What happens to a puff-puff uneaten?Does it shrivel up or grow coldDoes its texture become harder with gradual exposure to the elementsor does it simply find its way to the gullet of someone else?
I pondered these words- a mutilated version of Langston Hughes, Harlem, as I returned home at 8 pm on Saturday, 30th June 2018. I had spent the most part of that day navigating my way to Mississauga Valley Park for a picnic organized by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). It was Canada Day weekend and I really didn’t want to spend the day cooped up in my room. I asked P (the Nigerian lady from my earlier post who we were planning to rent a place together) to accompany me to the picnic. We arrived in good time and identified our group by the loud Nigerian music playing- or so we thought. We walked towards the group for introductions, and close by, a deep fryer was just getting prepped to receive puff-puff batter.
P and I thought it odd that guests were sitting in small groups at this picnic, even though we were at the same event; versus sitting all together. She looked to our left, further down the park and saw a larger party of black people around a huge grill. She was the one who then pointed out that we were probably at the wrong picnic. Over the extremely loud music, we walked over to ask one of the guests and found out we were at the Achimota Old Boys Association party of my Ghanaian brothers and sisters…lool. If not for P’s keen eye, we would have remained sitting at the wrong picnic, wondering what was going on. And so, we relocated to the correct picnic and I walked away from the yet-to-brown hot puff-puff still sizzling on the deep fryer. Come the end of that day, we’d had barbeque chicken, roasted corn, roasted yam, boli, hot pepper sauce and even Agege bread, but I couldn’t stop thinking of that puff-puff I didn’t eat. All through the evening and even into the next day.
Thankfully I satisfied my puff-puff craving when I made a trip to Niagara Falls a week after on Saturday, 7th July 2018. I had been invited by a member of the Igbo-Canadian Community Association (ICCA), who I had recently met as a fellow newcomer to Canada. In the spirit of staying open and creating networks, I decided to tag along with this group, though I’m not Igbo. I mean, all Nigerians are somehow related, right? depending on how far back in history you go yea?
Niagara Falls is about an hour, 30 minutes by road from downtown Toronto. With highway traffic, it can take up to 2 hours. Because I was travelling with a large party and we initially had some transportation issues in the beginning, it took us 4 hours to arrive. The Falls is everything you have heard about it, plus more. Made up of 3 waterfalls, Niagara is located on the border of Ontario, Canada and New York, USA. The flags of both Canada & US was hard to miss, as well as the border police 🙂 One of my followers on twitter said car conversations on the bridge here from Canada to the US is secretly recorded. Now whether this is true or myth, and whether the intention to do this is clear, isn’t for me to try to decipher right now :).
Sadly 🙁 We didn’t stop at the Falls to take proper pictures or make videos because of our large travelling party. We ended up driving about 15 minutes within the Niagara parks to land at Chippawa Park. Thankfully, Chippawa park is by a canal, so we could enjoy the calming effect of the waterside. The troops of the ICCA brought out their food and drinks, and in true Naija style, a very loud boom box. Before we arrived, there was a splatter of people in twos, quietly barbequing meat and chicken, enjoying the tranquility of the environment. With our large party of about 56 people- men, women and children, I guess there was no way we could quietly come and go. We spent the rest of the evening, playing ludo, ayo, Monopoly, Scrabble and Chess board games.
Reflecting on these two picnics a few days later at home, I struggled with putting into words the overwhelming feeling of loneliness that I felt, even while I was at these events. I’m not sure if it stemmed from not really having any deep relationships with anyone at the party; because I have been homesick or a combination of both.
I am still searching for my tribe here. And by tribe, I don’t mean people from the same ethnic group as myself. What I mean is, I am still on the look-out for friendships with people who I vibe with, on a very honest and open level. One can get carried away ‘adulting’ and working endlessly to pay the bills, that we forget to connect authentically with those around us… Still, we move!