Summer carnivals. The place I truly found myself, after all, I’ve been going to them ever since I was born. They attract me, like a fly drawn to light, but the last one I went to, is where I truly felt alive.
As I said before, I’ve been going to summer carnivals, all my life, I lived in a small town in the middle of nowhere, a rural place where we didn’t care much for the internet or social media, so naturally we had summer carnivals. Of course, they weren’t normal carnivals, for a small town, we could make a lot of noise. It’s something we prided ourselves on (as long with our many awards-again for summer carnivals). So, as you can see, our carnivals were our way of life, we all went to them, we all celebrated them, we all loved them. Maybe it was so normal I didn’t even realise how much it meant to me.
So, can you imagine if that all got taken away?
It was our yearly carnival, everyone was getting ready, doing last minute preparations and there was an excited buzz around the town, the carnival was to open tomorrow after all, so who wouldn’t be? There was something for everyone! Even the rich town members, who made way more money than the rest of us trading the towns signature mangos(they were looking forward to earning more prizes,).I was especially excited, as the carnival fell on my birthday(as it did every year),my papa told me that it was a special birthday present, just for me, I know that isn’t true, but it’s a nice thought. The day before the carnival, I ran through our humble town, playing football with the other kids, using our homemade football.
“Ellis, come on, they’re about to open the carnival sample!”
A day before the carnival, for an hour, they opened the carnival, of course not fully, and no events were open, but it got everyone in the carnival spirit and was a tradition of sorts. Along with everyone else I ran to the opening for the carnival, among many other excited kids all about to explode from excitement.
And that’s all I remember.
Because what came next was, darkness, shouting, confusion, pain, frustration. I was falling, into a pit of hopelessness.
What came after, was a tiny light.
It was similar to what came before, shouting, confusion and pain. The first thing I saw was a doctor, calling someone into the room.
“This condition is very serious; we need to keep her here for a while.”
“How long’s a while?”
“We can’t confirm right now, all we can do is hope for the best,”
Turns out “a while” was two years. I was mysteriously ill and had fainted. My papa came in the room and told me what happened. I felt confused and worried, but my papa was there to calm me, reassuring me that I was going to be ok. He was my rock during those years. In the first 4 months in that tiny hospital, it seemed I was never going to get out. I missed the free sweet air of our town and missed the summer carnival most of all. I had some visitors from time to time providing me with a little hope. After a while, my papa told me that we were going to America as they had better healthcare there, initially I was shocked, there was no way our little family from a small town could ever afford a ticket-as well as healthcare-to America! But my papa told me that the town worked hard in the last 4 months (even the rich town members) and came together to buy me and him tickets. Of course, I was grateful, but this made me miss our town more than ever, and who knew if I would ever see them again?
Next month we flew to America, and everything was so different, the air was polluted, and everywhere was so loud, not like our town at all, I also felt guilty as my papa couldn’t get a job farming, and got a boring office job, which he hated, but I had to suck up and get used to it, after all I would spend the next 1 and a half year here.
The days went by slowly, and the doctors still had no idea what was wrong with me, but they at least told me I was getting better. It gave me a bit of hope every day hearing that news, but it wasn’t enough to keep me out of depression. The town, my papa, this noisy city, how could I feel better from a “maybe?” it seemed to me that this is how I would spend the rest of my life. A carnival could always put me out of this mood, but I spent my last two birthdays cooped up in hospital. This all seemed hopeless.
Until the tiny pieces of hope I had, came together.
On a particularly beautiful day in summer, I was told I could leave the hospital! I felt like I was exploding with emotions I kept cooped up inside, but my way of showing it was crying, crying for joy, crying for pain, just crying for the sake of crying. I was getting out.
Apparently my mysterious condition had vanished, and I was now healthy as can be, in the end, it helped me a bit, giving me a stronger and healthier body, it also stopped at the right time, as we would make it back the day before the carnival! Soon, I was discharged and on the plane ride back home, I felt relieved that this was all going to end, but also scared, what if everyone was different and scary? What if the rich town members buyers bought the town and turned it into a factory? All these scenarios played out in my head until my papa held my hand and told me it would be ok, and all those weird, unrealistic scenarios stopped. It was going to be ok.
When we got back, we were greeted with many cheers and shouts. Not how I imagined it at all. Yet it was a pleasant surprise, much had changed in two years, but not how I imagined it, it had changed for the better, with better houses, better fields, and we had a bit more connection to the world, with more electrical things,(but not too much), in the end, the town seemed to have improved a lot. Yet again, this made me worry? What if I was too stuck in the past? What if they had forgotten me? I had gone to America, but I was stuck inside a hospital most of the time, and I didn’t even watch the news! Of course, I knew I was overreacting when they brought a cake a for me, for my birthday!(Despite it being the day after.) All this made me more and more excited for the carnival. I couldn’t wait!
The day of the carnival. I had waited two long isolated years for this, and now it was here. I rushed to the opening with other kids, just like how I used to before, we all chanted and counted down together.
When those gates opened, I remembered what I missed all those years, that sweet summer air, those tasty mango snacks, and the fun buzz of the community. Yes, this was it.
-Ahdia Adelakun, Creative Team