When I was birthed into this foggy round ball, the parents were not bothered about making a decision as to what I would turn out to be or maybe even putting forward a lucky guess. The parents are hardly like that. You see, they brought the pink little me into this world, weighing above five pounds with a sort of dutiful sentiment the way most Nigerian parents just brought children into the world. Not that they did not love me or pray that I would be important some day, they just didn’t give too much thought to it about the time I couldn’t walk, talk or have the human instincts.
I wouldn’t know whether it was a rainy day the day I was born but it was the 20th day in June and Mrs. Akinbamidele my primary 5 teacher always said, June babies were wet babies. What I do know about that day in June, a day I would come to term birthday, is that it was a good day to have a child. It is doubted on my part whether the condition of my day of birth would be of any relevance to my person and who I was to become as the conditions of Jeffery Archer’s Abel. Born without a silver spoon or much of any spoon as if the gods had decided ‘this one doesn’t need a spoon’, I waxed forward with so much macho strength, playfully without two thoughts as to what life was to hold. By the time I turned ten, I however knew I was to become a story teller. I had taken the decision the parents failed to take for me.
It mostly slapped me in the face like cold wind on my cheeks, pressing my facial bones in such way that I thought I’d look different the moment I began. So there I wrote, short stories, satires, love and anything that seemed to come to the tips of my fingers. The years went by and so did the evolution of this female writer I refer to as me. After failing integrated science a great deal, I knew I was going to go on to the art class. Despite all the writing, all the claim that I knew what I was to do with the future, the certainty, it wasn’t until SS1 I became a person—in my view. We moved to the Lekki suburbs but that wasn’t it—it being ‘what was to change my life in the new school year and make me “a person”.
I missed still, the old house and the old school. Of the two I missed; the old house and its marble floor and licking sink; the old school with the muddy ground and teachers with fat kobokos. The new school was the deal; the real deal, the mighty mountain that I had to conquer, that would change my life. I must have cried that day, walking through the new school in a pale green skirt and chiffon white blouse, my hair plaited to the back, the tips lazily resting, mid-length of my neck, Sunlola, trudging behind in a replica outfit and most likely same look. The look in my eyes was an unmistaken look of fear and trepidation, of the days to come. I knew I was going to hate the school, the brown rough walls, the bright red roof, the neat basket ball court, the girls with their long relaxed hair, the boys in their snickers and skinny jeans—to me it was all sickening, and I was to remember this day, even as I remember now with some sort of nostalgia, some sort of relief, that those dreaded years came to end.
An introvert, I somehow managed to become a debater to start with. It was funny how, the teachers could love me so much when my classmates, were indifferent to me. It was funny how I could steal their hearts with my self-righteousness, humility and calm demeanor and the classmates couldn’t fall for same to put it in other words. Now, it’s just plain funny but then it was painful. You see, to the teachers, I was just a sweet home-trained young lady. They adored the way I listened in class, the way I didn’t bother to talk back to them, the way I showed them they were really doing their job. So it came: my first outing. My home-room tutor, somewhat magically chose me over the people that had been in the school for three years. Soon after, they were choosing me to represent the school at events. A debate came up with Mr. Donatus, the government teacher commending that I was a Natural, it was then I knew what I wanted to do. But it was also soon after that I knew, I was to become conflicted as to whether I wanted to become a mass-communicator or a lawyer. I knew definitely I was going to be a writer but everyone wanted to know that other thing that was to steal my heart, to become my fall back soul mate, like the prostitute when my Wife, writing, wasn’t doing so well. It was to be law, but first I was to taste what the mass-communicators liked to cook. Mr. Philip created the Press club, I was to chair and open it up with a news session 8.oclock Monday morning. Once the vice principal gave me a handshake 9.oclock that same day, I knew I was going to like the press club.
My time in that school forever changed me and my perspective of life. In other words my time in the school, made me a person. I had a friend, Arin. She was like me. Disliked for her honesty and brave fronts, confused as to what she was to make of the life already planned for her but with big dreams like every part of my heart. We bonded and she brought with her to the bonding, her secret admirer, one other new girl who liked to act dumb, her cousin, and another female student that guys liked to look at. We were six smartass friends.
Somewhat, my time there was a good time. Writing and being read was another opportunity the school like the old school created for me. But my time there was to be cut short and the old school was to be known as the older school, the new school, the old school. It was a drastic change that left me with mixed feelings. It happened really fast in that, one day, I wasn’t looking forward to resuming the new school, the next day, I was contemplating going to a newer school. I remember the tears in Sunlola eyes. She was to go back one year in the newer school because she was 11—even though the school was five years and there was no difference.
During this time, from ss1, to ss2 second term or (year ten as it was called) in this new school, I had a friend, a guy friend—a long distance guy that I had ‘hooked up’ with during an excursion trip to France. His story, is another story entirely but, I told him I loved him and invariably had to tell him what happened every day in my life, so I told him about the new school and was comforted with his words…”you never really liked the new school anyway”
I doubted at the time, whether it was the financial crisis going on in the country that led us to make the change, the parents wouldn’t say, only that the students in the old school were mighty rude and proud and they didn’t need me associating with them. I called my friends, told them it was bye-bye time and was comforted by their tears and sighs. Life was to go on. The period of time in the latest school is also memorable and worth mentioning is how I somehow moved up in rank to become the senior female prefect, which somewhat sums up the experience. Also memorable of this time were the special friends that imparted a thing or two in this writer’s life; mostly motivation and the strength to go on.
University. I once referred to books as the animal that tamed me. I didn’t need to be tamed before university but it seemed that too tamed me. First I blew up, and I was to blow up some more and it reminded me of something Uncle Hassan, a family friend used to say about my size in Yoruba. I moved up a dress size. I didn’t care. I was going to lose it some way or the other even though I still had three bottles of coke in a day and took a cab everywhere in the campus. That aside, diploma law was at first stressful and my G.p wasn’t something I was very proud of. It coincided with the time my grandmother died. Bless her soul. I was to miss her even until the second and third year.
I didn’t stop writing. And Jesus took his place in my life during this first year, with me asking questions I had never asked in all 16 years of Christian life. I think for the first time I wanted to understand Jesus more than the bible, more than bible stories, more than going to church.
Now in the second year, my life as a writer steadily grows, coming into focus. Chimamanda remains a constant motivation, alongside Sidney Sheldon, John Grisham, Jeffery Archer etc. This isn’t most of my life, just a cross section—not the most eventful time, just a glance through at how this writer evolved. I used to say, I want to be like Sidney Sheldon, or Chimamanda, but now, looking back to June 20, 1995, I know for sure that I just want to be me. With my identity, I want to be an individual of my own, writing as I like and becoming known for being me. The future seems bright even though it could have been brighter, this female writer shall have to wait and see what the future holds.