25th December 2000, Trans Amusement Park, Ibadan
I woke up to a dry chilly harmattan morning. My lips felt parched and there was a tartly taste in my mouth. But there was no stopping my euphoric feeling. There is something about the yuletide that makes me feel so high. Could it be the delicacies attached to the festivities or the presence of family members? I guess it should be both since food and family rhyme together.
I was so delighted that morning because we were doing something I loved so much – travelling. Yes! We were all going to Mummy’s village, Ilupeju. Though, she doesn’t like it to be called a village since she always attests to the fact that the civilisation of Nigeria started in her hometown. But to me it was a village! There was no electricity, no toilet facilities, etc. I remember my first bush toilet experience with laughter always – Mummy had given me a cutlass to dig a hole in the bush and after digging the hole I sat on the hole! She shrieked with laughter as she showed me the proper way to squat on the hole.
Finally, we were ready to leave after several arguments over what to take along and what to leave behind since the boot was totally crammed. Mummy has a penchant for carrying the house along with her wherever she goes. Daddy thinks it is an irritating habit.
Shouts of “Ekaabo”, greeted us as we entered the village with Daddy honking the horn at familiar faces and they waved back with smiles. Uncle Rotimi’s car was behind us as we had left Ile-Ife together.
Biodun, my cousin rushed out to greet us. I hadn’t seen her a while and I thought she looked small compared to me even though she was a year older. Maami also came out to welcome us.
In the evening, we all sat under the moonlight singing and retelling old funny stories. Tomi, one of Uncle Rotimi’s children suddenly screamed, disrupting the tranquility – “Yeeeee! A snake has bitten me!” We all rushed to her and searched for the culprit. We burst into laughter as we saw a big black ant scurrying away.
On Christmas day, we all woke up early to assist with the cooking. When it was finished, we packed it in food containers and set out for the park.
Biodun, Tomi and Tobi were so excited because they had never been to the park. So I spiced up their expectation by exaggerating on what they would see. Their eyes widened in surprise at my tall tales.
After buying the tickets, we walked into the park and Mummy started fussing over the little ones; telling them to stay together so they don’t get lost in the crowd. Biodun was timid so I encouraged her to join me on the swing ride. We strapped up the safety chains and the swing started whirling until it got very fast. I looked around and I saw Biodun’s eyes dilated in fear. I laughed and told her to relax. The swing finally slowed down and people were getting off.
I suddenly heard a loud crash – I saw Biodun in a heap on the floor. I hurriedly got off the swing. My sister also rushed to her. We pulled her upright and checked if she had any injuries. She was alright; only dazed. Bukky and I burst into laughter. We do have a funny sense of humour in my family. So, Biodun got a nickname from the experience – Eru Jabo.
I moved over to the aeroplanes with my sister. The aeroplanes were placed on stilts and as it gathered speed, one could push the lever to make it go up in the air. I pushed the lever and it went up. I looked around smiling; enjoying the bliss. Then, I felt a little embarrassed because many of the riders were little children. I guess it is an African thing to think play is just meant for children. But my parents are quite different. They believe in visiting interesting places and making holidays memorable.
The aeroplane finally slowed down and people were getting off. Then I realised I was still up in the air. So I pushed the lever but nothing happened. I saw Bukky getting off and I called out to her.
“Come down now” she said.
“I can’t” I replied.
There were about three other persons in the same predicament with me. I looked down and decided it was too far a jump. Finally, the mechanics came and fixed the problem. I got off sighing in relief.
I moved over to the merry-go-round undismayed by my flight crisis but I was too late. It had already started and I saw Mummy and Foluso on it. They both waved to me. I waited in line for the next ride.
Was it me or the machine’s sense of timing? The ride seemed to be going on forever. It was supposed to last about 10 minutes. Then I saw the mechanics hurrying over.
“Whew! Something is really going on in this park today” I thought to myself.
I guess Santa decided to give the gifts of added thrills to everyone’s experience. Just then, I saw Mummy and Foluso whirling past on the merry-go-round. I winked naughtily at them. I cupped my mouth with my hands and shouted – “Enjoy the longest Christmas ride ever!”
It was indeed the longest ride ever as the merry-go-round went round and round for almost thirty minutes. When it was finally fixed and they got off, Mummy was so cross. She complained of the bad state of the facilities and it was the end of everyone’s rides since we didn’t know what else could happen.
We walked back to the car and served the food and drinks. We spread the delicacies on the mats and in between munching of Jollof rice, chicken, cake and Fanta, we laughed off the mishaps of the day.