Do you remember when you were six years old?
I don’t – well, for the most part. But I learned some pretty profound lessons around that age. That was the first moment I realized – something sweet can still hurt you.
Case In Point: DODO.
I’m sure I had been eating by myself long before I was six (at least I think so) but the clearest episode of that happening is the one I’m about to tell you about.
I had this aunt, Alaba, a beautiful woman. I’m sure I had a crush on her and she was fond of me. That afternoon, our parents weren’t home so she was to make me lunch. She fried dodo which I loved (and still do) and gave me a plate. I think the idea was for me to carry it to the dinning room and wait for her.
It didn’t work out like that.
I mean, there I was staring at what I probably thought was the sweetest thing in the entire world, and you’re telling me to wait before I start eating?!
You and who; fest?
I just dipped my hand into the plate and took hold of a piece. I was conveying it to my mouth when my hand sent a signal to my brain that THIS THING IS HOT. I promptly flung the piece of dodo one way, the plate the other way and screamed.
I remember screaming.
Of course, my darling crush came running, petted me, blew on the hand, smacked the plantain for hurting her baby (what won’t adults do to placate children eh?) and reminded me that she’d said to wait. But I found most confusing was – how could something that tastes so nice have hurt me so much?
I think that was my first introduction to heartbreak.
Many of my childhood lessons stuck with me till now – and I like to think that’s the case for most of us. But one thing that goes out of lot of us as we grow older….is that childhood curiosity. That desire to know more.
I remember watching Wonder Woman. I remember going outside after watching an episode with my friends and jumping up and down because; hey, if she can do it why can’t I? Never mind that I wasn’t a woman. Never mind that I am not anything close to an Amazon.
If she can do it, why can’t I?
All that ‘genetic mutation’ ‘Kryptonian DNA’ ‘mutant gene’ was too much an explanation for a kid. He looks like me – therefore if he can do it, so can I.
Who knows? Maybe if I had continued jumping then I would have created a way for people to jump over tall buildings in a single bound! Anything is possible, no?
But we grow older, and as we do our worldview becomes smaller. We desperately protect our ideas that hardened into crystals and therefore view any other perspective as a threat. As the Ancient One told Strange; ‘You’re a man who has spent his entire life looking through a keyhole’.
Very small perspective.
We should grow. We should be curios. No matter how much we think we know; we still don’t know as much as is possible to know about any one particular thing. I am probably the best authority on anything Seun Odukoya, and I still don’t know a third of what there is to know about me! There was a time curiosity was what got me out of bed in the morning. I was always looking forward to whatever new adventure there was in the day, what new trouble I was going to cause/get into, what new person I was going to meet.
Then caution overcame my eagerness. Somewhere along the lines, I started to think I knew enough; there was nothing new to see in the world. I withdrew into some kind of protective bubble and became only conscious of survival.
Well. We all know how that went.
But I don’t want to die. That is why I didn’t drive into the ocean yesterday on my way from work; even though I was tired and unhappy. This is why I agreed to undergo therapy and treatment for Major Depressive Disorder and a couple other things (insert laughter emoji). That is why I have started to walk again.
I. Don’t. Want. To. Die.
I am finding reason(s) to live again. Something to get me out of bed, eager and excited about the new day and the possibilities it brings. And I am not saying there won’t be days I’ll feel shitty and hate myself and wonder why I don’t just hold the boiling ring, plug it in and hope NEPA leaves power long enough for me to leave –
But those days will get fewer and farther between. Right now, I am curious as to how someone can bake a whole cake and not finish half of it before it’s done. Maybe that sounds like nothing – but it’s enough to get me till tomorrow.
Never stop. Never settle.
I think Hennessy said it first.
Motionless. Running helter skelter
Rocking a chair. Worried with no helper
Bent back bent back to work
Money making making slaves of us
But we made money to make money work for us
The rich too busy making work for the poor
The poor getting drunk seeking libation to pour
To pour to foreign gods too poor to buy their own drinks
Promising mercy but first part ways with your piece/peace
I’m at my window watching the rain and thunder strike
Suicide at the door begging to come inside
Don’t be mad
I just didn’t remember
But how could I forget?
Goodbyes are forever
We made promises
You said you would come back
And I would sail seven seas
Just to keep track
How could I not remember!
Too much too soon
Too soon too gone
Gone – till November
No – not this one; so close
Like the thorn from a rose
But that one that’ll never come
Like distant memories; far gone
Should have been more of a lover,
Should have kissed you tender,
Held your hand;
And allowed you go no further.
Oh; dear me!
How can I not remember!
How dare I forget;
That goodbyes are forever?!
Tree limbs wither and die
Where withal, lay I
Brave face to the open sky
Inside, I’m tired
World-weary, what a weary world
Word heavy, my soul screams with birth pangs
I shiver, I shudder and –
I pull hard to get milk from life’s udders
Drowning in sighs and mushy nothings
Wrapped in my cocoon, impervious to pity
I’m alright, all night
Conversing with stars all high
All – hi,
Nobody says hello
I’m holding on to black – too scared of yellow
Too afraid to let go.
This is all I know.
Going through the motions,
Shocked awake – rude emotions
A kiss so great
Quantities measured – memories treasured
Trust fragile; completely fractured
From duct to ticker tape to surgery scars
Picking shards of what was once a heart;
Do I love You?!
Give me a moment – allow me kill myself,
Maybe then you’ll see there was never anyone else
Give me a moment; just because you think you can write
Don’t assume you understand the power of my words
Give me time. Let me think of what I need to say
I feel powerless at times; I hate to feel this way
But you’re the one, so I smile and grit my teeth
I hurt you, I’m selfish – but I’m the one you need
Give me a minute. Allow me kill myself,
Maybe then you’ll see you’re…you were all I had left.
I turn the floppy disk in my hand and stare at the inscription; ‘Baby Shower 09:11:04’.
Wow. I set aside the box I picked it up from, sit behind my desk and hold up the diskette, staring at it as though I can see the contents. Superman’s X-Ray vision or something.
Yeah. The ghosts get bad around this time of the year.
Dust hovers in the air for some seconds as I send them from their abode with a puff of air. I’m sure I have the files on this disc backed up somewhere but I cherish things like this because of the memories they hold. Not the pictures.
This disk represents a moment in time. A snapshot of my life – of life; as it was at a particular time.
I wonder if the baby whose pictures are in here knows what a floppy disk is.
A smile adorns my mustached lips as I see her there; eyebrows wrinkled in concentration trying to answer the question I just placed before her young intellect. After some minutes of raking through files and files of memory data, she’ll look up at me with a disgruntled look and say accusingly; ‘daddy, you haven’t taught me that!’
A burst of laughter turns into a sob as I cover my mouth in horror. What am I doing?
It is the retort that came into my head in response to her response that has me crying.
“Daddy, you haven’t taught me that!”
I would have chuckled and said ‘What have I been teaching you then?”
What have I been teaching her indeed?
That love is a myth? Or that men usually don’t know what they want till it’s gone – and then they spend the rest of their lives chasing shadows because they let go of substance in a moment of weakness? That fear is more powerful than love – and that it makes no sense loving someone because no one is good enough to fight for?
I’m a thirty-something year senior executive in one company like that – yet I cannot stop the water faucet that suddenly opens behind my eyes. I imagine I look like one of those burst Water Corporation pipes, water leaking all over the place. I laugh at my own joke and the tears stop.
I wish my mother was still around. I see her look at me, shake her head and say ‘darling, what do you call someone who knows what’s best for everyone except himself?’
My voice echoes in the dark room as I audibly answer a question asked in my head. ‘A hypocrite?’
I hear my mum’s chuckle loud and right in my heart. ‘Lonely and confused.’
I remember Ibi telling me a while ago; “I can’t stay here and watch you kill yourself. You’re going to drag me along with you – and I…we have a child to care for.”
Now it’s done. Everything – she’s gone.
Or is she?
That’s my daughter talking. We spend time – more time than ever these days, but I avoid her eyes every time I say goodbye. Because I know what waits in them. I know what she wants to see happen – and I’m not sure it’s the best thing for all concerned.
Have I learnt anything new? Am…I…learning?
“I don’t know what to do…” Steam dissipates in the cold air as I stare at the ceiling in frustration.
Mother lowers her glasses and looks at me with a smile. ‘Oh yes son, but you do.”
I shake my head as though that would make her go away. “But…but mum, I’m so scared.”
“But you’ll know. You’ll know – and then maybe you’ll finally have some peace.”
Peace. Where did that go?
I pick up my phone and though it is 1:17 on a Monday morning, I call my ex-wife.