The first time I remember my mother telling me I would be a man of intense passion, I was in Primary 3. (I remember this because it was the year my favourite Uncle Bright was killed, after his name became synonymous with mutiny—a word whose meaning I had no business learning at that age, spelling bee champion or no spelling bee champion. It was also the same year Providence pried my country out of Abacha’s cold, dead hands.) My mother always started her itan with a proverb she says her own mother also used to tell her, one which I never actually understood anyway… until today.
‘Some indeed, none indeed.
All indeed, love indeed.’
As the story goes (that is, mum’s itan) it is five months into my conception. On this unpleasantly humid Friday afternoon, my mother has to walk half a dozen streets home from her community development service meeting. She is broke, cynical, a corper, the one child of two village illiterates, unmarried, and of course, expectant. Talk about tragedy.
You can imagine how quickly I too join in the excitement of the moment, punctuating each of her deep sighs with intermittent kicking from within her belly, making the involuntary hike that much more tumultuous. Twenty agonising minutes later, she has to take pause at an aboki’s kiosk. Even it is a mere five-or-so houses away from home, she has to stop, for fear that the lightheaded feeling she has might end in a funeral. It is then that she first sets eyes on James, the snobbish brute with the “oil-money” parents (or so her roommates say, their typical sneers easily confirming their cheapness.) Almost immediately, my kicking stops. Mum’s guard is let down. I reassure her, hormonally. And then James ends up her fiancé. Fairytale ending, right? Well, hardly.
But I can tell you from first-hand knowledge that my father—the guy who once flew my mother to Paris because she got nervous about writing her master’s exams—is no snobbish brute.
Fast-forward to today. Sculpture is my life; the struggle of my life, that is. But what artist hasn’t innately perfected the art of hustle? That’s my father’s opening argument to any one of my mother’s career-condemning monologues. Hehe.
It’s a September Thursday today. I have had the longest creative block in my life. It’s been almost six months since I sculpted anything remotely awe-inspiring. So, earlier today, I got on Facebook and ranted a little about how much I feel like a failure (to be honest, I think I’m beginning to really miss Uncle Bright), and how much I needed friends to boost my morale and get me in shape for next year’s Nouveau Jean von Pierre contest, Europe’s conference for their best expatriate artists.
Of course, there was the usual jabber in the comment section from silly friends. And a few otherwise okay ideas, laced with very, very suspect hidden meanings. Interestingly, even some crazy stalker chick I’ve been avoiding for the last century came up with some pretty nice ideas. But I wasn’t looking for pretty nice. What I wanted were great and inspiring suggestions. I mean, I am trying to enter for a world-class exhibition here, aren’t I?! I guess I spoke too soon, because nothing prepared me for what Jumi, my homegirl, had to offer. Let me give you a little insight into how far back Jumi and I go: kindergarten.
Funny thing is, at three different times in our school-going lives, we were separated and reunited by circumstances beyond both our families. What is even more amazing is that we ended up in the same school all three times! We’re such best friends that we decided, when we start our families, we would name our kids after each other. We were too close to want to spoil it with such a complicated thing as passion. I know that better than anyone.
Two months ago, after her nursing programme and then youth serve in Jigawa, Jumi volunteered as a part-time nurse at a private uptown medical facility specially built by a non-profit organisation for cancer patients here in Lagos. She told me there’s this case they’ve had for some weeks that just might change my life forever.
It seemed to me like such an amazing place to be inspired. So I agreed to go, especially considering the fact that my other friends think there’s nothing cliché about the rising sun of Lagos Island’s unromantic beaches.
About thirty minutes ago, and at first sight, I found the love of my life, right here at Roland’s Care. She’s not perfect. But then again, who is? Me? LOL! The doctors here tell me she has one of the rarest cases—breast cancer, while carrying the five-month old pregnancy of her late husband.
Forget the art exhibitions. Yes, I’ll still enter for it, but I won’t be doing it for the €10,000 cash prize or the fame. Because I already have won something better. Something more divine. My victory is assured in the gentle smile sprinkled upon her tired face.
I know I have already won, because she’s Ndidi, my love indeed.