Friday, June 29, 2012

Daydreamin': Summer in Pidgin...

Like play like play, summer don show. Na dat time of the year when e dey be like say hell-fire don near earth small. I go lie if I tell you say the heat no dey worry pesin. As in, just as day don break today, I bin waka outside to chop small breeze, na im the sun just tear me slap with heat. The matter don critical reach the level wey cause Colorado to almost burn reach ground. This na the same Colorado wia people no dey buy fridge because the weather dey cooperate like AC. Anyway, for the east coast, people don dey ginger small small. All man don dey enter gym to grow 6-pack! So tey, dem don dey form queue for gym like say na club dem wan enter. Anyway, wetin i tell dem be say , Guinness, Heineken, Budweiser, all na 6-pack.

One thing wey dey trip me about summer sha be say u no need to dey wear jacket to enter club. No be like all those winter days, when boiz go dey wear trench coat on top agbada because say the cold dey enter bone. And na during winter u dey sabi who dem born for this side and who bin download their yankee accent from MTV. Because when u don stand queue for front of club so tey your brain cells don run go your toes, "Sean" and "Rookie" go begin answer the real name wey dem mama give them: "Oluwaseun" and "Rukevwe". Wetin dey provoke me pass be say when u don finally stand queue for like 30mins dey wait to enter the club, after u don finally make am inside, bouncer go tell u "I'm sorry sir but you have to check in your jacket at Coat Check". You too go dey happy like celebrity, dey think say american people dey very hospitable. When u reach the coat check, the pesin wey dey dia go smile give u, collect your coat, the next thing u go hear be "That would be $5 sir". As in? Abeg I no want again, give me my coat, I go tie am like bandana. $5 to rent iron hanger for 4 hours? Na witchcraft?

Anyway people sha like to dey pull stunts during summer, so as a confirmed stuntsman, free me to hint you small on the tactics wey u fit see:

1. Na during summer people dey remember to visit you. Dem no wan pay utility bill, so as afternoon don dey reach, when the heat dey do pesin like say Newark near Maidugiri, boiz go begin enter your house because dem know say your AC no dey ever off. And dem go dey dia chill till night don reach.

2. Everybody go dey find free barbecue party to crash. Unto say even if na birthday barbecue u dey do for your 2 year old pikin, na so so adult go full everywhere. People no dey play with free meat and cold beer o. If you wan counter this move, wetin you suppose serve for your barbecue na pounded yam and hot egusi soup, arrange small 7up put for corner. Na only seasoned veteran wey get liver go fit tackle that combo.

3. Beach go dey full like crusade ground from morning reach night. You go see where pesin wey black pass sin go tell you: "ummm, I'm going to the beach to get a sun-tan". Sun-tan ? At least you for talk say u dey go play with san-san or catch little mermaid. Sun-tan ko, Moon-light ni.

4. People go dey waka for road like say dem dey audition for Jersey shore. Beach no dey the city o, but na so so pant and singlet u go dey see for road. Na during that kain time accident dey increase. And the accident no be for highway o, na for regular street road, because na so one chick go just dey catwalk for corner, 3 people go just run red light wia dem dey scope.

I no go lie u sha, the summer dey make sense small but e dey quick deflate your wallet. But as im time don reach, make we just bone enjoy am. If people wey dey Lagos dey throw summer party for naija for this period even though na rainy season, wetin u wan tell press?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Legacy of Fatherhood

My family is close-knit, dad and mum, 2 boys and 2 girls. People always commend on the symmetry, but for me, there's a little downside to symmetry. Lemme explain, Wiggy is the first child (girl), Ragfella is the second child and first son, Raekhi is the last child (baby of the house). Yeah, you get the picture, your's sincerely is the 3rd child (dunno if there's a title for my position, last son perhaps, lol). Anyway, my folks love us all equally, we all have our individual unique traits and I love my siblings to death, can't ask for a better family.

Growing up, Wiggy was like a second mother to me. Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't a mama's boy (lol) but I stuck to my elder sis like glue. She basically did all the household chores (yeah, the rest of us were lazy).Then when she had to go to boarding house for secondary school, I kinda followed in her footsteps and became the "go-to-guy" for household chores. I worshipped the ground she walked on, so after she left, I did all the things I saw her do: helping out in the kitchen with cooking, cleaning, scrubbing and also going to market, habits that have remained with me over the years.

Ragfella on the other hand was my protector and rock. My elder brother was a quiet kid when we were young and we had a connection that was pretty deep and unspoken. We were both asthmatic as kids and we shared the same room, so we shared our crisis moments together. Plus he was tall and gangly as a kid, while I was pretty short! So Ragfella would always stick up for me in a fight and protect me, yeah, I was pretty much the sissy scared kid while he was the tough enforcer. Remember when you were a kid and your folks asked you to "strike a pose" for the camera? Well, Ragfella could work the camera like magic, while on the other hand I was a complete disaster in front of the camera, I still am. He was my 'model'.

Raekhi was the baby of the house and everyone always fussed over her. Now, remember I used to be the last kid till she showed up (lol), so in the early years there was a little 'tension' between us. It didn't help that she was so adorable, so you couldn't help gushing over her. Well, everyone was butter in her little hands, except for me. I was tough as nails with her (lol), and drove her hard for a few reasons. One reason was that I didn't want her to be spoilt, my folks were pretty strict and all of a sudden they had gone soft as the years went by, the mantle of discipline rested with me. The second reason was that she looked up to me, so I certainly wasn't going to let my protege be substandard. I was pretty smart as a kid, so I set very high standards for her. The third reason was that I loved her to death and wanted the best for her.

My mum was a loving 'terror' when we were kids, lol. She could strike fear in to you with just a look, silent reprimand! It was almost as if I could hear her voice in my head telling me to behave, and her eyes were like "Emeka, m metu gi aka (emeka, if I handle you)..." I remember one particular incident in primary school when I couldnt get my tenses right. I was a logical thinking boy, so when I discovered 'mathematically' that the plural of a word could be derived by adding an 's' to the end of the singular version, I considered myself a genius. At first, my theory never failed and I aced all the english exams: boy/boys, girl/girls, father/fathers, goat/goats...I always finished my exams in record time and my teacher would beam smiles and congratulate me.

Well, it was all peaches and cream till we got to the funny words like: man, woman, policeman...Then I started flunking, my teacher couldn't understand why I insisted on writing mans/womans/policemans. It was a scandal, the math prodigy couldn't solve simple 'singular and plural'. It was serious enough to warrant my mother's intervention. So she told me, "Bia, when you see the suffix '-an', the plural is '-en'..." So I added a new formula to my logical tricks during the next English test, I was confident! When the results came out, I was shocked! I was so sure I had everything all figured out after combining my 2 mathematical theories for plural words. In the test I had written: man/mens, woman/womens, policeman/policemens...The next intervention was the final one..."Emeka, m metu gi aka"...that was all it took!

My dad was firm and stern and gentle at the same time. He hardly ever spanked us, momsi was the designated flogger. My popsi rarely raised his voice in anger, when he did, it almost felt as if it was a loud boom from heaven. It always began with ..."MY FRIEND, what is wrong with you..." Now, don't get it wrong, 'my friend' is way different from "MY FRIEND", if you know what I mean. My dad is an accountant, so he was very detailed. I remember when he was teaching me how to drive, he would be like..."Emeka, that is a red light, so stop..." I would be like, "Jeez, of course I can see it! I'm not that stupid" my head though, I would never voice that out, lol.My father loved us all and he never failed to show it. Over the years, as I grew older and became a man, my father always confided in me.

Today is father's day. I'm not a father yet but since the birth of my 2 nieces my life has transformed. I carried Kyla as an infant and watched her grow into a beautiful little girl. I've changed her diapers, bathed her (she calls it 'wonder-time', which means "water-time" in baby language), fed her, taught her how to dance and spent numerous hours discussing life with her while she smiles and responds in the beautiful incomprehensible garble of baby speech. That doesn't qualify me to be a father, but every time I carry her in my arms and feel her little arms around my neck, I imagine myself in my father's arms many many years ago.

I learnt from my father that you have to be hardworking to succeed in life. I also learnt from him never to refuse someone help when it is within your capacity to help. I've learnt to be generous and genuinely concerned about others. To love without asking for anything in return, and to put others first. To be content with the little I have, to dream and aspire for greatness and to be practical and understanding of others. To all fathers and fathers-to-be, today is your day. Leave a legacy worth celebrating, be the change the world yearns for...

Happy father's day!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Teardrops & Raindrops

"Hometown Glory"...Adele

Dunno why, but it is easy to drift off into daydreams while listening to music. I personally recommend songs by Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareilles, Norah Jones, Sara McClachan and Adele if you feel up to taking a mind trip, the melodies are soothing enough to permit your brain-cells idle away while your heart pumps at a pace sedate enough to permit your life beat at a lazy summer pace...

I'm an uncle again, Robyn was born on May 31st. Looking back, it feels surreal that a week has gone by since then. I still recall the smell of burning rubber as I sped down the NJ Turnpike with my sister in labor at the back seat. Tis funny how calm I felt, except for muttering and cursing (in words that would make a sailor blush) when we ran into traffic 60 miles away from the hospital, I bypassed that hiccup multiple times by driving on the shoulder and the sidewalk whenever I could. It kinda felt like an excerpt from the movie 'Speed', with Keanu Reeves telling Sandra Bullock that she had to keep the car running at 60mph at all costs. In my case, it was more like 100mph, and Sandra Bullock happened to be in advanced labor, so I didn't need any push. Pedal to metal, as for the cops, "catch me if you can" but this baby aint coming into the world in the back of a car!

Sometimes I'm more convinced that life is a dream. A few days ago just after the rain stopped, I noticed 2 rainbows in the sky. I remember thinking as a kid that the rain was as a result of the clouds shedding tears, then later I used to joke that it was probably the angels in heaven doing their laundry. Have you ever tasted raindrops? Little pearls of water dissolving on your tongue with no after taste, merging so quickly into your taste buds that your brain can't decipher if it was sweet, bitter or bland. Teardrops taste differently...

In the final seconds, when she realized that they were going to crash, a strange calm came over. Around her, she could hear the screams of panic and fear, a few seconds earlier she had been screaming too like everyone, calling on God as loudly as she could. Then she heard Him whisper to her softly, "It is time my child, I love you". The screams dried up, her eyes were wide open but surprisingly she couldn't see anyone or hear anything. Then the pictures floated by, her 1st birthday, her first day at school, her graduation from college, her friends, beautiful memories, the warm smile of her parents and siblings, her fiance...she realized she wasn't going to hold him again...she closed her eyes and a teardrop slowly ran down her face...she smiled, took a deep breath and walked into the light...

For those who've lost people, life sometimes grinds to a halt. Sometimes it never restarts for them. For the rest of us, we mourn for awhile and the sands of time turns the sharp pain into a dull ache till the memories starts to fade. We let go of the pain but the memories live on. Eventually we get swept away by the tides of our own lives that the memories of the past float by us like clouds, always hovering but barely noticed...Till a song, a smile, or a raindrop causes us to pause and look up...then we notice the rainbow in the sky. We smile sadly as the teardrops run down our faces merging with the raindrops, consoled by the knowledge that there is a life after death...

"Gone Baby Gone"...Asa