Friday, June 15, 2012
"Ha You Doing..."
Once upon a time, my mum worked at a company that ran a yearly program where they would send two kids to the Unites States to attend a youth camp. To qualify, you had to compete with a few other kids. They would interview you and then decide on who they were sending to 'Hamrica'. At the age of 14, I had mastered the art of talking nonsense with a lot of class. This made people think I was very intelligent, which I am (most times...okay, sometimes...alright once in a while). Anyway, this talking classy nonsense skill is what I used to grab my first ticket ever to obodo oyinbo.
I grew up in one of the most gangster places in Lagos (I shall not mention which, so you won't go there and gather evidence to destroy my rep -_-). Growing up with three boys guaranteed me an automatic tomboy ticket. I rode bikes, played ball, got dirty, fought (with my mouth) etc...I believed I was a tough kid. So in my opinion, I was ready and prepared for the experience of a lifetime. *sigh*
On getting to Hamrica, I was picked up by some white folks who I was to stay with for a night before setting out for the actual camp the next day. I was tired, hungry and sticky. When we had reached our destination and I had washed up, I stayed in the room they assigned to me and waited for someone to call me to come get lunch. Ten minutes passed...then twenty...then thirty...then fourty-five....then an hour. Plane food is horrible, so you can imagine how starved I was after an entire day's journey. I decided I was going to go ask for something to eat. I had to either swallow my pride or do guy and die in another man's country.
I went to meet the oyinbo and asked for something to eat. They apologised profusely and offered me a seat at the dining area. That's how they brought biscuit. One biscuit. For me. O_o BECAUSE OF WHAT NA??? I sat there and looked at the biscuit for like a minute, wondering if I should ask when the next flight back home was. They must have thought I was just amazed by the biscuit. "It's a muffin." one of them said, smiling. I looked up, smiled sweetly and thanked her deeply. Then I decided I was going to make the best of the situation. I cut the biscuit into tiny pieces and chewed each piece for like 10 minutes. They say when you eat slowly, you don't eat as much as you would, otherwise. I ate very slowly. I even used fork and knife, and you know how them things can waste time. But after I had put in all the effort, I had to come to terms with the fact that if one stick of okin biscuit won't fill me in my own country, biscuit or muffin or whatever they wanted to call i t, would not fill me in another man's country. I drank plenty water to cushion the effect. Water...e no get enemy true true.
The next morning, I was dropped off at a spot where I met a bunch of other JJC campers and we were driven to the camp from there. I hadn't bothered asking for breakfast before leaving. Receiving another biscuit would have broken my heart. So I carried over the hunger from the previous day. I was eager to get to the camp where I was certain I would find correct food. When we arrived our destination, we assembled on the field. Introductions were made, they talked and talked. I didn't understand most of what they were saying anyway. About an hour later, we were finally directed to the dining room. It looked very nice and airy. I was excited that I was going to be eating in such a cozy environment. A few minutes later, they asked us to come get our food. It was a buffet setting. I grabbed a plate and joined the line. I got where the food was supposed to be and saw leaves everywhere. I kept moving, sure I would find something for me. Anything. I saw more leaves. Leaves and some funny looking liquid thing. I almost cried then. Maybe I even cried.
After I had gone the entire length of the food line and still had an empty plate, I had had enough. I went to find one of the counselors. "I can't eat your food." I said with whatever energy I had left. "Why?" She asked. "Because I don't understand it." I answered. She finally directed me to where I could find bread. For two weeks straight, I ate bread. I would change it up every once in a while. One day, I'd toast it, another day use butter, another, jam or maybe peanut butter. I was missing home desperately.
There was this day when we had all just left the pool. It was a pretty sunny day. I was walking towards the room (tent) and I saw some oyinbo babes lying under the sun. As omo naija wey no dey carry last, I joined them. I'm a hundred and fifty percent sure I knew what 'sun-tanning' was, but I cannot say for sure what side of my head I hit against the wall to make me carry my already black body to start lying down under hot sun. One chic asked me what I was doing. I told her I liked the sun. *sigh* They were following me from home, obviously.
When camp ended two months later, I went to finish my holiday at my aunt's for two weeks. I was happy because it was home away from home. I wasn't disappointed. It was a naija house with naija food. It was a good two weeks.
I remember that my cousin, her friends and I went to the movies once. It was my first time in a cinema. No cinemas back home then. We all sat in the back, all cozy-like. There was one other kid in our group from naija who was on holiday as well. He was sitting next to me. At a point, he put his head on my shoulder and asked if he could kiss me -_- I remember very clearly that the movie was an action movie...well, either that or horror. So I have no idea what touched his brain. I looked to my cousin for help, but she was asleep. Hamrica can drive you crazy.
The two weeks went by and I came back home. *Whew* Boy, was I happy. I had really missed home.
I resumed school the next week. Standing mellow and quiet (very unusual), I was waiting with my classmates to be put in our new class. Suddenly one of the girls in my class looked at me and said "Ha you doin?" in the weirdest accent I ever heard. It was more Yoruba than anything else, but you could tell she was going for the Hamrican accent. I was too stunned to answer. Apparently, she expected me to have developed an oyinbo accent in the two and a half months I'd been away. Can't blame her really, I've seen footballers play in France for years and come back with a Chinese accent (it sure as heck aint British).
There's no place like home, ya know. *wink*
Yours truly, Rantalot