I have just come back from what could be described as the most enlightening night of my life. The writer had gone up the motorway to Rugby at Junction 18 of the M1 in United Kingdom, UK, for a literary event. It was advertised as the merger between the arts, science and philosophy.
Not much was said on the advert, but the lack of deliberate information only prompted my adrenaline – fuelled imagination to sign up. It was a group from the website Meetup.com. It was possible that the evening/night would include film and books.
We were also meant to discuss and exhibit our electronic libraries. Ten people had indicated their interest in attending, but at the end of the day, only two people showed up. It turned out to be the host and myself. Three other people came during the course of the evening. We had all paid a handsome premium so it was okay.
The writer was on a mission to find scintillating content for her column. The club, located in a posh part of Rugby, is actually an elitist white club. When I say elitist, I mean it is for rich people: white and middle class. Driving in, you needed a secret code to be allowed through the gate. It was that exclusive.
The venue was arranged like a cinema: massive cinema screens, seating arrangements and all that. Popcorn and ice cream were provided. There was a bar in the corner where you could buy alcohol. Smoking was not allowed. It didn’t feel awkward having a diet coke with the popcorn and ice cream.
Introductions were made. The host, a 30-something man derived pleasure in explaining that he had started his business two years ago retailing mobile phones. In his first year, he made a million pounds in profit. This was his second year and he was on course to make £2.5 million. Such disclosures made one wonder if people were still making millions from the mobile phone industry. It felt simply offensive to be close to a millionaire in his 30s, just like me. He had to brag like that as well.
Darren, the host, wasn’t happy everybody hadn’t showed up, but it was his first event, he was keen to impress. The first round of drinks was on him. After a brief chitchat, we started with the movie of the night, a 2007 Man from Earth film. It is a film any one interested in the exposition of the merger between archeology, anthropology, biology, ancient religions and Western Christianity should watch. Parents should watch it and then allow their 16-year-olds to view it as the film raises the age-old question about the purpose of life and our mortality. What if we are able to live through time?
The film was written by the legend science fiction writer Jerome Bixby, on a small budget, produced a masterpiece of a film. John Oldman, History professor, unexpectedly resigns from the university, his startled colleagues invite themselves to his home, as he is packing to leave town. Pressing him for an explanation, Oldman reveals his shocker: he never ages because he is immortal and cannot stay in the same place for more than 10 years without his secret being discovered. His shocking revelations defy logic as his colleagues find out that his tale is impossible to disprove as it is to verify. Tempers flare and there was an attempt to kill him to find out the truth about his immortality. Set in a room, the 84-minute film takes you to depths that make you reach out for your beer or for more popcorn.
The climatic end was shown twice so we could understand again what happened. Then, guided by a script, we discussed different themes about the film: mostly we focused on immortality and questions of life after death. I had never felt more at home. The writer felt that she had all the time in the world to reflect on all that had been said and to grow. To be fair, as always, Christianity got a bashing.
But nothing else offered a convincing ideology; it was offensive to accept the group conclusion that after life, there was nothing. How can that be? Immortality is an idea meant for the world of sci-fi. You can do the best to delay the ageing process, but like everything else, it will catch up with you.
The second part of the evening was more like show off. People were asked to talk about their favourite books. Jack seemed like a recluse, he had the aura that he lived only to read books. An English teacher, his knowledge of books was vast, superior and complete. He had been reading Lee Child’s books.
Lola Shoneyin’s book The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, featured. Nigerian women don’t live simply to get themselves pregnant by a rich and illiterate man: a serious flaw in the book. Having children is no longer regarded as the yardstick of anything, another premise that defies common sense from the book.
Even though, the urge to propagate one’s genes is the most basic of all impulses, times have changed. Women in Nigeria as in any part of the world don’t equate germination or gestation with world domination. Pregnancy is not even a rite of any sort.
We did discuss the wider idea, ‘when your daddy is not your daddy’. The apparent increase of this trend engaged animated discussion. Intentional misrepresentations about paternity, is clearly an issue in every community. It appears that paternity fraud is a ticking time bomb in UK and in Nigerian communities. Apparently, there are millions of fathers around the world who are, unknowingly, raising other men’s children as their own. Millions? It is hard to find published data of the exact number of men duped this way by women. Hard evidence is difficult to come by to substantiate this but paternity fraud is every man’s nightmare and every woman who deals a wicked villain.
In the case of Baba Segi’s wives, it was done to protect Baba Segi from discovering that he had low sperm count and his ultimate stand as a patriarch in his community. It was hard to explain the pressure pre-modern women in Nigeria experienced when they got married and were unable to reproduce.
Another participant discussed his collection of sex books. His sex library contained titles such as: 269 Amazing Sex Tips and Tricks for Her, Come Hither – A Commonsense Guide To Kinky Sex, Cuffed Tied and Satisfied – A Kinky Guide to the Best Sex Ever, Kama Sutra – The Ancient Indian Handbook of Love Making complemented With a Modern Sex Positions Guide, Lesbian Sex 101 – 101 Lesbian Lovemaking Positions, Lesbian Sex Bible, Masturbation as a Means of Achieving Sexual Health and so much more. After going through the titles and what it obviously contained, someone remembered that they might be observing Ramadan. The group moved on to a collection of philosophical books, but it was time to call it a night. The range of ideas discussed were chaotic and in a visceral way deep. It was not a night many would enjoy, but it brought with it an experience to write about, and a new friend or two.