Tomorrow is Christmas

Tomorrow is Christmas.
And I’d be celebrating it here in Lagos.
This makes me really sad.
Lagos is not a Christmas destination for a man like me who grew up selling udara and mango to buy the canvas with lights.
I want to go home to my Enugu.
I want to play the village soccer league representing my community.
I want to also sit out and laugh with my friends and peers – Emeka who came back from Taiwan, Obinna from Qatar and Ozo who sells footwears at Ogbete. Ude who took over his father’s wine tapping business would be there too.
I hope that Ebuka pays for the first round of drinks to stop us from jesting about the woman of his dreams who has well, stayed in his dreams.
And we’d talk about lives and wives, about udara and Okpa. Corona might even get a mention. And that’d be our cue to discuss the condolence visits that we are yet to make.
And then we put an end to the age-old argument of who was better at wrestling by the stream, and whose palm wine tasted the best. And that’s where I pay for the round of Okpa because well, we all have stories we’d rather have untold.
The next day we discuss a bit of everything, compare business in and out of Nigeria, laugh about our leadership which we can’t do so much else about and then, encourage everyone to not lose hope. Then, we’d go for the village meetings, contribute in the conversations and find out why the road is still untarred though we’ve produced at least two senators. And that’s where everyone gears up, ready for the arguments and threats of fights (that never happen). In the evening, we’d all retire to Dike’s wife’s shop where we make our offerings and are rewarded instantly with chunks of bush meat.
The next day, we repeat, until January comes and we are obligated to return to the city with our delicate mannerisms and refined gesticulations. You’d never know that these men in fine suits and sleek ties can hunt down a bushrat and skin it. And we won’t tell you this lest you tell others because desert tales are unbelievable if it comes from a fish.

It’s all these experiences that come with growing up in a dusty little village that I miss.

Kene Ujam

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