All right, it’s been a while. Despite my promise to keep in touch. I’ve done a really bad job about it.
The year is coming to an end now. Damola was right, (check my last post) I was about to turn 40. I did exactly a month ago, on 10 November. It was fun.
I remember walking into church on Sunday 11 November. I usually arrive early for the worship group meeting. As I entered church that morning, I noticed it was quiet. Then I walked through the door, and suddenly, the place erupted with “happy birthday to you!” I was about to turn and run, but they’d anticipated it, someone was behind me to block my exit.
No, it wasn’t on that day, it was the day before. That Sunday morning only capped a fantastic weekend. When I woke up on the morning of the 10th, I knew something would happen. How? I’d threatened to travel that weekend, and everyone had raised such a storm of protest, I just knew that it would be rude to leave. In any case, I’d only slept 4 hours. I was still taking calls after 1 AM. My dad had been sending texts 9 hours before the day. And as for Damola, she rang at midnight Nigerian time, which was still 11 PM here; well, I was born in Nigeria after all.
So I got up at 5 AM to phone calls, and they just didn’t stop. I remember a call from my friend Vanessa in Exeter. She just kept wishing she could be around to spend the day with me, and I just kept telling her thanks, but it would be impossible. The engineering works on the rail network, all that. But she wouldn’t stop saying how she’d have loved to just spend the day with me. I found out later that she was part of the conspiracy. She knew something was afoot, and she just couldn’t be there.
Oh I do call it a conspiracy. It was real intrigue, the stuff of spy stories. I’ve tried to piece it all together. Even now, I haven’t managed to say thanks to all those who were involved. My own detective work has been good too, but only after the event. There seems to have been three independent groups working together. One spearheaded by Anthonia in London. She doesn’t know many of my friends here, but she knows Olu Ojedokun in Nottingham who knows a lot of Lancaster folk. So, they approach the Lancaster people. They had their own plans too. But a few days before the day, both groups discovered that the students at the uni had a plan for a surprise party of their own. So everyone combined to totally encircle me. Honest, that’s exactly how it was, a circle of love, surrounding me and ensuring I had the time of my life. You can’t imagine how many people were detailed to find out what my plans were, and to prevent me from leaving Lancaster.
I still like to think I rumbled the plan to organise a surprise. But that didn’t stop me from feeling like a major celebrity. Students I’d only known for a month were planning a surprise party for me! Anthonia left her husband and 4 children in London and came for the day to Lancaster. Olu Ojedokun made a triangular trip; as regional manager of Friends International, he’s a very busy man; he left Nottingham, came north to Lancaster, then went further south to London for a weekend engagement. The MC was British Council international student of the year 2006-2007, Akanimo Odon. There were so many people who are my inspiration, turning out to say I am their inspiration.
The cake was baked in the shape of a piano keyboard! The head of catering runs the local African food store! The sheer numbers of people that were involved! You know, friends from all over the country told me later that when they were asking me what I’d be doing that weekend, they were reporting to the organisers! My minders were a brother and sister, living in my house while they sorted out their accommodation.
And then, there were the calls! They just didn’t stop coming, all through the weekend. Those who knew of the surprise party but couldn’t make it called, first in the morning to wish me a happy birthday, then in the evening to hope I was enjoying the surprise. I got calls from everywhere, from people I hadn’t spoken to in years.
My dad, Yemisi, Akin and Bibi must have rung at least 6 times each. Damola, probably 4 or five. First just to wish me a happy birthday, then when they learnt that something was happening, to get regular progress reports.
It’s nice to hear such nice things said about me. Sometimes I didn’t recognize myself. So thanks to you all, because the truth is that the last time I organised a party for myself was in 2001 when I graduated. I even arranged for someone to cook some food, but I forgot to tell people I was holding a party. I had such good party food to eat for weeks after that.
So, now you understand why I feel like a superstar. Thank God for you all!Thanks for everything! I still can’t get over it.