Growing Up and the Making of A Man.
Remember a time when you received an unlikely request? How surprising was it? What did you do about it? Well, there was this one time someone in Italy asked the embassy to help arrange his wedding, recommend a florist and get the happy couple tickets to see the Pope. Unimaginable. What about this caller who asked for a list of all women in Argentina whom he wouldn’t want to marry? These were bizarre requests.
At the beginning of this year, I received an unlikely request from one of my great friends, but not like those I have highlighted in the preceding paragraph. Mine was an interesting one. This friend was wondering how it was for me growing up in the village. She was giving me a challenge to reminisce my village life as a young boy. I bet I was rascal. It would perfectly befit my situation back then.
From a far, such a statement could have been a decoy to trigger me into writing about it. I smelled it from a distance and decided to talk of my childhood because sooner or later, it was going to catch up with me. Sometimes it is better to prevent than cure. Curing here could mean me writing an autobiography in detail about my whole life. The choreography of such a piece needs serious commitment. One which I am not willing to credit at such a moment as this.
My early life was characterized by three major activities. If I was not in school then I was grazing our animals while playing with my village age mates. Missing me in those two places could mean one sure thing, I was at home and all I could be doing would probably be eating. This stands true except at a little later time when I took to village preaching using the long Nightrose petroleum bottle as a microphone and a two kilogram Kimbo tin as a loud speaker.
Even with my little theological training, I managed to leave a trail of souls desiring for the salvation I proclaimed but understood little about. I will always be grateful to my cousins and siblings who were the choir, doubled as the congregation and also the entire society. Interestingly, I ought to have followed in those footsteps and be like Leonardo Da Vinci.
The great painter Da Vinci developed his talent earlier lone when he started picking up plain papers from his father’s library and went into the woods to draw the things he saw there that ranged from trees, flowers, birds animals and the like. He would later paint the Mona Lisa, one of the most prized artefact paintings today. Perhaps if I had followed what I had started, I could be a preacher of high caliber in the making today and could end up being a renowned pastor in my heydays.
In the fields I played the perfect bully. I think it was more of a way to show bravado by virtue of the fact that I was tiny in body compared to some of the friends we played with. It set the foundation to the developed confidence I have today. One thing is funny though. In the fields we went to play when ideally we were expected to be grazing the animals. We could tether them and play on until at times we forgot about them only to realize that they were also busy ‘playing’ with our neighbours’ crops! Destroying property.
The interesting thing about the life back then was the aspect of not owning up to mistakes. You can imagine that even after the animals in our custody destroyed property, to us it was the neighbours who were in the wrong. Like why could they not make stronger fences and make their crops unpalatable to the cows and goats. Fast forward to today and just like you thought, I also realize that was folly.
We always received serious punishment, strokes of the cane every time our animals strayed. Beatings that at one point became like a timetable to us. It was always done in the evenings. You can imagine receiving a beating after taking dinner. A beating on a full stomach is akin to driving a 1905 ford model T in the village road today. It won’t be a nice experience. Nevertheless, we slept on a half full stomach after the other half wading with the wrestling and cries of the heavy beating.
Another sweet thing about growing up in the village is the swimming. Forget this town chaps who go swimming in the pool with swimming costumes. Ours was a naked swimming and the pool was often customized. We used twigs and logs to block the water and once it filled up, we could jump from the top river banks to the bottom before swimming like little tadpoles. We enjoyed this very often.
The only unfortunate thing about such escapades was the look of our faces and legs. You could look at us and think we had never seen water in our entire life. Sometimes we could receive a beating after lying that we took a bath when in essence all we did was to swim in the dirt water especially in the wet seasons. Our parents seemed to possess a sixth sense that smelled our lying from afar off.
At times we could go on fishing and end up catching frogs which we could seriously persecute. Persecution was very real in those days especially in times when we missed catching a fish and our trap caught something else. If we missed catching fish, we could ambush the young boys from the neighboring clans and go with their catch. It was the way of life. All of us couldn’t succeed at the same time. One of the competition had to go and it was never going to be us. That is how perhaps we came to exercise crude capitalism back then without our knowledge.
Growing up in the village was very interesting. We enjoyed life as it came. We never wondered of food because it was there in plenty. In our blossoming farms and those of our neighbours. We were taken care of by the society. We belonged to the society. We enjoyed life together as a community and never worried about what tomorrow could bring along. This has since changed. My children will grow up in new culture and will never know the beauty in my early days.
That is how it was growing up in the village. Don’t forget that that is just but a very small fraction of my growing up. And I could grow up their again if I was asked to because that past has always inspired me. We all know where our journeys started and the far we have come. But that should not be comparable to the far we are going.
Shout out to all of us who grew up in the villages and have managed to reach where we are today.
Copyright @ 2019.