“Hello. My Name is Didi and I am one years old…”

Ready to sing!

Ready to sing!

So its Friday the 13th!

Am I supposed to be scared? No way. These oyibo people and their superstitions sef.

Me, I have lots of good news to sing about….

Straight up, my daddy got me my first piano recently. Just the right size and weight and it has real piano and organ sounds, not all that silly stuff you find on kiddie pianos. It even has its own drum and different musical instrument sounds. So its very nice and I really like it.

Now, I don’t want to sound ungrateful but….. I am already feeling the weight of human expectation on my little shoulders. Apparently, there are all these wonderful blind musicians that are famous all over the world, and three in particular that my father and mother just will not stop talking about. Stevie Wonder. Cobhams. Ray Charles. My mum even knows Cobhams personally.  For some not-so-strange reason, I feel as if I am expected to become like them. Ha!

My dad doesn’t say it directly, but he is forever planting me in front of the music speakers and starts playing ‘Isn’t she lovely’ at the loudest volume, as if I am deaf. At first I was really happy to listen to the song and would give my widest, cutest eight-toothed smile, believing the song was all about me. But then, it quickly became like, “Okay dad. I heard it the first time. And the second time, and the twenty-teenth time…..” Well, it turns out it isn’t all about me because it seems all dad wants is for me to be like Stevie. It’s not about the lovely baby Stevie sings about. If I had my way – and just to be ‘too forward’ as they say – I would turn it around and sing the song back at dad like, ‘Aren’t I lovely? Aren’t I beautiful? etc etc. I can imagine my dad’s face. ‘Yes, yes, yes. We know you are lovely, Didi. And you can sing. We are all singers in our family. BUT PLAY THE DAMN INSTRUMENT!“ And I would give him my cute little smile again, just to disarm him – and frustrate him – even more.

But why do parents always think the good parts of their kids come from their side of the family and the ‘bad’ parts from the other side? I mean, my dad probably thinks he can sing. So does my mum actually – though to be fair, she’s not bad. But nothing like her sister Aunty Ngozi or her brother, Uncle Emeka. Those two are heavenly. Uncle Emeka used to play the piano and sing to me in his sweet voice even when I was in my mother’s belly. But both mum and dad each claim my obviously wonderful voice exclusively comes from their side of the family. They also argue that my angry barking and maddening squeals come from the other side. So after hearing both sides of the argument, I decided to find out for myself and listen out for evidence…

One night, when only God knows what was doing them, they started playing with some kind of funny computer app which allowed them sing along to their favourite songs. Oh, My, God! It was atrocious – my dad especially. I don’t know whether they had overdosed on Aptamilk or whatever adults drink to get high, but I had no choice but to attempt to drown out their voices with my own singing. Which only made things worse by forcing them to sing even louder. In short, the less said about that unfortunate experience the better. To be honest, I think I quickly realised that my singing talent at least for now, comes from my mum’s side, until proven otherwise. But we shall revisit this topic at a later date, because that dispute is not going to go away any time soon.

Valuable family income!

The carefully prepared dinosaur eggs

Funny enough, one talent they both agree on (whether or not they claim it to have come from their own side of the family) is my egg-laying talent. I am quite proud of it actually. I am now laying eggs about four times a day and I love the way my mum gets so mushy (forgive the pun) whenever I succeed. I think it’s because my egg-laying was erratic when I was still small – well, smaller – and mum was constantly worried. But now, it apparently is of the right bulk and has a ‘mature’ aroma. And not only do I now lay about four times a day – sometimes even as many as six times – I also lay two types of eggs: no 1 and no 2. Its the no 2  that mum gets really excited about. Dad, for some reason, seems a little less enthusiastic. He’s okay with no1 though, but they are obviously less valuable.

Priceless

Much-needed family income. Priceless!!!

Dad says my no 2s are in fact dinosaur eggs. My understanding is that once I lay the egg yoke, mum carefully wraps and straps them nice and neatly into shape in their protective pampers shells and then places them in a special incubator-type place. I’ve noticed that only mum handles the no2 eggs, dad never comes near. It must be that they are so delicate and valuable that it takes special care not to destroy them, and only mum has that skill. I think Dad sells them to the government or maybe the Dinosaur Protection Society for a very high fee and I am pretty sure they are used to feed the dinosaurs. I heard on the TV the other day that dinosaurs are a threatened specie or even extinct, which means my dinosaur eggs must be absolutely priceless. Yesterday when dad mustered up some rare courage to take delivery of my no 2 egg (mum was not at home and it was a first for him) I was actually quite worried for him. So I helped out by laying only a small one. At least, it was better than nothing at all. I reckon it would at least pay the electricity bill. Or maybe even for garbage disposal. But I feel so abundantly blessed to be able to contribute these rare eggs to the world. I only wish I could do more. All said, mum and dad can’t complain that I am not contributing my own quota to the family income, even at a mere one years old.

Didimoves

Keep On Moving!

Finally, I have to mention that I am standing on my feet now. Yes o, without support. I decided to get up, stand up to prove a point. Again mum and dad seemed to go ga-ga. For what reason I have no idea. I am not going to pretend that I even have a clue why everyone is making such a big fuss about it. Could it be because I am an independent young baby-girl that insists on standing up for her rights? I don’t know about all those adults around me but I don’t see them standing up much. They are always sitting down or even lying down. I mean a good example is power. If you simply lie down all the time you have no power. In Lekki, I am told there is never any light. Not that I would know the difference, being blind. But I do know that everybody just lies down in the darkness, sweating. So when are people going to stand up for light? Is it fear, sheer laziness or what? Personally, I hate it when my mum or dad lift me up and then go and sit down. What’s the point?

So I’m standing up by myself, for myself.

But ultimately, here’s the thing:

Aint nothing gonna break my stride,

Nobody’s gonna slow me down.

Oh no,

I got to keep on movin’….”

Ha-ha!  Seems there were some good songs before my time!

 Ciao everyone!

Didigirl.

Guinea Pig Day

Astronaut Didi2

Hmmmm.

What. A. Day.

I know I said it would be a week, but I’ve been really busy….

This morning, I found myself being dunked in my bathtub at the unholy hour of 7am with no prior warning.

What the…?

Most days I get a good lie-in until at least 11 and my luxurious daily beauty therapy in my bathtub is usually scheduled for mid afternoon. Sometimes even late evening. And it lasts for at least 20 minutes. This morning though, I was in and out in 7 minutes flat. Damn. This life is so unfair.

Next, my squeals of protest were rudely interrupted by spoonfuls of my favourite cereal breakfast lovingly shoved down my throat at fast-forward speed. The choice I had was to reject  it outright and keep screaming; or pause, accept each spoonful and resume my protest for another two seconds (or even less) until the arrival of the next mouthful. In which case the squeal didn’t quite have the same effect. I know where my bread is buttered, so I reluctantly opted to accept the cereal and truncate my protest. I can always fight another day, I guess.

But still, what is going on?

Well, it turns out that I have TWO hospital appointments, the first as early as 9am in some specialist children’s heart hospital. So here we are rushing through the morning’s routine: bath, towelling, oiling, combing, clothing and finally space-suiting.  I’m thinking: is this really necessary? Is it really that cold? I hear that we Nigerian babies are always the most overdressed – thanks of course to our parents who seem to think the world is about to freeze over, even in the heated house. In fact, from my experience, even in the natural suffocating heat of Nigeria. But all the oyibo kids here seem to be quite cool without the multi-layered padding and elaborate space suits. Yes, I might have been born a few miles from Obalende Bus Stop, but who’s to know?  No need to make it obvious, mum. It’s embarrassing.

Jeez.

Anyway, we get to the hospital somehow. Of course, I had no desire whatsoever to get involved in the travel logistics. Me, I had to sleep. What’s my business? Besides, I’d had another busy night as usual, playing with my noisy toys and trying to make mum and dad understand that the most enjoyable time of the day is between midnight and 6am. Why do they think rock concerts hold right through the night? Cos the music sounds better, duh! But they still don’t get it though… poor things. Anyway, they are too old.

After a while, I suddenly become aware that I am being undressed and there is this oyibo woman cooing absolute gibberish in my face in her attempt to keep me happy with her totally unnecessary baby talk. Why do they do that? Maybe she thinks that because I can’t see she has to bombard me with an overdose of adult audio silliness. “Coo-be-doo-bi dah? A-gugu-gaga-ma-tata? Who’s a pretty dada’s girl now, eh?”

Oh, puh-lease…

By now I am already quite irritable anyway, and this only makes it worse. They must really think we infants are stupid. So I start squealing just because I want to. And, to be honest, the room is a little chilly. The woman weighs me, measures my height and for some strange reason decides to take my blood pressure. Now that worried me ‘cos I hear black people have high BP problems, and apparently, I’m a black person – not that I have a clue what that actually means. But am I not a little young for high blood pressure at one years old?

Anyway, at this point  I am convinced this oyibo lady is obviously confused and clearly incompetent. To further confirm this, the silly woman ties the BP strap thing around my right thigh! Thigh? I actually had to lol at her foolishness. But….miraculously, and to be fair, she actually gets a reading! “Her BP’s fine” she announces to mum, quite chirpily. Uhm… of course it’s fine! I’m only one years old! Why won’t it be fine? Then mum whispers to dad, as if I’m not there, “I can’t believe our tiny Didi too has a BP”. Dad chuckles in agreement and….and I just shake my head in total disbelief.

Next we go for something they call an ‘Eko’. I thought it was some kind of ‘Lagos Ebola’ test, but apparently it has nothing to do with Ebola, or Lagos, my birth town. Lagos is Ebola-free anyway and I left Lagos a good eight weeks ago. Turns out its another heart test – an ‘echocardiogram’ to be precise.  They squirt some cold, yukky, jelly-like stuff all over my little chest, spread it around and then everything goes silent. I’m lying there politely, wondering, so what next? Suddenly another oyibo woman triumphantly informs us, “that’s her heart. It’s normal and working fine”. Again I am not impressed. So because I don’t let these people sleep through the night they have somehow concluded that I am totally heartless to the point that they are actually checking for my heart? What a waste of money! If I didn’t have a heart would I even be able to jump and flip up and down on the bed all night long for five or even sometimes six hours? Come on dad, you’re supposed to be a doctor!  This thing is simple. I just like to buzzzzzzzzzz from about midnight, that’s all. Nothing wrong with that, is there?

Exactly.

But you people should try it. All this rigid ‘night’ and ‘day’ stuff is so unnecessary and I really don’t see what all the fuss is about. There is no difference between night and day as far as I am concerned and I see no need for it. 

Anyway, after the ‘echo’ (sorry for the wrong spelling earlier), they finally release me from the guinea-pig lab and we are headed home in a taxi. The oyibo taxi driver that eventually picked us up just wouldn’t shut up. He wouldn’t let us ‘hear word’ about how wonderful the hospital was, how his son was once a patient there for many years, how beautiful I obviously was, how tough being a parent can be, bla-bla-di-blah. I tuned out after a while and slipped into blissful sleep, dreaming of my lovely Aptamil milk and my current favourite smash hit, ‘Row, row, row the boat’. Wow. Am I the only one that really, really likes that song? Is it in the charts yet? Awesome.

******

PS: Home now. I just heard dad explaining to mum that they often do take infants’ blood pressures by strapping the cuff around their thighs if they’re ‘big enough’. So that’s why the woman strapped mine up.

Okay o.

But it worries me a bit that my thighs are already being defined as ‘big enough’. Hmmm. I might need to start cutting back on my full-fat Aptamil milk. Like, skimmed. Yuk.

Already.

Wow. What a life this is turning out to be for we girls.

Now I’m actually sad….

Didigirl.

Yes. Only one years.

But I have taken the unprecedented decision to speak out for myself at this age because my mum has been writing all sorts of things about me on the internet and I think it is only fair that I come forward to put the record straight, just so it doesn’t seem as if I don’t have a mind of my own. I even heard my dad saying he too is about to start writing MORE stuff about me on the net even though he doesn’t really want to, but my mum is pushing him really hard and it seems as if he is going to accept. My dad is like that…he doesn’t like wahala. So even though he is not sure he can even write, he has decided to … “cooperate”. Why that word ‘cooperate’? Sounds to me like they know they are doing something really bad by talking about me behind my back and without my expressed permission. So they are now ‘cooperating’. This world can be wicked. I don’t know why he can’t just say no. After all, my mum is a professional writer and has more than enough to say about me, even though she writes rubbish about me all the time IN MY OPINION, WHICH I THINK I AM ENTITLED TO HAVE ABOUT MYSELF? 

Abi?

Thank you. But please don’t tell her what I said because she will think I am an ungrateful child after “carrying me in her womb for nine months of her life”, she says.

Of my life, more like.

Anyway…

You see, the reason for all this is simply because, APPARENTLY, I was born blind just over one year ago. APPARENTLY, it is a really big deal and people have been coming round trying to out-do themselves in showing their love – and infection – for this cute little blind Didigirl . Some of them hug me so hard I worry I might get my ribs crushed. You know I am still very small. Some of them kiss me like seventy-seven times all over my face until I have to respectfully say ‘its enough!’ by squealing out in alarm. In fact, because I allegedly agreed to be dragged to my Aunty Yomi’s house recently – my Aunty Yomi that was ill with the flu – today I have a runny nose full of infected gunk which I occasionally sneeze out as viciously as I possibly can just to keep my personal space intact. You can’t be too complacent nowadays and a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Yesterday – and this is really funny – I sneezed right into my Uncle Kingsley’s breakfast just as he was about to tuck into his favourite omelette accompanied by some serious ‘mede-mede’. The poor man I am sure was disgusted, but I smiled at him cutely and I sensed him smile back at me as he reluctantly continued eating. Now that’s what I call true love – eating my nose yamayama with a smile. My lovely Uncle Kingsley.  🙂

But back to this blindness thing. What exactly is it? I don’t really know because I can’t see what all the fuss is about. I just know that my mum is constantly dragging me all over the place from some place called ‘Lekki’ to some other place called ‘Bromley’. I’ve noticed that the people in Lekki speak differently from the people in Bromley. And much more loudly too. Lekki is quite hot and Bromley is like air conned, even outside. Going from one to the other, mum always takes me to this place with lots of noisy and sometimes rude people that ask her all sorts of questions about why my name is different from hers, and threaten something about ‘not letting us get bored’ if they are not happy. Bored? I’ve never been so bored in my life listening to them talking about luggage and passports and Ebola and sky cots. They even ask her for a letter from Dad to explain why my name is Didi. I mean why wouldn’t my name be Didi, and different from my mum’s? Didi wouldn’t fit her anyway. It’s a little girl’s name, not a big woman that eats that disgusting ogbonna soup all day long.

Didi is not even my real name. My name is Dirichi, Damilare. So according to dad, rather than call me ‘Double D’ or ‘DD’, they decided to call me Didi instead. Dad definitely has something against the name ‘Double D’. He says its not good for girls. Something about a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’, whatever that means. But Didi? That’s so cool and I think I actually like the name. The only slight concern I have is that some people might think I’m deaf? In fact I am sure my parents sometimes think I am deaf. I think in my dad’s language ‘Didi’ does mean deaf and maybe it has become one of those his self-fulfilling prophecies in his head. I might be wrong, but Grandma only yesterday asked someone on the phone ‘Eti e di ni?’, which apparently, means ‘are you deaf’? But I am not deaf because I listen to everything everyone says. All of them, but especially my parents.

And believe me, parents can say the most, hmmmm…..irresponsible things. Let’s just leave it at that. Hmmmm.

Anyway, its time for my breakfast. I can hear my mum whipping up some delicious chicken and carrot casserole weytin-weytin in the kitchen. It tastes great, smells great, but APPARENTLY looks disgusting. Well, that’s what I overheard my dad saying a few days ago. How can something look disgusting? What does it even mean? Dad says baby food always looks disgusting. Who cares what it looks like? Not me! Disgusting or not, it didn’t stop him from stealing some of my baby apple drink the other day when he thought no-one was looking. He said he was ‘thirsty’ and there was nothing else in the fridge to drink.

Yeah, right. Quite irresponsible of him if you ask me.

Well, I have to go now. Mum is already tying my bib around my neck as if trying to strangle the life out of me. Yet she says she loves me. You know I’m still small, only one years old. So I still have to go through this terrifying ordeal until I can feed myself. They can tie my neck and grapple my hands and legs as much as they like, even force-feed me…..but they can’t hold my mind or tongue. I will say! what I have to say! – because apparently in this world they say there is something called freedom of speech. For all men. And women. And babies. It’s my fundamental human right, apparently. I heard it from some French people all strangely called ‘Charlie’ on the TV.

So I will keep saying my mind and see you all later. Well, you get what I mean…

Next week?  🙂

Didigirl