My excuse for going was research, but I ended up doing little research and lots of nothing. Lots of lying by the window, listening to birds chatter—mostly bats, but some other birds I didn’t recognize too. They called to themselves with abandon, nothing to interfere with their morning gist except mother’s bathroom solo. A lone car drove by and they paused, leaving mother’s voice to sail alone out of the house into the trees. I have not realized how much I miss this: nature, quiet, home.
Last week, a family was crushed under an overturned truck in Ojuelegba. I felt the effect of that tragedy at Yaba, even before I knew about it, like the aftershocks of an earthquake. Seeing the array of flickering taillights lined before me as I entered a keke whose rider had increased the fare, my first thought was: What is it again today? Then I looked at my phone and sobered up. Sometimes the city cramps the mind, forcing it into grotesque positions. Other times it kills the body altogether, and the mind with it.
I walked out of the house in shorts and a t-shirt to say hello to a friend. A squirrel paused at the front of the house to appraise the intruder in its home. It looked at me, warily, like a geriatric assessing a gentrifying yuppie, then continued its food run. My friend paused in the middle of the sidewalk and pressed her face close to an insect perched on the brown dead drooping leaf of a palm tree. Why don’t they run when they see us, she wondered. No one threatens them here, I said.
I visited an aunt and we talked for about an hour. She was concerned—and rightly so—about my career choices, about the passing of time and my age and my writing. She thinks I’m holding myself back, especially in writing, by a silly form of perfectionism. (The silly is mine.) We talked about other things: leaving home, and the difference between working there and in the city. We both stood by the car, her hands on the hood and mine on the door-handle. One should leave this place she said, otherwise… The world would leave one behind, I completed. We both laughed. I know what she means. She returned home.
Now I’m back here, where there are no chattering birds, no bathroom solos, and the only insect I see is the mosquito. What is a squirrel? Now, I’m wondering: is it such a bad thing to be left behind by the world?
Featured image by Chris Sorge via Flickr