—Let’s Meet Her—
Have you ever met a sharp mouthed teenager, with huge sparkling eyes, unruly hair, a brain filled with pages of books way beyond her age and a heart so big and innocent you are certain it’s filled with white blood? Have you? That is my character today. Let’s call her Ayo.
If Ayo were to describe herself she would say that she is just like any other teenager, she hopes to be a Lawyer someday- Maybe an Actress like her favorite Aunt- or maybe a Banker she just adores that clean money look that bankers have! She would tell you that she has 1 year to finish her high school education and that she cannot wait to finally be free from the seeming bondage of school authorities, parents that had to vet every decision about her life and even those prying non-aunty-aunties that had been bestowed the right to ask her to sit at home, wash the dishes and worse change to a longer skirt! Please don’t get her wrong, she is grateful for the food, clothing, education and even the tiny room she shares with her two sisters but she cannot wait to leave the life of dependency behind. She wishes to control her own life, herself, her way. Somewhere in her white heart, she knows that she is changing, she spends a lot more time in the bathroom looking at her face, she often catches herself lost in silly thoughts and she is beginning to realize that she likes the boy she hates! She feels many things at the same time- Eagerness, Confusion, Anxiety, Fear- Optimism!
—Above all she wants is to fly away—
Have you ever met a beautifully carved young lady in her Mid 20’s, with huge sparkling eyes, hair held tight in a little bun, a brain filled with chapters upon chapters of life way beyond the average girl her age and a heart so strong you know it has gone through the fire and has come out a beautiful shining gold? Have you? That is my character today. She is often called A.Y.
With a mischievous smile on her face she says- “My name is Ayo- I work as a financial adviser from 8 am to 8 pm every other time I am an artist- I draw on paper and in my head”. She lives in a one bedroom apartment in Lagos; most times she is alone but occasionally, her sisters’ crash in. She loves the silence of her apartment it gives her room to reflect on her day and to translate events into a colorful piece of work. There is a high that drawing gives her, an indescribable satisfaction at what comes out of the seeming madness of paper, paint and her brush. Her life could be enviable! But she craves for more- She cannot wait to finally be free from the bondage of having to show up every day somewhere. Don’t get her wrong- She loves what she does, she is one of the lucky few who can see the impact of their jobs on the economy! She gets a decent pay for it and more than anything, she has the most amazing colleagues. She just craves a time when she could wake up at an hour pleasing to her, she wishes that she were bold enough to show people the tons of colored paper in her apartment, she hopes to have a gallery one day but that seems like a tall dream- more than anything, she is worried that she is still in love with the one she knows is not the one. Today, she feels just one thing- A desire to sit on her bed- the one in the tiny room.
—There is a view from that room that would look good on paint—
Have you ever met a beautifully curved woman in her Early 40’s, with huge sparkling eyes, hair worn in a short anita baker cut, a brain filled with pages of to-dos and a heart so fat you would be certain it took up her entire upper body? Have you? That is my character today. She is Ayo; her twin girls call her mama.
She doesn’t have time to describe herself to you- can you not see, today she was awake as early as 4:30 am, she had to go through the morning tussle of getting the girls out of bed, making breakfast and lunch ready before dashing out at 6:00 am and she did not get home till 10 pm. She had read the brief of the presentation she would make that morning for the first time as her driver navigated through the streets of Lagos- Although there were a few things she would have loved to change- She was confident that she would be fine. She had mastered the art of getting things done excellently and efficiently. Getting the job done was her high, ticking the boxes made her feel a sense of achievement. She had climbed the ladder to the top; more, she had created additional levels that she hoped to conquer. Some called her an inspiration. But every night as she sat quietly in her car she felt a part of her was empty. She often forgot that feeling once she set eyes on her sleeping girls and in the embrace of her husband, she laid to rest any ill feelings until the ride home the next day again. Oh that nagging emptiness! If you ask her, she would say she craves the simplicity of the lives of her girls- she did not understand the feeling of having so much and still wanting that little extra.
—Does it ever end; this need for more—
Have you ever met a beautiful old soul- she turned 72 a few weeks back! With huge sparkling eyes, hair worn in all back cornrows, a brain filled with bags of memories and an invaluable heart? Have you? That is my character today. Some call her mama, some nana- She knows she is Ayo.
Just yesterday, her grand-daughter had created a scene by attempting to play home truancy for about 12 hours. She walked in at 10 pm after the frustration of having nowhere else to go; her mother had spent hours screaming her ears off with her eyes filled with fear and anger at the same time! Ayo sat quietly watching the two generations of girls in her life as they lived theirs the best way they knew how to- Before going to bed she sat with her daughter “It will end up fine you know” she said with her knowing smile- “take tomorrow off work- spend some time with her- just show her you love her”. She retired into her room, brought out her brush and pallet of paint and in that one painting, she captured life in all its fullness, its intrigues, its pains and yet its simplicity. If you ask her for her thoughts today she would say to you-
“It sorta looks beautiful all of those days spent just to return to a little room watching others play something that looks like what you have played- not realizing that the cycle is often the same and intentionally enjoying every phase is crucial to finding the Joy hidden in all its feigned complexity.
—Find the Joy she concludes—
Photo Credit: Black Women Art Ayodele by MsMe20