Birthday Musings: I got Tired

Honestly, I find it hard to believe that a year has flown by. Whoever came up with that phrase about time flying and not ticking like a clock is absolutely a genius.

I don’t have a mirror in my house but the last time I looked in the side mirror of a vehicle I boarded, I realized that not much has changed about the physical me in the past years. Save for some hair that fell off here and a little that sprouted there, I look the same way I looked seven years ago.

So, when a secondary school mate messaged me a couple of weeks back that I appeared to have changed much and he doubts that he’ll recognize me again, I laughed. I replied that he will indeed have no difficulty singling me out in a room full of a thousand men. Like everyone else, I will not be able to wear my secondary school outfits again but in my case it’s not because I have outgrown them but rather because they will be too big. Slim fitted clothes weren’t as prevalent back then.

I got Tired

Even though not much change that the eye can see has happened with me, I’m not the same person, I’ve evolved.

As a teenager I got questioning stares and actual questions a lot. People made fun of the way I walk, the way my hands can’t seem to stay in one place when I’m talking and of course my high-pitched voice. I remember I was both shocked and embarrassed when a classmate decided to imitate me on the small field outside of my classroom one afternoon. I was like, is that really how I walk and talk? Like really? To my classmate and other people like that, it was just a harmless joke but it was a big deal to me.

All those years, academics was my consolation. I psyched myself up with the fact my teasers were no match for me in the classroom and were probably just envious. However, their teasing got to me and i became this teenager for which the simplest things of life, the things nobody thinks about and takes for granted became a chore.

Every action became deliberate for me. I had to think about how shrill my voice sounded while striking everyday conversations and more than a couple of times I tried to speak with the deepest voice I could achieve by holding down my chin to my chest. I became obsessed with monitoring my steps while walking, trying to avoid the somewhat strutting pattern that comes naturally to me. Trust me, you do not want to know how demanding this was for me, it was both physically and emotionally exhausting.

Brief relief came my way when I realized that those people who make a big deal about this my supposed inadequacies were those who didn’t really know me at all. People who are indeed close to me don’t have this single story about me, so they rarely make a fuss about it; most of them are even blind to it. But it will take me years to finally come to myself because like you know, it is the approval of those who barely know us that we are often trying to break our necks to gain.

Today, I walk proudly the way that comes naturally to me and I care less about the pitch of my voice. It’s simply not worth it, nobody should have to think about their walking style unless of course they are walking the red carpet. Besides there are lots of profitable things to expend energy upon, why get wasted over such triviality.

I still find myself in one of those awful situations where in an attempt to be real, I’m tempted to start acting fake but I catch myself more quickly these days. I got tired of acting out every move, every action and every word. I got tired of trying to disprove the single story that strangers have about me, it’s not complete anyway.

Back to that mirror issue, the fact that there’s no mirror in my house right now is a solid testament that i have changed. One of the strongest vanities I indulged in while in the University is a daily dose of talcum powder masterfully spread over my face with the help of a mirror. So, if you’re still looking for evidence to decide whether I’ve changed or not, you have it.

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Cakes and Chickens

It’s my birthday! There’s gratitude in my heart and songs on my lips.  Indeed to have one’s head sitting firmly on one’s neck is no mean achievement in this country and for that i salute the author of life.  I was going to bake a highly sweetened chocolate cake to mark the day but i thought otherwise. The last time i made one, I was still an undergraduate and I had to do the baking in a friend’s room in one of the female hostels on campus. My roommates especially my bunky could not understand how i could manage to be at ease enough to actually bake a cake from scratch in a room full of girls, of course that was after they had munched the portion i brought them which covered the serrated cake paper in which it was baked to form a top like an ice-cream cone’s.

Being an August-born (a friend told me we are the most populous); I have been denied the chance of celebrating my birthday in school with my mates. Throughout my primary and secondary education, I didn’t have to pack sweets, biscuits and other goodies to school for my mates who would have in turn sung and prayed for me because August is the very heart of the long vacation holidays. Notwithstanding, I have had a few memorable birthday celebrations. The one that easily comes to mind is my 4th birthday celebration and it’s probably due to the glazed photograph that rests against the upper part of our sitting room wall. There i stood, dressed in black suits with hands clasped around a knife buried deep into a two-step butter-iced cake with the caption “SEYI IS FOUR”. I can’t really remember the whole day but fresh in my mind is the fact that friends came around, we took photographs, danced and everybody went back home with takeaways and other gifts courtesy of my parents and notably one of our three neighbors back then. 

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                 From http://www.deenascakesandcookies.com

I’m tempted not to categorize my 10th birthday celebration as a party because there was no cake, just meat pies and malt. The celebration was not in my parents’ house but in an Aunt’s place where i had gone to spend part of the long vacation holiday.  My Aunt bought the white guinea i wore and settled the sewing bills but the refreshment was financed by one of my cousins who i have now lost contact with, she had finished university at that time and she later got married in December of that same year.  My 18th birthday fell within the week of resumption for second semester that year, i had left for school a week earlier because of personal engagements but this time there was a cake. Mummy sent the cake through a family friend who attended the same university and you should have seen how the cake was packed and wrapped. It was a plain cake without icing, mothers and their wisdom! The roads are bad and my dear friend surely had a lot of things to carry (foodstuffs and necessities). Icing the cake would have been an exercise in futility because by the time it would get to me, the icing would have smeared badly with all the beauty gone. There was also a cake last year, a giant oval shaped cake baked by my sweet friend and jointly decorated. I was busy in the laboratory all day with my undergraduate research underway and it was later in the evening that i shared the cake with my lab mates and few friends that were on ground. The lecturers were on strike (it lasted six months), so my roommates were at home.

Every other birthday in between had been good too, eighty percent of those birthdays were celebrated with chicken and jollof rice shared with immediate family members. It’s like a tradition in my family to slaughter chickens to mark important dates, birthdays inclusive. Even before dad started poultry farming, we reared free range chickens and always picked from. We targeted the cocks which would not be released to roam the streets with others in the morning after been kept in the cage over the night. When I was younger, dad slaughtered and cut the chicken to pieces but for about five years now, I do both and dad only joins in  the cutting when he likes.

Today my dear friends, there was no cake, chocolate, plain, butter or fondant-iced but a chicken lost it’s dear life to celebrate mine.