Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tales from Congress

I posted elsewhere about a Youth Congress in December 2013.  Here are some experiences from that.

The afternoon programs dragged on too slowly for most of the youthful participants present. Added to the stifling heat, and a heavy lunch lately settled in the stomach, the presenter's monotonous drone would have proved an effective inducement towards sleep, the last nail in the coffin of consciousness. Fortunately we were discussing "courtship and marriage," an eternal topical fixture for youth gatherings in our church at least, for which the expulsion of under eighteens helped to supply enough conspiratory air to keep the youthful group awake.

Next on stage came a young man who ordered everyone to talk to five strangers and get to know them. I got to it, despite being impatient for the program to progress rapidly to "recreation". (My football cravings endure eternal.) As it turned out there were no footballs nor any balls whatsoever, and these commands to socialize were tricks to fill the empty time with SOMETHING, lest young blood took up free time with mischief. T'was then that I set out, with a mind half set on anticipated future football, to converse with five girls. I forgot most of their names on the spot.
But I remember Winnie, mostly because after she confessed her name I asked, "Winnie, like the runner or the Pooh?" Neither, she said, she didn't even know who or what those were. I confessed that I too knew little about them but for the fact that apparently they were a celebrity athlete and a celebrity cartoon of some sort. She took an instant liking to me, which was the last of my intentions. (Remember, the MC guy said 'talk to five people'. Just following orders.) Thereafter Winnie and I had sporadic talks during the week, usually when she cornered me anchored to one spot by a plate of food, but she was reading too much into my everyday banter. I caught her staring dreamily at me from a distance far too often. It was kind of cute, but my friend "Agrippa" had no qualms giving Winnie his number and claiming that it was mine. The deception fell apart in spectacular fashion less than a week later, after they had already exchanged texts professing mutual love. Overenthusiastic gun-jumpers, the pair of them.
There was football at last, on Wednesday. Of importance is that my brother scored the equalizer for our team in the dying minutes of a crucial semifinal game. I insist on taking some credit for that goal because I came up with the idea of making him lone striker while the rest of us huffed and puffed in midfield and defense. The goal itself was a thing of beauty, too bad there was nobody recording it for posterity (read Youtube.) But we celebrated that draw like World Cup winners. Eventually it was getting dark, so the final was rescheduled to the next day, on which arriving, there was once again... no ball. Maddening! Thus ended our (I insist, our) glorious adventure.

Come next day, Thursday, I met Joy, an innocent (naive) high school student buffeted by the tempests of adolescence (a Justin Beiber fan), on her way to who knows where within the Congress site, hugging a photograph to her bosom on her merry way. Ordinarily I would have chatted her up, to continue my disinterested analysis of her adolescent thought processes, but this time I asked what picture that was she was hugging. "It's my brother," she said with proprietary pride.

I took the picture to look at the alleged brother. It was my brother, the great goalscorer, standing tall and self assured.

"No," I said, laughing, "This is my brother."
She insisted that it was her brother.
"Where are you taking this picture?" I asked.
She said she was going to keep it for her brother. Where? In her bag.

I realized what I was facing here: a proper, real-life "love-at-first-time" crush. It was beautiful, except perhaps the part where she called him her brother as a pretext for buying the picture at a hefty twenty shillings from an opportunistic cameraman - the type who invade events and take pictures indiscriminately, in the hope that someone will pay good money to have their ugly mug removed from public display. Usually, it works on me. But my brother's not ugly, therefore stricken girls (so far, one) redeem his photo from the gallery of ugly.

Presently I spied the disputed brother strolling languidly into view, oblivious to the fact that his familial identity was being heatedly contested. 
"Hey look, there he is," I told the infatuated Joy, "Let's ask him whose brother he is, mine or yours."

She spun wildly to spot him, froze, stared, hardly breathing. Gathering her wits at last, Joy sighed. She hid, pleaded with me not to tell him she had his picture, and sneaked away, fleeing with the photograph tightly held to her chest. It was phenomenal. I'd never seen anything like it.

Of course I told him. What, me, fail to tell my own brother about his sister? Never.


  1. 'Lolling' at your friend and Winnie. You know it's almost a mortal sin not to know Winnie the Pooh around here. At least in my boys' world.

    And that epic discovery that you probably had a sister you didn't know about! It's called 'famzing' in some circles here.Success has many friends, you know. So here's to many more siblings brandishing pictures of their 'brothers'...

    1. Those two warmed my heart like Hollywood never could nor will. Thanks for passing by, Abiola!


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