Christmas Ride Gone Gaga

Christmas Ride Gone Gaga

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.

49 thoughts on “Christmas Ride Gone Gaga” by Ife Watson (@petunia007)

  1. “food and family rhyme together’…I think what you mean is ‘food and family go together’…

    I don’t think you squat ‘on’ a hole. I think you squat ‘over’ a hole.

    Just my thoughts. Nice read.

    1. Thanks for the comment. However, I meant to use the word ‘rhyme’ and in that sense it actually means what you transliterated. Words can be used connotatively – the word rhyme here signifies the similiar occurence of food and family in the same sphere. And on the use of ‘squat on’, ‘on’ and ‘over’ are both words which function at different sentence levels – as adjective, preposition and adverb. Therefore, we can have ‘squat on’ ‘on’ functioning as an adverb. I prefer that to ‘squat over’ which sounds more like a direct transliteration from Yoruba. Whew! L̳̿Ö̤̣̇☺ː̗̀(=)))ː̖́☺Ö̤̣̇L̳̿, what an English lesson!

      1. Ife, I think you’ll make a great English lecturer and not just teacher.

        1. True talk…@Ife, your lessons ma na wa! Nice one there with the thoughts o! Somehow, I think @Seun‘s squat words make sense…ok, after your big grammar, I don’t know any more…

  2. Those are valid corrections @Seun-odukoya.

    1. ‘were’ …errr…’are…errr… shoot me!!! Hahaha…those little things throw one off his/her skelter. One reason I like it here.

    2. You think?

      Even after her discourse?

  3. Nice unifying Christmas experiences, a longest “Christmas ride gone Gaga”. Whoa! Love the title!

    1. Thanks for the comment

  4. Ife, good story. This has the great potential to get my vote.

    1. Thanks. I really appreciate it.

  5. Gone Gaga, as in wild or bad, anyway it’s nice and did you study English?

  6. On the whole, I like the piece. There were a few places where it seemed something was missing but overall, the humour came through for me.
    Yeah, above all, some good humour you got in your family. Well done.

    1. @Su’eddie thanks! There is only so much that can be squeezed into a 1000words story. Thanks for the humour appraisal.

  7. @ Ife this is your terrain no doubt-you sabi this thing wella!

    1. @Sam, thanks o but I’m still honing my skills.

  8. Nice story, u guys really dig it on Christmas. Something about the way it ended, I expected to read another line or two really.

    1. Thanks. Oh yeah we dig it o, dis life na one my broda. I want to say abrupt endings are a characteristic feature of short stories. Remember we had a word limit. Ãήϑ I think I like to drop my stories suddenly leaving the reader pleased ãήϑ unsatisfied all at once – a paradoxical experience! LOL

  9. Nice work Ife, but your attempt to summarise a larger event was obvious. Also, I don’t think you adequately conveyed the ‘gaga’ feeling in this piece, it was all rather plane to me, you tried to say it all, but in the end, you said too little.
    Also, I noticed this,

    I hadn’t seen her ‘in’ a while and I thought
    she looked smaller…

    Good luck.

    1. Thanks for your comment. However, I think one of the appeals of the short story genre is its compactness – being able to say so much through few words. Concerning the title and the word ‘gaga’, I think a title serves two primary purpose, first – to captivate the reader’s interest and second – it should contain a description of the story. I think I was able to realise the first function from the comments I have received. The second function is absolutely up to the reader’s imagination. I will also add that in writing, one must consider the contextual usage of words. ‘Gaga’ here does not connote ‘raving mad’ or ‘insane’ rather it suggests ‘strangeness, absurdity, etc’. Therefore, I could have had a title like these ones – strange xmas ride or absurd xmas ride but I decided to go for something mouthful ãήϑ cliche-like. And to your other observation on the sentence -‘I had not seen her a while’. Here goes another English lesson LOL! The sentence is correct without ‘in’ and it may amaze you that the phrase ‘in a while’ doesn’t exist in standard British English. We have the correct usage as. ‘For a while’, ‘awhile’ and ‘a while’.

      1. Err..Miss @petunia007, me I’m not agreeing with this oh. ‘I hadn’t seen her in a while’ is completely correct. ‘I had not seen her a while’ is not. You can’t use ‘a while’ like that. You can use it as an adverb but in something like ‘We had to wait a while’ or even ‘wait for a while’ but not just ‘not seen her in a while’. You can even say ‘I hadn’t seen her in quite a while’ which sounds even more correct. Bottomline, I agree with @scopeman60, ‘hadn’t seen her a while’ is wrong…

        1. @Gboyega Otolorin, you have a right to your opinion. But I don’t make the grammatical rules, there is a standard and I referred to it. Kindly check out the difference between ‘awhile’ and ‘a while’. In the sentence context, ‘I hadn’t seen a while’ is right. Don’t really want to bore you but you might as well check out optional and compulsory aspects of sentence constituents. Thank you

  10. amy78 (@amy78)

    Hi this write up reminds me a lot of how things use to be way back then… just one observation: I was under the impression that you were quite far from civilization when you got to the village… I was suprised you ended up at an amusement park the next day…all the same nice writting.

    1. Thanks Amy78. Ilupeju(the village in the story) is on the outskirts of Ibadan. It’s a kind of borderline btw Oyo and Ogun state. It takes just about 30mins from Apata (Ibadan) to Ilupeju. So, the amusement park in Bodija is not that far away. And I was referring to the lack of basic amenities such as electricity and water-flush toilet and not emphasising on the distance from civilisation. Anyway, that was in year 2000, at present they have electricity o.*winks*

  11. My votes are already taken jare

    1. LOL, then maybe another day. I was expecting you to comment on the story. I kinda like your cryptic words *winks*

  12. I’m surprised no one commented on the family picture, it’s very lovely.

    I like the story and how it gave me a true glimpse of a Nigerian family and Christmas.

    However, I would’ve loved to read more about your feelings on the rides and not just telling what happened.

  13. Thanks! I thought nobody noticed the picture. I actually wanted people to see my family and not just the words. I felt constrained by the word limit and I had to remove a large part of the story after I finished writing so as to keep within the limit.

  14. The squat scene was quite funny. Means you haven’t used a pit toilet before then?

    I’m thinking like it’s a film now. While she was on the merry-go-round, a lot more could have gone on in her mind. If you watch films enough you must be used to such scenes.

    I enjoyed the story. I still think there could have been more ‘nostalgia’.

    If you’re a female, I’m now your fan. If you’re a male, well… not yet a fan.

    1. LOL, the squat scene was actually a flashback to earlier visits to the village when I was much younger.
      I wasn’t on the merry-go-round so there was no way to put their thoughts since I was writing in the first person.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the story!
      Yipee! I’m female so I guess I ve got you… But don’t you think that is gender favouritism? *winks*

  15. A scene just came to my mind. A scene from Notting Hill. The scene where Julia Roberts’ character attends Hugh Grant’s sister’s birthday dinner. There was this point in the dinner where Julia Roberts looks at all Hugh Grant’s relatives as slow background music played. Her face said a lot of things.

    Imagine yours a movie as well. As she was going and round in slow motion probably laughing loud, music can play and we can hear her thoughts. That would have been perfect.

  16. Nice one, contains most of the christmas, elements- family, fun…

    1. Thanks. I’m glad you liked the story.

  17. My mistake. Okay, I get the real picture. I had thought you were the only one on the merry-go-round. Turns out you were actually the person not on it.

    Now I imagine after saying “Enjoy the longest Christmas ride ever!” the ride went on for a while. Probably she just kept laughing. Now imagine the laughter in slow motion. That means time went slower. Was your mind blank? Did you keep looking at your family on the merry-go-round and… Say thanked God deep down in your heart for such a family, did you feel proud at the love on that merry-go-round… Or was your mind just blank?

    Glad you’re a female, just add me to your fan mailing list.

  18. Did the daddy go with them?

    1. If you followed the story from the beginning, Daddy was present in the story but he didn’t take part in the rides that was why he wasn’t visible in the park scene. I agree there are some parts missing in the story and if not for the word limit (1000 words), the nostalgia should have been more robust. I mentioned in an earlier comment that I had written a longer story but I was constrained by the word limit.

  19. This is a good story Ife. I likle the family setting that you painted. Plus let me say I would gladly employ you as my editor anytime.

    Well done!!!

    1. Thanks! I’m happy you liked the story.

  20. Funny read. Nice.

    1. Thanks. I’m glad you found it nice.

  21. Fred Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

    I think the story is an okay one, not great, not bad either. It suffered from the fact that you tried too cram so much into 600 words. Think this is the reason it leaves one with the feeling that a lot is missing. Watch the tendency to pace too fast too. Nevertheless, the sense of family is superb.

    1. Thanks for the comment. However, the story is 999 words not 600. I agree there may be some missing parts but there is only so much that can be crammed into a 1000word story.

      1. Fred Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

        sorry, meant 1000 words. :).

  22. Nice story! Laugh out loud-funny in places, the sitting on the hole, the rides, that nickname ‘Eru Jabo’ Hahaha :D!! Really like this. Great Job Ife!!

    1. Oh and lovely lovely picture! very nice. I suppose that’s you beside your Dad in front..are you the first-born?

      1. @Gboyega Otolorin, I’m glad you liked the story and appreciated its humour.
        Lol, yes that’s me beside my Dad, first child ke! I’m the baby of the house o.

        1. @Ife, baby ke?! Ah1 What about those little ones?

          1. @Da Writing Engineer, The little ones are grandchildren o.

  23. This is a worthy story. I can see you studied English or one of its close cousins. Nice job baby.

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