This time years back, my mum would take my sisters and I to Eko market and buy us “ready-made” a.k.a imported dresses, knee-length white socks, konkon shoe and other paraphernalia of Yuletide. We’d elbow our way through the pressing crowd, momentarily getting missing, as my mum tore through the crowd, screaming “omo mi omo mi” at top volume.
Christmas Eve like this, we turned sleeplessly on our beds, waiting for the first hint of morning. After centuries of “turning and turning like a widening gyre”, come, morning did. We bathed and dress hurriedly in the cold Xmas morning.
With cultivated air – only seen at Yuletide – we’d ignored the “iron stay” and nettings poking our ribs and wherever the fabric touched our skin. Pretending not to notice our helms lift in the fierce harmattan breeze we hurried to church; with our sprinty steps exaggerating the bounce of our dresses.
Our patent shoes spotted a large bow and a button sitting in the middle. With measured steps, our shod-feet kissed the earth as though careful not to ruin the soles. Christmas afternoon would find three eye adaba with greased lips waltz into Jubi Photos Studio. We’d balance on the kpako ‘stemp’, hold flawa in one hand, the other resting on our waist. The efizzy wasn’t complete without the seemingly disinterested look on our faces as we looked away justas we saw in Aunty Gbemi’s Mills and Boons.
Not forgetting to hold our heads in the most inconvenient posture, with lips parting softly, just enough room to hiss “cheeeezzzzz”. But just as the 500 watts halogen flash shot into the room, someone will slam her eyes shot. That someone was always me. Those days, I blinked per second. Sha, we’d repeat the process till Baba Photo is “satisfy”. Three days later we come back to see what we looked like.
Those days, children understood patience. But now, the age of instantaneity has ruined the suspense, the intrigue, the fun; the everything. Aye ma ti baje o, world af spoil. They don’t even do “coiling piece” again. It is Brazilian hair they and their mummy are wearing. Even, come and see make-up in children eyes. Bert, is it my childhood?
That is not even my consyn. Me I’m remembering the Xmas my childhood expired…
Me: Mummy, so, when are we going?
Mummy: Lo si bo? To go to where? (Looking at me cross-eyed).
Me: Eko nauhhh
Mummy: Ki lon shey nbe? (what’s happening there)
Me: Christmas clothes, nauuuu
Mummy: You think I’m helping you to laugh? You better go and meet Aunty for measurement.
Me: What????? What do imported?
Mummy: Owo to ko simi lowo. If your own want to be too much, you will wear last year own.
That is how we wear cut and sew that Christmas o; floral pink sample material, combined with white “jojet”,looking like fallen angels. And I’m sure I didn’t imagine the scorn I saw in the faces of my friends. I was humbled.
That Christmas was the worst Christmas of my life. I was 11.