It’s probably been a while since I last celebrated my birthday in contemplation. Ah, it was just twelve months ago, on the wings of an earlier interesting travel experience. But other birthdays before then manage to fade away in comparison and I tell myself in the mirror as I go out that I’m an adult already. I think the idea has properly sunk in by now. Perhaps the most memorable birthday was that one of whose memory I don’t even possess beyond that which is shown to me in the glossy photos of childhood. I had just turned two years old (or is it three), and was looking good and innocent behind a cake and a horde of neighbours invited to celebrate. I still look at that picture every now and then. All the invited guests of that day are now scattered all over the world in different endeavours.
Starched new clothes, shiny shoes, jollof rice and chicken (or fried fish), and cake (of course) made by mum to make the day feel special, I have fleeting images of birthdays looked forward to with such eagerness and delight. It always helped when the day fell during the week. I would be except from wearing the school uniform. I could show off a new attire and get the whole class to sing me a birthday song. Of course I also had to go to school with sweets and biscuits for those said classmates and teachers. I remember chocomilo, bazooka and sumal chewing gums, and Marie biscuits, and 7up, Crush and Mirinda. And some little solid sweets of many colours we used to call eyin alangba. Birthdays during those years of innocence were one of those days of the year when you get to be king for twenty-four hours and dictate your choice of food and drinks. The other day is whenever you came home with a report card that said you took the first position in the school year.
Gone are those days now. Today I will spend the early part of the evening taking a syntax examination with no singing, and no jollof rice whatsoever.
But in the distance between the pleasant innocence of childhood and the now grown maturity of youth, there has been very much to be thankful for, too many to count. From love of friends and colleagues, the assuring presence of family, to even the reliable permanence of season, every turn has been rendered a blessing not quantifiable by words. And for that will I spend this day in the gratefulness for all things good, happy, cheerful and soothing. I’m a year older again, it seems. It is a prime number, a number divisible only by 1 and itself. Ah, the delight of arithmetic. This is also the last year of my twenties.
This is the oldest I’ve been yet. So maybe it’s time to prepare for all needed rites of real adulthood, in within a mouthful of the best delicacies of this day, thankful in the process for the great gift of life.