And off We Go Again

824 views | Oladapo Akande | May 26, 2021

I remember when my mum would take us shopping before resuming a new term at our boarding school in Oxfordshire and she would speak so loudly in the shop, though without necessarily shouting. Now, I guess I would say she was merely exuding the inbred confidence of a Naija woman. But we teenagers, notoriously self conscious, were barely audible in our response. We couldn’t quite understand why she would speak so loudly. It was beyond us. She, on the other hand would become increasingly irritated by our muffled responses. We were just too cool for all that but she didn’t seem to get it. It was always a major tug of war but of course she always won. After all she was the one with the money. If we didn’t wisen up quickly and play ball by inching our voices higher, we could find ourselves losing out completely. All past evidence pointed in that direction so we knew how far we could push it. Only a fool wouldn’t. Fast forward to now that I have my own teenage children and the shoe is on the other foot, I totally understand that irritation. In fact, my mother tried.

Shopping with dad was a totally different experience and I’ll leave you to guess the one we preferred. With dad, whose visits to the UK were less frequent, shopping was a “pa pa pa” kind of thing. “What are the things you need? Where can we find them?” So we tell him. Next, we pay a visit to the shops, choose what we need at affordable prices. He pays. We go home. Fantastic. Within a couple hours, we’re done. With mum on the other hand. We will tell her what we need. She will decide whether we need them or not. She will then tell us where we can find them. We will visit the shop…and then another…and yet another. After visiting ten shops in search of the best bargains, we will return to the first shop, if that was where she saw the best bargain. But wait. How did she even remember that? Quite incredible really. If we’re lucky, we’ll return home late in the evening and that would be the end of that. If not, tomorrow’s another day and off we go again. Now, which one would you choose?

Until you experience something yourself, it’s difficult, if not impossible to fully understand how it feels. I remember when my mum passed away over twenty one years ago now. Till now I still can’t use the ‘D’ word when referring to my parents. ‘Passed away’ just makes it feel less final. Anyway, her passing  was the first time I experienced loss. There was nothing I had experienced before then nor any pep talk anyone had ever given me, which did anything to prepare me for the intense sorrow I felt. All of a sudden, the world appeared like a different place. A parallel world. What was this place where my mum didn’t exist? It looked the same but felt so alien. I was lost. A major compass, anchor and common denominator from day one of my life up to that point was suddenly no longer there. I can’t really say this torrid experience made the loss of my dad thirteen years later any easier but because mum’s was the first time, I will always remember very vividly how it made me feel. My mind tried to grapple with the fact that I would no longer hear “sisi Comfort” or “mama Dapo”, when people called out to her. It put a definitive end to her long time wish that I would learn her native Itshekiri and Urhobo languages. Any hope of that went with her. From that point, life as I had known it changed forever. However, as all those who had experienced such a painful event before me must have come to discover, I too, with the passage of time, came to the cold realization that life does indeed go on. As intensely painful as it was then, she had played her part and had taken her cue to depart the stage. It was left to the rest of us to decide how we will play out the subsequent scenes but the show as it were, must go on. It’s an inevitable scene in this bitter sweet life that we must all play a part in one day. But like I said earlier, we can only truly understand how something feels when we experience it. There’s a saying, I believe by Mary Angelou, that though you may not remember what somebody said or did to you, you will forever remember like it was yesterday, how they made you feel. That’s why you may sometimes run across someone and a strong emotion instantly wells up within you. You know you’re not happy with them and would rather not see them but you can’t actually remember what it is they did to upset you. In life, details don’t always endure in our minds but impact does. The feeling is often indelible. Just like when I became a father for the first time. Indelible.

The way an incident makes one feel can be so individualized and this may go a long way in explaining why three people can have exactly the same experience and yet all three will recollect and recount it differently. I guess it’s part of what makes us human and not robots. Aside from the unequal powers of description that each of the individuals present may possess, the way they recount it would also come down to the impression each was left with. How did it make them feel?

Having said all this though, you may not be too surprised to hear that my siblings and I were always in one mind about how our parent’s two different shopping styles made us feel. We even recount them almost identically. Not surprising really. Now, which did we prefer? You won’t hear that from me. I will say this  though. As I remember my mum, sisi Comfort, who would have turned 90 this month, I wouldn’t have had it any other way…and off we go again.

Changing the nation…one mind at a time.

Dapo Akande is a University of Surrey (UK) graduate with a Masters in Professional Ethics. An alumnus of the Institute for National Transformation; certificate holder in Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence from Case Western Reserve College, USA and author of two books, The Last Flight and Shifting Anchors. Both books form course material in Babcock University’s Literature department. Dapo is a public speaker, a content creator and a highly sought after ghostwriter.

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Twitter – @Dapo_MINDS



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