Where Have All The Years Gone? an essay by Saila Abby at Spillwords.com
Seth Doyle

Where Have All The Years Gone?

Where Have All The Years Gone?

written by: Saila Abby



Taking a trip down memory lane, if there had been magic castles and flying unicorns where I grew up in Igbinaduwa, Southern Nigeria I would have lived and flown in them, twirling in a never-ending parade of Ugho, the traditional Edo dance. My imagination was a wild stallion: Strong. Powerful. Untamed. Growing up in a house full of boys and girls with different dreams and aspirations I learned how to play Osiwe, an Edo game that involves teamwork, drawing circles on the ground, and choosing an opponent. I remember how we used to play from sun up till sundown, getting our clothes dirty and making my mother worry when we didn’t show up on time. Getting a tap or a lash but always ending with a hug and a kiss. Helping out with chores while counting down to the minute where I would be allowed to play. Night times were even more fun because my family was together. Feeding on Eba and Okro soup laced with bazabaza, and codfish, was a slice of heaven. Playing hide and seek with my siblings and “riding a horse” on my Dad’s back with my mom laughing all the way. My first experience with education was my mother teaching me in KG1, being a school teacher at the time. Going to school was exciting because it meant I could meet more kids, kids from other backgrounds. However, learning became arduous when I observed I would not be allowed to play as I did at home. The subject on Mathematics was like squeezing water from a stone and the English Language a walk in the park. It got better when I realized that if I did what my teachers wanted then I could have all the play time in the world. Christmas time was the best; eating from the same plate with my siblings with food piled high filled my young heart with love. A specific event that left a mark was when my aunt kicked the bucket. Being ten years old at the time I could not come to terms with her death, one minute she was here the next she was gone. I remember wearing a black thread because I could not buy a black necklace in time for her funeral. A black necklace is the proper accessory to wear when a loved one is no more. We were carted off to my grandparents’ house in the rickety car my Dad always made sure had enough gas lest it ceased working in the middle of the road. There were more people at my grandma’s than I had ever met but I could not enjoy the company because of the somber mood hanging like dark clouds on the horizon. I remember the day of the funeral like yesterday; it rained cat and dog on that day. The petrichoral fragrance hung like heavy drapes in the air ushering in tranquility. After the funeral I was asked to cut the black thread as the dead had been laid to rest, standing close to the window I could hear her voice as if she stood behind me whispering “Dream big and let no one tell you that your dreams are impossible, go for it.” On my face was a gallon of tears as I complied. Soon the years flew away on sprouted wings dumping me in my teenage years as responsibility became a dead donkey on my shoulders. Progressing from one academic level to another fanned the embers of my inquisitive mind, academic excellence whet my appetite to know more. The tragic loss of my aunt left me with a feeling of appreciation for enjoyment – the enjoyment of life, friends, and family, and even the chirp, chirp of the birds. I have since learned to live each day to the fullest and learn from my experiences as it may be the last opportunity to do so. How did you cope with the love of a loved one? As I grew older, I learned that the playtime was the same but with more tasks attached.
I discovered that I was accountable for my actions and I had to take full responsibility for them. Going to and fro became an albatross around my neck because I had to be back at a specified time. My first experience with the corporate world gave me the first intoxicating taste of independence. Sitting behind a desk brought to bear the full brunt of responsibility. Looking out a window, I observed a group of kids playing with a can of bubbles. Reliving my childhood, I could not help but wonder where all the years have gone.

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