A facebook post by my friend Chimamaka about her niece reminds me of an incident that occurred when I was nearly six, just before my baby brother was born. My grandparents lived very close to us, going to see my grandmother/father involved coming out of the house and walking 10 child steps to the road, crossing the road and walking past one long house before jumping into her shop where I was assured Coca-cola or maltina, or whatever I wanted to wash down the liver from her goat meat peppersoup that she always had ready for me. My brothers and I would fly to her for hugs even if we had seen her an hour before, she gave the best hugs at the time. Continue reading →
Feeding the three picky eaters she had given birth to, always required plenty thought, trickery and cunning and if all failed, her weapon of last resort- fried plantains and scrambled eggs would get them to finish the food, leave two or three slices on the plate, or eat the fried eggs and four slices of plantain respectively in order of their births. Continue reading →
My mother’s not gonna like this.
This morning, just before dragging my T-shirt, jeans and sneakers clad self out of the house despite the rain that begged me to take it all off and catch up on all the sleep I’d been owed for at least ten months, there was a clip on CNN that competed with my breakfast for the greater portion of my mind. It was about leaving a digital footprint after death, recording video messages for those you leave behind.
I don’t know if the participants had terminal diseases or were just trying to be extra prepared, I started watching midway (I think) and I had fried yam and dodo and fried eggs singing my favourite song on the plate and in my mouth. I watched a young woman record a message for her boyfriend and for her mother and burst into tears as she remembered her mother’s kindness and sacrifice. I thought about making that kind of video too, but I’m not sure I can go through with it without collapsing like tissue paper in the rain or if my mother would not kill me- or my dead body, if she sees the video.
Death has been on my mind for a while, even before I lost the man who became a mentor in a very short time, we’d been talking about death and it was he who said “we are not afraid of death, it is the when that is the problem” as we drove from Ekwerazu town, Mbaise to Owerri less than a week before he died. Perhaps it is having my thirtieth birthday circling above my head that makes me think of my own mortality and fragility and eventual goodbyes if I’m lucky enough to get them. Shouldn’t death be something we prepare for? Apart from writing wills and sharing assets, how about making sure that the people you leave behind know exactly what they mean to us?
When we leave this world, the most important thing we will leave behind is love. Money is an ornament jumping from hand to hand in cyclic rhythm; it is inconsequential in the driving of the universe. Power and possessions will always go to another, you didn’t create it, you can’t destroy it. But love? It’s yours, will always remain yours even after you are gone, even after the body has become food for worms or ashes in the Ganges- if you are so inclined.
The people I have lost have left me a treasury of memories that have brightened my days more than any bank alert. From the friend who’d listened for my quiet voice in a cacophony of teenage voices, to the grandfathers and grandmother who thought me precious and imagined I could do anything I wanted to- even hang the moon to the uncle who’d named me computer and would tell me anything he wanted to remember, confident that even after the years had passed, I would remember. He is the reason I haven’t eaten roast corn in nearly eleven years, it’s been ten years plus since he passed and during corn season, it’s hard to get through the days without tears collecting behind my throat, he loved roast corn so much. I will not cry, I will not cry, I will not cry.
So when I die, I hope to God that I do not regret not loving more, that the parts of my heart I reserved for myself will not become slivers of repentance for stinginess. I do not want tears as my memorial but smiles at my quirks and joy for the little things that bring me to mind. I had an uncle once, who knew how much I loved mint notes, so everytime he came he would bring mint notes for me- he worked in Central Bank. When I put aside mint notes in my mint note purse- yes I know it’s a form of OCD, I remember my uncle Victor and smile. You see, that is how I always want to be remembered- with a little smile that belongs only to me.
My grandfather liked to tell the story of how the world came to be. God gave man only one thing as he descended from heaven and that was a palm nut, he planted it and its leaves helped to make man’s shelter, kept the shelter and environment clean, provided kindling for his fire, the wine kept him from losing his mind in the harsh world he found himself and its fruit gave him two different oils. The oil from the pulp to make his soup and to be the bride of the king of food- roast yam (the man loved his roast yam!) and oil from the seed, or kernel if you like, to anoint his skin and hair and to save his children from evil and its manifestations like convulsion and fever. It was the second oil that put my brother and me in trouble many years ago.
After 32years and 10months of excellent, unbroken service to the Lagos state Ministry of Education, my father bowed out formally yesterday at his last school which ironically is in the same compound he started out, came in as education officer 2 and classroom teacher and retired as Director and Principal. Continue reading →
Ike-bobo, Continue reading →
Yesterday we were watching the Manchester United match, well I was trying to respond to my birthday messages on Facebook while my brother and cousin watched the match. Soon their grumblings and mutterings became loud enough for me to look at the TV. Man U was losing.
The match was ending soon, less than ten minutes on the clock, my brother fell quiet. The young man is a very enthusiastic football follower, he supports Man U and if his team is losing, he’s not a good person to be around. During the 2006 world cup he supported England because my mum had bought him an English jersey, he wore it whenever England played- he was that loyal. When C. Ronaldo crushed England’s chances of going to the semis, my brother wept. This my brother, the youngest was a rather emotional child, he cried easily as a child. The boy wept for four hours straight after watching Titanic (we hadn’t seen it before, no one knew it was that powerful or we wouldn’t have let him watch it).
So my mum became concerned as the match wore on, she would look at his face and sigh softly. Then in the 83rd minute she said “I pray this people score for Ikenna’s sake”, my brother was still rubbing his head when Man U equalised and a minute later, another goal was added to Man U’s tally. My brother and cousin were ecstatic when the match ended, three points in the bag and a fitting birthday present for Sir Alex Ferguson who was in the stands.
The incident stayed with me, it’s a lesson for the New Year. Prayer works, faith works and the impossible can become possible in less than a minute. You can speak forth things into existence, change your outcomes even if the clock seems like an enemy and love can move mountains for others. Letting love lead is always wise.
Have a spectacular 2017! The things you want are within reach. Stand up and search for them, even if fear freezes your feet, move with frozen feet. You wouldn’t be the first or the last to scale that height with fear in veins.