Tuesday 25 June 2024

Secret Passenger


Èrò Ọkọ̀ Àṣìrí - Secret Passenger

Riding life’s journey on this London train 
Stoic glass panes exposing the sprawling global village 
This empty compartment housing my lone silhouette 
Embarking on my true destination: meeting family, friendship, delight 
Wheelsets soundly spinning towards smiles, hugs and Yorùbá greetings 

Linguistic isolation whilst stationed north 
Familial interactions compartmentalised within Èdèkiri code 
Changing semantic tracks within one household 
Melding English A, B, C with Yorùbá tonal dò, re, mí 
Family knowledge embedded in secret lexical and grammatical melodies 

These word platforms bonding Yorùbá mothers, daughters, sisters near 
These communication carriages connecting Yorùbá aunties, nieces, cousins far 
Now stationed south, closer to Èdèkiri codebreakers beyond family circles 
I head towards an opus of fun dialogues and cultural exploration 
Vocal toot-tooting, basking in community and identity…chugga chug faster ọkọ̀ ojú irin a.k.a. train! 


Riding life’s journey on this London train 
Impending reunion excitement meets freshly evoked curiosity 
A melanated family quintette joins my secret compartment, filling blue vinyl seats 
The whooshing winds now supporting their vivacious voices sharing compartmentalised truths 
Family mirth, workplace triumphs, neighbour botheration…in my secret language! 

These unperceptive Èdèkiri encoders talk freely in my presence 
Their stimulating tales evoke a stationary dance behind my eyes 
A passive passenger in their dynamic Yorùbá vehicle. 
As they stir life conversations in different directions, diverse and divergent 
My bilingual brain joins this free incidental road trip navigating new life pathways 

Eagerly eavesdropping in plain sight on my oblivious trustees 
To remain perceptive, I remain receptive…but almost stamp my own ticket 
With a glance…then a look…then staring back and forth at my lingual artistes 
A smiling Ìyá-aged lady meets my wandering gaze, her own silent thoughts booming, 
‘Aa-aa, ṣé “Ará Gẹ̀ẹ́sì” yi gbọ́ wa?’ a.k.a. ‘Ah, does this “Brit” understand us?’ 


Commandeering life’s journey on this London train 
I am indeed a silent passenger in their business, a linguistic stowaway 
Syntax pickpocket, semantics robber, knowledge thief of ‘stolen’ banter. 
A privacy fare dodger intent on evading capture, I avert unsmiling eyes 
Adorning a mask of ‘unrecognition’, greedy for more attention from my mother tongue 

More Yorùbá musicality flows from my personal quintette of trained concert conductors 
Ear satellites scanning for more coverage from mouths tuned with tonal precision 
My performative tone deafness to these everyday rhythm of life lyrics now more convincing
Muting my gaze to stay on track for more announcements in my secret lexis with 55 million+ speakers yonder 
Granted through exclusionary hubris, fortified with perceived Èdè Gẹ̀ẹ́sì language barriers 

Págà! My Èdèkiri FM easy listening derailed as brakes slow our locomotion 
For once, why did a London train have to fulfil its timetabled arrival? 
I decompartmentalise as I disembark, heading towards my original Yorùbá familial destination
 Happy for this unwitting warm up act beforehand, and wider accessibility in the global village
A joyous train of thought reaching the end of the line for this èrò ọkọ̀ àṣìrí a.k.a. secret passenger!

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Secret Passenger

  Èrò Ọkọ̀ Àṣìrí - Secret Passenger Riding life’s journey on this London train  Stoic glass panes exposing the sprawling global village  Thi...