“Memories of childhood were the dreams that stayed with you after you woke.”Julian Barnes
We are 1 hour 14mins (1:14am) into the glorious day. A beautiful day that is way beyond mortal description – – even the angels can’t describe it . Many years ago, (9th of January) Heaven sent me to this planet earth with peculiar assignment and to fix specific problem (I am doing that already) . With humility, I arrive as a baby(as if I had a choice) just like our first born (JESUS). I landed on the 9th January and changed the status of that day, I altered the destiny of the date instantly , it was removed from the list of ordinary days and inducted into the royal league where only the legends play, the aristocratic dates (for exams purpose, only December 25 share this strata with January 9). My name OLATUNJI tells me the status of my family changed too.
It’s my birthday again, the hosts of heaven are agog over it again,angels are blasting the trumpets as they worship the King of kings. The sky is filled with stars and I can see the moon dancing just by looking through my dust infested window (the only reason I hate harmattan.. Dust).
For real , I can’t believe, some folks still ‘fight’ to stay awake just to register their love and support to this 65kg young man (I use to think, that style is out of vogue); my phone won’t stop yowling (Gloria wealth, I will war with that prophecy. Love it!). Text messages rain in like dews, I can see my sparkling smiles on almost all my whatsapp contacts (what a day to restore lost pictures) and I am sanguine, my social media walls will be flooded with mostly exaggerated messages in few hours from now. I am truly honoured and God bless you richly for celebrating his cute son and lovely friend.
People that are of great values to me demanded, a piece as a birthday gift to you all (even when I think it should be the other way round). Once no specific topic was given , I have decided to usher you into my privacy and allow you steal a peep into my wonderful childhood.
Civilization arrived and I finally owned a phone during my teenage (3rd of October 2007 to be precised) and by January 2008 I had my second phone, black, sagem myX140x. I am sure; I used more than 10 phones while in UNIBEN.
NOW CHILDHOOD PROPER:
Unlike many of you, my upbringing was quite unique, I was raised in a very peculiar environment. I was not born with silver spoon in my mouth, however we had many spoons and I could tell they weren’t made of silver, they were mostly iron (probably Aluminum). We (children) had many rubber spoons which were lighter and quite colourful. Oh! How I love my red and blue spoons!
I spent the earlier part of my years with my beautiful mother, my brother and few other family members including grandma. Childhood was fun and eventful, however, I feel I was robbed of my childhood, but that doesn’t change the fact that growing up was great. I felt cheated though (I still do, I think); what is childhood without video games, no cartoons, movies not even a white and black TV. It’s wasn’t the Adamic sins that caused that and I don’t think the grip of poverty was that strong on us but that is the price you pay when heaven gives you an opinionated, choleric Muslim woman of grit on whom the entire family responsibility crashes on. Iya Ayo was a strong and intelligent woman (age isn’t strong enough to strip her of her virtues) She is the most altruistic creature I know (both in movies, books, even in my dreams). She is extremely intelligent and hardworking (how I wish I picked those genes). Mama can be as gentle as dove and you can be her friend only if you play according to her rules. She can be as rigid as the wall of Gibraltar when it comes to her believe system; she won’t bend or bow. Mama believed if you wanna raise academically sound children, you must replace childhood luxury like video games with books, books and more books. We didn’t have a single toy in our house and she would use money as excuse which I disagree because we had home lesson teachers (the teachers were quite affordable though). Mumsy needed the kind of experience Paul had on his way to Damascus before we could enjoy childhood, unfortunately, we didn’t see that happens. I can’t blame a single lady who was trying all her best to raise the best fathers in the future. Don’t bother ask me about dad’s whereabouts because I am as just as clueless as you are. Anytime she travels, we maximized the opportunity to play out our flat asses. We would play with all our hearts and all our might because only God knows when the angels will surely trouble the pool again.
Another escape was traveling to the Bakares for holidays . Mrs Bakare is my mum’s immediate younger sister, she is blessed with a great family and that was the only family Iya Ayo would permit us spend holiday. In fact, it was another home away from home(it’s still home) perhaps a more comfortable house. They had big bakery – bread, pies, chin-chin, egg rolls and cakes are rolled out every single day. Mum Bakare was into catering services so the house is always filled with something to chew but that wasn’t motivation (Lanre was).
Lanre is not just my cousin but also my first friend in life.we went everywhere together and we did everything task together , he was so proud of me and always willing to introduce me to his friends and church members. I remember Lanre was once beaten for my iniquity and punished for my sins. That day, he had to lie against himself just to save me from mum’s wrath. Lanre’s Mum pounded him like snake and we was crushed like egg (she is my mum’s younger sister and I think that is genetic). I stood afar thanking my stars for sending the Lamb and letting the cup pass over me. (Lanre stories is for another day). ***the age difference between us is less than 2 years
Going to the Bakares for holiday was like going for an excursion in heaven. Doing chores with Lanre was fun, we had access to movies without guilt but that wasn’t really my thing, visiting the cyber Cafe with Lanrycool(as I fondly call him) was indeed cool. Mum ‘B’ being a deaconess in Foursquare Gospel Church can declare fasting for Africa but that wasn’t a big deal for Lanre and Tunji; we always carve our way around such (smart folks don’t get feeble during fasting). During holidays, AY was always on strike when it comes to bullying me. In that house the rule is different!
Ayorinde Barmz (a prefix ‘brother’ must proceed it else it would be disrespectful) he is now a very caring brother and a loving friend. AY (Egbon MI of life as I fondly call him) is one of the greatest thing that ever happened to me (this is a story for another day) but it wasn’t so from the beginning. Hey, I didn’t like him back in the days (not even at all), he was not nice. In fact he was a bully. He was like the model of the family and they were trying to beat me to his shape. Mum rule was simple: “He is your elder brother so he can drill sense into your skull even when it’s painful. He was always first in school with beautiful remarks from his teachers but I was either second or third with my teacher’s remark reading: Brilliant but too playful, intelligent but talks too much or good but always disturb the peace of the class. They tried all they could but to no avail . It should be noted that when push came to shove and family’s economic recession turned serious financial depression, I had to stay at home for a year because mumsy didn’t want me to switch to a more affordable schools, she dropped me out of school (with my agreement though) for a year to raise more fund so I could continue (I hope I told you Iya Ayo was very stubborn and opinionated). Unfortunately, She couldn’t raise enough and I had to run to a very cheap primary school to enroll myself (that was the major decision I made in life – I was 7), even though she wasn’t cool with the decision but I won in the long run with the intervention of Mrs Maku (who was a teacher in the school and lived just in the next fence) Mrs Maku became my foster mum in my new school and she was very proud of me. I spent the last 2 year of my primary education there after a year at home (This is another story for another day). How I love the school! No plenty restrictions, no competition. First position became my birthright.
Birthdays were and like every other day to my mum and I agree with her on that now. Celebrating a child’s birthday back then won’t cost much, I think. A crate of Coca-Cola products, a table size cake and probably new dress for the celebrant were just enough to give the young celebrant a great day but those were nonsense (probably frivolities) to my mum. We saw people even neighbors organized birthday party for their kids both at home and in school. I saw children brought cake and sweets to school to mark their birthdays. I celebrated mine just that way only once throughout primary school and it was in my dreams.
Such things don’t tinkle my brother’s fancy but I am just his direct opposite when it comes to things like that but with a mother like Iya Ayo, most (if not all) of my lofty wishes were caged in the prison of my imagination. Hey, we (at least) attended more expensive schools than most kids; I can’t remember who attended more expensive school in our neighborhood even streets yet they celebrated their own children. At this juncture, it must be made clear that Expensive is quite relative. I think, mum derived her fulfillment from our academic exploit and the quality of our education. We had lessons teachers which they couldn’t afford or probably felt it wasn’t necessary. My school bag was probably more expensive than some birthday ‘gigs’ but we had a strange woman as a mother (her thinking wasn’t my thinking, her ways wasn’t my ways.
As heaven is far from the earth so was her ways and thoughts far from mine). My best of shoes were my school sandals and shoes with my cute bags. We look royal when going to school but outside school our wardrobes were screaming for salvation.
None of her principles was as harsh as this for me: Thou shall not partake of any edible thing without my knowledge. Food or drinks coming from neighbors were like the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. We were swift to reject edible stuffs a grimace “Thank you so much but we are not interested” even when our taste buds screamed “let me have that!” The few times I yielded to my flesh and ate external stuff, I can only describe those days in five words: The soul that sinneth shall die!
Mum’s wrath (which is for a moment) reminds of Matthew 13:42 ….into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Back then, I would have to go remind my mum about my birthday. Instead of singing the conventional happy birthday song or pour out some special gift on this special dude, she would drag me like a bag of beans, Jack me up and place me on her laps and begin to speak positive words over my life, my future, my marriage (she never missed that) and everything that crossed he lofty minds during that time. She could do that for 1hr no stop (if the Spirit takes her). Trust me that was boring and tiresome. She speaks positives words over our lives every morning but your birthday just extends the duration. We spoke last night we spoke at length and the birthday popped up, she used 7 mins to pray for me. That is Iya Ayo for you. Many years ago, I would have appreciated few bottles of Fanta and a family size cabin biscuits (if not cake) more than an endless rants of hers .
Heaven gave me the best mother and brother and I will be eternally grateful, I was told I fought my twin brother in her womb. He must have said something that warranted my anger and reaction. The doctors fought for his life but they lost. This is the reason I don’t fight physically because my first fight cost a lot; my mum didn’t let them jail me… lol
Immediately, I arrived I stayed in the incubator for a long time (I was christened by faith right in the glass house) yet they were not tired of paying my lodging bill. After she gave birth to me she repented and decided not to try it again.
God bless my mother!
God bless you all
Iya Ayo’s last born,