By Debbie Ogunjobi

I WOKE up to the ear piercing scream of a petrified actress and my 20 minute doze on a local flight from the nation’s capital back to Lagos was severed rather abruptly. Before I could get my bearing and fully wake up, my stomach churned as it seemed to drop in that sickening manner that feels like your intestines are falling out when a rollercoaster takes what seems like a death plunge towards the ground at break neck speed. Nothing like a sharp, sudden drop to wake you up especially when you are on a plane with half the passengers screaming, some cursing, the rest in a state of shock.

I initially didn’t take it that seriously but a few more minutes with overhead compartments snapping open and a few grown men crying made me revise my position; this was serious! We all react to different situations in different ways and my reaction on this particular day was a bit peculiar even to me! The particular outburst of one of the male passengers just triggered spontaneous laughter from deep within and I was racked with mirth for a few minutes.

Looking back, it wasn’t really funny but my attitude was that we were completely in God’s hands, all the screaming and hysteria was not going to make the slightest difference. We must have been in the air trapped above a storm circling the Lagos airspace for over 30 minutes before we were finally able to land. I was making my way towards the exit when I received a somewhat backhanded compliment! A fellow passenger who was also a regular of the column commented that he could never have guessed that I had a sense of humour.

You are so serious all of the time, I have always wondered if you ever lightened up; good to know you actually laugh” he said as he walked past. I’m very rarely dumbfounded but my smile was not only a polite response, it saved me having to respond with some explanation as I didn’t have any. I would by my own admission not be able to find fortune in the field of comedy but I like to think I have a good sense of humour. I didn’t give much thought to the comment till a couple of days ago when in a gathering of a few friends we were talking about favourite and last meals. It had started innocently from watching a documentary on death row inmates and their last meals.

People had different requests but two or three of us had some rather peculiar and a bit shameful menus we initially didn’t confess to! We had been laughing at my brother whose favourite dish is fried (over ripe) plantain completely covered in gari (cassava), we all found the combination not only disgusting but quite hilarious. I couldn’t have agreed more and was thoroughly enjoying laughing when someone volunteered a piece of information about my own diet that had everyone present laughing at me. I had initially stated a preference for boiled yam and an omelette when my cousin started laughing and shouting foul!!!  Na lie!!!! He kept on saying!!

Before long, a few other family members and close friends joined in the laughter as my favourite meal is known to them all. I am accused rightfully of being obsessed with Eba and vegetable soup and while I wasn’t denying it, I would not have requested it before my pigeon drop!! Let me explain, I had regaled everyone with the miraculous intervention of the previous Monday on the plane, so they had been teasing me about my near pigeon drop (another phrase they devised for plane crash and yours truly was the pigeon in question). So in defence of my self, I once again made the effort to explain why I would rather eat Eba than anything else.

I discovered in the nineties that constipation was a direct dividend of not chewing enough and apparently you have to chew a mouthful of food over 20 times; some doctors actually say 30times to truly start of the digestion process. Since I knew chewing for that long was out of the question I simply adapted my palate to  foods I could eat with the minimum of fuss; so yes I would rather eat stuff I can swallow rather than stuff I have to chew over and over and over again. So since I eat Eba almost everyday at some point why would I want it to be the meal of choice if I was checking out for good? No explanation was going to stop them laughing so I was thankful when else became the butt of the jokes for having a Ph.D in farting, especially when nervous.

Another person had a similar experience to mine on a flight and instead of my
own laughter, had started farting rather loudly as they went through some turbulence. The lady in question was being reminded of a trip outside the country when she had started farting as soon as the plane started shaking. Her husband’s description was so vivid it had us all in stitches’ and it ended the day on a good note.

I am thankful, however, that the pigeon didn’t drop and pray that my yam and omelette order is served when I have almost no teeth and a full head of grey. On a sad note, I woke up to the news that Michael Jackson died early Friday and I surprised myself by just how upset I was! He was the stuff of legends and I always thought he was a great musician. His life struck me as sad and in spite of all his achievements he just never seemed to find peace. He was proof that an extraordinary life came at a price that was too dear.

He seemed like a member of everyone’s family, we all grew up with him, watched him become a colossus and later a tragic hero. Michael Jackson one of a kind, one for the ages. The proverbial Peter Pan, man child, lost, confused and always seeking!! Looking for validation in a lost childhood, trying desperately to build a foundation when he was already a skyscraper!Michael Jackson; beautiful boy with the amazing voice, precocious teenager, outstanding performer, victim/villain, son, brother, father, idol!! Our very own Michael, gone way too soon!!

“Gone Too Soon” (by Michael Jackson)
Like A Comet
Blazing ‘Cross The Evening Sky
Gone Too Soon
Like A Rainbow
Fading In The Twinkling Of An Eye
Gone Too Soon
Shiny And Sparkly
And Splendidly Bright
Here One Day
Gone One Night
Like The Loss Of Sunlight
On A Cloudy Afternoon
Gone Too Soon
Like A Castle
Built Upon A Sandy Beach
Gone Too Soon
Like A Perfect Flower
That Is Just Beyond Your Reach
Gone Too Soon
Born To Amuse, To Inspire, To Delight
Here One Day
Gone One Night
Like A Sunset
Dying With The Rising Of The Moon
Gone Too Soon
Gone Too Soon


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