There’s clattering of oriental dinner plates set up in a pile on the large mahogany dining table, cutleries stored away were now also making their way to the kitchen sink, I can hear my mother giving strict orders and directions “Ah! Watch it, don’t break any of those plates, and wash them nice and clean! At the same time, she’s giving anyone available a speech on how she had managed to inherit and save those antique sets from my paternal late grandma, Ma Da-Silva!
On the other side of the compound, I can hear our dogs, Jolie and Julie barking and running around the passage that leads to the main entrance of the house, ready to pounce on anyone at sight! Probably in excitement and anticipation of the party planning, having lived in this household for over 8 years, even the dogs knew the signs for merriment ahead. There’s “Kool & The Gang” blasting “celebration” on my dad’s turntable as he excitedly opens up the front windows of the front parlor (which he rarely does!) Letting in the blast of fresh air as the green and white ruffled curtain let loose in his grasp. I see white plastic chairs, tables and canopies that were dropped off the night before by “Easy-life rental-company”, the one at the corner of Tokunboh and Glover Streets are now being set up and arranged, colorful balloons in bunch floating to the rhythm of the music.
The once happy-to-be-alive selected flock of chicken picked a day before from Sand-grouse market after several bargaining that I’d noticed hopping around the compound has now been carefully plucked, cooked, seasoned and soaked in a deep fried peppered gravy, sautéed with fried sliced tomatoes, onions, green pepper and garnished with crispy bay leaves; the once rolled away humongous cooking pots were now set on a make shift commercial stove at the back of the house, cooking mom’s special jollof rice (which always require 2 people to carry around or to mix the contents) the smell of blended ginger mixed with bay leaf sailing through the whole house, camping at the corners of Oil mill and Bamgbose streets, travelling to my neighbor’s nostrils as it announces itself; that was all the invitation needed for them to stop by and of course drop off a brown envelope for the birthday girl!
So, my passion towards life is usually at its peak in the month of May. Not necessarily because it’s my birth month, but because it always resonates fresh and old memories. For the past 15,695 days of my life, every birthday has been so significantly emotional and celebrated with an adventure! From making my own crayon and paper invitation cards as a child, to inviting the whole primary school to my un-planned birthday party at home! Without even my parents being aware of a party at hand! To beautiful priceless memories of losing the best dancing competition to my two friends (Evelyn Musa and Paulina Ugokwe) at my 10th birthday party that turned me into an uncontrollable tantrum birthday girl! Well, come to think of it, why anyone would beat me to a dancing competition, Ah! At my own party!! It’s not done! Lool!
All the way to the secretly planned 19th birthday party at Maxi Class on Olu Obasanjo that shook Port Harcourt city and shut down a whole campus! And yes! The 21st that had my street blocked with bunch of excited girls dancing and throwing their hands in the air to the DJ’s “Hip Hop Hurray” ignoring the drizzle of rain drops on the party canopy late into the night! And to all the Delta Park parties (Hostel)! Big salute to my wonderful circle of college friends who always made it happen for me! (Tosin, Tinuke, Regina, Ruth & Arike). ‘Much love!
There’s a glaring passion of youthful pleasure, excitement and devotion that comes with each celebration! New places birth new friends. But with age, I’d come to appreciate each treasured friendship of those that’s carried me through all those years… looking back at all the old birthday pictures, I can’t but help appreciate the joy of having very dedicated friends, both still living and passed on…
Along the way, I have lost close childhood friends that have played a huge part in my life and ever present at every birthdays, come rain or shine, and I really still miss them all: Justin Duro-Emmanuel (my cousin and confidant) Roli O. (my emergency cake supplier) and Tutu Badmus (my emergency party planner). May your gentle souls rest in peace.
Today, I am even more grateful to God for every path that’s crossed my life! Whether good or bad, it’s all been for a reason! For every old friendship that’s carried me through those years, it wasn’t all about sharing in my birthday cake or dancing to outshine each other… ‘You gave me comfort to hope! For the new friends… you challenged me to be all I can! For being blessed with the most devoted parents, who can never be replaced! Mr. Gansy and MRS! My siblings! My husband, my children, my joy and hope for tomorrow! My “push” in life for getting up every day and just living for fulfilment! And as God wills…I shall live long to testify to His Glory, as I celebrate more years in His protection.
PS: For the lovely company of friends that celebrated ME today! Thank you, I love you all for real!
Yours in HOPE!