Dear Family and Friends,
I am pretty sure you are all having a difficult time deciding what to get for me for my birthday. Due to my importance to you all, I know the coming ten days or so will be most difficult for you as you decide what is most appropriate for me. I’m a very considerate person, and that’s why I’m here to put you out of your misery (certainly not by killing you). I’m here to help you and offer you some tips on what you can get me; what will likely get you a loud and resonating thank as against a long cold stare.
But before we talk about gifts, let’s get this disturbing issue out of the way. And that’s the issue of electronic messages and other allied matters. These have become a very irritating cliché and as a writer, I have been warned to steer clear of them lest they crawl their dirty way into my work and cause you and me incalculable embarrassment when fault finding critics start pointing them out. So, no to messages like HBD, LLNP etc. What do they even mean? High Building Destroyed? High Blood Detected? Long Life No Progress? Love Lost No Problem?
Do not send me those birthday messages you find in those #20 love message books you buy on the street of Shomolu. I hate them and I might hate you too if you dare punish me with those badly written words from those high school drop outs. Pleeeaaaseeee. Also, do me a favour and disable your Facebook spammy automatic Birthday cards. This is a sure cause of pollution to my serene page. And the last thing I want is for machines to join in the celebration of my day. Human only please. Phone messages are allowed but they must be original and not previously published or simultaneously sent.
Now, in lieu of these messages, we can do the greetings the old school way. Send me cheap greeting cards (#500 own should do; I’m a socialist, remember?). Endeavor to add a personal touch to the card; don’t dare send them the way they are. Write a short poem or message or even testimony or appreciation (yeah, I take that too, but only from the people in my beneficiaries list) on the card. If your handwriting is like my doctor’s, please do us both a favour and have it typed and professionally glued to the card. Phone calls are acceptable, but as they cannot be saved for future reference, I will advise you to consider them as only a bonus. Please and please, on no account should you take a page out in the newspaper for a congratulatory message (I certainly do not want my parents’ house stampeded by hungry touts looking for free foods).
Ok. Now that we have cleared that out of the way, let’s move on to more important issue and the main reason why birthday celebration was invented. Gifts! As a socialist, I will strongly advice you against buying me cars and houses. I have been informed that due to my reluctance to join the pinging class that some of you have decided to buy me one of those stupid smart phones. Don’t! Use the money instead for a good cause (like donating fifty copies of City of Memories or Salute to Bori to schools), but of course in my name.
What do I really want? Books! Yeah, there you have it. No 1 on the list (and whoever gets me this will have his name in my book of life) is Rhythm of Creation that beautiful collection of poetry edited by Nwoga, D.O. I had a copy once and for five years it was my bed mate, travel companion and best friend. A thousand baraka for Chinua Achebe and his Okike poets. Then one of you borrowed it and deemed it fit not to return it. God knows the person and as one of my friends would say, may god punish his hustle.
Please on no account should you get me a Soyinka poetry or play. No, thank you, ma. I had enough headaches while trying to force him and his crazy pal, Okigbo, on myself some years back. I will gladly accept any of his prose works. Chinua Achebe most recent book will be highly cherished. Get me one and I will always call you whatever you want. Poetry collection of Ojaide, Esiaba Irobi, Ohaeto, and Osundare are fair game. Spare me Okri and his likes. No to headache, I repeat. That I’m trained as a scientist doesn’t mean you can go and get me those incredibly dull and migraine inducing science journals. Back to sender is what I will do if you dare do that to me.
For those of you who unfortunately are allergic to printed words, or maybe you hate to be seen entering one of those few poorly stocked bookshops in this country and you don’t know where Online is let alone buy something there, this one is for you: clothes. Due to my recent migration to Abuja, the most self-indulging city on earth with the highest frequency of self-deceiving inhabitants, I have discovered that my wardrobe is, to put it mildly, inappropriate for such place. Everybody here dresses like they work on Wall Street or something. Like they are in some winter struck European city and not in a warm savanna city. Three piece suit, tie and the whole nine yards.
My tee shirt and palm sleepers which would have been so at home in Ilorin (God bless that city that refuses to follow the abnormal formality) look so criminally odd in Abuja that I can no longer resist the temptation to join the African European style. I’m no cultural activist; just a young man who does not want to become an amusing spectacle. So if you my comrades feel disappointed, please forgive me. But I need a new wardrobe. So, get your butt off the ground and go shop for your man. Get me nice pieces from nice boutiques. Be advised that I can smell a BK cloth from miles away as I’ve worn enough of those. On no account should you buy me one. I will likely shove it down your crooked throat (**just kidding**).
My people in America (the Nigerian Americans and the American Nigerians alike) are hereby implored not to struggle to get me anything expensive. I perfectly understand the economic situation they are facing in the States and I refuse to allow my birthday to become another burden on them. What I want from them (I understand it would be insulting for me to insist on no gift) and others in Europe (with the probable exemption of Spain, Greece and Ireland) are to send me those foods that make Michele Obama scream all the time. Yes, you guessed right, Einstein, I wanna get fat! Being skinny in Abuja is a sin against the personality of Madame Dame of Afrika and I certainly do not want to be in her bad book, not with my brewing political ambition (Am I too young for A.S.S.A on Facebook and Twitter Management?). Send those cheap canned calorie rich foods and keeping sending them. God will help you all and keep Obama in power and chase Romney out of the race. May the gods of the seven rivers truncate that buffoon’s (Romney, of course) presidential ambitions.
For those of you in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia and Kuwait most especially), don’t get smart and send me all those free Quran and texts. Hey, Sheikh, I have enough Moshaff to last a lifetime. What I want from you are those beautiful Jalabia, exquisite watches, and nice perfume. Get them and send them if you still want me as your ally.
Dear family and friends, I hate to be second guessed and misunderstood. So let’s be clear, I do not want your money. No cash, not even share or stock of companies that will melt down in couple of months. I would hate to become a visitor to the EFCC (those dedicated brilliant Sherlock Holmes have better things to do than waste their precious time investigating how an unknown wannabe writer could make millions from his birthday). Get this straight too, I’m not soliciting or asking you for anything; what I have done above is just to help you in making your choice. Not getting me anything will not mean an end to our relationship (it could cause some appraisal sha).
Need I add that since that guy (Osama bn Laden?) and his friends deemed it fit to murder three thousand civilians on my birthday some eleven years ago, I have decided not to elaborately celebrate my birthday? So there won’t be any celebration, I will however be in an undisclosed mosque (who wants BH to bomb them?) praying and thanking Allah for another grace. In English? No food, so don’t come.
Send me your gifts and stay in your house. May God bless your hustle a million times.
Wishing myself (on your behalf) a happy birthday in advance.
P.S: Happy New Month!