I found my Childhood Again (1)
No child should be deprived of his or her childhood for it forms a foundation that will be consulted in time to come.
It may be a phase that one would want to wish away, but no story or history about any mortal is complete without his or her childhood stories and memories. Little wonder why some folks will say, “I miss my childhood,” while others would say, “I really never had a childhood or my childhood was stolen.” There are other horrible versions of responses that spring up and one begins to wonder what is so special about the memories amassed in childhood.
A legendary pop king, Michael Jackson aka Wako Jacko once asked a question in his controversial song entitled, “Have you seen my childhood?” The lyrics presented some issues troubling his childhood. A verse of the lyric reads thus:
“… Have you seen my Childhood?
I’m searching for that wonder in my youth
Like pirates in adventurous dreams,
Of conquest and kings on the throne…”Michael never wanted to grow old because he loved adventure and wanted to seek for that which he thought he had lost. However, what he failed to realize is that no matter how old one may appear, one can still shake hands with memories of ones childhood.
My name is Opia-Enwemuche Maxwell Onyemaechi and my childhood was super exciting and full of beautiful moments that will outlive a thousand life time if I tell of stories surrounding it. I grew up in many locations or cities across Nigeria by virtue of my late father’s nature of job. He was a highly decorated senior police officer from the old Bendel State extract. He sojourned in Nigeria across towns and cities to serve the nation, our father land and Enugu state happens to be one of the locations we lived and I enjoyed every bit of that town. The memories keep dancing back and front in my subconscious.
For the records, I lived at the 8-man Rank and File Police Barracks close to the Central Police Station (CPS) located at the present day Ridgeway Road off Bank Avenue in Enugu State, Nigeria.
Recently, I visited the state on an official assignment and decided to locate one of my childhood memories. Apart from that, I walked the traditional routes I normally take to school and the nostalgic feelings were something I am very proud about. Although the environment wore a different look with some places looking dilapidated while others were housing new structures, the mind on its own was painting pictures of old to wed them with the reality of time. I was happy I took this noble walk this time to feed my eyes and hug these beautiful memories of the past.
I left my old compound located at Ridgeway Road which used to be a home to a giant Iroko tree which no longer existed, but in its stead, a church has been erected at the location. My mother used to call that tree, “Ukwu egbu,” and I will never forget how big it appeared before my eyes as a child and the early morning drills of sweeping its defoliated leaves daily. I dare not forget the numerous activities that took place under this tree. I had a fight under this tree staged by one Ufuoma between myself and one John (not real name) in order to establish authority. My honour was given to me after I dealt with the young boy. More so, this shelter from this giant Iroko tree also hosted Otu Ifeoma Club which my mother belongs to.
Majority of the boys in that compound at Ridgeway Road attended the Market Road Primary School located at Ogui in Enugu state. It was very close to the magnificent Holy Ghost Cathedral which is a little distance away from the Ogbete Main Market where items of various kinds are sold on retail and wholesale basis.
In order to satisfy my curiosity, I decided to embark on the traditional long (?) walk from Ridgeway Road through Ogufere street to Abakiliki road and crossing to Market Road leading to my primary school at Market Road Primary School at Ogui. Our motto was Unity, Progress and Discipline. Punctuality was highly entrenched as at that time. I felt a little bit disappointed though because I could not gain entrance into the school to look at the football field that I was celebrated during my childhood and the classroom I was taught how to read and write in Igbo language. My love for story telling was also reinvigorated here. Market Road had the best teachers as at that time, but I doubt if these exploits are still there today. I remember vividly how hand craft works were emphasized and the need to get everyone involved. There was no excuse for anyone to quit because every mind has a talent of its own that must be accessed to the latter. The mind in deed is a gold mine and one needs to dig deep for the treasures within. In this place, we had mind explorers for the greater good of the individual.
The colour of my school at the time I attended was white shirt upon red short. I believe they still wear the same uniform till date. Such a wonderful uniform that makes the pupil stand out in the crowd because red represents the colour of blood which fuels the activities of the body and humanity at large.
I am so elated for seeing my primary school again after so many years I left. It was in deed good breathing the air of Coal City again. My humble and candid advice to parents is that they should not deprive their children of their childhood for they may never find it again if it was never there in the first place. I found my childhood again because I had the best of time while growing up and going for adventures like hunting, tree climbing, hiking and the likes of them. This should come as a fond of reminder to you wherever you are. When you remember your childhood, no matter how ugly it may seem, appreciate the good moments for some never had any to think about nor the opportunity to think about anything because it was long gone before they realized.
When you find your childhood again like myself, will you be gracious enough to share it with me?
Remember, our childhood are not mere memories, but garments we wear as we journey to the afterlife. Relish your fondest childhood memories and make them sparkle like fire crackers spreading joy.
Opia-Enwemuche Maxwell Onyemaechi
Author, Oracle of Isieke and Diary of a Keke Driver