Today, I remember my childhood..
Growing up with my Granma in a little village called Ogbe.
My dad had recently died and Mom lost it psychologically, so she hastily went back to school for a change of environment while my sister and I were shipped to the village.
I remember my Granma, a strong and hardworking little woman with a great expertise in making traditional dishes. She was nick-named ‘Mama Ojobe’ which in native Yagba language means ‘the woman adept at soup making’. When it comes to local dishes, Granma can never go wrong.
I remember her love for formal education even though she never tasted it for a day.
I remember her selling her farm produce and vegetables to finance our text books. I remember all her struggles and sacrifices.
I remember her being trapped and pierced in the leg by local traps in the farm. Not once, not twice. I remember her scream which sent shrilling sensation throughout the length and breadth of the lonely forest. I remember her crying literally as blood gush out of the leg, I remember the pains and anguish of my heart watching my lovely Granma in tears.
I remember the hardship of going to farm very early in life. I was a ‘butty’ boy from the city but the death of my dad brought me to the village, so farming was a real-ass hardship to me. I remember we had to wake up very early and trek for hours before getting to the farm, then work for about seven straight hours, and an hour lunch break in-between.
I remember the fright of going back home because we had to carry heavy loads of foods items and fire wood on our heads, and trek for several hours. It was a dreadful memory.
I remember my scream each time I was pricked by a thorn in the foot. I would throw off whatever was in my head, sit on the floor, hold my leg and cryyyyy. Initially, my load would be shared among others, including my younger sister, and I would proudly walk home not carrying anything. Sometimes someone would even back me in addition to the load on their head. Later in life, they would leave me behind and alone in the forest, and I would strut home sadly.
I remember falling sick everyday for months after returning from farm, and Grandma would administer Phensic, reassuring me I would get used to the life.
I did actually, and became stronger and tougher.
The news leaked to the neighborhood that a lazy fresh ‘butty’ boy from the city was in the village, and the bullies came after me. I ran.
However, the more I ran, the more they came after me.
Until I started beating the shit out of them.
One after the other.
I was becoming tougher.
I also painfully remember Granma laboring all her days and never lived to reap them.
I remember my village primary school nicknamed ‘egungun-eja’ by the unlearned villagers. Egungun-eja was the most descriptive name of the predominant tree species found on that piece of land when the school was founded, hence, the nomenclature.
I remember ‘Aladoga’, the little lake far away where half of the entire village fetch their drinking water. I remember trekking for long, with either local gourd called akoto, or iron buckets on our heads. Then we would dip our dirty legs deep up to the half of the lake in order to get cleaner water.
Legs with fresh wounds
Legs with stinking and age-long sores
Legs with dirty rags tied around it.
Dipped into the water.
Yet no one contacted cholera or suffered any epidemic outbreak. Or any funny diseases of the city.
I remember Christmas days, one of the most joyful days of my life.
Mom usually would be around to make the moment unforgettable.
We would wear new clothes, eat rice and chicken, and drink bottles of Coke, until we purged.
It was sheer joy having Mom around.
I also remember the sadness and tears whenever Mom was returning to her base. We would cry the previous day, and stayed moody until we slept. Then wake up on D-day to face the reality that Mom was actually leaving that day. I remember us walking her to the market-square where she would board a pick-up truck that would convey her to Egbe for onward journey.
We would look at Mom’s face and see tears streaming down the eyes. We would all cry out and create emotional scene. Mom would comfort us and assured us she would soon come for us. Then the dreaded moment when the pick-up truck started its engine and left. We would scream in tears, and wave endlessly at Mom until the pick-up van goes out of sight. Sometimes we would run after the truck, crying and waving, and Mom would also be in tears as she waved back.
At the end of all, I would hold my sister’s hand and sadly, with fate accepted, we would return home and life continues.
I remember my best village primary school teachers, Mr. Isaiah popularly called Oga Taye, Mr. James, Mr. Agbonwo. Great teachers. They taught me well and I’m grateful to them.
I remember the day my sister was about to be flogged in the primary school because she doesn’t have a ‘langa-langa.’ I felt she was too fragile and innocent to be flogged, so I gave her my cutlass and got flogged on her behalf. Not once, not twice. I loved her to the high heaven, and I was her protector. You can’t lay your hands on her. I would fight you. We were below 7 years old and a lot had already happened to us.
It was just the two of us against the world.
Alone, lonely, and no-one else.
Today, as I drive through Shitta in Surulere, remembering, recollecting, and recapturing the touching memories of our childhood, of losing our father very early in life, of growing up with a perpetually sad mother, of being emotionally wrapped in her trauma, of a missed childhood happiness…
I cried again.
Tears streaming freely down my eyes.
But I kept driving.
Then I remembered what Paulo told me.
Victor. Forget the past. Press forward.
I sneezed. Wiped my eyes. Pressed the pedal. And moved further.
Beyond the reach of the LASTMAs of this world. Faster than Police, VIO and FRSC officials combined.
Focusing on the goal, looking at the big picture ahead.
Knowing that the struggles of the past can never be compared to the glory about to be revealed.