The Distance Between Us (Part 1)
Pwesh mangoes! Pwesh mangoes!!
Pwesh mangoes were never fresh. Anyway, it mattered not. I don’t buy mangoes. I eat mangoes but I don’t buy them. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the mangoes, I don’t know. I just can’t bring myself to bring out my wallet from my pocket, count a few notes and give it in exchange for those yellow things. It’s a personal thing, really.
Have you ever touched gold? Have you ever handled heaven, tasted the divine, savoured the future? And the after doing so, someone comes with silver, with this vain empty world, would you accept? No matter how cheap it is, you wouldn’t even think about it. That’s my mango story. There are three mango trees in our compound at home. Whenever I want to eat mango, I only have to go to the trees and speak to Nature. I am so used to this. While in junior secondary school, I never bought mango. There were rich mango trees behind our school warehouse. After classes, we would climb the trees and rain down mangoes, fresh from the tree. Senior secondary school was a boarding school but provision was made for our mango consumption. We had a mango plantation in our school. Though I went there only twice or thrice to pluck mangoes, I had friends who frequented the plantation and satisfied my need for mangoes.
So you see, I have this history of always getting mangoes from the trees. That’s why I don’t buy mangoes.
That Saturday, I watched as the boy hawked his pwesh mangoes and sighed; pwesh mangoes were never fresh.
‘Brother, please what class are they going?’
‘I don’t know. Everybody is going to their different classes and I’m not in Part 1. What class do you have?’
‘No, no. I’m done.’
My first advice to everyone going to an unknown place is simple: Ask questions. Two years ago, I wasted more than two hours on the wrong queue in GtBank. When I eventually made it to the front and lodged my complaint, the official looked up and pointed to a different room. I walked away in despair. When I got to the room I was supposed to be, I was even more annoyed. There was no queue. I would have just entered, did what I came to do and then I would have left. But no, I remained mute on the wrong queue.
The sun did not come out that day. I did not know why. It was Friday and I was on my way out of school when he approached me.
‘Sorry, brother. Where is Block 4?’
It was a stupid question no doubt. But it wasn’t his fault. He wouldn’t be asking if he knew the answer.
‘Block 4 of what building? Which Hall?’
He did not say Awolowo Hall, he said Awo hall. Awo as in ceramic. That was what he said. The Yorubas reading this can relate.
I sighed. We were in front of the Senate building and that was nowhere close to my hall. I tried my best and told him to ask people once he got lost. He nodded and I left. As I walked down Road 1, I wondered how many wasted hours and unnecessary embarrassments I would have saved myself if only I had not been too daft to ask questions.
Money is like water in my secondary school. Whenever we had water in our hostels, we would go out with our buckets and fetch and then strip ourselves naked and wet ourselves till nothing was coming out from the taps. Then we would complain. First, we would blame ‘those guys bathing unnecessarily‘. Then we would blame the school and round it up with the pitiful Nigerian story. We never remembered wasting water. Never.
Then came the days when we needed water so desperately. We would steal from ourselves. When there was nothing left to steal, we would go out in our numbers in search of this gold. We would go to the clinic, and then the Principal’s house. Our final bus stop was always the well. Nature never runs dry.
I was talking about money. Last week, I had that water experience with my bank account. The week started with me as the rich guy. I had money and I knew it. Then the buckets came and there was nothing left but droplets. And I needed to get to Awolowo’s city. I still don’t know how I survived with some cash in my pocket.
Advice: Don’t let the day ever come when you think you now have enough to waste away. Don’t be the proverbial rich fool.
Well, you asked what I’ve been doing, this is it: I have been splitting my head into two and exposing the contents to the light of the sun. And I have been trying to keep my heart together because Lucifer came down in skirt and blouse. I survived. I am a survivor!
This is me reconnecting with you, friends. This is me covering the distance between us that my absence has caused.
I still have five more things to write about but it seems this is getting too long. I’ll drop my next post on Thursday. Before then, let the sun keep rising and setting and may the stars never decide to remain indoors the day we seek them.
Peace. Love. Sunflowers.
PHOTO: Me (in white shirt with blue and red design and blue jeans) saying something I can’t remember. Isn’t that beautiful?