I was once presented by a doting love with a list of several endearment terms from which to choose a specific one for future continuous use. After about a few days of serious thinking I came back with a preferred choice, and she looked at me long and hard, hissed aloud, then wondered aloud why of all the thousand and one “nice and lovely” possible names to choose from – like ‘darling,’ ‘dear,’ ‘love,’ ‘honey’ etc – I had chosen “pumpkin”. To her very bewildered self, this terrible mis-choice only meant one thing: a confirmation of what she had probably long suspected: that I had finally lost all my romantic sensibilities. To me however, it was a very unique expression of my kind of doting which was not meant to conform to popular expectation. Needless to say, the arguments that ensued afterwards ensured that it was not one of the best nights of my romantic life!
Now in Edwardsville, everywhere I look, there are pumpkins on the front porches as symbols of the Halloween season, and almost every American house seems to want to outdo the other in the number of large pink pumpkins placed outside the house and the gardens, each with different artistic designs of scary faces. One could be forgiven to think that the Halloween fairy would be coming down very soon, and would not likely enter the home of the families without those Halloween themed pumpkin plants outiside. Now here’s another startling travula discovery: the pumpkin is the North American distant relative of the Nigerian (water) melon, take it from me. I don’t think we have these kind of large pink plants in West Africa, but we sure do have the melon, and the large water melon, as their distant relatives. And even though we don’t get to have as much artistic fun as do the American families, they always make interesting additions to our eclectic diets. The pumpkin is a very lovely plant, and very adorable too, which is mostly used for decoration but is also often eaten. But if you grew up in Nigeria too, without ever having seen or held one, you might be forgiven for picking a lousy fight over such plant as choice for a love totem. “Honey” always sounds better, notwithstanding the most improbable image of its production process intruding on the imagination, and of bees as anything but synonymous with “endearing”. The first and last time I rode out of my apartment wearing my nice-smelling perfume, I had a dozen of tenacious hungry bees competing for my attention, running with the same demon-speed of my bicycle until I got to the University and finally escaped into the security of the lounge area just to avoid their sting.
It was therefore a mild surprise, on getting back to my apartment this evening, to find that our names on the door have been re-written on pumpkin-themed pink cards by some strange fairies within the University Students Housing system. How very sweet! I can now be sure that whenever the Halloween fairy finally comes by, he’d be sure to knock on our door sometime in the night, even though our own pumpkins plants are just a few inches large.
It was just some time ago last week, when my friend in Edwardsville – the artist – had a wonderful idea: we would sneak around into backyard farms of large and ripe pumpkins plants in town to steal as many as we could so as to decorate our respective houses for Halloween. The thrill of the game, according to her, is to get as many as possible while avoiding getting shot by the farm owners who, living within the compound of the pumpkin farm, might have been immediately alerted by their pets, and who would definitely find us fair game and – needless to say – good target practice materials. Luckily for me, I was quite sober when this divine initiative came to her, so I wasn’t remotely capable of needling it on beyond the realm of just a plain interesting idea that will never ever fly as long as I’m still black, and my good mother at home still goes to her church four to five times a week! By now, you’d have noticed that in spite of my thirst for adventure, I still retain a profound love for (my) life. And despite my present reluctance to commit to this tempting escapade, I still haven’t ruled out showing up on Halloween as a Pirate of the Carribean. It will be up to me to have to live with the shame of parading myself as a pirate even though I lack the guts to do the brave things that the pirates do. Oh well, I will survive THAT one!