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Going down memory lane

  • 18 August 2020

I have been going back to street photographs I took before coronavirus struck. Hundreds of images taken in London, Liverpool, Bangor, Abuja, Canterbury, Mararaba, Birmingham, Erith, and many other places. With each photograph comes an inevitable urge to reminisce. 

I go back to a period as visually captured in the photographs. The one question that never escapes me is: what would it be like now in these places? I try to imagine what Westgate Gardens in Canterbury would look like in this era of COVID-19. What London bridge now looks like from my small house in Abuja. I try to fragment a mental vision of underground stations.

Fantasy is a major sport of mine. I do not only daydream, I sometimes indulge myself in writing down fantasies as they form in my mind. This is one sport I have proudly mastered over the years above every other physical or athletic activity. I use it to write poetry, to reach various states of bliss and inner peace. I fantasise even in the toilet. Mine is a mind ready to be absent at every given time — ready to build castles just about anywhere in the air.

It all started in my teenage years. As a way coping in boarding school, I would take my mind through images adopted from TV screens, from books, posters, fond memories from the house, and then put together new images and sensations. Being away from family care at that tender age, one had to invent and instrumentalise mental procedures of inchoate independence and endurance. I didn’t want to be caught battling loneliness. It felt shameful to be homesick, so one had to find ways of being at home away from home. There, daydreaming became a super sport.

But daydreaming today is altogether a different reality, as an adult in my late twenties. (I fear that I might be wasting my twenties or might have already wasted my twenties, I cannot really tell yet). And unlike the innocent era of wet dreams, my fantasy world has now been intercepted by age and a global pandemic. It is no longer about mere tiny boots or strawberries or mangoes or wildflowers or train trips. It is no longer about freediving or skating or swimming or cycling or hopping around airports. It is no longer about tasting wines, beers, spirits. It is no longer about meeting strangers and falling in love. It is now