Chapter 6

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Chapter 6
Dec 1 cont.

  The town hall's exterior hadn't really changed, even after a decade. Even when I was much younger, I found this building to be breathtaking. Basked with sky high white pillars and golden coloured walls, everything about it always made me amazed. Even now, the golden color of its walls have been freshly repainted to a lighter shade of sunflower yellow and it truly was a stunning sight.

The inside of the towering building, on the other hand, had changed drastically from how I knew it. The building was adorned with rows of chandeliers hanging below the white coloured roof. Rows of seats were aligned to occupy over a thousand people and the stage was another thing that left me dumbstruck. Streaks of bright colors ran across the stage as bright lights shone all over it. The beauty of the hall had me anticipating what today's event had to offer.

Mom and I had found seats that were perfect, after a long debate of which position was better for taking pictures. It didn't take long for the events to start and people started filling in the seats around. Within an hour, the place was filled up and the doors were immediately locked from entry.
 

  The event started with a speech of the town's LCDA chairman. He was a short burly man who wore a simple navy colored suit. His soft spoken voice made him easier to listen to, as he spoke

"Good evening, everyone. I'm Mr. Joseph Kasali. This town's chairman and Baale. It's a great honor to stand before all of you one again to celebrate our highly anticipated Christmas celebration "

He paused when people gave their rounds of applause, and continued when they stopped "Goldyn Land Villa Estates was created 50 years ago by late Bishop Julius Olayemi. The Olayemi family is also one of the front-runners and benefactors to this town and this event. Late Bishop Olayemi profoundly loved Christmas. He had always celebrated it with his family when he was a child in grand style and as he grew older, he was also accustomed to it. When the late Bishop created these estates, he took it upon himself to continually celebrate his beloved Christmas unlike any other celebration in Nigeria. Even after his death, he put it in his will that his family had to continue his legacy and fulfill his heart desires. It is because of our town's founder's generous heart that we are able to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas. The late Bishop saw what Christmas truly means. It was all about giving. Christmas also gives people the togetherness that they need. Christmas is about family. The bond and the togetherness. We are all a big family and we will start this Festival in our usual grand style to celebrate ourselves and our founder's legacy too"

Mr. Joseph had finished his heartwarming speech as the host came in and introduced young children that were giving a special dance number. I made sure to take critical pictures of those adorable dancing toddlers with my camera and took my time to get every perfect angle. I dropped my camera to fully enjoy display of the dancing children before me, when a woman sitting next to me whispered.  "Aren't they so cute?"

I gave a polite smile to the woman. "They are."

The woman continued to grin unabashedly. "You see that little girl with dark purple hair. That's my daughter and I'm so proud of her."

I followed my gaze and noticed the little girl she was talking about. Her rosy cheeks and her mismatched dark purple hair color from her distinct dark skin, made her easy to spot out. "She's dancing really well."

The woman nodded swiftly. "She's only four, but she loves ballet so much. I couldn't refuse that."

I still gave another polite nod, not knowing what to say and took some more pictures.

The woman tapped my shoulders again and I tried not to give a frown. "Sorry I'm disturbing you again. I can see how busy you are. I just wanted to ask if you could send me a few of those pictures. It seems like you've got great shots of my daughter."

"I don't think I'm allowed to give it out. It's for a magazine. I'm just a photojournalist."

The woman's eyes widened immediately. "Oh wow, I had no idea. I thought you lived around here. I didn't know you were actually working. I'm really sorry."

I kept a wry smile on my face. "it's no big deal. I even needed the distraction a little."

.The woman looked pleased by my response and stretched out her hand. "I'm Seyi Olayemi. My sweet little daughter on stage is Rachel. I have another six year old daughter named Rebecca but she's in the children's section with the other kids."

I took her hand. "I'm Abigail Duke. Nice to meet you."

I paused and asked in realization. "Wait. Your name is Seyi Olayemi?  Are you by chance related to the late Bishop Julius Olayemi, the town's founder?"

"That's my husband's grandfather. My husband is in the festival committee and he's been so busy with this programme that he couldn't even make today's opening show."

"Sorry about that."

Seyi shrugged it off. "I'm already used to it. Enough about that. Tell me about yourself."

"I'm a photojournalist as you already know. And I'm here for work."

Seyi gave a deep chuckle "I know that. Just give me something exciting. How did you find out about this place? "

That was a safe question I didn't mind answering. "My mom lives here. So I knew I had to write about the place where I spent my teen years in."

"Who's your mom? Maybe I know her."

"Linda Duke."

I hastily tapped my mom's shoulder, she seemed so engrossed in the dance show that she didn't even notice my long whispering conversation with Seyi.

Mom turned her head and a flash of recognition fell on her eyes when she saw Seyi. "Rebecca's mom. It's so good to see you."

Seyi beamed when she finally noticed Mom. "I had no idea you were sitting here Ms. Duke. I blame this dark place."

"I blame it too and this lovely dance numbers. I could spot Rachel from here too. She's doing really well."

Seyi nodded excitedly "Thank you. Your mom's a gem, Abigail."

I didn't reply. I had no idea what I needed to say. Mom gave a shy smile. "Stop being so modest, please."

Seyi rolled her eyes. "Don't listen to her. She is so sweet and she treats my daughters like hers. She even introduced Rebecca to her beauty pageant and she's grooming her so well."

"That sounds like my mom."

Seyi clearly couldn't detect the sarcasm in my voice as she continued. "Yes yes. That has to be it."

Needing to distract myself from the conversation, I clutched onto my camera and continued to take pictures.

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