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Lessons I learned

1. Oju (Eyes)

I left the country-side at a young age. After my parents were settled in Lagos, they sent for me. So, I missed a vital part of my education.

During holidays, I would return to the country-side to stay with my great-grandparents. During those vists, I would follow my age-mates into the forest. As we walked, one would say to me, "look at that bird/animal." He would point but, all I could see was greenery. I did not know how to use my eyes in the forest.

"Did you see it?" I would be asked. "No" I would reply. Then we would walk on, until the next time... "Look at that bird/animal"

This went on for a long time. I could never make out an animal or bird unless it passed right by me. I was like the kid held back in class. I knew that there were things I would never overstand about life in the country until I knew how to use my eyes. But, nobody gave me any hint as to how I could do this. They just kept asking, not in a scornful way, but with concern. I was the child who could not stand and walk like others of his age, the one who stayed crawling on the floor.

There were a lot of trees in the compound of the business my aunty worked for in Lagos. My school was close to this place and every day, after classes, I would go there and wait until my aunty finished and we would return home together. I would normally sit on a low wall and look at lizards and the trees. There was a particular tree that I had a feeling for, can't say why, but I really liked this tree, I even imagined that it talked to me.

And one day, it said "Look at the way my leaves are moving." So I looked and I saw the leaves moving as a breeze blew through the tree-top. It was the same breeze I was feeling and as I looked, I saw that all the leaves were moving in the same direction and to the same rhythm, except for one patch so, I looked into this patch and I saw a bird.

And that was how I learned that in the forest, you do not look for an animal or a bird, you look at how the forest is moving. The green normally moves as one, and you find animals or birds by noticing the bit of forest that is either moving differently from the norm or unusually still.

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