Growing up, we spent more times outdoors as kids. I experienced an outdoor childhood unlike what the norm is today. Those moments we spent outside with other kids were one of the greatest memories of my childhood.
Vacation from school meant coming together with friends for some unforgettable moments outdoors. We indulged in all kinds of play and took long walks into the neighbourhood, helping the others run errands. Togetherness was the watchword. And there were no acrimonious tendencies at that time. We shared our meals if need be. We enjoyed the feel of the sun on our backs and the slap of the wind on our faces giving us a breather as we inhaled freshness into our lungs. The healing powers in playing outdoors with friends nurtured me. I grew to appreciate the other person. It boosted the humanness in me.
We went to school with other kids and walked long miles in our town unsupervised by an adult. I remember how we all go to my grandfather’s house to pluck oranges and guava from their trees. We knew all those fruits because we were surrounded by them. Ah! I remember the random acts of my childhood life. But this post is not about playing outdoors or plucking mango fruits from the neighbourhood orchards.
So, during this period in time, we cooked our meals with the kerosene stove before we finally embraced the gas cooker. I remember a particular incident this morning. Oh yes, I was never the patient one because I was always in a hurry to finish any house chores quickly and rush outside to play with other kids.
Playing gave me joy and was exhilarating. It enlarged my imaginations and sense of wonder as much as my books did for me. But my parents didn’t understand that. Playtime was thrilling, tingling, and even the feel from the sunshine vibrates through every fibre in my body and that was life for me.
I could forgo food once I was consumed with play. And yes, there have been days when hunger will nearly snuff the life out of me because I refused to partake in any kitchen drama with my siblings. I would hear my name called out several times as I join other kids to cook rice and stew on the ground, outside. Haha. Mama will scream on top of her voice that I stopped playing and help grind the pepper or fetch water from the well in our compound. All those screaming bouts fell on deaf ears. Nothing separates me from my playing time once I was engrossed in them. It was that serious but the good thing was that I exhibited that strength in character when it came to my studies and my school work.
As a kid, I took both seriously. I exerted as much strength in my play time as I did to my studies. I never joked with my homework and I was very active in school. My parents always wondered how I managed to come out tops in my class. And that was a consolation for them whenever I wore my stubborn regalia as I drowned on the sand of play. The result of my impatience always gives me a scolding from Mama. I made the same mistakes whenever I had to pour kerosene into the stove.
Mama’s voice will always pierce through the kitchen walls as she calls out to me to be careful with the kerosene so that it doesn’t spill. Her voice travels with speed from the parlour where she usually sits to sew and patch our clothes, and into my stubborn ear-lobes.
“Make sure you pour the kerosene into the stove with the funnel.
Did you hear me? This time in a high pitch that sounds off like a warning.
“I said make sure you use the funnel so the kerosene doesn’t spill on the floor like the last time o”
“Yessss Ma, I heard you.” Anu gam. I would reply with a loud intensity as if reminding her that I wasn’t deaf.
But my stubbornness at that time had no rival. I did things more as I wanted it and always so much in a hurry to finish. Instead of pouring the kerosene carefully, I end up spilling the liquid on the floor. And this was recurring. But mothers with their goodness would always show mercy for these silly acts of demeanour.
Sitting down now, as I type this post, I recalled my childhood experiences with nostalgia. Memories of this incident came flooding down when I brought out the yellow funnel in the kitchen cabinet. I looked at it intently before using it to pour the coconut water into a small bottle. I bought a coconut from the grocery store and I like to preserve the water. However, I do this, now, with the utmost care unlike when I was a child. Ah, a carefulness that was not found yesteryears when I drowned myself in the field of play as a kid.
This was one of the many lessons and experiences of those periods in time that shaped my today’s lifestyle. And I dare say again, “Our life experiences become our book of reference.”
Those things we did as kids, some of them are sweet memories now.
Today, I can sit down and narrate the story but it wasn’t a sweet tale then especially when Mama brings out the cane or her slippers to beat some sense of patience into me. Ah! That was the bitter side of being a Nigerian child at a time when discipline means beating the child.
Truth is that I knew how to avoid the lash. No, I can never succumb to that ordeal. I have my ways of running for dear life, Biko nu. Thank God the narrative is changing with modernity. And parents now know that spanking is of minimal value, if any, at all. This new generation is a lucky set because spanking as a corrective measure is on the decrease.
Most parents have understood that being hard on the child isn’t the best policy to adopt. Rather, subtle persuasion and talks do the magic on the child’s psyche.
How an object I picked up today resonated past events, in this case, my yellow funnel, took me down memory lane as ripples of my eventful childhood history slide through my mindset. Ah! There is always inspiration everywhere and with everything, if we think harder. This was a visceral moment in time that cannot be erased or deleted. My childhood memories are a bit of a distance but still holds a special place in the memory bank.
Nonetheless, whichever way we look at it, History cannot be discounted. The past is always back at our faces at the slightest feelings. Sometimes, they stay with us longer than we envisaged. But, as adults, we always have a choice, to recognise patterns and how we progress with such thoughts of the good or bad old days.
Peace and Love!
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