Saturday, December 29, 2007
Where is Jerome?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne!
Should we forget our former friends
By whom we set great store?
Should we forget the friends we've met
And the brave days of yore?
This year’s gone. I shall never see it again and I write this for myself and for you who are given to thinking…to introspection.
Today, I sit, creator of this and that and with a reputation for good things and maybe some bad ones, and still in search of my first one million dollars. And I remember.
I remember the friends of my childhood, who walked the dusty streets of Surulere with me and are now gone to other realms. Today, I remember Femi Sadiq who smiled through our early years, Rashidi ‘Rash Boots’ Thanni who played football like a dream and shared childhood dreams with me, Segun Idowu with a sense of humour that could make you laugh at anything, Etekamba ‘wow and whadoo, ya know’, gone now, fallen asleep in a place where I will not follow yet. When it is time to meet with you again, will I recognize you?
I remember Dokun, and I think about how life can be unfair.
I remember Ayo-wole who visited for three days and taught me lessons I never knew my heart could accept.
And my big brothers Olusola and Oluyinka who looked out for me as I grew and taught me many lessons, by word and deed. And my older sisters, Olufunmilayo and Olubande, who were proud of me as a dusty-footed urchin, and whom I have since given reason for this pride. All four of whom read as if books and comics were going out of fashion and placed a desire in me I have not lost since.
And I remember my father, Supremo. And I am silent. And thankful. And very sad.
And I remember some of the boys from the street who’ve done good- kole banjo, femi adepitan, etop esen, bola and tope ogunseye, boma iruene, niyi oluwole, bobby ‘don soleonzo’ adeshipo…spread around the world for many, many years, and those cold harmattan mornings will never come again, where we all huddled and dreamed Aladdin’s dreams and played cowboys and Indians and police and t‘ief. Twenty children cannot stay together for twenty years
And I remember Jerome who would join the Shell Club boys as we played our daily football from 4pm to 6pm at Shell Club (now Eagle club), at the NPA sports ground, at Jalupon, at the Union Bank Sports Ground.
Jerome, who would drop the tray full of bread he had been sent out to sell and play football with us till nightfall. He was our friend. We never bought the bread, seeing we were just kids who would have supper waiting at home, but we would place the tray carefully some distance from the goal posts and play… and play. I do not think his parents ever profited from that bread. He would go to school in the morning and detour in the early evening sun of Shell Club, to play. Well done, Jerome, for not allowing your childhood to be stolen. And I remember soji wey and kelechi ejiogwu whose fences we would climb to get to the field. And suraju, who would take the football if he was displeased with any decision and run. Out of the pitch, out of the sports ground, through strange streets, ball under arm, ten of us in pursuit. I do not know if I will recognize you now, Jerome, if we pass by each other on the streets but you are my friend.
And I am grateful for many good memories and dreams that have come true and those still continuing to. They are important to me.
May the future be all we want it to be.
(photo- Jaekel House in the Railway Compound at Ebute-Metta now preserved for historical purposes)