36 Thirty Six Painted

Coming into the world wasn’t uneventful. His parents couldn’t leave the hospital till he recuperated (infact his mother used to taunt him with words such as “since he didn’t die at birth, he wouldn’t die again”, and for a while he thought he lived a charmed life), but that didn’t stop the celebrations that greeted his birth, been as he was an answer, of some sorts to their prayer.

His childhood was just as normal as that of any kid born into a middle class family in one of the world’s oil rich but developing nation, surrounded by family and friends. Always made to feel special been the boy, atleast for some time, in a society that lays so much premium on the male child. The scion ‘pon which the family name is expected to rest and be perpetuated.

He wasn’t spoilt in the real sense of the word, but as a child he didn’t lack much. The true mommy’s boy, a fact that adulthood did very little to change, rather further emphasize. This connection however appeared to be quite nonexistent with his father, with the possibility of the Oedipal rearing its ugly head once a while as the boy grew. It’s no surprise he’s gat no single quote off his father lips as much as the quantum he could reel as gleaned off his mother’s feet.

You couldn’t describe him as overtly brilliant, but he didn’t find it difficult excelling in his studies. This one will back future stories of his academic exploits to his kids with facts, well atleast the early days before much later when reseating papers almost became norm, but he could also beat his chest that he didn’t have cause to cheat for any reason at all, in pursuing his academic goals.

He grew up with his a childhood friend and neighbour. The strained relationship between their parents did nothing to negatively impact on their friendship. They exchanged their lunch often, each deeming the others’ mother’s food tastier over his. They were inseparable, even more than most brothers could be. For the less than a decade they were together nothing became between them, but unfortunately like all good things are oft to do, his friend had to move with family. They will not see each other for another decade, this time things had changed between them a lot, and there wasn’t going to be any reunion of any sort, though they remained friends, now maintained over a great distance by social media.

He loves TV. If he’d been Indian, the TV would’ve been one of his gods. He learnt a lot from it, infact his first complicated word of English came from it. He listens to a lot of radio too, though not quite given to the silky voices on the local FM’s, rather to the impeccable Queen’s English rattling off the transistor radio tuned to the BBC of whom Lyse Ducet and Alan Johnston (once kidnapped by Palestinian militants in Gaza) remain two of his favourite voices. He still does do a lot of BBC today, though more of podcasts, but TV remains his favourite pastime.

He’d always owned the TV remote controls of most of the places he’d had to stay for long, making people watch only the things he loved, even when they hated them. It must’ve been a relief for them when he left for any reason whatsoever. From his home, with the family TV, to school with the roomies TV, to his own TV which still had to be shared with roomies and when he lived alone, and continues to this day as head of his family, constrained to make them two in keeping with the marriage counselors advice that a single TV for the family is good for bonding. The only major altercation which he had with his father to much regrets was over the TV.

This one is a non-conformer, preferring always, most times not intentionally, to chart his own path so different from what his peers paid attention to, or what seems to be in vogue at the moment. He would take consolation at things he couldn’t yet afford most of the times by clinging on his non-conformism, while mostly working towards getting them. Before, social media he wouldn’t be lent an ear, as very few would love a lecture in non-conformism, often shouted down or ignored when he submits opposing views on mostly all given subjects. Social media came to the rescue here because it allowed for dialogue, it allowed for meaningful engagement after truthful introspection, and this totally restored his voice. He personifies the maxim, “DARE TO BE DIFFERENT”.

They say a strong chic is known from the day it’s hatched. You’d find this air around him that reeks of leadership. Interestingly, except for a few times when he actively strove and went at power to take it, he mostly waited for it to come to him. He was successful, holding power at a very young age, with responsibility to monitor classes often falling to him, later to superintendent as head prefect his elementary school, and though he missed out on any of those opportunities in the secondary for reasons you’d find not cogent enough, he moved to head and further establish a young organization in his university days. The lessons he learned there would play a vital role in the way his life would turn out. The stakes were higher this time, and forces bigger than he was were in control, requiring that their boots be licked and their arses kicked. Things he found himself unable to do even if his life depended on it.

He led well (in his own estimation, with conscience clear), but egos were certainly bruised, and though his time and activities in the organization remain unrivalled till date, he had to be unceremoniously eased out. It was painful to leave, but he never looked back. He never licked arse, he kicked them!

His relationship with girls wasn’t quite colourful. If you call him a late bloomer you won’t be wrong. Like any other boy, in primary school he didn’t pay much attention to girls until his penultimate and final years. His first love, or better still ‘INFATUANT’ was a girl he never seemed to notice until he became her deskmate (infact, they’d both fought to ensure they ended up as such, when selection was been made). They couldn’t do without each other at that point in time, though it can’t be said that they truly understood what really was going on in their heads, seeing that they both at the edge of puberty. She was to suddenly disappear without as much as a goodbye after her father was transferred to another state, and he never saw her again, though her sister was still seen, and a friend of his appeared to be in the know about her movements, but unfortunately a chance meeting with her was never to be. Who knows what would’ve become of that relationship, as they were of different tribes and religions in a country where those things were of paramount importance and determined a lot in terms of personal and/or business relations.

This infatuation and the following heartbreak soon gave birth to another which was short and disastrous seeing that the go-between wasn’t interested much in the success of the infatuative relationship. She like the one before her, also left with her father to his new posting.

Going to a ‘Male-Only’ Secondary School didn’t help matters much, as interactions with girls had to be transacted out of school with mainly the ‘Only Girls’ school over the fence or with those in the street or church. As a Pastor’s son, he couldn’t be errant in the house of worship with girls, or be found to be messing up in the streets. He’d rather go home after school to beat the curfew, than stay back with friends gallivanting about town, attending high school parties, where meeting girls was likely assured.

A break would come much later, when because of his dwindling academic fortunes, he was enrolled at a centre for extramural classes. It afforded him finally, the opportunity to meet and mix with girls.
Indeed there were so many to pick from, unfortunately he didn’t have the cojones to ask any of them out, even when he could speak to some of them on behalf of his friends.

He would be moved to another coaching centre, where his mother thought he’d be more serious, focusing less on girls and ‘music’. The change helped him. He found a new direction, dug his heels into his books, gaining quite a reputation for been studious. Now, the girls came, but simply because he had som’n up there. He would discover this much later when the girls turn him down without as much as hearing the whole shit he intends to spew. However, out of the lot was this particular one, that paid some particular attention to him, and probably had som’n for him. They will become fast friends get very close, lose contact for more than a decade, see each other again in circumstances that should make seeing each other inappropriate even with the fire for each other relentlessly still aglow.

He would have his heart severally broken in the same measure with which he gave it, then find the closest to the ideal love he’d always craved in one of his attempts to pay back ‘dem females’ in ‘dem own coins’.

He thought to be something he never was in
future as a kid, he would settle for the second
best of his next most realistic choice, and
though he would always attempt to discard it
for the next best thing, that career path was to
ultimately provide for his everyday needs, wants
and desires, infact make him.

Music will save him on many occasions from bouncing off the precipice, for many times along the journey of his life, he would see others live his dreams while he lived their nightmares.

Funny how they say ‘a FOOL at FORTY, is a Fool forever’, yet with just FOUR years to go he’s yet to make up his mind as to what he truly wants, to do, or as to his true purpose in life.

This BOHEMIAN may need more than his fingers to count his blessings though, the years haven’t been that bad. He just must learn to live with things he can’t change, work at altering those he can, and to understand the difference between the one and the other, to be able to respond appropriately.

At 36, the man is no longer a boy.



4 thoughts on “THE THIRTY SIXTH

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