Random Notes and Reflections on a Christmas Day

After a week of drought on this space, I’m back, at least for today.

Merry Xmas Blogville folks!

Here in Lagos, I can’t feel the harmattan haze, but many speakers are blaring diverse tunes on the streets and open fields. People, young and old, rich and not-so-rich, are trying to catch as much fun as they can, but here I am trying to break away from the grip-in-the-neck of my excessive muse, plus sleepless nights, that has made me feel rather giddy and unable to pen my thoughts down, or even strike out my words on the keyboard. Okay, I have managed to complete a short story up to 60% this week, but it’s really been a busy week at work, though it’s mostly been away from the usual location.

Talking about Christmas, I have a small confession to make! *Sssshhhhhhh* It’s simple, but may also sound weird: I hardly stay at home on Christmas day! In retrospect, one way or the other, I seem to run away from home every year. (Remember I wrote about a certain brand of boredom that descends on me at this season of the year in a recent post?) Since 2006, I have been able to find a reason to be away from home. In fact, I have found my way to UNILAG every Christmas day since 2007! In 2006, I had just moved into Mariere Hall of the University of Lagos in November (I think) and for some reasons I needed some time alone. I went home on the morning of 25th December and by the next morning I was back in C308, Mariere Hall. All my roomies were gone -to their families, but there I was, surrounded by empty mattresses, piles of books, my ‘ideas’ and ‘dreams’ journal, pen, clothes, my bible, a radio, and other random essentials. The hostel was quiet and was just perfect; the silence was pin-drop mostly. I spent the rest of the year even into first week of 2007 all alone in the room. I had a very refreshing time in God’s presence because it turned out to be spectacular! There was a lot of time for prayers, worship and what have you? I received directions for the following and, sincerely, I made several giant leaps in 2007. Less than two months into the New Year, I became the Music Director of the Lagos Varsity Christian Union as a 200 Level student. That marked the beginning of a beautiful journey I do not intend to write about just yet. I went on to do a few consulting jobs and experienced life and God’s grace in explosive dimensions.

LVCU Folks: L-R: Tomi Ajayi, Moi, Onyekachi Isiguzo, Chibuikem Atueyi (Committee Chairman), Emeka Okoro, Toyin Taiwo

In December 2007, I remember I was on the Exco Camp (2) Planning Committee of the Lagos Varsity Union (we were having meetings around the time) and somehow I still found reason to be in UNILAG on Christmas Day, even though there was no meeting for that day. I just needed to be away from home! Same thing happened in 2008 when I joined Toyin Taiwo (then Prayer Secretary) and a few of the brethren at the Christmas Day service at the Chapel of Christ Our Light in UNILAG! After the service, the church soon became deserted; we continued to gist and even ‘broke bread’ but soon, out of boredom staying back inside Divine (the name give to one of LVCU’s buses), we decided to pay a visit to the Akinnibosun’s. Two of their daughters had been members of our fellowship and the elder sister was particularly friendly and we were quite familiar because I often teased her (I can disturb people o!). There we ate poundo (you need to give me thumbs up because that must have been my first and definitely the only time eating swallows outside home and LVCU camp meetings, which is another home anyways!) and I used the spoon as usual, and no I don’t try form ‘ajebutter’ with that; I just prefer taking sallows with spoons and not hands. We watched a few Yoruba movies and just laughed. Their mum proved good company as we all paid attention to the TV screen and joked in-between. (Pastor T, thanks for suggesting that visit!!! *smacking my lips now*) In 2009, it was more of a solo run as I still found my way to UNILAG again on Christmas Day! I must have just wandered around, trying to gather my thoughts and fiddling with my (erstwhile) Sony Vaio laptop… Earlier today, I was there again in UNILAG! I’ve found a little extra explanation, though. I think it’s the power supply thing. PHCN hardly respects us to provide 24 hours of power supply, not even 6 hours at a stretch, and my restless self is not patient enough to endure the heat and other similar punishments meted out by the outrageous degree of power outage lol! (By the way, I think a few days on a personal retreat is in order for next week. I need it badly enough to run away from home again!)

Photo credit: www.science.howstuffworks.com

Oh! I have also observed that the rate at which people ‘throw knockouts’ these days is no more intense as we had it in the late 90’s [now I’m feeling like one old man :)]. Like every child then, I graduated from just playing around with *Ina Olorun and singing *“Ina Olorun ko kin jo yan, to ba jo yan ko kin dun yan”, to throwing ‘Bisco’. Okay this is the gist in English version: as a ten year old, most of my friends in the same age-group were not brave enough to scratch fireworks against the match box and throw away the ‘knockouts’ in good time for it to explode and make some noise! We would go about lighting with kerosene lamps tiny rods of copper which would burn while shining with sparkles of light. We referred to that light as God’s light and in that Yoruba song, we would chorus along that “God’s light does not burn; even if it burns, it’s not painful.” By the time I was in JSS 2, I had long graduated to scratching fireworks against the matchbox. We even would bury the stuff under a bucket or used Milo, Bournvita, Cowbell or Ovaltine cans, quickly cover it and face it down. This way, the sound is amplified when the firework exploded with a bang! There were even more interesting and adventurous sides to it. There was (and I think they still do it in some places till date) always inter-street and inter-house competitions. Adventurous kids would throw fireworks into other people’s backyards and frontages, and the whole deadly competition climaxed on New Year Eve!

One particular year, I wanted to ‘throw a lot of banger’ so I decided to use some money I had saved and you know what? That particular year, my mum indulged me by taking me along with her to the popular Mushin market in Lagos where she bought provisions and other goods she sold at her shop. She surprisingly allowed me shop for exotic fireworks and even added from her money. Till today, I still wonder why she allowed me to do that! Anyways, to cut the long story short, that holiday, I had my last and biggest fireworks adventure. After the New Year eve service at the church, you could feel the pulse right from inside the church. That particular year, some unruly boys even threw some ‘knockouts’ into the church auditorium. It was always like passing through a battle field after church service every 31st December. You were afraid not to be caught in the crossfire. When I got home, it was serious battle with kids from other buildings and, thankfully, there was power supply so the street was well-lit enough for us to see flying ‘missiles’ and dodge them just in time. At a point, the atmosphere was so cloudy from the smoke generated by the exploding fireworks, we could hardly see through. Even we air we breathed was filled with strange chemicals.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com

The following day, nemesis caught up with me! I had difficulty breathing properly and again, after about two years of fairly stable health, I had to receive intravenous injections at Jolad Hospital in New Garage! I learnt my lesson without being warned by my mum. I still don’t know why she indulged me, but I guess that’s how God allows us to learn from our own stubborn episodes some times. Needless to say, from that year I never scratched the matches with or fireworks anymore! Since then, I would just laugh at people who still burn money, energy and time doing so.

Back to boredom during this season, I have made up my mind to go for changes in the New Year. By the grace of God, next Christmas will be spent with friends and family in grand style! In fact, who knows? I’ll probably be spending moments seeing places and relishing in the joy of the season in company of that ‘special someone’ (I just discovered that I’m not growing younger lol!). So till then, I’m off to do some strategizing for the New Year so that I can indeed be prepared for those impending changes and move to higher levels (you know?). And again God answered my heart’s cry for company, music, and the piano. Some thirty minutes after ranting on Facebook earlier today, a senior friend has invited me to join her organisation on a visit to an orphanage next Monday! So I’m going to play some music from the keyboard (better than no real piano) for those kids, and even show them a few tricks on the keyboard. Thank you Jesus! I now got company. What a Christmas gift! Now I’m off to listen to some HBR, Creflo Dollar and Joyce Meyer podcasts!!!

Once again, Merry Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year in Advance!

Your Lagos Boy

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PS:

Fireworks are explosive compounds with carbon, potassium, and sulphur as the prime constituents. The colours are produced by metallic salts (e.g. blue, copper; yellow, sodium; red, lithium or strontium; green, barium), sparks and crackles by powdered iron, carbon, or aluminum, or by certain lead salts.

Exactly one year ago, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab went too far with explosives and got Nigeria’s image dragged in the mud again. Obviously, he took the chemistry of explosives too far! Now, I wonder what kind of fireworks he played with while growing up. :(