Written for my boyhood memories.
To Kenneth Opara, Olumide and Taye. Thank you for all those times when we used to walk back home from school when the driver wasn’t around to pick me. Thanks Taye for that time when you nearly got kidnapped, or were we just being paranoid as kids? Well, it doesn’t matter because the school called us out in the Assembly Ground and termed us heroes for running to get help for our kidnapped friend (who was later found mysteriously wandering down the street).
That was not my first taste of stardom. The first time was when I had memorized a couple verses of the book of Proverbs and I won the competition in church. My parents were so proud.
Actually, that was not the first time neither, the first time must have been taking the First position in Nursery school. Or being so in tune with the news that as a 3 year old, I knew who the Governor of the State was. Was that why I was always entitled to a piece of turkey and 50cl orobo Pepsi? Stardom must have been the time when I went all the way to Mushin for the State Bible competition and came second (missed First because I forgot a few verses from the sixth chapter of Ephesians (after memorizing and reciting the first five books). It was strange because I felt like I had lost, but everyone else was proud.
Actually, stardom was squaring up against the Grade 6 lads in a school debate competition. I won, nothing special about that, except I was a young Grade 4 lad. Now that’s what you call an upset.
Maybe Stardom was being selected to represent the school in a Peak Milk Essay writing competition because the teachers felt my writing was impeccable.
Stardom probably was been given the mic to preach to the whole church on Children’s day and been lauded for being so confident and assertive.
Stardom was…no it wasn’t.
Truth, stardom was Fatima. Fatima must have been what stardom felt like. Stardom must have been me crying in class in third grade while everyone laughed and stayed away, everyone except Fatima, who offered me biscuits to stop crying.
Dorcas always sat behind me and made us believe the “D” in “Glucose D” was named after her. But she never offered me or anyone some of that Glucose. We didn’t like her as a result, not that I would have collected it, because I was trained not to receive edibles from random people. But Fatima was not random. She was the only one who had the keys to my heart. Fatima felt a sense of duty to always tell me her next moves, I still remember the whispers like yesterday. Fatima coming to meet me in front of the school gate while I stood with Olumide, Kenneth and Taye. Her whisper so soothing as she placed one hand on my shoulder and the other round my ears to protect her whispers. “I am just going round the corner”, she said. Assuring me that she was never going away, she was still around. If only we knew.
Fatima was stardom, but I never saw her again after 3rd Grade. I don’t remember her surname, I still have vague images of her round face with tiny lips. For my boyhood, Fatima was stardom, even if it lasted for only a three months period.