There is a river, popularly known as Odo Maidan, somewhere between Mile 12 and Agiliti. The first time I passed this route, I saw children playing and bathing in the river. The adults weren’t far off as some of them had piles of laundry around them while a few were in canoes, casting their nets in the hopes of catching a few fishes. I felt a pang of jealousy as the wind carried the children’s laughter into the car where I sat with my face glued to the window. They seemed so happy and carefree, something that only existed in my imaginations. I knew I had to find my way back there but somehow I didn’t see the possibility of that happening.
The adults, in a bid to scare and/or warn us, had told us stories of how the water spirit aka mammy water liked to take children and initiate them into the marine kingdom. The message: stay away from the river. (I would later figure out that children usually drowned because during the rainy season, the river overflowed and it was difficult to tell where the road ended and where the river started. One slip and they would get swept away by the rapid currents which would then carry them as far as Ikorodu where it would be too late to rescue them). Of course, you can’t hold a curious child back. Eventually, I found an alternate route that linked the river to our church. Anytime we went for choir rehearsals, we would pass by a part of the river, hoping to catch a glimpse of fishes swimming. Some days we were lucky, other days, not so much. I didn’t want to be a marine agent so I made sure I kept my distance.
One lovely Sunday in December, the pastor announced we were going fishing. I was beaming with excitement. Being an avid reader of Enid Blyton books, I loved how the children were always going on adventures. Finally, I was going to experience an adventure of my own. I was going fishing! It was slated for the 25th of December and I couldn’t have thought of a more exciting way to spend Christmas morning. I had all these wild pictures in my head of how I’d catch my first fish, and then a bucket full of it and then watch with pride as my mum cooked them once we were home.
Christmas morning ushered a new level of ecstasy as I hurried into my fancy dress and shiny shoes faster than you could say Merry Christmas. We all settled in the car and the journey began. About five minutes later, I caught a glimpse of the river and I could feel her welcome me with a warm smile. My stomach tightened in knots the closer we got. But something seemed odd. Where was everybody? Did we miss it already? I was caught in my web of questions and didn’t notice we had driven past the river. Maybe dad wants to go park somewhere ahead, I thought to myself.
When the car finally came to a stop, I was relieved to see a banner boldly declaring “Let’s Go a Fishing”. Yass! We were in the right place. But it didn’t take long for my excitement to be replaced with confusion as we were ushered under a large canopy where a sermon was going on. Maybe this is just a pre-fishing service, I thought as I settled quietly beside my parents. I didn’t pay any attention to the unfamiliar preacher. I just wanted him to be done so we could all head back to the river.
“We are already going home,” my mum announced after they had rounded up with the usual Merry Christmas greetings and all. Home keh? What is going on? Knowing that home meant home, I still held on to hope as we resumed our journey back. My hope was eventually dashed and I watched with sadness in my eyes as we passed the river the second time. There really would be no fishing. The pastor had lied. Christmas was ruined. I felt betrayed.
We got home and I walked up to my mum. “Why did they call the program let’s-go-a-fishing if we weren’t going to be doing any fishing?” She laughed…and laughed…and laughed. Then she sat me down and explained to me the idea behind the program. How Jesus had called to Peter and his brother and had told them he would make them fishers of men. The aim of the program was soul winning. We had gone fishing quite alright…only that in my naive 8-year old mind, I had gotten it all wrong.
And that is how my first fishing experience went. Epic init?
If you read to this point, muah, muah. It’s Christmas tomorrow and I want to use this avenue to say a very big thank you to everyone who has supported this journey. For everyone who has visited and everyone who has subscribed (if you haven’t, please make my Christmas merry and subscribe, *puppy face*), I want to let you know I’m very grateful. Do have a Merry, Merry Christmas and an amazing 2021 in advance.