Today, I had a funny experience. I sat in a bus in front of two elderly people; a man and a woman. They were both deeply engrossed in a conversation when I entered the bus and I could tell by the extra creases on their faces that they were really concerned about the subject matter.
The bus was relatively quiet as though everyone was politely listening to the conversation; which was in Yoruba.
The first coherent thing I heard the man say was, ‘I was surprise too o. She then said she was badly missed abi was it madly pissed?’
‘Ahahn.’ The old woman replied shocked. ‘What does that mean?’
‘I don’t know o.’ replied the old man. ‘That girl is becoming something else. Because they sent her to school, she has come back to be speaking grammar. Madly pissed.’
‘Piss. Is that not the English way of saying Urine?’ the old woman asked. ‘Why is she talking about urine? I have told Akanni that he should just bring that girl to my house for one week. She will leave speaking the best Yoruba and being so respectful’
She and the old man burst into laughter. I could tell that they were best friends in some way. Then he said, ‘Maybe she was so pressed that it was driving her mad. You know Mad means mentally unsound. So madly pissed maybe means that her full bladder wanted to run her mad’
He and the old lady laughed again, and I smiled.
They were two people who had lost touch with the development of the world ; living in one of the most developed parts of Nigeria but yet stuck in the 80s. But they were happy. They were happy in their oblivion. And then it dawned on me that it isn’t the ability to understand a 21st century joke that guarantees your happiness, it is your choice to be happy that guarantees your happiness.