written by Cuba Ukoh (@CubaUkoh)
Tis the season that always trails me back to the December holidays of my childhood. Now even though we were a happy close knit family, loneliness can still become an inevitable trait when you are growing up the only girl in a house with two boys.
I was the doll house, plastic kitchen appliance fanatic who could spend an eon alone with my toys playing school, and of course acting drama and frying plastic carrots and aubergines on my faux cooker with a serving of sand (for rice) or hibiscus leaves plucked from the front yard if a Nigerian soup was the delicacy for the day. Such realism!
Let the boys be boys. I was content to be the rebel against becoming a Tom. There was simply no room for if you can’t beat em, join em. Monotony eventually created a new tactics though; if you can’t beat them, lure them! So I would loiter around with my dolls exaggerating the glee in girly play to unconcerned ears, laughing a tad louder than necessary until I was in all truth lost to the bliss of that world.
They were nevertheless determined to be boys as I was to stay feminine. And this was always our holiday conflict. But then we discovered the love of art, and this was where the lines came to be blurred.
Gender roles fizzled as though it was not yesterday that unity had settled, as dawn travelled into dusk each day to meet us lost in magic markers, glitter and crayola. Drawing, painting, fixing mammoth jigsaws, playing board games (with sore losers) and reading more story books upon story books. The thrill of exploring imagination with the delight of togetherness; in creative arts we found a bond that let us discover more of each other and ourselves.
The sound of dice rolling over the cardboard games we had later invented would trail deep into the echo of candle lit quiet evenings, when NEPA knew to hug the power supply so we could bond a while longer without the distraction of television.
It soon came to be that when one sibling wanted to play the rest of the team was first fished out, for what was the point in that drawing of daffy duck if the others were not there to watch? And the puzzles would lie frozen on the centre table until the other sibling had recovered from illness so we could continue together.
The more we bonded, the more some days did come where you could find the two boys of all that was masculine and boyish indeed playing a game of suwe with their sister, and so came the days the sister would hobble about a ball, though breaking all the rules of soccer until she shoved it in the imaginary post (most times with hands.)
This was the gift Art brought to my childhood holidays; togetherness.