Our memories are woven into the essence of who we are just like our DNA. Some memories are fleeting, while some stick and go with you wherever you may journey to. Even when you are far away from the source of such memory, little things bring thoughts of them flooding you with bittersweet nostalgia.
I’ve found myself easily moved to tears in the past few weeks and coincidentally, I’ve been running into things that quickly transport me to my carefree days of childhood when I was under the loving protection of my parents and didn’t have to worry about finances, World politics and if the World’s going on a one-way ticket to hell in a handbasket.
Here a few of the things I’ve seen in recent weeks that transport me back to my growing up years in the close-knit campus community of The University of Nigeria Nsukka.
I saw this Tortoise at a nature garden that I visited recently and that brought back different memories of folktales of The Wise Tortoise that my Grandma told us on balmy evenings as we peeled cassava or shredded our harvest of corn. In my hometown, the Tortoise is respected and roams free. It wasn’t strange to see them trudge along the bush path, stopping to nibble at foliage as they went about their business.
I saw this shaker in a musical store and couldn’t resist taking a photo and shaking it a bit. It reminds me of days of traditional, energetic dancing with my childhood friends and shaking these musical gourd in rhythm with the drums and other homegrown instruments. We call it ‘ishaka’ and practically every mama owned one. Sometimes, especially during festive season, our dancing efforts were rewarded with pennies from appreciating adults.
Abundant blooms of Bougainvillea brings back thoughts of my childhood home. The perimeters of our compound was trimmed with Bougainvillea and The Queen of the Night flower that emitted its signature, beautiful, musky fragrance that hung in the nights’ air.
Ha! I chuckled when I saw this grandma telephone. My parents had a cream one and my dear dad kept it locked so that we wouldn’t run up bills for him. Back then to own a telephone was expensive, novelty and for a select few. We (my siblings and I) outwitted my poor dad (sorry daddy) by learning a trick on how to tap the numbers on the phone to call our friends. Now, I wonder if my dad ever knew.
Little things can trigger great memories of the past. I stumbled on this mask in a shop at the souk that collected all manner of knicks and knacks from all over the World. On enquiry, the seller told me he believes it’s from somewhere in West Africa.
Looking at it transported me back home to my native Igbo land of Enugu State in Nigeria. It brought back a flooding of memories of cultural festivities that showcased fierce masquerades and the drumbeats of the African drums and special gong, especially at Christmas or New Year season.
It reminded me of my days as a young girl and how we used to run as swiftly as we could to get away from the young agile masquerades who loved to send our adrenaline pumping by chasing us around the square or through the bush path – especially the young girls.
Traditionally where I’m from, women don’t come near masquerades and stood to watch from the peripheries. It’s only the domain of men who have attained a certain level in their age-grade. To be initiated in the masquerade group required a ceremony of its own which is only attended by men and held at a secret place.
To my understanding, some of these traditions have been eroded by Western culture, but there are still some villages that hold on to their cultural heritage.
P.S. Some clips I found on YouTube about some Igbo festivals.
“Camouflage is a game we all like to play, but our secrets are as surely revealed by what we want to seem to be as by what we conceal.” — Russell Lynes
”I am totally preening with pride.” No, it’s not a camouflage.” ”I am preening because today’s prompt for Writing 101 was humbly offered by me and accepted by Ben Huberman.”
”So I crave your indulgence while I inundate you with poetry 🙂 ”
I feel shame Deep burning shame Its cloying presence Tries to steal my essence It clings to my clothing In an attempt at choking I despise it with so much loathing My detest so bright and blinding That to see through these walls enshrouding I need a mask to cover my eyes.