THE BULB IN MY HEAD
I like to imagine that my head has a light bulb that comes on whenever I get an idea and shines extra bright depending on how great the idea is. Well, don’t blame me – I watched a lot of cartoons while I was growing up which made me think so.
To be honest, I am not so pumped about writing this anymore, because I think I am losing the fire, but I shall continue. Growing up, you want to be a lot of things and it changes based on people that you meet and your level of admiration for those people. My parents weren’t pastors and they still aren’t, but I loved the power that pastors carried. The fact that they laid hands on people and they went down flat made me wonder what was happening. I knew that there were things wrong with these people and falling meant that they had been delivered of whatever might have been wrong.
You guessed right if you imagined that I would experiment. My elder sister was the most available church member that I had. The one who listened to me read from the Bible the story of Abacha (which I knew nothing about by the way. I was two years old when he died, but I think my neighbours sang songs of praise to God). The other members were only around for the special renditions I had every night when N.E.P.A. of then decided it was time to withdraw power. (Thank God we are walking lights sha). I would sing songs I never even knew I had somewhere in my head. During the day after school, I would pray for my sister, waiting for her to fall. I kid you not when I say this girl didn’t even bend. I had to climb a chair, push her head till she at least bent. I am sure I spat on her so much too (I was trying to imitate the air that pastors blow into the microphone). With time, I stopped with the deliverance sessions and the special renditions. My mother didn’t stop calling me pastor though.
As time went on, I wanted to be like Bola Are or Tope Alabi, singing in front of many people; wearing hats that were wide, while leading people into a worship that climaxed them into heaven making them forget they were on earth. Of course, that also didn’t last so long. I started growing and I started becoming limited in the knowledge of self.
Sometimes, the more you grow, the more you think you know and the less you seek to know. Getting to J.S.S.3, I wanted to go to science class and be a Pharmacist like my aunt, who at that time was no longer one because she had been called into a full-time ministry. Imagine the horror when I discovered I would have to suck up acid and base in Chemistry class, but not high enough to enter my mouth so I don’t fall and die, at least. That was the only part of Chemistry that I liked; titration was fun. It did involve calculations, but my knowledge of Mathematics wasn’t that bad. It was too late; S.S.1 had crawled unto me. The only thing I liked about Geography was drawing maps, plains and great representations of swampy forests and deserts. I didn’t like physics at all, but I enjoyed reading the laws all over again till they stuck in my head. I liked Biology, it was like we were meant to be. I wanted to be a Pharmacist, but I wasn’t feeling everything that had to do with it. I was more attracted to an art student’s cover page of Purple Hibiscus. I read a lot of novels; ones I could get from Simisola. I chose them over the essentials that were supposed to pave my way to being a Pharmacist. I didn’t do well enough. I mean to the extent where I feared for my W.A.E.C. result.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I had discovered a super power amidst my dilemma. I could conjure words by moving my hand with a pen on a paper; words I didn’t know existed in my head that expressed things I didn’t know I felt. I guessed at that point that the bulb in my head was lighted.
I did not make it to the end of Science class. Yes, I was a coward. One that knew she didn’t have an end in Science class. One who realised that her green grass was on the other side. I changed school and wrote an entrance exam. I looked at those Government, Literature questions. I didn’t know some of them, but I had read most of the things I saw from borrowed textbooks. That was it. I realised that the bulb had never gone out as I thought. It got dim at times and super bright depending on my mental strength in regard to a particular thing, but it never went out.
Well, change of focus meant change in interests. I wanted to be an ambassador. I would learn French and probably Spanish and become an ambassador to any of the countries that spoke either of the language. I would later learn that no language can be as lovely as your own indigenous one. I still love French though. I continued improving on my super power. I wrote on any paper I laid my hands on. I forgot to mention; I took Visual Art for a while, before I changed my mind and became a farmer, learning about Oryza Sativa and New Zealand rabbit breeds. I would later go back to Visual Arts; my hands are itching to draw again. I stopped doing that last year. My love for writing overtook every other thing I loved.
Remember that at this point, I had realised that the light bulb never goes off. 100 level and my life changed forever. I began to meet people who paved a way to who I am now and gradually becoming. The first person was my roommate, Ayo; a Law student who was the first person ever who dared to tell me I could be better than Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I remember Ayo telling me all I needed to start that journey was write something different. I picked up my old faithful laptop (brand new at that time) and typed the first few words that would be the beginning of a story book that would be published two years later.
I decided for like the nth time. I knew what I was going to be. I would sit at home in a corner of my house and type away, churning out stories one after the other. At that point, I was good at only writing poetry. I had a friend then who contributed to the journey by buying me a notepad (I still have this) and a pen. Of course, I did a little free writing on the side; love poems and sorry poems for friends who wanted them addressed to other people.
One class that changed my life forever was ENG 101 – English Poetry. It was taught by Professor D.S. Izevbaye. Before that class, I had been told a lot about how the highest grade one could get in his course was a C. I was late to class often and I sat at the back. By the way, it was a class taken with Law students too. I had called my mum to tell her how things were, just in case. He taught as though he was in our level, bringing things down to our reach. I knew then I would aspire to be like him. I decided (I promise, it’s the last of it) I would be a professor. I would be like the man standing in front of me; knowledgeable yet humble, extending his basket of knowledge for us to pick fruits from it. I got a B on that course and some As and a C, but it wasn’t because he liked to grade students like that, I had slacked that semester as a result of ill health. The bulb was as bright as I wanted it to be, as God made it to be. I was the one who had different perceptions about it and as I thought in my head, I treated myself.
The bulb in my head really existed and I was a master of it. Another person who made sure I didn’t let my perception of God’s gift to me was Dr. B.M. Aiyetoro. She served as more than just a lecturer. She was a mother, making sure to admonish us in between lectures. She was the first person to find me out. She came to me where I was seated in the corner of the class in 200 level and said; “You aren’t really keen on talking in class, right? I have seen what you write, I know it’s not because you don’t know”. I smiled, looking around to make sure that no one heard.
Imagine my surprise when someone asked me in 100 level and I shall write in Yoruba-English “so, you know book Adetutu?” I need you to realise that this is not to blow my own trumpet. I bet cobwebs are in it as a result of lack of use. There were people who read my write-ups on Facebook, people who took advantage of my naivety to get what they wanted. People who promised and failed. I knew I had decided when 400 level, I still stood by my decision to become a professor. I would do all the things I love; teach, write, paint, speak to people’s souls. I would live my own life and aspire to be better.
Another realisation, the better I thought of myself, the bigger my light bulb became and you know, the bigger the better. 400 level first semester, I took a course. The lecturer was from Ife, tall in his own God-given confidence. He spoke his mind – a little too much, I thought at first, because I put into consideration the feelings of those he addressed. I later concluded, he meant well. He became a friend, a guide through the pathway with a lamp when things began to get dark. He would give me anthologies to read so I could broaden my horizon. I did appreciate the gesture, I still do, although I don’t write a lot of poetry anymore. Telling me when it seemed like I was unscrewing the light bulb that I was better than I thought; that I was a first class material and that I have a lot of great things in this tiny head of mine. I must say, most, if not all what he sends to me on WhatsApp are worth every MB I have ever had to use.
For my birthday, one of the best gifts I got was from Sharon. It was a notepad; which I am keeping for when I conceive one of my breathtaking, mind-blowing ideas. She also helped me pick out the title of my new project in the works which I mentioned in my article titled; “Don’t Colour Me Anonymous”. I also thank her for listening to me read out excerpts from works and every piece of writing that I think in my head or put down on paper. My second attempt at Spoken words was something I almost gave up on, but Christiana Ogunlana, one of the most industrious girls I have ever met; full of energy and good vibes held my right hand stood by me and Becky, one the left. I have never felt so proud of myself. I also have bosom friends who are fans like Rosemary who constantly read my works and commend me when they are great and still commend me when they are not so great and ask, “Fish, what’s up now? You have stopped posting”
These people and more like Oluwamide who listened to me rant in Alma Rohm 3 and Odili or Brothers’ Hall depending on where I hijacked him, encourage my writing. I wouldn’t be done with this if I don’t mention Dr. Adejumo who took time off every day in 300 level to help me amongst others improve my writing.
There’s a light bulb in my head which has been on for as long as I remember. Yes, bulbs burn out, but in my own case, it’s only for the better. You all might have different analogies to interpret your intelligence, brilliance, ideas. Whatever they are, pay good attention to them. They matter. From them, you would churn out mind-blowing bazookas ideas that would change the world.
Don’t tell me you think I just felt like telling a story. You know how when you want to address something, you tell a backup story about some experience you had to support your point? Exactly what I did. Whether you want to be a pharmacist, a doctor, a lawyer, a writer, a creative director, an event planner or whatever path you have chosen for yourself, stick by it. Discover your purpose and fulfill it. Share your gifts with others, inspire someone. When you grow up and have kids, let them do what they are passionate about; remember I might not be writing this if my father insisted I studied Law instead of English or if my mother had insisted that I give Science class another chance. Don’t be like me, decide what you want from the start and be good at it. Don’t dillydally. If you are already on a path you haven’t chosen, it’s not too late to chase your purpose. Find fulfillment. No child of mine has to compulsorily inherit my wardrobe full of lettered treasures. Touch the world; one life at a time. Breathe, live, be inspired; you never can tell who’s watching.
In Asa’s voice ♬SHINE your light, don’t let nobody tell you can’t shine YOUR light. Go out, enter the world and do just what you like.
P.S.: aside the song above, may I recommend that you download Moelogo’s “Shine Your Light”, it’s a real spirit-lifter.
Written by Adedoyin, Adetutu O, Senior Literary Editor