In matters of great importance, one has to try as much as possible to make minimal mistakes. I was sitting down one day trying to mind my own business, something that was getting harder each day to do, when I got a bright idea. You know how it is with bright ideas; they come and cause an explosion in the head and before you know, you need to urinate all of a sudden because it seeps through you and the only way to not explode from the excitement is to use the toilet. Well, that happened too.
I had this idea that it would be a nice thing to learn how to balance things on my head, you know. To learn how to walk beautifully and tall with so much balance like those African people in the magazines. I had one in front of me that day. She looked absolutely gorgeous like she had feathers on her head instead of a big calabash with water. So effortless and I wanted to try it. I was fourteen and looked like I could live a long life if I lived peacefully. But looking back, I imagine I couldn’t be bothered by such ideas. All I wanted was to balance something heavy on my head. Nothing else really mattered.
First things first. I had to look for something heavy to place on my head. My parents were at work and I was on a two week break from school, so I had all the quiet I needed to search properly. I practiced with my books by stacking them high up, then with empty basins, I made progress and continued to the flower pot filled with soil. I made a lot of progress in hours and was pleased with myself. I wish I had remained in that state, but ambition can be a nag and so I wasn’t content, so much so that when my mother had visitors from her women’s singing group come over one Saturday for a get together, I thought it a good idea to practice some more. My object? The huge food flask my mother had placed the jollof rice for six women in. Yea, for some reason it was a good choice. I placed it on my head with some effort, smiled to myself and there my happiness ended. The boom that followed when that flask fell was enough to crush my lungs, and make me an amputee. I wanted to turn into dust from the horror. The lid had come off and the rice covered the tiles floor like maggots. I kept hearing “ the dead come to life” by Jonathan Thulin. I felt dead but I was still breathing and it didn’t feel like the sort of resurrection anyone would want.
My mother rushed in and things got pretty blurry. I cannot recollect much except that I was surprised my ears had not extended to Yoda’s length when I checked it out in the mirror. It was so red and hot from so much pulling that day. My disheveled mother had to make do with snacks and everyone had to manage to be happy somehow. I’ve not stopped balancing things on my head though, but I know how to pick my objects better.