Summertime. Coconut oil and scooters Cocktails, barbecues, The air thick with accents And Igbo drop-tops line the streets.
If there is one day guaranteed to make me feel a bit squiffy, it’s New Year’s eve.
I don’t know why. Partying doesn’t seem to help; the sight of revellers snogging in all their party finery only makes me even squiffier, sadder maybe. It’s like looking at piles of dust and old bones. And church, well, joyous old bones, yes, but bones and dust nonetheless.
I suppose that’s morbidity for you. I have always held a fascination for the morbid.
But, that’s not really it, I don’t think. It goes beyond my daily morbid fascinations. It surpasses all those introspections, the navel-gazing in which one is supposed to indulge today. I just feel really odd. It is as if I do not deserve my life somehow – and yet, I am not ever satisfied with my life. Not really. They is always something I could be doing better. Ha, more like I could be doing the WHOLE thing better if there was only enough time and you know, if I was a better person. Which I am not. So, of course, I am stuck in squiff like an ant in thick custard.
No, it’s not that either.
You know, I am not sure what it is, because if you think about it, technically, it’s just another day. In the course of my existence as a mostly nocturnal writer, I have crossed the midnight threshold more times than I care to count; oftentimes, two letters in the same word are written on two different days. I hardly notice. But New Year’s eve just imbues things with a lot more meaning than it should and this is annoying. I hate that it takes one day to make people sit up and take notice. I hate that on the day, a year’s worth of experiences for me, seems distilled into a drop, an essence. This is a careless way of viewing the world surely – the human mind and humanity is so fickle – how can you trust what you feel on one particular day and why should it govern, as it seems to, your resolutions about the coming year?
Eugh. I digress again. I am not certain that this is what I meant to say either. Sorry. I told you I was feeling squiffy.
Maybe I don’t really feel this way any more. This year wasn’t a bad year for me. I had you guys and I didn’t hate myself so much and I actually made some progress in my writing because I stopped dreaming and started doing. I am well in myself, my family is alright and I do have much to be thankful for.
Maybe all this contrariness in feeling is just my mind remembering that it is supposed to feel that way. A habit, rather than a fact.
But my point is, do I have to be uber thankful with everyone? Surely, it’s like showing love only on Valentine’s day when ideally it should be spread out throughout the year. Do I have to go through the vortex of other people’s emotions and gratitude and reverence and debauchery today? Do I have to be swept along in the murkiness and muckiness of humanity?
Can I not just slink once more past midnight without all the bells and whistles?
So, I have decided.
I shall throw away all man-made constructs like time and years. I will throw off the weight of forced gaiety and reflection. I will try not to think about the fact that with every breath, I am farther away from innocence and no nearer to the amount of wisdom I desire. I am going to avoid looking through the drop of last year’s essence because I know that it will magnify areas which I should most likely forget. I am going to put on some music and dance.
Tomorrow, I will wake up and be grateful for a new day.
And I will try as usual, not to mess it up.
Happy New Day everyone!
My Nigeria trip has been postponed so I did the next best thing – I went to Enfield in North London (actually Middlesex) for the weekend.
Ah! Enfield. I spent two years after my MA living and working here and came to the conclusion that: 1)This has got to be the biggest Igbo community in London and 2) My God, are they Igbo.
This is the place that gave me Liyonard after all.
The minute I got off the bus, I could feel my steps become decidedly ijele-ish, swaying in that heavy-bottomed way that tells the story of offspring, much in the same way the male of the species pisses over territory. I didn’t mean to, it just happened. I thought I had escaped ‘the pullover’ as I got to my destination but within a few minutes of introductions, someone had called me ‘Nwa Baby’ and they weren’t Flavour N’abania.
Even Tot is in heaven, turning his head this way and that like an nkakwu discovering new nuts as accents fly at him from every direction.
In true Igbo fashion I’ve been co-opted to cook a meal for my cousin’s thing, so I have to go now. I hope I haven’t been too ‘rambly’ and I pray something blogworthy happens at that event today.
I’m having one of those days. I thought being stranded at George Best airport in Belfast City was bad, but now the entire post I typed up painstakingly with one thumb on my phone while holding a sleeping Tot in my lap just went ‘poof’! (Or whatever the iPhone equivalent of that is. I imagine it’s ‘Zunwanwu’)
Why am I stranded? Security. After enjoying a very private frisk courtesy of Her Majesty’s Border guards on my way out due to pins in my hair, I then had to face the slowest, most unhelpful security in Belfast ever on my way back. Between dismantling every single component of Tot’s buggy and tasting every single item of his food, sniffing his diaper for goodness-knows-what, there was no way I was going to make my flight.
Before you judge me on African Time, I woke 3.10am, left 4.12 for an hour long drive, got to the airport at 5am for a 6.40am flight. So you see? Not my fault. I had to feed the boy too as they wouldn’t have let me take his food through security. In hindsight since they still had us rip open and taste all the smaller pots, maybe I should have just dumped it all and let Tot starve. He wouldn’t have died anyway.
It’s still very annoying though. We even had BMI staff try to hold the flight, come down to security, speak to the officers to try and speed things up, for where? The pieces of the stroller went in…out…in…rotated…scrutinised…argh! The worst bit was I couldn’t even make the ‘Why are you searching me like that? Have you ever met a Nigerian suicide bomber?’ joke. DAMN YOU ABDULMUTALLAB! Burn!!!!
So, since Hubs has to be at work and my work is always with me (Oh! The joys of being a scribe) I’ve decided that Tot and I will take a little adventure by ferry and coach from here to London. I cannot fathom spending an extra £500. It’s un-Igbo. And I don’t have it so the point is moot.
Tot and I will be fine, travel and adventure is in our blood even if right now we look like we’re going into exile with our scruffy sleep-deprived selves.
But at least we have a choice and so many people in the world do not.
Wish me luck! And wave if you spot a dreadlocked woman in a red cardigan squinting out of the window of a coach looking angry at the world.
Oh pooey. Someone just offered their change. I’d better get off the floor.
Summary: County Antrim rocks (especially Ballycastle), Belfast sucks.
I remember going to our hometown from Awka.
My father, bless him, was always excited on these trips. He would enchant us with stories of walking long distances in bare feet to fetch water and swimming in rivers, the games they played along the way, the palm kernels he collected, shelled and sold for pocket money. Sometimes there was a new story and at other times it was simply a rehash of ones we had heard many times before. His voice pitched in the juiciest parts of the story, he swivelled his head to ensure we were listening to every word. My mother would cut him off with a reminder to keep his eyes on the road.
These days I know the journey took all of 45 mins to an hour tops, but it seemed much longer then, especially when we got stuck in Onitsha traffic.
I passed the time watching for shapes in the clouds; here a rabbit, there an elephant’s head, and God’s hand waving. Sometimes, they just reminded me of pounded yam made from the newest, whitest tubers, the kind we ate during New Yam festivals. My stomach would grumble and I would focus on hawkers tapping on the windows of our car and take the deep breath needed to interrupt my father.
My mother always bought sensible things like loaves of bread and bunches of bananas with their accompanying groundnut parcels for people in the village. If the traffic jam was particularly bad, we could have some Gala to stave off hunger. There were always sweating bottles of water in the car which had started out the journey a little more than cylinders of ice. We weren’t allowed to have the ‘omiyo-omiyo!’ sweets that their sellers announced with piercing whistles.
Soon, we would leave the bottleneck behind, my father speeding to make up for lost time. We were allowed a respite from trapped air behind windows wound up to dissuade theft, my mother resting her fingers from clicking the air conditioner on and off.
The breeze would lift the hairs on my arms and make me smile. There was always a thick liquid sliding down my arm from having whichever sister was near me at the time resting on my shoulder; I never slept in cars. I didn’t mind the saliva by then. My mind was on the one thing which my dad never failed to get us: a local snack from his childhood. The hawkers sold it straight from the fire in front of the failed airport leading to the Igwe’s palace in our hometown.
He called it ‘Ie-iee’. They were the larvae of palm tree beetles roasted over a wood fire.