Being Lagos based and full of hustle spirit, this short break to Calabar reminded me of the things that truly matter, elements of happiness we need everyday. I’ll start with ‘love’. The first loving couple I came across have been married for 18 years. He is a wood craftsman and she a hairdresser and beautician. I was amazed at how much in love they still are, three kids, average earnings, but not a worry in the world. Smiles, cheer and a lot of positive energy oozes around their cozy home.
I was served eba and afam soup, and then I had another reality check; the taste of this kitchen perfection, blasting joyfully around my mind sent electric waves to my brain, and down my spine. At this point, that one mould of eba covered in a soup hat was all I wanted in the world.
Laying in my room, with cool breeze gliding in, my senses were heightened. I could hear and feel everything; the lizards outside, birds, the occasional vehicle zoom past on the road, laughter from the next building. This was a very good feeling for me, I was mentally relaxed. I strolled to the garage to find the youngest kid painting a wolf. So talented, but it was the fact that the little drawing seemed so important to him, and his attention to detail, that struck me again. Life had made me forget these little things that bring everyday joy and satisfaction.
Later I stepped out to join the carnival. The number of happy people outside was too alarming for me, everybody was happy, EVERYBODY! They were polite, with genuine smiles on their faces. I wasn’t too sure if it wasn’t all just in my head, but 2 events would soon convince me beyond reasonable doubt.
The first was the attitude of all security officials; they were tasked to ensure everyone was behind the barricades on the sidewalk so the performing bands could pass freely. I watched them do this in the most cordial way ever, no one was struck or pushed harshly. I saw my country police apply reason…my jaw dropped. And hey, this was very very effective. Almost 100%
Happy people, happy police…somebody wake me up.
The second event was more shocking to me, a guy who comes around my house in Lagos to see my flatmates was there, we barely shake hands when we see, but when I saw him and called his name, he ran across the room to squeeze me and hoisted me in the air a couple of times. This was pure heaven. I tried to sniff around for alcohol to see if that was his catalyst. He was sober. The happy place was doing happy things to him. So, I don’t know if this is a praise of Calabar, or a realization that when you prioritize the simple things in life, it will be a jolly journey for you. For me, it’s kind of both; Long live Cross-River and the best things in life are free.
Martin ‘Frostbyte’ Emumwen