Tuesday, November 04, 2008
The Girl Whisperer
as published by the Sunday Guardian
of November 2
I love to stand outside my house and watch people go by, wondering about their history, their lives, their joys and pains. I look at children, and inspect adults, wondering, and in some way vicariously living their lives, even as I watch them go by. It’s one of the reasons life is interesting, this trait from childhood, to imagine Aladdin and his flying carpet, Sinbad and Gulliver’s travels in everyone I see.
I am told there really is an ‘Igbo Irumale’ (a forest of a thousand daemons) somewhere on the way to Ondo and someday I intend to take a drive there. Foreigners come to this land, (particularly those young ones on exchange programs) and thoroughly enjoy themselves, taking in all we have, all over the country but not us. Sit and think. When was the last time you took a holiday, a proper one? When was the last time you paused to watch a bus conductor perform his routine? And you don’t have to be a non-car owner to watch bus-conductors. They abound everywhere.
I love to sit and watch people go past, I love to watch the rain fall, I love to hear the call of Muslims to prayers early in the morning, and that is not the Whisperer’s faith. It is a keening call and it has poetry in it for those who care to listen.
I love to sit in almost empty cinema halls and share the beauty of what is being shown with perfect strangers, all cocooned and sitting separately but still sharing humanity in some indescribable way.
I did my youth service in Akwa Ibom state, a land of very clean people, and I remember that place with a smile each time. I was in the town known as Abak and one of the people I remember with the most fondness is the man who was in charge of the security of the premises, Mr. J.L. Udoh also known as ‘Bright Photos’ (apparently he picked up photography at one time).He and I would go to the ‘water-side’ and spend time talking of the country, the civil war, the past and the future of our country. He was a good man with a kind heart and I wonder where he is now, years after, and hope that I will be able to get in touch with him again someday.
I believe in the slogan of that commercial product that says ‘Just do it. I have done a lot of things, I have made a movie, produced too many stage plays to recall, I have produced my own television programmes, I have driven across the country on my own because I was in love, (Lagos to Abuja), I own a bicycle, I own a power-bike, I have written books on drama and poetry, I have thrown punches, I have taken punches, I have taken academic degrees because I could, I have loved and lost, I have cried and I’m still laughing.
I think life has many simple pleasures, pleasures that can greatly enrich your existence but for some reason we miss them because they are not shrouded in designer clothes or wearing expensive wristwatches. Someday, pause to ask the security guard at your office or the woman cleaning the office floors what his or her story is, and you will never be the same again. Everyone has a story, everyone. And all stories are unique. You will feel your universe expand as you listen to them, and you will understand what it means to lead a rich a life.
The Whisperer enjoys his life, does the things he can and tries not to dwell on things that are not beneficial. Life is beautiful. Sometimes it has very sad moments but on the whole we should try to live lives without regrets. When we get it wrong, we should try to set it right and then move on.
The Whisperer’s ideal partner is one that can laugh at herself, that understands that life is what you make it; that you must play with the cards you’re dealt in this game; someone that knows you cannot spend time raging at the sun because the hand you’ve been dealt isn’t fair. At one time or the other, we all must tell ourselves, ‘Shut up and play ball!’. As I watch the American elections unfold, I think of how many of us will never be able to expose our lives to the intense scrutiny that follows the candidates of both parties. Every action, decision since they became adults has been raised to the light, turned round and round, picked up, dropped, and picked up again for further scrutiny. In this regard you regret you were not a nerd growing up, concentrating on all things that were ‘right’. But then you think, 'who wants to be President of America and live under pressure so intense your every waking moment is scrutinized?' Ask George W. Bush what he thinks of his ratings now.
But life has many pleasures, and since all of us cannot become Presidents of America, we wish the few who can well, and we concentrate on the many other beautiful moments life has to offer and we take advantage of them. We were born to live life, not go through it with guilt complexes and burdens we should have thrown aside a long time ago. Time flies when you’re having fun; make a decision to smile hello at a complete stranger today, without any strings attached. You bless a life and everyone’s the richer for it.