TRENCHARD HALL, UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN
A little girl who can’t be more than three years old stands in front of a choir, dressed in a lemon green frock. She’s facing a crowd gathered to listen to beautifully rendered Christmas songs. The conductor signals, and she starts her solo. She grips the microphone with both hands, barely looks at the crowd, and there’s a hint of fear in her eyes. But she sings through and manages to stay on key. The crowd applauds as she steps back to join the choir in the chorus. Her face breaks open in a wide smile. She is happy.
I try to remember the times I felt like that as a child. Some of them come back, others don’t. I can assume the ones that don’t were never there. But is that true?
Will this little girl remember this night: the night she sang Happy Birthday Jesus and was applauded by a hall full of people?
Many worse things will happen to her: she will weep, fall out of love and lose valuable things. She will watch friends and family die, will mourn them, will be hated by many and even booed. One day, she will sit at night, alone, and try to remember the times she had it good. None of the bad things that will happen to her should be able to drown the memory of this night. That is what I hope for her.
That is my hope for everyone: that our bad times will not be potent enough to rob us of our good memories.
The choir ends the chorus and she steps forward to sing the last part of the song. This time her face is on the crowd, she knows we’ll applaud her again. We do better: we stand in ovation as she ends the song.