You are currently viewing The dreamer at 56, by Tunde Aremu
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I hardly believe in celebrating birthdays, at least mine. As far back as 1992, then on my page, The PIZZAZZ in The Punch newspaper, I had called it a year closer to death. What it reminds me of is another year gone out of whatever is available to do whatever one has here. It is the clock ticking. Not morbid, not negative as many often tag it when I state that. Just my way of reconciling with the hard fact of life.

Therefore, it helps with making reflections, rather than make merry. Truly too, I wonder what reflection I do on a day as this, for a man who actually lives in his head. Yes, in spite of the smile, the talks, the outward warm mien, I live in my head. It helps with my deliberateness. It has its down side too. People at times see a different person. That also unnerves me. And it is natural, even for one who lives in his head. Not everything you are able to process. Not every time you can grasp the reasons for some reactions.

The last two years have been different. Some pieces here and there I had missed, in spite of what a friend once called my penchant for overthinking, struck me like lightening. Words said I had not listened to or heard well, or their import did not dawn on me earlier. Body languages I did not pay enough attention to. Responses and attitudes, I had overlooked. Some elements of naivety I had refused to acknowledge. And strangely, more because I had been living in my head. I at times had not heeded some warnings, and instead bring in dialectics, holding disputations between my own heart, head and instinct.

As a new year commences today, I just asked this dreamer once more, “so how far?”

In spite of myself, I have to admit, some things changed. I came in contact with a new reality, a new side of the dreamer lost to me and some facts of life I have to admit, that I had known, seen but denied. I have reacted in the last two years to just one death, in a way I have never done before. Some years ago, a younger friend had died and even his own family never knew how it affected me. It was bad my wife had to seize my phone so I stop taking calls from people making inquiry about the passing of that friend.

Once, I had had an unpleasant experience of identifying the body and arrange for the burial of a younger cousin, whose mom, my aunt, called my son because I took care of that young man when he was a year old. There were other deaths, and I thought I knew and could handle death itself. But my dad’s death affected me in a way different. I had done crazy things since. Spent money ordinarily I would have resisted anyone getting me into spending. I had chosen to not chase help, as people often do here when burring their aged or arranging memorials. Some friends have unexpectedly given support. But I had not chased help because the loss is very personal. That death gave me the real meaning of what a loss is.


I have also noticed things and overheard, or got whispers of things I did not notice. There had been wrong assumptions that I had inadvertently fueled. Sticking with a culture I met in the house, something my brothers and I got from our parents, sent wrong signals in some ways. We wear our best clothes on days we are broke. We smile more and flash gaiety when we are at frightening ebb. And this is not about putting out a front. It is about not wearing your sorrows on your sleeves. While not afraid of telling of and asking for direction on some challenges that require practical solution such as health-related help source, the rule is you don’t load that burden on others. Some times, some people hardly know how serious some things I ask direction for are.

There however is this assumption out there that there is a solvency level you can pick everyone’s bills. Shocking are those you think will know better, those who you thought would know, because you know they also experience it, that there are days you are afraid you might not have anything to eat tomorrow.


Friendship is one element we give liberal meaning or interpretation to. The past two years have reoriented me in ways special. I have seen friendship in special ways. There have been friends who sprang up and have stayed close in ways amazing. Friends who actually owe me practically nothing and have on their own warmly hugged me in amazing ways I never ever anticipated. And some have remained beside me still and providing supports in ways I still marvel if there is something, a force, an element, whispering to them to get across. Some calls, some special reach out, some of which I do not intend stating here I don’t end up embarrassing them. And I have also seen new pictures of friendship, or what I thought was friendship, but was actually extractive relationships. I have to confess some of these there had been ear pulling the dreamer had waved off. But his two years have brought closer some people, who almost have rights to claim they are family.

The dreamer dreams still. Choices were made decades ago, implications well known, implications anticipated. I recall still my friend and wonderful sister’s expression of concern “you are still a dreamer”. I am not mentioning names today, but I suspect she might read this. She was obviously worried. But I suspect she feels a bit more comfortable now that after all said and done, the dream has not done too much harms


Those old dreams we dreamt, with so many once upon a time, and still dream with some and some pretend to still have because they are trapped in the vision, may be laughing at us, but this dreamer still hug like his skin. Not that I can’t move on, but that is the essence of life, the value attached to being here. There are prices to be paid, some bruises unseen by naked eyes to nurse, but then living in my head, I know better than exit the dream.

The Dreamer is 56!

And my good friend who asked me what I will tell my children if I don’t make money, I can tell him not to worry, even as I ponder this morning what to eat tomorrow, those wonderful children don’t even notice or are not bothered that this man eats dreams. Children who on their own study to get the best result to go to university at 15, decide to tell you they will spend one year doing something new and rewrite JAMB again and tell you with confidence they will make it again and actually do; children who think ahead and are checking and critiquing 200 and 300 levels curriculum when in 100 level don’t ask parents why they have not made money.

And truly, what the dreamer doesn’t have does not bother him much. He is only worried that at this turn of another year closer to death, those dreams for the commonwealth are now haunts (disturbs, worries, inhabits, visits) we chase with pains.


Let me slip back into my head.

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