Another Year Ends
Ọdún yìí a tura
I grew up in a strictly religious environment and towards the end of every year, we’d sing ‘ọdún yìí a tura’ as a prayer, prophecy, and affirmative declaration for the incoming year.
I love the end of the year a whole lot; for the inevitable camaraderie it provides as people count their gains and losses together and bestow good wishes upon one another, for the renewed sound of voices almost forgotten and the faces that return from far and wide, and the aroma of meals one may not get to taste wafting through sunny but cold harmattan mornings from neighboring houses.
I love the last day of the year for the limited freedom it offers; to roam freely on the streets late at night to attend a crossover service, even though the streets may be taken over by fireworks and knockouts that frighten passersby.
This year though, I may not be in a physical place of worship for crossover and although it won’t be the first time, until two months ago, I didn’t see this coming.
Church was fun when I was a child. When all I went there to do was learn about Jesus from the lens of the Bible and memorize as many verses as I could. Church was fun when it was a place where I was constantly reminded of God’s love as against his wrath.
But, I had to grow up and church for kids and adults are two different things. Growing up meant I could no longer feed on milk but strong meat.
This quest for strong meat has led me places and one of those was the church where our pastor’s wife had once “died and gone to heaven.” Upon her return, she brought back a set of rules and regulations for “all who sought to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Boy! Those rules were wild! But, strong meat isn’t for kids.
For a long time, I wondered if God was biased and only wanted men to return to him because it made no sense to think that everything a woman could do to enhance her beauty was counted as a sin while men never had to struggle with half of that. Even a topic as casual and simple as what to wear was a straight ticket to hades for my gender.
I was witnessing a war against women and it was launched by a woman.
I asked questions and received no answers. I got angry and no one comforted me, the rules were the rules. This was the way to heaven, they said.
But, I was naive, and in questioning the one I thought had made those rules, I missed the chance to see human power at play — a thing I have now learned to recognize from afar.
Yet, naivety in itself is not a crime; in my opinion, it is one of the greatest tools for growth and the measurement of the same. After all, we have all been naive and probably still are in some areas of our lives.
A true crime will be the exploitation of a naive one. It’s a rare gift to not have one’s mind tampered with.
Sometime this year, when Mummy G.O was trending on the internet, I was not moved. To a lot of people, she was the object of purely ridiculous stories that offered an inexhaustible amount of cruise but for me, it was torture. An unfortunate throwback to the years I spent watching videos of this ‘new internet sensation’ during seven days vigils that were held every two months at a former church.
Long before Mummy G.O had a social media presence, our pastor’s wife was a fan who had us watch and listen and read almost every content of heaven and hell ordeals as told by mummy G.O.
Let’s pretend for a moment that watching those videos don’t hurt the brain, eyes, and senses and focus on the horror of having someone ring “laws from heaven” into your head constantly.
Thou shall not wear makeup, nor wear jewelry, nor add extensions into your hair, nor perm your hair, nor fix your nails, nor wear that which pertaineth to a man, and bla bla bla bla. All these rules drummed into one’s ears - daily, weekly, all year round.
But, I knew what I wanted to do and all I needed was time.
Do you know how it feels to know and believe something strongly and not be able to share it? Not because it is sacrilege but because it is sacred — an idea or thought that delights you so much you’d rather keep it to yourself than share. I knew I had to wait.
For, to have one’s thoughts misunderstood, judged, and invalidated is a sacrilege I was unwilling to watch play out.
As you may know, where the rules are strict, the urge to rebel is strong. So, what do we call a very unconscious-conscious experiment? An accident? Yes!
An accident, like when I had the tailor make my dress a little too tight and a little above the knee. Or, the time that I used wool as an extension for my hair, and wore colored lipgloss “because of the harmattan”.
I had a lot of accidents and each one drew me away from the rules and laws that tried so hard to choke me.
Maybe this is not freedom but since it feels like it, I’ll take it.
Just below the title line on a blank page on Medium, the words “tell your story” faintly appear. But, this year I said I’d give up on writing and never write again.
Well, never say never.
For the most part of 2022, I kept my head above the water by taking random trips down memory lane because no matter how the years begin or end, they always leave behind a truckload of memories.
I said I’d give up on writing and never ever write again. But here I am, eager to leave a message behind as the year bows out. What was I thinking?
Now, I’m sitting at my table, typing away, and I feel lucky and blessed.
Not exactly because I can string words together but because no matter how difficult I find it to start, I eventually tell a story.
I spoke with Edgar’s namesake yesterday and he told me of how he too struggles to write. We both agreed that writing can be mentally exhausting but isn’t this our blessing and curse?
To all who have a means of expression — whatever form it is, I wish that our troubles and struggles never become strong enough to stifle us from finding expression.
Igi to da o kin pe ni’gbo, the good die young. But, why?
What does this say to you? That someone has died? A light has gone out? A chapter has ended? A hero has fallen? What does a dash mean to you?
We think the end of our lives is a period/full stop but it’s really a dash. A lot of deaths happened again this year and every time I heard, I reminded myself of the yoruba adage that says we are all dead men weeping for one another, waiting our turn.
Eight numbers separated by a dash is a powerful reminder to cherish one’s breath again and again. As the days go by, social media platforms are gradually turning into graveyards littered with remnants of people who are now bones, six feet underground.
To be alive is to have hope, opportunities, and plans for execution. A privilege that the ground takes away once the last breath is drawn.
But, we all may never know when our last breath will be taken, the last meal we’d eat, and the last words we’d say or post on our social media feed. We’d never know.
While there are things that we’d never know, there is one thing I know. I know that this would be my last personal publication to you via Medium as I plan to use this platform in the months ahead to publish more about Content Marketing and my journey to becoming a Growth Marketer.
However, I’d be moving all personal publications to Substack so kindly sign up to read my Purple Room Chronicles.
Thanks for loving me and my posts all along, it’s been such a journey and I wish you an amazing year 2023.
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I love you.