By Olubunmi Familoni
It’s that time of the year again for us to be suffocated by the ‘love in the air’; love contaminated by lust — “I love you” has become so pedestrian that it is now just a ‘zebra crossing’ from one side of the street to between her legs, that even if somebody really did love you, you’d feel insulted if they said the words “I love you”, how old men wise in the ways of the world type the three words as ‘password’ to open the legs and hearts of young unsuspecting maidens, how some of these maidens even save the ‘cherry’ up as a gift only to be presented on The Fourteenth to the one they ‘love’; love constipated for decades — almost as if our parents don’t give a shit about us after we’ve been produced and watered to grow, how it is almost an enema for them to say they love us, and it is taken almost as an affront if we dare say we love them, so everybody carries on in that familial emotional constipation for years, until one party dies and the love from the other end comes a-bursting and gushing through eyes and nose and heart, and spilled in letters and poems, and an accumulation of words that should have been spread over the seventy or twenty years is now squandered in two minutes of moist coffin-side eulogy; there is also the popular love diluted with materialism — where ‘love’ is rented out to the highest bidder, for as long as he can afford to service that love with funds; where it’s the further you can get flung to for a vacation is the harder you can love.
For a country where an Igbo man and a Hausa man would share smiles and soups for forty years, and in three seconds one day would be trying to lob the head off the shoulders of one another; a country where the politician strips down to the waist and wades neck-deep through the proletarian crowd pressing flesh and touching hearts of market-women before elections, but as soon as he is elected, he gathers his ‘love for the people’ into a box of ‘constituted authority’ and mounts it to speak down upon them from the height of statutory superciliousness; a country where an Igbo father would warn his daughter sternly, almost murderously, not to marry a Yoruba boy she is in love with (such a juicy plot that an entire film industry is built on this single story), but big daddy doesn’t really mind laying it on a Yoruba girl in UNILAG (it’s always comforting to see that libido does not recognise the boundaries of tribalism, quite conveniently); with such warped ideas about loving that we have we do make such a grand fuss about the business of love on this one day of every year. For what it’s worth, it’s always the pleasant sight to see people get themselves into something of a feverish twist over Valentine’s every year, if for nothing, for the tragicomic relief of seeing people’s fathers who spend the rest of the year in other people’s daughters’ beds taking their poor long-suffering wives out on these dreadful dinners, hoping not to run into the other people’s daughters being taken out by their Twitter-appointed ‘trash’, while his own daughter (also usually ‘fathered’ by someone else’s dad in the beneficent capacity of Sugar Daddy) is taking out somebody else’s son’s big one to blow a horn in celebration of the day.
Oh and it’s Valentine’s Day massacre out there on the streets, with red everywhere, from the girl with the tray of oranges on her head to the bloody bank teller and the presenter on TV; so much red you just want to go out there and shoot up an office or something.
Of course it’s another fine time for the christian ones to slide in that ‘love of Christ’/’agape love’ message through the cracks of the day; slipping tracts into the palms of lovers holding hands, whispering the gospel of love into the deaf ears of lovers whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears, talking about how God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. . . but all this begotten son right here wants to give is his own kind of liquid ‘love’ to this hon on his arm; they remind you of how the day shouldn’t be for dwelling in the sins of the flesh masquerading as love, as if, alright it’s okay to not dwell in it just for today, but then you can dive right back in that flesh as soon as the day passes and carry on with your warm old sins as long as you just take time out this Fourteenth to love Jesus and let Him love you; they shove those ‘Let Jesus Be Your Valentine’ flyers between the mouths of kissing couples, and invite you to one of those youth-church-valentine things in the evening, where the long-skirted, tight-scarfed, grim-lipped youth-church honeys would drop it all in one beat at the touch of the hem of one of the invited bad boy’s garments, whom while all eyes are closed in prayers is scanning the crowd for a proper take-home-to-momma type he can just take home, of course not as far as to momma.
So yeah it’s Valentine’s with all its core idea of love, but it is all just still the raw lust of the flesh, the undiluted tribal hatred, the materialism, the commercialism of emotions, which just one day on the calendar is not enough to wipe off. It’s Valentine’s but it’s really just another day in the life of the Nigerian sinner and sufferer, like yesterday, like tomorrow.