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.

For Fatima.

Once yours,

Miracle Roch.

20 Fourteen Avenue

What’s in it for me? I always asked my mind. No need engaging in whatsoever wasn’t gonna yield positive returns (or so I thought). The previous hadn’t gone so well, the guarantee that this would be different was flailing. I couldn’t deal. But you know the good thing about change? Yes, you nailed it there; it’s ambiguity. The fact we never know exactly what change is going to bring our way makes it appealing especially when you’ve become fed up with the present.

Aha! That was the bait I needed, the pleasant ambivalence that is change got to me and I decided to give it a try albeit for one last time.

That, people is how I found myself in 20 Fourteen Avenue. One striking feature of this avenue as I stepped in was its vast network of roads both tarred and untarred. Thankfully the first road I got on as I stepped in was tarred; (that probably explains why I stuck to tar all through). I kept walking, I didn’t have a destination; I just tried to keep to tarred roads. I hadn’t ventured far off when I go to a place where the tar stopped. I had to tread on dust. Two quick thoughts; go back through the tarred roads that brought me here or step on to dust and hope it leads to something spectacular; besides wasn’t that what brought me here at first? Nothing wrong in trying it out.

And so my first real journey on untarred roads begun. Before we talk about the untarred roads; let’s gloat some more about the tarred roads. Boy were they the best moments of my life? I had thought so at that time. I later learnt that the name of the street I was on, was called January. As I trod on those aesthetic roads, I felt on top of the world, rarely did I go through January street without admirers following. When passersby chose not to acknowledge my presence, I quickly wrote them off. I had just written one off as I took the next turn by my right into February street.

February had nice roads but they weren’t long enough, no sooner had I walked did I get to the end of February street.

Oh how the streets of March were filled with lush green grass…March had fine houses on either side, enough recreation areas, many malls, cheap things, the propensity to conserve energy was visible in these streets. I got tired of the journey midway, I had been walking for way too long, I struggled as I reached the end of March street, the struggle was real.

April street on the far end couldn’t have come sooner, I needed its lush trees for respite, the trees were good shades against the rays from above, I paced frantically whenever there was no shade; I had learnt that no matter how hard the conditions became it was very important to keep moving, and move? I certainly did. And it helped that I saw an eatery somewhere at the end of the street, I entered gladly.

The next turn on my right was May Street. I had enough energy for May, I ate enough at the eatery so I bubbled through May, the adulations were slowly wearing off, but they didn’t matter again. Very easy to see me adapting to routines here, at this point.

My verve is slowly dying but June street provides a spark albeit a shortlived one but one that gave me renewed optimism.

July brought love, I fell in love with July because it brought lovely people around, its street was filled with fine faces, that enough made me speed up my voyage; as I took the turn at my right, I came into August street.

August wasn’t a street for poor men; this street had money all over it, I just had to key in. I tried to reduce the fanfare my journey through the streets brought with it.

Went through to September street which had too many activities, cars were always packed on the street, so I waltzed through the distractions this street provided.

I had actually walked into October street long before I realised it. I knew I was slowly losing my enthusiasm for this journey, I needed a change of scenery fast and October street provided it.

October street was entirely different from what I had seen before, different house patterns, different people and all…roads were mostly empty though as people avoided the streets.

November street continued the trend. The scenery change theme continued and was fun to meet new people on this street, I figured it was time to shed off some people as I stepped into this street (to make space for new ones). People who weren’t worth it were booted off as I continued. Turn down for what I hear you say??? Made it this far, why would I reduce my speed?

Turned it up as I danced into December street. Songs blaring out every where, this street came with so much vibe and I was sure to tune in. Was a fitting end to my voyage.

My voyage into 20 Fourteen Avenue had offered so much even when it did promise little, wasn’t a bad one afterall. I took on the change to see what the ambiguity of change was going to provide and the rest as you all know is history. I won’t miss it though.

Stay True!

– Miracle Roch