My birthday was on Sunday. I got a total of 29 phone calls, 3 text messages, 3 e-mails, one facebook greeting, five birthday cards, a bottle of groundnuts, a cake and a pair of socks.
Now I don’t know if I’m wrong but I couldn’t help but think that for an individual of my standing and stature, especially given my invaluable contributions to Mankind as a whole, I deserved more than that. Worse still, a whole array of people, including some I class among my best friends, forgot about it. Needless to say I was highly depressed and sought solace in liquor and raucous laughter.
Yep – I took some of my friends out. The ones who showed up at my house, that is. There’s this place somewhere on the Peninsula: waterfront, green grass, cool breeze, tush patrons and all. We were there for all of 3,4 hours, a motley crew of young adults with nothing in common besides me. Thankfully though, the conversation at the table regulated itself. I, for the most part, watched with involved interest as each individual unraveled somewhat. I was thinking all sorts of things…
Birthdays, you know, used to be for me just normal days of the year when I hid from persons who wanted me to throw a party, and hoped for gifts from the rest of the wider world. I can’t remember any of my birthday wishes ever coming to pass (they consist, in the main, cars, preferably brand new and German, bottles of exotic perfumes, the death of a resilient girlfriend/all of my enemies, spontaneous wealth and international fame) what usually happened though was less exciting and consisted of some form of debauchery: me and some friends drinking irresponsible amounts of alcohol at some unmentionable location, and then nightcrawling Victoria Islands’ rotten streets with evil intent.
I never however engaged in sober reflection.
But Sunday was different.
Besides the random thoughts that swirled around my head about the others on the table - (Bayo: how many more bottles between the three empty ones in front of him and violence? Tunde: what grisly confession does he have lined up for tonight? Claire: I can tell she really doesn’t enjoy these outings but today I can’t be bothered. Chioma: lapping up all the adulation but still keeping her ears open for titbits of my infidelities, Deolu: what the hell is he thinking? And Damie: she’d better not expect me to drop her home), I began to have other thoughts. You know, the ones with titles like WHAT IS MY ROLE IN LIFE?, WHAT ROLE AM I SUPPOSED TO PLAY TO MY FRIENDS? AM I LIVING UP TO MY EXPECTATIONS? And such associated thoughts. Thing about sober reflection is you’re never where, in any calculation, you’re supposed to be. And it leads (in my experience) to more depression, which I’d then have to stave off with more drinking and laughter and the cycle continues…
Which, I should add at this point, is exactly what happened.
I ought to have posted this entry earlier. Just didn’t get round to doing it. Luckily I didn’t, which is alright since I’d filled the concluding part of the above with childish invective and unrestrained curses directed to anyone who didn’t give me a gift. But that’s besides the point of me talking about my birthday.
What I really wanted to bring out happened almost before we left. My friend, Deolu, gave me a rousing eulogy. He talked of my strong points, my commitment as a friend and all the support I give those I come in contact with. He also said things along the line of me being a good all rounder – combining spiritual, secular and school life with amazing ease and dexterity. He said again –
But lemme not tell you everything he said. It brought tears to my eyes, really it did. It didn’t matter to me that he’d exceeded his normal limit by at least two bottles. Or that the tears in my eyes were from the effort of trying to keep at bay alcohol induced sleep.
What mattered to me was the principle of everything. I have a strong respect for principles. At the end of the night what happened was everyone spoke generally of my amazing good behaviour, my will and zeal in helping people in distress, et cetera. I watched through a haze as my cousin rounded up his not-so-elegant tribute. The moon was peeping out of the lagoon and nightflies had crowded into the stars…
I had a good birthday.