Yes, people. Contrary to my long-held belief, I do indeed have a birthday. And today is it.
When I was a child, after a particularly horrific thrashing session from my mother, I would imagine that I was adopted or from another planet. Or that I came from a pod and that was why she didn’t like me. But as time has gone by I’ve had to resign myself to the fact that my mother really is my mum. (Man, my mum doesn’t joke). I have also reconciled myself to the fact that I did not come about from immaculate conception because I revert to age 12 when I consider how else it could have happened.
How have I spent it so far? Running errands in the rain. In Nigeria they will say ‘It’s showers of blessing’ but that’s Nigeria for you. Even when you’re dying of pneumonia it’s ‘blessing this’ and ‘blessing that’. A dirty stinking bird moves its bowels all over your Sunday best and it’s a blessing.
No, fool. A dirty stinking bird just took a dump over your clothes. Now clean yourself up and hunt that bird down. Extra anu okuko for Sunday lunch.
I feel under pressure to mark today in some way – that is to say, I would have succumbed to the pressure if I didn’t almost forget it was today. At the start of each year, once the fireworks start going, I recite to myself ‘Nwunye, this year you are X years old. Now get published you piece of piss’ so that by the time my birthday comes around, I feel as if I have been that age for years. None of this matters anyway. Google ad preferences, that omnipotent force that determines what I should be buying or reading or doing on the internet, thinks I am a 35-44 year old female obsessed with early childhood education, food and drink recipes and crafts. And only one of these is true.
OK, two things.
I’ve always felt older, there’s really nothing I can do about that. And I’ve never been one to mark my birthday with a party as we never had parties growing up. My first one was at 21 and my flatmates felt so bad for me that they threw a kiddies’ birthday party replete with ice cream and jelly. Except the jelly was laced with vodka and apparently I had a ‘competition’ with some white dude that looked like Mick Jagger’s lip twin.
A competition to find out who had the biggest lips.
I’m still not sure who won. Or why it was a good idea. But I do know my children will not have birthday parties either if this is what goes on at kiddie parties here.
I blame my father you know. He always forgot our birthdays an when you reminded him he would say ‘Oh I didn’t forget! I was going to take you to Thompson Supermarket”, and even though he forgot we would forgive him because we loved Thompson Supermarket more than we loved Jodinco. They had Archie Comics (which my father never bought because we were supposed to concentrate on becoming doctors and taking over from him and mum) and Anita Dolls (they looked like Barbie Dolls but they had no Ken obviously. I tried to Africanise her by tying scraps of Ankara round her chest-bumps and no-bit bits). There were also ‘Assembled in China’ toy cars that flipped over when they hit obstacles and had instructions: ‘The wheel turn back. It have bump n go action.’
By the time we were pre-teens, my dad stopped pretending. If we harassed him over forgetting our birthdays, he would say ‘Go and sit down. You should be buying me presents for having all of you’ and that would be the end of that. But it didn’t matter. He forgot his own birthdays too.
It’s also possible that he once bought a pair of scissors for my mother as a present. Only quick intervention from us meant that he didn’t spend the night in surgery extracting them from his own face.
So, thank you mum and dad for everything really. And maybe, just maybe I will be having those parties for my children after all.
Now I really must dash. Tot has done a whole lot of blessing that needs cleaning up.