It’s the season of love – Valentine’s Day beckons.
There is this Valentine yarn in which a husband asked the wife to name the gift she would want.
“I want something that will last for the whole of the year,” said the wife.
The husband promptly bought her a calendar!
“See me, see trouble!” as we say in Nigeria.
The husband has since gone into hiding from his murder-bent wife.
I’m moving house and there’s this old calendar on the wall of my old house.
The calendar on the wall reminds me that I can only live one day at a time.
I have seen the make-up of different calendars in this life. Swanky models, bedazzling cheetahs, super-duper cars, otherworldly gizmos etc are sometimes used to hold the attention of the beholder of the calendar.
Nobody would, for instance, like to stare at the picture of an ugly witch for every day of a month, not to talk of when the calendar groups the months quarterly!
Imagine the agony of staring at an unprepossessing golliwog for all of 120 days or more!
Some calendars are so uninspiring they are simply left on the wall, and nobody borders to tell that the month had long ended.
You have guessed right: the ageless calendar on my wall is different!
My eyes are forever fixated on it.
It is February, the month of Valentine, and I am staring at the arresting photograph of a maiden’s hand decorated with fresh lailai, that is, the fashionable etchings on the hand of a winsome maiden in Northern Nigeria.
The copyright to the photograph belongs to Mudi Yahaya – photojournalist, printer and new media consultant – who says candidly: “The power of two-dimensional imagery – photography – to capture the ‘decisive’ moment of a slice of history makes the photographic medium immutable, memorable and timeless.”
Let’s take a trip, starting from the January picture which depicts an infant girl at a fence in Finima, in Bonny Island, Rivers State. The obviously poor girl stares ahead from the wooden fence of a thatch hut that boasts of a small signboard bearing the legend: “Make your phone calls.” In this age of the ubiquitous GSM, even a forlorn community is only a call away from civilisation. Incidentally Nigeria’s huge gas reserves and the giant NLNG are fixtures in this community.
The February offering is “Hands with Fresh Lailai” as already commented on.
A wheel-cover trader on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway adorns the wall in March. Mudi Yahaya, as a consummate master of depth of field, gives his subject an allure that transforms what ought to have been a simple photograph into a work of art.
“Train at Oshodi, Lagos” is the picture of April, with the long train amid the old Oshodi beehive of molue buses, shacks, shops, red pepper, tomatoes, ill-assorted human beings and assorted commodities that the then Lagos State Governor miraculously unbundled.
The month of May captures “children playing, Obosi, Anambra State”, and the question that comes to mind on viewing the mostly barefooted children wearing school uniform while playing is: “Where is the ball?” Maybe another Jay-Jay Okocha is in the works here? Who knows…
The June sighting is “Street Hawker, Oshodi, Lagos”, an attention-grabbing picture of a teenage girl counting her money while hawking fried plantains against the background of the then Lagos phenomenon known as the molue bus.
Royalty takes pride of place, whence the July presentation of “The Marafan Zazzau’s Horsemen”.
August showcases “CMS Cathedral, Lagos”, presenting the fabled church in all its pristine grandeur, with a looping traffic light adding to the mystique.
Mudi Yahaya has done considerable work photographing theatrical performances, and it is a September of theatre that we are served in the calendar, a picture of “a play from the Niger Delta, at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.”
“Façade of an Abeokuta House” is the picture for October; a solidly ancient house putting upfront the case of a formidably ancient town.
November is the month reserved for “Ekpe Masquerades, Calabar”, and the beauty of the many-splendoured moment is in the colourful rendering.
“Christmas Goats, Finima, Bonny” rounds up the pictorial offering as a gift of December.
A calendar at its finest is a living document that breathes.
It’s my prayer that the furious wife who received a calendar as a Valentine gift should see the calendar as a pleasurable companion.
The trouble with an adorable calendar though is that one does not want the year to end because doing away with the calendar is akin to losing a loved one – such as the rendering husband.
But then, the calendar never truly dies because nobody can stop the time, as Bob Marley sings.
Dear wife, Valentine should not just be a day because love ought to be eternal like the calendar which is a work of art that comes year after year after year…
As the world knows, life is short but art is long.
Photo credit: Pinterest