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.
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.