Sonia: No blog post today?
This is the blog post.
Mayowa: Ogbomoso… Wow. How is it like .
It is like wondering why everyone is so slow. Why is no one moving fast? Why is the shuttle stopping and the old woman is not rushing to catch up and everyone is so relaxed? Why are the bike men not rugged and crazy ? Why is no one hurling insults at everyone? Why are there no disabled people crawling by the roadside begging for money? It is like realising that Lagos has changed you and you did not even know it. You have not even spent one year in this city of sin and you are wondering why people are slow? They are not slow, you idiot! It’s everybody in Lagos moving like they have important places to be and if they actually walk normally, they would die. It’s a shame.
It is like waking up to the sound of birds singing “of course I fucked up” to each other on the tree by your window. It is writing to the bleating of goats in the afternoon. It is sleeping to the sounds of horny crickets looking for friends to undress because it’s so cold outside and the night is dark and full of terrors. It is taking a walk in the evening on an untarred road and feeling the soil on your feet. It is seeing the clear sky. It is seeing people greet you when they enter the shuttle because Ogbomoso is a town and community is king here.
It is seeing C after two years and exchanging stories of love and the lack thereof. It is holding hands, and laughing so much you hug her every time. It is following her to get food and buying that apology of a meal and asking, ‘People eat this?’ and remembering you were ‘people’ like a year ago. It is talking about love, faith, the church, writing, medicine, tech, Twitter, and what it means to find peace in a world with so much noise. It is holding her as she tries to stand and walk straight because your friend is tired and you are sorry for stressing her but also not sorry because you have not seen her in years and in the little ways the sky misses the stars on a moonless, starless night, you miss her. It is you being an unrepentant Yoruba demon and saying ‘Time is an illusion when I’m with you’ when she asks, ‘See you in say…30 minutes?’. It is you panicking after your test result and sending the result to her and asking, ‘Help me decipher this. What does the test say? Am I dying?’ because lowkey you do not want to die even though in the past month you’ve been so close to death you do not care anymore. Just give me a clean death, one without pain. I want to sing poetry to the heavens, not whimper like a rat caught in a trap in our old house in Oke Anu.
It is you seeing A after a long time and realising that these are your people. This is home. These are the people that know you, that know the colour of your skin, the language of your soul. These people, who were there when your name was still Inioluwa Michael, before you got the crown. These people who knew your family, your childhood. These people who hold the memories you do not remember. These people who can share childhood jokes with you. These people with whom you can say, ‘Do you know P is now in Germany?’ and they will say, ‘Yes, P!’ because they remember P. Because you were all children once and all played together in the sand and did Sunday School classes in the days when faith was simply trusting that Jesus came to die for you and he is coming again to take you home – surely. You see A after such a long time and know that you never want to stop seeing her. You never want to stop being friends with these people because when the dust settles, it is the people you call home that will call you and say, ‘Inioluwa, come home. Come home. Home is always accepting. Come home, my brother.”
It is you finding it difficult to adjust to this new Ogbomoso with Bitemore and game centres and all those things. Someone once said that Yahoo boys infiltrated Lautech (or Yahoo infiltrated Lautech boys, whichever way you see it) and the town changed. You do not know how true this is yet but you know that you travelled to Lagos like the boys in Lantern storybooks. You leave the village for the city and you return and everything has changed. The town has moved on and here you are, trying to hold on to your old memories of Ogbomoso while adapting to this new one too.
It is you trying to prove that this is your town. It is not theirs, these people who came here from Lagos, Benin, and Akwa Ibom, just to study and leave after four to six years. You want to tell them to be careful how they speak about your town, how they claim your town, because it is yours. Not theirs. But you are Oriade of Lagos, the king of a city that does not belong to you.
It is you realising that you will always prioritise peace over everything. You will always be a sucker for soft life. You will always have a problem with Lagos. Ogbomoso will never be enough but Lagos will always be too much. Ogbomoso will be the fair village beauty with peace and quiet but Lagos is the wild sexy babe that turns you on when it’s raining. And you are greedy so you want Nicki Minaj with a touch of Mercy Chinwo. You want the possibilities of Lagos; the beach, the art events, the galleries, the bookstores, the lagoon front, the bridges, the stories that live under bridge but you also want the bird songs of Ogbomoso, the cricket moans, the swaying trees, the patient bike men, the smiling old women, the carefree townspeople who do not check their pockets every minute like you do when you are at Computer Village or even on Ozumba Mbadiwe. You need peace and love and home and family but you also want 24/7 power supply and you want art galleries and open mics and book readings and meeting Chimamanda and Lola Shoneyin and Damilare Kuku and so you make up your mind: you will also seek peace and quiet in Lagos. You can find Ogbomoso in Lagos but you cannot find Lagos in Ogbomoso.
So you return to Lagos.