When I first heard about ATHLETES OF THE SUN I was a ten-year-old boy living in Port Harcourt. The adults were talking about it excitedly. Aunty Bernice said something like “oh, you can’t look at it directly, you have to pour water in a bowl and look at the reflection so it doesn’t damage your eyes”
I was totally confused. I wanted to ask more but the adults chased me away to bed as proper uncles and aunties should.
On the appointed day I turned on the TV but none of the 2 channels broadcasting from Port Harcourt (RSTV and NTA) had anything remotely athletic. I began to wonder why a great event like that, athletes actually running on the sun, shouldn’t be on TV. Then I remembered that Aunty Bernice was very wise and all that. Of course no camera would be powerful enough to zoom up there and see the athletes.
So I took a bowl and filled it with water. And took it outside. It was darkening outside. Damn, I wouldn’t be able to see the athletes! Rain, Rain go away!!!
After maybe 15 minutes the darkness lifted. I couldn’t see any athletes in my water bowl. And Aunty Bernice said it was gonna happen by 11. 11:20 and still no athletes of the sun.
After 10 minutes I got bored and climbed the ladder to the water tank.
6 years later, I would be in Tricol Ofada when someone mentioned something about an Eclipse of the Sun. It sounded familiar. I thought and thought about why it was just tickling my brain. Then someone said “if you don’t have sun shades you can look at it in a pool or a bowl of water”. We were writing a Commerce exam when it started getting darker and darker. So dark the standby generator had to come on. I stepped out with Mojoyin to the Lab area and we watched the eclipse through a reflection in a pool of water. Just to prove she was a badass she looked at the sun directly.
Then it all came back
Eclipse of the sun
Athletes of the sun
Aunty Bernice had a very funny accent, apparently.
All images are from google search.