h2>Dating : Remembering Faces.
I cannot remember a face. This is untrue. I can remember but there is no definition to it. It is cloudy and I struggle to make it clear, to pin it down, not unlike a game of ping-pong I used to play on my father’s computer when I was 10 years old. I truly enjoyed that game. Maybe this is why I was used to my near-sightedness as a child, always squinting. Faces have always been blurry.
The sound of the damn generators in the neighborhood is getting on my last nerve as my sister sings ‘oh the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God’ in front of me as I type this. Faith. God. Christianity. Religion. So abstract yet it holds so much sway over the entire world, over my life. I wonder the origin of organized religion. I wonder where it all started from. Who started it. Did the person envisage the carnage it would bring? Would the group of people be horrified at the crimes committed? Or was that their intent? I guess I’ll never know.
It is funny the memories I choose to remember from my childhood. I read somewhere that most of the memories we choose to remember, especially from childhood are tied to strong emotions. My mother says I was mostly a quiet child. Didn’t give much trouble. But I do remember this episode when I was in primary school. A combination of fear and anger. I don’t remember faces. But I remember feelings quite vividly. I remember how badly my chest hurt. I remember hitting a boy for taunting me. I didn’t expect to hit him. I didn’t even know that I could. But I did. I was called to the headmaster’s office but because I was such a model student, they let me go. That was the first of several times being a model student would save me from punishments, general or specific.
One of my favorite memories to remember is one I share with my sister. In primary school, we had a big ass trampoline. And the kids who arrived early would get to jump on the trampoline before the teachers came. My mother had just started a business that required her to move early in the mornings. So, we were usually one of the first kids to arrive at school. I was in primary 6 then. It was sports day, a Wednesday so we went to school wearing our yellow sportswear. We belonged to Ovio house. It was just a few minutes past 6:30 in the morning. I remember it being quite cool. We threw our bags down on the gravel and rushed to join two other children already on the trampoline. They wore blue and purple. For St. Bernadette and Clementina houses respectively.
We laughed, so joyful. I miss the innocent feeling. Like nothing, in that moment could touch us. I miss being able to move without fear of consequence, my world no bigger than what my eyes saw. I remember jumping, my head never reaching the top of the agbalumo tree that grew in the school. I don’t like agbalumo but despite the school’s warnings I would follow other children to pick them when they ripened and lick the sweet, whitish sap off the seeds and throw or give the rest away. I still don’t understand how people like a fruit that acidly slaps the mouth so hard.
And then they all came down. Three kids, two who were bigger and fatter than I was, with another almost my weight simultaneously crashing down while I was jumping up. I flew higher than the bungalow, higher than the agbalumo tree. I remember that I didn’t scream. I couldn’t. It took me too much by surprise. I remember how fast and hard my heart pounded when I realized I was looking at the sky. Now, I remember it was a beautiful sky but I was too stunned to take cognizance. Gravity did its job and brought me to my knees, literally. Landing on my knees, I stayed there as the others just looked at me for a bit. My sister said ‘Uyi, you flew!’ I laughed and rolled off the trampoline, shaken but unhurt. It never occurred to me to check for bruising or any injuries. What super humans children are. It is truly a gift, to be so self-absorbed to think yourself invincible.
The facial recognition software in me is broken. But other senses, like my olfactory and aural are more attuned to this world. I can smell people, even after they have been there. I remember a night I heard the click clack of a lizard walking on the university road. I stopped to look at it. My companion asked me why I was looking at a lizard. ‘Have you not seen a lizard before?’ he asked. I told him I was listening to it walk. I remember when a friend and I had an argument that hurt me so much. And she always wore this particular perfume. Smelling it, smelling her around the hostel would trigger me and I’d feel bad all over again.
I like to romanticize things. Maybe I chose my other senses over my sight when being sent by the Creator. Maybe avatar Aang is my ancestor. Maybe smell, or my ears will be the things that save me.
*agbalumo – cherry.