expressing a period of time during which an event happens or a situation remains the case.
I loved being a child. Didn’t you? In retrospect, it’s probably the most peaceful and satisfying my life has ever been. It’s not that my childhood was filled with glorious adventures and escapades but rather that I lived in the moment, not worrying about my future or past. I simply lived.
Some people argue that childhood was a scam because we were shielded from the reality of the world we live in. We believed that a spider bite could turn us into superheroes, we believed the moon was following our car at night and our biggest failure was wearing socks that didn’t match. Suddenly we grew older and realized that superheroes don’t exist, the moon doesn’t move an inch and people aren’t as happy as in the cartoons.
But while some people see childhood as a facade of the harsh realities, I chose to see it as one last supper. Think of it this way; life was probably like
“There will come a time when you’d be responsible for your own life and when you’ll be faced with realities like death, hunger and so on. But before then, here’s one last opportunity to believe in zombies”.
And we were all like
“Gee thanks! You’re so thoughtful!”
Now that I’m grown(quite) and faced with harsh realities, all I’ve got left from my childhood, just like everyone else, are memories that mostly put a smile on my face.
Something remembered from the past.
I remember Rachel.We were both about 11 years old when we met. She was beautiful, like a child. A small head and a small body to go with that. She had a voice like a Grammy nominated chipmunk and she was the lead singer in her church which was coincidentally located at the ground floor apartment of the building I lived in. We saw each other everyday; if it was not in school, it was in my compound as I walked past her church during their service or during the weekend when I walked all the way to her street to buy Akara and pap from Mama Amaka.
We became friends, partially because of proximity and partially because we were intrigued by each other. I was tall, she was short. In my house we ate potatoes for breakfast, in her house, she ate puff puff and tea. Her mum let her visit and have visitors, my mum did not (or maybe I had no friends, I can’t recollect). We were complete opposites and yet so perfect.
She dragged me a little out of my comfort zone and it was pretty awesome. For example, she coaxed me on my birthday ( December 29) to come out of the house to throw knockouts. She also convinced me one time to buy artificial nails which I never fixed. She even made us pluck that pinkish apple-like fruit from a roadside tree and eat to our fill( it’s delicious! Why don’t they sell it around? And what’s it called??)
But my favorite memory with Rachel was getting into trouble with my brother and my mother.
Let me explain.
We were both in JSS2 and used to walk back from school together; she would get home first, while I continued down the road alone to my house. School finished by 3.30 and I was typically expected at home no later than 4pm and most times I stuck to the schedule.
It was a brilliant Monday afternoon and my brother who was home from the University expected me to be home at the usual time. But that day, I had taken the bull by its horns and followed Rachel home after much persuasion. She cooked noodles for me and we talked about everything from boys to mean teachers. Her elder sister who was just as friendly joined the conversation and it was one hell of an evening!
By the time, I picked up my bag to go, it was 6pm. I got home by a few minutes past 6 and after taking one look at my brother’s face, I knew I had fucked up.
Long story short, on failing to provide a reasonable answer to the question “Where have you been? “, my brother whooped me and reported the incident to my mother when she got back from work. When my mum asked me what I was doing for 2 hours, I panicked and said
“I stopped to admire the tree on the other street and I got carried away”. I know. I’m an idiot.
Of course my mum thought I was possessed and for the next one week, drowned me in anointing oil and prayed to God to remove any spirit that was tying me to a tree.
I told Rachel everything that happened and we had a good laugh about it.
Expressing the relationship between a part and a whole.
Memories are a part of our whole lives. Just as Rachel has and will always be a part of my life.
After JSS3, my family moved out of that area and I haven’t seen Rachel in at least 7 years.
We were not completely shut out of each others lives as we unfailingly wish each other a happy birthday on facebook every year with lots of emojis.
It’s not that I was afraid of making new memories with Rachel but for what it’s worth, I already had the most sacred memories with her and just knowing that she was there, on another side of the country was enough for me.
Memories are truly a part of our lives and that’s what I love the most about being a child. Having so many great memories stored up in your head to put a smile on your face as you get through the tough adult times. Sure you make new memories as young adults but that helps you get through life as an old adult. Okay that’s nonsense! I love childhood because of the memories I created. Do you?
PS: Rachel died in December 2018 following a road traffic accident. This post is dedicated to her sweet soul which I’m certain is resting in heavenly peace.