“I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In the beginning, there was nothing.
Actually, not really.
Before my little brother was born, before the Witches of Auchi would later come to live there, we lived in 71 Adelabu Street, Surulere. The only home I’d ever known. Our home of books, and love, and family, and death.
The red carpets that stretched to infinity in my infant eyes, and the glass windows with iron shafts, our neighbours who had two daughters, one around my age, and another older: It was a small compound, but it was home.
I heard the wings of death, first, when I was maybe five. My mother held my sister and I in each hand as we crossed the street to the side our house was. Fountain School was a stone’s throw away and the motorcycle that would hit me, still a blur in the distance.
When your mind has taken absolutely all it thinks it can handle, it shakes, stops recording all events and shuts down. I remember the blackness and the white stars being all I could see. I also remember hearing my mother, screaming as she held me, the motorcycle rider somewhere in the distance, begging.
My grandmother, to me, was the sole inventor of bread and stew, which, to me at five, was a novel innovation. She always smiled, and was always kind.
The wings of Death came to our doorsteps in that same year when she was coming to our house after a trip, and her taxi crashed.
I was too young to understand what really happened that night, too young to understand who and what I had just lost. All I had were my senses and the story they told me: my mother as the door opened and her face fell, and the shouts from outside registered. I saw people consoling her, I saw family members and friends in our living room, the air heavy with sadness. I heard my mother’s heart break as she sobbed, and felt mine break for her.
And then, I went to a corner, and cried, because I knew, somewhere, deep down, something wrong had happened.
I learned a lesson that night. Life goes.
And I would learn another lesson, years later: But life comes again.
In 2008, our mother was pregnant, with a child that would become our little brother, Peter. But, for one reason or another, we had to leave our house on 71 Adelabu Street.
And that was the end.
But, what if?
What if we’re not going anywhere, not really. What if our destination is not a place, but a feeling? What if our haggard paths, our heavy feet, are leading us not to a particular place in space, or in time. What if the only place worth going to, at the end of this mortal coil, the only place that has ever mattered, is the feeling of home, where nothing could hurt us, and we were young, and in every way invincible in a moment that lasts forever.