Monday, September 11, 2023

Happy-ish Birthday, Koye

Earlier today, in introvert paradise. Photo credit: Mosimiloluwa Koye-Ladele.

If you’ve read one of these before, you know about my practice of writing a birthday pager: a document outlining my hopes and desires for my next birthday. Last year’s pager included a father section. I knew we were going to have a baby and I was looking forward to becoming a father.

It also had the other usual stuff. Individual. Husband. Sibling. Son. Friend. Professional. And so on.

You know what it did not include?

It did not include anything about becoming fatherless. Instead, it included a description of how I would like to feel today having celebrated my dad properly on his 60th birthday.

I couldn’t have seen fatherlessness coming.

But that happens. The real troubles in our lives are likely to be things we didn’t see coming. They’re the kind that blindsided me at 7:23am on what was supposed to be a lazy Friday last October.


My last year was so far the worst of years and the best of years. It was the autumn of despair, literally. And it was followed by the winter of hope, also literally. (If you think this sounds like Charles Dickens, you’re right. I’ve reversed the order of the years and shifted the seasons).

My father died. Our daughter was born. We lost the original Koye. We gained a new Koye-Ladele. A bunch of other things happened.

Round and around and around and around we go.


When I left business school, I was given a lovely Moleskine notebook by the staff of the Scholarships Committee. It was so lovely that there was only one thing I could do with it: give it to my dad. He enjoyed writing and loved a good notebook. The deep-green salamander-branded notebook was a perfect way to bring him some of what had been a magical year.

Oh how he loved it! He held it this way and that way while commenting on its heft. He said it was perhaps the nicest notebook he had ever had and that he looked forward to writing in it.

Only - he never did. When I went into his room after he died, I found it in its original nylon wrapper. What was even more distressing was that I knew why he hadn’t used it.

You see, I had received a similar (but not as nice) notebook in my first week at business school. I had not written in mine either. It was a really nice notebook, and so he (and I) was saving it for a future date.

And then his clock stopped on this side of eternity. The dates stopped counting into his future. Instead, they began pushing him farther into the past.

On my first night back after his funeral, I had a quiet moment and so I grabbed my own notebook. The one I’d had since January 2018 and hadn’t used. The one I was saving for my future self. I wrote something totally random in it. The point not being what I wrote – but that my present self deserved a nice notebook too.

I don’t often ask questions in these posts. But if you’ve made it this far, I’ve got one for you: what’s your Moleskin?


There’s balance to be struck. If I did everything my present self wanted, I would likely bankrupt my future self. That isn’t the goal. It is to fight my tendency to tip the scales too far in favour of delayed gratification.


What am I most looking forward to over the coming year?

It’s hard to articulate, but I don’t think it’s any single thing. I think it’s continuing a journey I’m already on. It’s re-learning to truly laugh from deep down and find happiness in the things and people I like. It’s fully re-engaging with the world. It’s stopping the avoidance of certain people or things because they remind me of my dad. It’s in seeking balance between using some Moleskins now and saving some for the future.

That’s it. There’s nothing about ambitious plans or stepping out this year. If on this day next year, I don’t stop next to the Thames and cry for what feels like half an hour, then it will have been a really good year.

I’ll take that.


"Some days are long, some work is tough

Whatever I lack, You make it up

Your yoke is easy, Your burden is light

You gave me life, You give me love

Whenever I'm dry, You fill my cup

Your yoke is easy, Your burden is light." - For All My Life, Taya


  1. Happy birthday Koye! Condolences again on your dad & congratulations on your daughter! It indeed has been a full year for you, and I’m grateful for your courage and reflections as you keep walking on!

  2. Happy birthday sir. It's your best year yet, enjoy! Cheers sir

  3. Happy birthday Koye- Love Ehis

  4. There’s balance to be struck. If I did everything my present self wanted, I would likely bankrupt my future self. That isn’t the goal. It is to fight my tendency to tip the scales too far in favour of delayed gratification.

    I must have read that 10 times. It’s definitely something I definitely need to remind myself of.

    I hope this year is one of balance for you, filled with joy and hope and an enjoyment of the present