The world works overtime to define our happiness. To tie our mellow hearts to material things, to ‘big’ achievements. As I grow older, I see happiness differently. Like life, it is a sprint, not a marathon. Some days it is like the sea’s lover, it comes in waves. Other times, like the sea’s nemesis, it comes in tides. The trick (if there is any at all) to being happy is to remind oneself that today’s worries aren’t forever. Life changes, and so do our problems.

I enjoy indulging in the little things that make me happy. I call them the ‘little big things.’ Like finding the missing ear of my AirPods under my son’s crib. Like my son savouring a home-cooked meal. Like ewedu served with the perfect ratio of gbegiri, or beef stew. Like sun-dried clothes. Like a fully charged phone before NEPA strikes. Like nicely roasted boli, not too soft, not too hard. Like perfectly salted and crunchy groundnuts. Like London a few hours after the morning rush, with its waiters cleaning up leisurely like they are taking a stroll in a wealthy man’s life. Like sun rays that nuzzle with the softest flicker of heat. Like meat pies with juicy filling and crusty flakes. Like hot and soft puff puff when you arrive in time for the last batch being scooped out of hot oil. Like soft agege bread and egg fried with sardine oil. Like deep-fried meat encased in the juice of peppery stew. Like firewood jollof rice. Like Lagos without traffic on a Sunday morning. Like Lazy Sunday evenings alongside a good book and a good poop. Like a night drive accompanied by an RnB playlist. Like a car roof down on a moonlit night beaming with peals of laughter from the radio host. Like the breeze caressing your body. Like finding the perfect dress that fits like it was tailored with your body in mind. Like reading my children’s favourite bedtime story during lunch. Like the smell of new books. Like credit alerts. Like the ability to write, the gift to carve my feelings into words and paste them on paper. Like the view of the big sky from the window of a small plane. Like watching a rainbow being held down by the heavens as it kisses the blue waters of the sea. Like seeing the girl I wave goodbye to at the bus stop every morning— I do not know her name. She doesn’t know mine. 

When God speaks love through a rumble of thunder. When rain cuddles me to sleep on a Friday night, or on a Saturday morning. When the smell of my mother’s Pap and moi-moi wakes me up on a Saturday morning. When the splashing patter of raindrops grazes my window sill. When the waiter at the deli across from my office remembers my breakfast order how I like it—bread roll with butter, bacon, sausage, and omelette, no sauce. When I reconnect with a long-lost friend who says they thought of me from time to time as I did of them. When I successfully put my children to bed in time for date night. When I slip into the train one minute before the door closes knowing the next train doesn’t arrive until 20 minutes after. When I match each pair of socks while folding laundry. When I get a surprise—a delivery filled with books from my favourite authors. When I cuddle my husband and feel the reassuring soft heave of his chest. When my grandma on video call exclaims how much my children look like her. When I find sweet agbalumo six thousand miles away from home. When I complete my yearly re-read of my favourite classics. When I finally mended in the places I thought would be broken forever. When my demons let go of my neck a little, so I breathe easy. When I feel my heart squeeze at the sound of my two-year-old humming to his favourite rhyme alongside his favourite cartoon character.

Happiness comes in tides. This morning, it came when I woke up before my alarm went off. Happiness comes in waves. Tonight, it came when I remembered the whiff of freshly whipped blended beans being moulded into akara.

About the author:

Omotayo Sangofadeji is a financial consultant by day and a writer all the time. Her short stories have been published in online publications including The Naked Convos and Stories.Ng. Former headliner at the 12th Redefest Community Music Festival, she has also performed at several book reading events and Open Mic shows in North East, England. She is the author of Her Eyes Tell Our Stories, a collection of short stories and her first published oeuvre.

Feature image by Peter Olexa on Unsplash