BY WOLE OGUNTOKUN
MUSIC is the closest thing we have to time-travel and as I listen to strains of music from this radio station that likes to go back to hits from yester-years; I am teleported to distant places, places with castles, moats and magical buildings.
They are places of innocence, places in which when I was young, I believed totally in the beauty of mankind and the notion that every good thing would come.
Sometimes, in an escape from harsh reality, from the prevalence of poverty, disease and death that seems to be the lot of the unfortunate, I drift again to all those places, a time without rancour and in which joy always came in the morning.
You may play a game with me and choose a song that will play alongside everyone I mention here.
There was Ekaette, my childhood love and daughter of a Professor. I totally believed she was the one meant for me in early adolescence (what could I have known at the age of 12 about what life would throw my way in the following years?). She was a thoroughbred, was very decent and was a joy to know. I should point out an interesting part of this story.
If I were to meet her head-on today, on the busy streets of this city or anywhere else in the world, I would be unable to recognise her.
Ekaette is gone with the wind now but sometimes when my heart drifts to the place of dreams, I remember the beauty and innocence of those days.
There was the first, Yinka, also the daughter of a university don. You’ll ask how come there are several children of the learned here.
That is easy to explain. I lived on a university campus in my holidays’ and had huge crushes on many of them.
Yinka was beautiful and a delight to have a conversation with and I think she lives in Lagos today with her family but I have not met her in a very long time.
The Whisperer was about 13 at this time. I would see Yinka in the summer holidays and any other holiday that I could use as an excuse to go live in the quarters of the lecturers on the campus.
The song that would best suit this period would be “Summer Loving” taken by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in the movie, “Grease”.
If you do not know this song, seek it out. There are some songs you should know in your lifetime; the same way there are places you should visit on earth before your time is up. “Summer Loving” is one of those songs.
As I grew older, I met many people as interesting and they left marks as indelible. There was Banibe, a lovely slim girl who would walk through my school, Baptist Academy, on the way back home from hers.
We, the fellows who would sit and watch her, were all about sixteen years old studying for our Advanced Level classes. Banibe was the first girl I ever walked up to and introduced myself.
She was gorgeous and quickly became great friends with all of us. Banibe will always hold a special place in my heart but I feel she is no longer in this country.
I hope someday, somewhere, we will meet again and in better circumstances and we will laugh again and talk about old times and our childhood and where the years went and what happened to all the dreams we had.
For those of you who may have your own “Banibes”, reflect a while on days of splendour gone by and give silent thanks that you were allowed to feel such beauty.
I have written about Kanyinsola before, the young girl with a birth mark in the middle of her forehead who joined us a few weeks after my class’ admission into the first year of law at the University.
Kanyinsola’s heart remains one of the most beautiful my classmates and I ever had the good fortune to come across.
The amazing thing was that she was as good-looking on the outside. I think her parents made a wonderful job of raising this child and I still own pictures of her at matriculation.
William Blake wrote a long time ago that a thing of beauty is a joy forever. I am in complete agreement. She lives somewhere outside these shores now and I sometimes wonder how she is doing.
There was the second Yinka who started university really early and who held my heart from the first time I saw her back in university.
Yinka taught me a lot about friendship and life and the things that were truly important.
She was one of the most selfless people I ever met and would give all she had to make another feel better.
THERE are few things as rewarding as having had a thorough bred as a friend or a confidant.
Years of experience have made it easy to recognise them when I see them; those years have also taught me to identify “Jerry Springers” masquerading as thoroughbreds.
Life can be a very harsh place but there is a reason we have memories and the power to recollect.
We must learn in the middle of the mad rush we call living, to step aside sometimes and take a walk to all those places that held true meaning to us.
We should not let the abrasiveness of the world we live in take from us all the times we tasted beauty through friendship and love.
There are few things as wonderful as being able to walk away from the constant badgering we get from today’s world and stepping into a place our troubles and stresses cannot follow us into; drifting through the years to a time when innocence had meaning and you did not have to anticipate and second guess everyone you met.
The times I take remembering how many truly lovely people I have met, acts as a kind of rejuvenating tonic.
It is like taking a holiday; one in which you return with a jaunty step and a sparkle in your eye; one in which your faith in the goodness of mankind is re-affirmed because truly, the world is full of magnificent people.