Monday, 28 November 2011

day 8 in nigeria - elastic ties


i had intended to write about family today - how amazing it is to be close to people i so rarely get to see and seldom interact with when i'm not here, and that wonder of how, with certain family members, there will always be that connection, no matter how long or far apart you are.

but…

it's 10.20pm, and my mum and aunt aren't back from town yet.  and you're probably thinking, well, hell, they're not children, and and 10.20 at night isn't exactly late.  but that's in london time.  or maybe even in nigeria time, if you are from round here, and so are familiar with the place (i guess just as this time of night in south london feels fine to me, while i know many people not from there who are terrified at the mere thought of being out on our mean streets after sundown - all those hooded youths, with their patois…).  but the thing is, as much is this may feel like home in some ways, i'm not from round here - i don't know the area that well, i don't know how safe it is for them to be out at this time of night on public transport, and most of all, i don't have any way to contact them to find out where they are/how long they'll be/if they're ok.  for the past couple hours, i've contemplated going round to the neighbours to ask to borrow their phone - just a 10 second call would stop my imagination going into overdrive (too late) and allow me to avoid freaking out.

for the first time today, i actually got a little homesick (and that's quite a big thing - i normally never get homesick for london, much as i love the place).  i was listening to podcasts - an adam & joe one from last year's camden crawl, and then the brilliant w. kamau bell chatting to aamer rahman (from the australian comedy duo, fear of a brown planet') and then ava vidal (from the british comedy non-duo, ava vidal).  these podcasts ( from w. kamau bell & vernon reid's 'the field negro guide to arts and culture' - which are amazing - check them out) were from the end of the edinburgh festival, and touch on, amongst other things, the london riots, race and comedy, and some differences in the american and british comedy world.  and for some reason, listening to these guys made me really miss london, and little conveniences like being able to just google something/someone, or logging into facebook to chat to friends or twitter to post about something or other.  and i miss being able to go out on my own.  i guess it's this last that's the most pressing, really, feeling stuck in the house if there's no-one around to get out of it with, partly because i don't know the local area, partly because it's not really the kind of place you just wander about aimlessly on your own.  so i guess i'm getting a bit of cabin fever - it seems a real shame to come all this way to spend so many hours stuck indoors, with the only other option being going stock-shopping with my ma. (by the way, just as i got to the middle of this paragraph, they knocked on the door - there'd been hold ups coming out of town).  that said, this time next week, i'll probably already be complaining about having no time to spend indoors, just doing what i want. (though at least i won't have been roped into typing up exam question papers, which is what a lot of today has been spent doing..!). 

that said, just three full days left here now (we leave on saturday), and that is making me feel kind of sad too.  as i started with, there's something so brilliant about being 'home', reconnecting with family.  i've grown up often away from any extended family - apart from my mum's mum, who lived with us in london for a few years, i never really knew any of my grandparents (the only times i saw them being on my infrequent trips to nigeria).  aside from a few cousins, most of our family lives either out here, or in the states.  as such, i've never really grown up knowing family that well.  but whenever we come out, there's always a warm welcome, and it feels very natural to share space and time with aunts, uncles and cousins, picking up on things as though there hadn't been a 5 year gap between meetings.  and the love, and expression of care, is just so lovely - just little things - one cousin giving us one of the chickens he rears, another coming over with pineapples and plantain, my uncle turning up last night with a bunch of bananas, and so many of them taking time out just to come over, to come chat, to come share a little of their life with the londoners before we disappear off again.  and even though i do have loads of amazing and wonderful friends, so many live far away also, and despite all the things i have to look forward to once i'm back in london, i will miss being part of a big family - not wanting them there all the time, but knowing they could be there if i wanted or needed them to be.  i'll miss that a lot.

hmmm - after my rather self-indulgent blog, a couple (well, a triple) of cool things to redress the balance:

- the stars - last night i went out to meet my uncle at the gate, to get the bananas he'd brought over. on my way back in, i stopped and stared up at the sky.  i forgot how many more stars you can see out here.  it must have been pretty funny for anyone looking out, to see me stood there, wrapper trailing and mouth agape, a sort of half-smile dopily slung across my face.  luckily, everyone else was asleep, so there was no-one there to witness me looking like a kid who just discovered the night sky for the first time.

- cutting a melon - i don't particularly like melon - it has just enough taste to put me off, and not quite enough to make up for its existence. so, given that i never eat melon, i've never actually cut one.  i did tonight for the first time, slicing one up for my mum, aunt and cousin after their long day out.  it was the most satisfying thing to cut up *ever*  the blade sliced through with just the right amount of resistance, and a perfect shirring with each slice.  seriously, i might take up eating water melon, just to have that perfect satisfaction of slicing it up (or maybe just take to offering it to all guests that come round.

- thinking in yoruba - i've found since i've gotten here, i've started thinking in yoruba, and sometimes having difficulty thinking of the right word in english for something that has no quite right equivalent, but can be said so perfectly in yoruba.  this happens anyway in london, but it's become even more so here.  i like it. good work, mind.

1 comment:

  1. You've never cut a melon?! How are we even related?

    ReplyDelete