It’s been 30 something years now when last I was 5+, try as hard as I may, I’m not sure I remember much details about what happened then. Maybe if someone had made a journal out of my life, I would have stories to tell.
However, I recall a time we went to the village and went to visit Aunty Eno (whom we called ‘Mafian Darty’). No, don’t ask me, I don’t know why she was called ‘Mafian Darty’ but Darty is her surname and Aunty Eno was one woman who doesn’t swallow any nonsense. Maybe her no-nonsense attitude earned her that name. With a small frame, and not blessed in the height department, she commanded presence and was an authority to be reckoned with. Her famous saying “As you make your bed, so you lie on it” came in handy all the time especially when we were deviant.
As I was saying before digressing to introduce Mafian Darty to you, we went to the stream to fetch water and being the smallest in the team, I was given the onerous task of carrying the kettle. Now this kettle is not the Electric one with malleable material around it, but those metal ones with an inverted wide ‘∪’ as its handle and a pretty mouth like that of a tea-cup. Not like the kettle was heavy though, but picture a child coming from the city, going up and down the jagged, hard and muddy (in some places) road with a kettle on her head and sometimes in her hand – changing it from the left to the right hand; not an easy task I tell you.
Who sent you? You ask. No one!
I didn’t want to be left out of grown-up fun with my siblings by being detained at home to sit and listen to the elders tell stories of long ago before I was born or tales about people I hardly knew. Whilst trying to ‘force’ me to recollect when that person came to visit us in Port-Harcourt in the year 1978 or earlier (who does that?!)
On our way back from the stream with my kettle in my hand (left or right, choose one) or on my head, we stumbled across some Afang leaves (vegetable used with other combination in making a very delicious native soup) and being one who loves Afang soup a lot; though the smallest, I managed to convince the team to pluck the leaves. We had the problem of how to convey them home. This was promptly resolved when I offered my kettle to be used. The water I had fetched was poured away and our loot deposited in my kettle and we went home excited at the possibility of a steaming delicious pot of soup and praise from Mafian to go with.
It’s been over 30 years now but I never forgot her reaction.
“Where’s the water you fetched, why did you throw it away? She queried
“Aunty”, I answered excitedly “I brought Afang leaves home for soup” beaming with a smile.
“What quantity of soup can this make? She asked visibly exasperated looking down at the Afang leaves, which were only a handful.
“We have the roots in the backyard and could have easily plucked some to make soup. The water was more important” She replied upset.
At the point, my face dropped and the smile turned downward in sober reflection. I resolved from that day to always stick to the goal at hand. Yes, it might look important to me but if it doesn’t matter that much to the collective efforts, then no way!
Now, what has being 5+ again gotten to do with a young woman in her late 30s?
Is it the desire to be young once more, capture lost times or enter into the mind of a 5 year old plus and explore?
If like me you have a very active 5 years old, you will be 5 daily as a matter of fact per second. One second, I’m helping her decide her dress, the next minute she’s changed her mind and wants to wear mine. Sadly these daily decisions have affected the total outcome as when she finally decides to wear that dress, she’s out grown them.
Imani Naomi is my very vocal, I-know-what-to-do, read-everything-she-sees, beautiful daughter. Daily I am upgraded to her level to learn something new (I know I should say ‘brought DOWN’ as I am taller than her, but I’m not discussing height here) as times are changing and their era is different from ours. She teaches me how to pronounce words using the right diction – with her lips pursed forward like an English woman about to sip hot tea. LOL. Every Wednesday evening I am a ballerina as I have to rehearse the steps she learnt in school that day; by Thursday I become a sport woman. Friday evening, we are planning what hairstyles to conjure for the stylist come Saturday!
She isn’t a handful but more than a handful! And a joy to be with any day any time and for such joys, I don’t mind being 5+ all over again.