Written by Adebayo Akande
WARNING: There’s probably no particular point or idea behind this piece, but I sense you will probably want to read to the end.
I don’t know what kids between the ages of six and twelve read these days, but I know, I recall what we did back then. Ladybird was a sensation then- Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow white and the seven dwarfs, the three little pigs, Beauty and the beast, and that one about the prince that became a frog (or was it the other way round?). Then there was Eze goes to School, wait, this one has no bearing on this article. Sorry.
The pith of all these books (except the one about Eze, or was it Akin?) was this “and they lived happily ever after…” personally I disliked stories written by Nigerian authors for not ending with that phrase. Then why did we have such gory stories from West Africa? Without a silver spoon, Passport of Mallam Ilia (like seriously, that’s a title?), Time changes Yesterday, etc where they just lived after, not necessarily happily.
Well, Ladybird, God bless her heart, left her mark on our hearts- a craving, the illusion of a fairytale. For me, it was that I would get into the university the very next Monday after my high school graduation, continue topping my class in college like I did all through secondary school (Now I sound like all our parents that were always first abi?), then upon graduation, there would be at least five establishments jostling to employ me, then on my first day at work I’ll meet her- she would have sparkling blue eyes (yes, red eyes are creepy), with long hair that travelled all the way to her chest, and moves like a tidal wave when blown by the wind, looking glamorous in a red gown; and then she smiles at me and then…fast forward three weeks, I’m on a speedboat with her in the Cancun Islands… okay I should stop now, (contact me though if you need script for Titanic Reloaded, this time the ship doesn’t sink.
You get my drift.
Somehow we had this picture of a fairytale…until life happened. I didn’t count on having to wait a whole year because the University I wanted didn’t like the way the months were arranged on their calendar. Couldn’t have seen it coming that a journey that was to last Five and a half years would eventually become seven years (in this time, ASUU became more popular than NTA). Ladybird never gave an inkling that I would have to wait almost a year to get a job, and then be thrown to a land where the sun always seems so angry for yet another year.
And as for the blue eyed damsel in red gown…let us just say black is the new blue, and it took a long twist of events to finally meet her. Funny thing is, she has her own-no, had her own fairytale too. At least if you never had a fairytale of your own, I know I’m not alone.
I have forgiven Ladybird, and I have apologized to Lantern (books). Or maybe not. Imagine some jokers made Cinderella into movies on about three different occasions!!!
But then, was it wrong, were we wrong to have that near perfect picture of how our lives would/should be?
Were we too naïve to believe we wouldn’t have to wait for anything, that the world was at our feet, that disappointment won’t come?
Were we in a fool’s paradise, a little world of our own, that heartbreaks won’t happen? But then even these books had some form of tragedy- Rapunzel was locked up, The prince lived a frog for so long (why can’t I remember the title!), Akin went to school (sorry, my bad again), but we looked beyond them to their happy endings!
And right there, is the point of this piece. The happy ending! The joy on a mother’s face as she beholds her newborn, completely forgetting the gamut of painful experiences that she hitherto had. The sense of excitement, and greater still, gratitude one has when a true soulmate is found after several attempts at love; the relief story that a fresh graduate has when he finally graduated after spending extra years in college; the glee on a farmer’s face when he finally brings in the sheaves following a major pest invasion of his farmland.
We can go through life looking forward to our own happy ending. As we grow and become mature, the plot of that fairytale may change, but not the happy ending. Eventually life would be a soap opera best tiltled “serendipity”, and as the episodes play out we learn that we are responsible for writing the script for the next one, so we can, we should choose to never lose track of happiness, because we deserve it.
And we really don’t want to raise kids who aren’t enthusiastic about living, do we?