It has been a long year coming, every now and then I shifted the thought saying it is not yet time to tell the story but these days I get more afraid over certain uncertainties. With the passing days, I have realized I am just one of the few privileged ones and there are some memories I need to pass out, even though I do not remember most things I read, I find it difficult to forget good deeds done to me, hardly remembering the bad ones but in truth who forgives and forget if not Eledumare.
So this day as you celebrate Three Decades plus one, I will ask you if you still remember certain childhood escapades, those daredevil acts and deliberate disobedience we carried out just to annoy everyone around. How time flies, now we are both parents and would be counting on the Lord to raise for us children who are family’s light, nation’s pride and the world’s property yet our past deeds hangs over our heads like the sword of Damocles.
Dear Ayula, permit me to send this message this my own way, I only hope it suffices for the presents that will be missing as I wish the Chief Operating Officer of Sanni Rentals and the Opomulero of the Sanni Tailor Dynasty Happy Birthday. Though within me, I know you deserve more than mere words but what can my poor self offer?
I know you won’t remember those “Agbo Lives in Calabar” days and endless 4 + 3 – 7 = 0 calculation classes which I found very difficult to comprehend but you never got tired teaching me in Brother Ganiyu’s home lesson. Those innocent and presumably insignificant efforts I must say contributed to who I am today, so practically I owe you this one.
Dear Ayula, there are so many innocent growing up memories that had stuck with me as we grow by the day while some are beginning to fade. You will have to forgive my omissions because as I come of age and responsibilities of living independently begin to tell on my memory, it will not be out of place that I will miss some fond memories while others will be exaggerated not on purpose but on the account of things I can comprehend then with childish view. For the views I get wrong, I hold myself responsible because they were my views as I see them.
Also Read: Letter To My Son #Ubuntu At The Count Of One
Our coming together is purely political, if not, we would have met at another time, in another place with entirely different stories to tell but the annulment of Chief M. K. O Abiola’s election by the then Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida had brought in its tides the total shutdown of academic activities in Mile 12, Ketu, Lagos where I stayed with my late mum and Granny (Iron Lady) in #House24. Surprisingly, while turmoil was raging in upper Lagos, Ikorodu was its peaceful self and school were in session, so I was transplanted to Double Chief’s household, the rest will be a story for another day, God willing.
I remembered I arrived on a Sunday evening, didn’t feel I would miss anything in Mile 12 because I arrived into a ready made house with enough potential for plays. I arrived into a full house of girls and three boys, Brother Mukaila (I guess or was it Sunny Colour), yourself and a toddler (San), watching film, how Chief was able to manage such huge household as at then, today in the light of raising my own family looks mysterious.
Over the years, you became my immediate elder brother taking care of me as we grew along the way. You were like two classes ahead of me but we glued instantly. Do you remember our first official job some 23 years ago, when we were employed to work in Brother Ode’s candle factory at the back of the house – cleaning, stacking and hawking candles at night. Those innocent memories.
Do you remember one time we worked tirelessly for about two weeks and when we got paid, I slept off overjoyed with my earnings in my pocket only to wake up and discovered my money had been stolen (by Samson, don’t even know if he is still alive), and you shared yours with me? That was a selfless service that cannot be repaid.
I am sure you will remember those days will count cars, pick colours and read plate numbers in Iya Biliki’s shop on Oriwu Road, Ita-Elewa and can tell the number of times a certain cab passes through the same street in a week. Sometimes, I wonder what today’s children will use to build their street credibility.
Do you remember how we spend hours at California Cinema, analyzing film posters of Herbert Ogunde(Koto Aye), Amitabh Bachchan (Sholey), Dharmendra, Maad, Tufan, Bruce Li, amongst other films? Those times you don’t even need to watch the film because for us, the posters say it all from the beginning to the end. Thank God for Silverbird cinemas and Film House, I don’t know how I would have explained watching films on big screen to #Ubuntu.
Do you remember how we sneak through dirty gutters in Oriwu Merchant Hotel just to get those yellowish big fruits? Remember, how we shout to the occupiers of that building every time to open the back tap for us to fetch water? They were generous with their water, I don’t think we should forget.
Do you remember those days of cleaning empty bread tins with oily foams just to get extra bread from Bakers in Oluwarotimi’s Bakery? Those were priceless past times, when you work just to feel the heat of the mold oven and enjoy the fruits of your Labour, oh dear Ayula, we rocked that street.
We have shared many dangerous secrets, do you remember that year I had dislocation in my leg few days to Ileya riding “jaguover epomoto” in NRC house on Oluwakemi Street and we could not even say it at home? I remember despite the bad leg, you helped me to Police Barracks to watch the mother of all ram fight, I remember we got swallowed by the crowd which made me fell to the ground, in the process of trampling upon me, the crowd unknowingly marched the joint and eureka, my leg was fixed. How can one not be thankful for such daring episodes?
Ayula, when your daughter and other children grew up to reading ages and God still preserves my life, I will like to tell them how you opened my consciousness to being intelligent. Mathematics was your pass time, everything just seems too easy to know and you were never proud or arrogant about it. It was later in life I got to know how wide my immediate family was and that I am your UNCLE, I initially thought it was only my siblings and your Dad that my father gave birth to, but what does a child know?
Dear Ayula, let me tell you today something you don’t know which exemplify the depth of a mother’s love. I remember one year you got missing, you were actually not living with us again then, you were living in one very distanced place called Isolo. The news arrived like a thunderstorm and near loom descended upon the house. Nobody said anything to we the children but we hear things. I cannot even remember how you left us or why you went to that place called Isolo. But when Elders started looking for you, I wondered if we would ever see you again.
Everyday, I watched Iya Biliki praying through the nights and leaving the house as early as 4:30am, you may wonder what I was doing awake but I was just mischievous and curious. I just wanted to know if the family has gotten news about your whereabout. Silently, we the children prayed, even though our opinions were never sort, guess the elders belittled our importance, we knew you were missing and prayed innocently along. At times, Iya Biliki will not come home and when she does, you could read in her countenance a mother whose first son is missing.
Then, one day you surfaced, I cannot really recollect the stories the elders were saying about the return but I knew light shined upon the Household and we were soon back to our mischief. Now I cannot remember why, but I was happy you returned to the House, now extremely intelligent, guess it was because you were living with the no nonsense Brother Ganiyu with that his fearsome huge looks. Today, Iya Biliki is no more but her prayers must not be in vain.
Dear Ayula, remember it is a long way up and there is still so much to be done, learning as always been part of us, I am sure you remember when we were sent to learn tailoring, me at Omo Ogun’s place, You at Baba Rili’s shop (anytime I pass through those two shops, it reawakens memories). As usual, I failed out of the place but you seems to have picked some skills. Today’s world is ruled by entrepreneurs who can see beyond their peers and create distinctive market. Today, class and unique selling point sells brands faster than any huge budget advert. Then, one must be diligent, reliable and focused. The downs will come but ups will overshadow them when one is focused.
I thank Eledumare for preserving you, making you step over tribulations with an uncommon gait, despite the years behind, I know Allah still has much in stock, only that we must make calculated steps, expand the horizon and take over the world like we always dream.
Then there is this last thing I had to be grateful for which I doubt if you know, it was at your wedding I met my heart of heart, the woman whose patience is dissolving the toga of stubbornness in me.
I wish you Happy Birthday Soul Brother, from my Son #Ubuntu, his mother #MamaUbuntu and your Uncle, we wish you more graceful days ahead. Be Safe.
Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni #BabaUbuntu.