills, an occupation that requires pessimism as cornerstone. Yet I have failed even with all the planning, plotting and scheming. At certain times, I have even failed spectacularly and bounced back spectacularly too but that is not the point, is it? Selling myself short seemed to be my default setting.
I’d been struggling with doubt since yesterday, I accepted to do something I know I am capable of doing, but have never done before. “what if I fuck up” kept ringing in my mind like a menacing mantra. There were many times I wanted to drop the ball and leave the field, to walk back to the good old comfort zone and nap for a while.
Giving up is easy for me, if it’s too hard I will walk or even fly away but today, I want to do something different- to fly without first setting a trampoline below, to dance as if no one is looking. This afternoon, after I watched my father in his element, I realised how foolish sitting down instead of dancing is. The people you think are laughing are probably too busy balancing their plates to notice you.
So, I will be having fear for breakfast and soul crushing despair for mid-morning snack, attempting the impossible in eight hour doses. While I cannot change the tendency to analyse and hesitate that is the stamp of the melancholic temperament I came to earth with, I will have to make it work for me and not against me. After all the temperament of the woman is subject to the woman and not the other way around. I have my dad to thank for this epiphany, the man will be so pleased.
I hope that when I become a parent, I will never fail to invest time and energy to teach my children to live right, to find their feet and wings, and to surpass the limits life imposes on us all. But most importantly, I will always remember that the most valuable and important lessons are those in which no words are spoken, when all I have to do is lead the way.