Her body was here, but her soul was already with her mother in the saloon across the road. There were about fifty reasons she stayed with Mama Supermarket and another fifty reasons she would prefer to stay with her Mother in the Saloon. For such reasons, crisscrossing in her mind, her heart galloped and studied the road that led to her Mother’s saloon. She stood keenly by the glass door of the supermarket and watched as the bikes and cars lazily drove out and into the estate. She observed the sandy road, filled with debris here and there and studied the pale green paint of the complex where her mother’s shop was found. It was the fourth shop. If she did what the adults did, she could get to the saloon in no time.
She made sure no one was looking and the supermarket was busy before stepping out. Yesterday, she had been on the verge of crossing as Her Mother’s apprentice beckoned to her from across the road. But Mama Supermarket caught hold of her, spanked her bottom five times and cursed the apprentice for being the devil in disguise. She had never crossed the road by herself. But it shouldn’t be that hard. She saw the children in pants and worn out clothing do it all the time. She could do it. She ran to the bottom of the slope of Mama Supermarkets house as the shop and the house were in the same compound. She stood, laughing cheerfully. Her glee stained her fair cheeks pink. She was going to do it; she was finally going to do it, something she had never done by herself. And then she ran, hands flying in the air. The warnings of her mother and Mama Supermarket disappeared in the meantime. They were suspended in the air in the same way she assumed time paused for her to cross the road. She wasn’t hit with slaps of guilt from their voices.
When she was safely at her Mother’s saloon, she looked back at the supermarket with a smile. She did good.
My 2014 was an unusual unexpected year. The beginning of the year was filled with promises, especially after staying at home for six months. There was a delightful sun smile that first day of the year as harmattan broke our lips and whitened our skins. There was the hope that crowed with the cock of our neighbours, the animation that stained the darkness of my eyeball, and the faith that held the tree standing strong despite wild winds.
It was with the grace of a repented prodigal I entered the year. My decision to shed off a skin within the first three months was spontaneous. It came off exactly the way a snake shed its skin. Layer after layer after layer gradually came off. With it, I glowed. I became different. I was experimenting, stepping out of my comfort Zone.
I became the exact way innocent Zainab felt on the first day she crossed the road. I felt like a baby sojourning out in the world for the first time. The sun hit my skin differently, polishing it with a glow only it could give.
My workout routines gave me that new confidence; the pleasure of the skin I wore and the air around me. My feet were lighter and I constantly felt elated as a bird in flight.
There was the realization that I was my own person, with a vast land of dreams staring ahead of me and a mine of golden accomplishments, waiting to be tapped into.
I was finding myself, searching the recesses of my mind for who exactly this person they called Ope was. I was stepping away from old expectations of people that had given themselves their own meaning of my name and person. I moved away from my struggle to please them. I stepped away from my goodie two-shoes personality that I grew up with. I started to question things, starting with the so called “good” society proffered as the only good and the questioning the evil they claimed was evil.
I no longer wanted to be the girl everyone wanted me to be; mostly a 5.0 CGPA student like my older siblings. I wanted to be different, with my own accomplishments to be called at my name; for people to identify me, not as being a shadow of some other person, sibling or not.
I’m still in that search. But what I’m sure of was 2014 allowed me to cross that road, allowed me to break that boundary I sought to break. It allowed me to step on stairs I had never foreseen myself.
Everyone must have thought it dangerous for me to step out. They asked with care “Are you sure about it?” But there was the assurance in my heart that if I wanted to do it, I could do it. Applying Zainab’s exact situation, there were fifty reasons I stayed in my comfort zone; (being an introvert, my comfort zone was any comfortable place away from humans.) and there were fifty other reasons I wanted to venture into the world out there, to feel the breeze billowing on my face and speak out opinions and fears; things I only could do in soliloquy that resembled madness. I desperately wanted to be on the other side of the road
The age old statement, you can be whatever you want to be, only started to make sense to me in 2014.
I saw my beauty in my eyes and not my skin. I saw deep in my soul, a quiet fighter. I began to laugh with ease. I began to break guard of my heart and allowed new people in.
I met so many writers this year that have both inaudibly and piercingly, impacted good in my life. I opened myself to knowledge and I learned so many things.
I dealt with certain fears I never thought I’d be able to overcome.
In 2014, I crossed that road they believed I would never be able to cross. I was better, in 2014.
Lots of things irritated Farouk. If Mother didn’t come to clean him up immediately after a dirty duty, it became a problem that sent tears to his eyes. Apart from hunger, thirst and heat, other things irritated him. The inability to communicate his irritation was worse than the irritation itself. The tears that clouded his sight and turned his beautiful mouth into an angry frown irritated him. That grandmother would pat his bottom irritated him worst. He hated that his stomach went into knots when he was hungry and Mother’s breast wasn’t in sight. But he had found certain joys he clung to that could elude him from such irritations. Toys didn’t have that effect. Sucking on his thumb was able to help him totally zone out. Sometimes, it was that thumb that lulled him to bed. At other times, it was that thumb that made him peaceful. With other non obvious irritations, he would cling to his green napkin, it was able to keep him distracted. He’d keep the napkin to his lips or raise it up as he flayed his arms on his vibrating rocker.
Farouk’s habits to supress tears and keep a smiling face are to me, my struggle for happiness in 2014. I knew for a fact that I had to find happiness. Having left heartbreak and trying to leave insecurities, I clung to the thin almost invisible thread that was supposed to act as my happiness seed.
Taking baptismal classes, I also learnt of the joy that came from the Lord and I aspired towards that, on a daily basis. Through inconsistencies in studying God’s word, I learnt of a joy that could only spring from His well; the one that quenched our insatiable thirst. I was the fat kid in the candy store, taking all the candy, tapping into the Love of God.
Breaking out from the status quo of rejection, sadness and heartbreak, I have chosen happiness, a guide in all circumstances; one to ward off all appearances of evil.
As a child, my mother referred to me as a crying machine; producer of tears, yaddi yadda. Not for mockery’s sake but to make me aware of a weakness that threatened to become a part and parcel of me. It wasn’t the usual cry a child gave. In my case, it was tears that lasted hours unending and sent me to my room to be alone for the smallest thing. In 2014, I was able to break up with my worst habit, without a single tear.
This year, I loved and lost, but I know I would love again.
I am still in a quest of sorts, but for now, this is me saying I have found my happiness. Although when I look at the circumstances of my case, it seems happiness found me and not I, it.
So as at December 2014, without having to list any achievements, without having to mention the number of friends I have, without having to mention my CGPA, I can successfully say I conquered 2014, with a smile etched out on my face.