THE FUTURE WE HAD
A story of a boy with a crude beginning and a refined future! (Job8:7)
“When we were what we were not supposed to be, we were what we didn’t know.”
Anytime I remember my earlier days, I feel a heavy dose of nostalgia. The environment in which I grew up and the circumstances around me were a thing to put down. Right now that I write this, the whole thing plays in my head like a movie, I actually feel I am seated in front of the big screen in the cinema. How to start is equally as puzzling as how to stop. But then, I’ll try my best.
I opened my eyes into a family of love, even without a silver spoon in my mouth, I was born with a (zinc) spoon in my mouth; that very light spoon that Yoruba calls “Anumadaro” (not felt if lost). If you’re born with a zinc spoon, I think you’re luckier than when born with a silver spoon. When your zinc spoon gets lost, you don’t have to cry.
All the friends I had as a kid had their ambitions in life. We constantly discussed what we liked to be in the not too far future. Whenever we discussed those things, we would laugh and laugh. Some were so funny that you wonder if they meant what they said.
For example, there was a Kayode whose father, as at then had three or so known wives and many farmlands with which he catered for his family. Kayode said then, that in future, he was going to cultivate a vast area of land for farming and marry many wives who would help in the activities on the farm.
This, he said, on our way to the village’s neatest stream, a distance of over 800 metres from the village and breathtaking hills on which when you climb, you don’t look back. That’s why it was called Odo Maweyin (Maweyin River, Maweyin is here translated as “don’t look back”). If you look back, you slip and fall, tumbling down the hill with your water container rolling after you. Only God knows the number of plastic buckets I broke while cracking jokes on the hill. If I was able to summon the tears, my eyes would have been swollen from ‘crying bitterly’ before getting home, mother only hugged me close and encouraged me.
I was surprised one evening when my mum called me an engineer at home. When she saw the expression on my face, she knew I wanted to know how she got to know of that dream. She told me that a man who had been answering the call of nature in the nearby bush heard my friends and I discuss, and what Kayode said. Mum and I believed I would be an engineer because of my activities then. I used to open and re-couple, as well as try to repair all toys, fm radios, gas lighters, torches etc.
I developed my interest in this when I became the hope of my friends in retaining the values of their toys. It always took weeks of ‘hard work’ before you could save up to buy the very ‘valuable’ and ‘precious’ toys. We had to sell brooms, baskets or fetch water for people making palm oil. Whenever those things get spoilt, I would get the tiniest knife as the screw driver and do my best, and if I failed, I wouldn’t be blamed.
Mathematics however put paid to my Engineering ambition. I could not just find a way round it. That was the end of the road as far as Engineering was concerned. The dream would not see the light of day as I ran from the Sciences when it was time to go to Senior Secondary School.
Back to my story, I never heard of those guys since I left the village a decade and so years ago but I believe some would have fulfilled their dreams. If Kayode didn’t cultivate the farmland, I know he can’t escape the idea of many wives. You can never be as corrupt as he is. He once had the idea of putting a ring inside a dead lizard’s mouth for seven days after which any lady touched with such ring would follow you to anywhere you would have one or two things to do together. We were just approaching the age of ten back then. I believe his father should be blamed, a hunter and a farmer, he knew everything about charms.
I can also remember one Kehinde, he was a twin whose Taiwo had gone to buy clothes for him as we were told. Kehinde’s mum was a bit on the borderline of sanity and insanity who knew how to care for herself. She would pick up firewood and sell to people who buy cheap things. Why I feared Kehinde was the fact that he knew about Imole, a deity of the Ikale ethnic group of Ondo state. That deity wastes no time in dealing with anyone caught doing evil.
They said it killed one man who used rituals to draw money from people by shaking their hands early in the morning. Such dead bodies were never buried. They were thrown into the spirit world, a forest after a big dirty river in which we fished then. That river was wicked; you could fish a whole day and not catch anything. We believed the dead bodies came overnight to catch the fishes.
It was in this river we were fishing for almost six hours without catching anything. Those small fish that looked like tilapia which never grew more than a thumb, would come to eat the bait you put in the hook and you would need to be extra ordinarily sharp to catch them. Even when you catch them, they are of no use.
After the six hours of fishing, Oye (the most stubborn of us who could deal with anybody’s chicken and kill until I advised and threatened him with hell fire before he stopped), caught one small cat fish, I think that fish had stunted growth because as small as it was, it fins were so strong and sharp as those of an old fish.
As Oye flung the stick attached to the fishing line with extra force, it went over his head and it landed on Sunday’s back and the fish’s back fin hooked Sunday’s back. We, until that time had forgotten that Sunday was with us, he could be very lazy.
He screamed “Oyeeeeeee!” and began to run around, not that it was difficult to remove the fish from his back but he didn’t wait for it to be removed. “ye mi o, ba mi oooo” he cried in Ikale language. He was forced to lie for the fish to be removed. When the thing was removed, blood gushed out and he let out another yell of “ye mi ooo”, which translates as “my mother!!!”.
Kehinde, the child of the semi-lunatic took his cutlass and started the hitting its blunt side on the wound saying in Yoruba “Ero peshe…Ero peshe” meaning “calm…let there be calm” when Sunday finally stood up, he landed Kehinde a heavy slap for citing incantations on his wound. That led to a fight and the lazy Sunday had his share of crazy Kehinde’s beating. Before the fight ended, the fished had disappeared, I think, to its source. We went home! On that day, Kehinde was christened “Ero peshe”
This happened many years ago and it now looks like yesterday.
All the people I have talked about here, the vicissitudes of life has scattered us all. A Yoruba saying that translates as “twenty kids can never play for twenty years” is in full effect in our different lives as we have gone on to different things in different locations. I wonder if anyone has fulfilled the future he had then, I cannot say though as I am still trying to fulfill my own dreams.
To be continued