I thought about whether to share this for a long, hard while because I think I like to keep such things to myself, mostly. In the end I decided that as a writer, it would be a shame to let it go to waste.
I think I was already in my twenties before it occurred to me that people in this country – the UK – and the rest of the civilised world do not mix science and religion.
In Nigeria, primary school saw us studying both Bible Knowledge and sciences. In secondary school it was Christian Religious Knowledge followed by Biology or Physics or Chemistry. The atom was still the smallest indivisible particle and we lapped it all up like dogs – or soaked it up like sponges. It is part of the amazing Nigerian ability to hold on to two totally contradicting ideologies. We didn’t care. We rendered to Caesar what was his and to God we gave his/her due.
So which is it? Are we a product of evolution or children of dust and wind and in my case, some dude’s bone? (There is a feminist argument here but I shall ignore that for another day!) When ‘darkness was on the face of the deep’ was that the beginning of the universe? Did the words ‘Let there be light’ cause the Big Bang?
I’ve discussed my ideas of God with Hubs, two bloggers; Carmen McCain and Elnathan John as well as one deeply christian friend with a failed blog (I’m looking at you). I have a lot of questions, but I will say this; I am not arrogant as to believe that we are alone in the whole universe.
While I crawl out of my bellybutton, here’s a bit of Te Deum Laudamus for you to enjoy. I’ve been thinking about my years as a chorister in secondary school. There might or might not be a story to come from this angle.
We praise thee, O God :
we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee :
the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud :
the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim :
continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy :
Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty :
of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles : praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets : praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs : praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world :
doth acknowledge thee;
The Father : of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true : and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost : the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory : O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son : of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man :
thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death :
thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God : in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come : to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants :
whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints : in glory everlasting.
O Lord, save thy people :
and bless thine heritage.
Govern them : and lift them up for ever.
Day by day : we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name : ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord : to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us : have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us :
as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted :
let me never be confounded.
Hello Universe?! Can you hear me?
I have spent all my years on earth believing.
I was Mulder and I was Scully. And before that I waited patiently for Voltron to arrive, falling asleep each time, only to shake myself awake heart pounding in my throat with the fear that I had missed them. I knew my toys were moving around, living, breathing, having fun without me. Why did they keep still whenever I came into the room? Did they not trust me? Was there something lacking, some element that meant they could not let me see them as they truly were?
Nevertheless, I’m tired of waiting now. I know you’re out there. I don’t know what it is I need to do but I REFUSE to believe that I have to die first. Yes, yes, I know. We’re all energy and I might need to transcend this state in order to see, to know. But I do know. In this state, flawed, near blind, I know.
So quit it. Enough is enough. Surely, the eve of one’s X-tieth birthday more than qualifies for the ‘Something Special’ category? The planets have aligned. Don’t be selfish. Beam me up.
Oh and hi parallel-universe Chikodili, you total badass. Say hello to your wife for me.
My birthday is in two days. ‘Happy Birthday!’ you say. Well, in the words of Warren G, you don’t see what I see.
I’ve managed to shock quite a few people with my age in the last two months – the most recent being my former neighbour who tried to keep a straight face and failed (Hi Pavla).
With that in mind I have decided to stop telling people my age now. This is a thing I would find absolutely ridiculous on a normal day, it’s isn’t as if I had any sort of control over when I was born right? I don’t want to be younger, or thought of as obsessing over a number, any number. I just want to be further along in life, I want to have achieved more than I have. That much I do have control over.
And this is the crux of the matter. This is why I have decided not to celebrate my birthday as I previously planned.
Oh, it’s no great hardship to me (sniff, sniff). I was waffling anyway. The first party I had was at 22 and it was kiddie party complete with cake, ice cream, jello and Pin the Tail on the Donkey because my flatmates felt bad for me. My mother was not a party person so I had never had one before then. The other one was when I turned 27. It was afternoon tea at The Cadogan, again, not some great party – even if afternoon tea is something that I love.
So you see, I don’t have some great party-throwing history.
In spite of this, the debate on whether I should throw a party or not is still raging. My vicar is on the ‘Celebrate’ side and so is Hubs. While it is great to be reminded that God takes an interest in such seemingly mundane details as a birthday shindig, I figured he’d be happy with me doing a private Thanksgiving in church.
And Hubs will live.
Instead I will spend my whole milestone year doing something which I much prefer. I was poised to type what it was but the idea of what Ginger and Nkem and Kiki and the rest of you will say is putting me off. Meh, whatever. Kill me.
I am going to do it; I will write and finish a manuscript as I always do and this time, I WILL LOOK FOR AN AGENT.
This is my solemn vow.
…Why my mother has taken to signing off her texts and emails to me with her name ‘Oby’? Is this a trap?
Look, I am not paranoid. I just know my mother and living with her has prepared me not just for rolling with the punches but rolling away from them. My mother was very Old Testament we were growing up; swift to take offence, swifter to act still, delivering those dreaded mouth flicks that made you feel and look like you pissed off a few hundred bees. It was as if Jesus never happened. She’s only little so we all decided that the best retribution would be to grow taller, away from the knocks on the head and those ear-yanks that made you suddenly realise just what spirits did with the ear of a dog.
(Okay, I still don’t know. But whatever it is, I’m sure it hurts like shit. I am not swearing. I mean one of those obstructive ones that make your day worse on coming out so that it would have been better if they stayed on the insidewhatamIdoingdiscussingthiskindofnonsense?)
I swear my mother once pulled my ear so hard that for a week or so I was like Spider Man. I could hear butterflies in flight and smell rain even when the skies were bright blue. When I told her I could smell the unwashed liver smell which was the sole preserve of our house help Petrolina on the carpenter Pius, she knocked me so hard that my hearing returned to normal.
“That’s for spying,” she said, before giving me half a bottle of coke as a reward.
You see why I am so well-adjusted. And why I became a journalist.
Nevertheless, I shan’t take to calling my mother Oby , thank you very much. When it rains my left knee still hurts from the first – and last – time I attempted it as a joke and she threw a high-heeled shoe at me.