I just read a blog post by my cousin, Mimi titled ‘Drink Air.‘ and it brought memories. In summary, the term ‘drink air’ is from a Tiv expression, ‘ma ahumbe.’ It is a literal translation. In our context, it is a term that was popularised by her mom, my aunt Mbatomun and my Dadi, Mr. Charles Ayede. A third person who we lost early on was our Auntie, Pat Iorpuu. They would be deliberate and just make time out for us to go out, take aimless drives around town or anywhere, or long walks. Sometimes, it would even be a celebration because — no good reason. Just, live. There was that time in the village, Christmas 2009, when we went to the village with Dadi and a battalion of several families to just enjoy our tradition, acculturate and have fun. Truly, it was one of the best Christmases ever and I hope to replicate this some day, if Fanen does not beat me to it.
But, on the issue of drinking air, we were talking of this on our group chat and Ngodoo, my big cos, reminded me of one time, about sixteen years or so ago, when Dadi got us to go on a road trip with him from Makurdi to Obudu, in Cross River, a four to five hour trip, to get ‘bamboo.’
We were in the Benue State University (BSU) at the time, three of us – Ngodoo, Henry and I – studying for different first degrees at different levels, myself being the youngest of the crew. Dadi made us wait for him for about seven hours, claiming he was on the North Bank bridge. Get this, he drove in from Abuja which is about four hours and just for that small stretch of the North Bank bridge to the BSU gate which is a two minute drive, we stayed an eternity. I became the sentry at the designated spot, waiting because woe betide you if Dadi got the spot and did not meet anyone waiting. Long story short, we made our journey by 7pm or so and moved to Obudu where we got to visit Mr. Abellagah, who was Dadi’s classmate. It was around twelve o’clock or so. We had fun, did crazy stuff on the road, visited people and importantly, somehow did not get to buy any bamboo or anything else for that matter. I remember that Dadi stopped somewhere and bought a lot of soup for the women in the village at Shangev-Ya. He would do that, always ensure that he would buy loads of stuff for the women in the village, from our tse – extended family household comprising many related homes – to even those as far as Ajio, where he would eventually build his big home that we named AGBA AYEDE Heritage. Well, after that road trip which was largely just the really definition of cruise, we returned back to Makurdi and continued with the stress of academics while he drove back to Abuja.
Dadi would take several of such walks in the village and I accompanied him on several when we were working on building the Agba Ayede Heritage which took some years to build due to funds etc. But it was fun, as these walks would take hours, many times starting in the A.Ms. We would branch by houses, greet people and catch up. It was different when we were in Abuja at the Area 11 house where every once in a while, we would either do the drive or take a walk. My younger siblings, Sefa, Fanen and Av were more of the drive partners. It was the same kind of thing he used to do with us when we were far younger too, the Zone 7 crew from Taver and Sever, Mlumun and Ngodoo mainly, then sometimes, Gabriel, Theo and I. Well, we grew up…and so, when it came to the long walks, it was always one or more of the grown-ups like myself, Ngodoo, Henry, Verl, Gabriel or just about anyone. Once we were taking that walk and someone stopped us on recognising Dadi and asked to give him a lift, assuming that his car had broken down or something. Dadi was furious and wondered why anyone would believe that a person’s car has to be bad for the person to take a walk and enjoy nature.
During the lock-down I took many walks with my daughter and as life has eased too, have ensured that we take idle drives. We play and get ourselves dirty, and sometimes take a walk or even run, to drink air. Sometimes, my wife joins us or we go with my brother through her, Nathaniel. It is always fun and exciting to see the smiles that covers her face and the joy that floods my heart. Of course, it means that often I have to cut down on deadlines and get really exhausted but it is ALWAYS worth it. I also know that while the bond gets closer in those things we do, my body also gets to thank me for the exercise, for the happiness serum and so much more – which work and others cannot near equate.
I am thinking now, like I mentioned to Mimi on her post, that life is busy and leading us to a definite end. Why then do we not become more deliberate to make memories, to drink air and enjoy nature? Due to Dadi and Auntie Mbatomun’s deliberateness with life, we – a new generation – have picked this lifestyle that puts a spark. Maybe you should ponder on what you can do to make life more beautiful, to invest in what memories you can make, to enjoy the outdoors and bring some sparkle to those you are with. Now, it could be parents, family, friends, children… everything passes but memories and the impact of our actions remain.
Time shows life flows by in seconds that tick to the count, shouldn’t we then try to make each of those seconds count?