After my love letter writing incident which my dad intercepted i felt everything was over, i never knew I still had somethings laying in wait for me. My siblings were not left out in the quest of making sure i purge myself of my iniquities before finally leaving for school. Between the time of my hot seat with my parents and my leaving for school the next day was barely few hours but it felt like another full day.
Like Joseph’s siblings my own siblings didn’t help matters either. Whenever my mum wants to send someone on an errand, instead of calling the person by name she will just shout “Onye no nso” (who is close). Whenever we hear it even those that are close by will distant themselves. This is because my mum’s mode of sending message is like “Algebraic equation” It doesn’t end. Maybe from washing pot, to fetching water, from there to pounding pepper, from there to cutting vegetable.
Most times whenever she shouts “Onye no nso” I prepare my mind to go for the errand since my my name is “Nonso”. That morning when she was cooking, we heard her again say “Bia Umuazia kedu onye no nso”(This children, who is close by). There was a pin drop silent, but looking at them, they were all smiling as if they knew what will come next. I was still trying to breath out when I heard her shout “Chukwunonso” and all of them heaved a sigh of relief.
It felt as if i was summoned by big brother to the diary room. As usual i started helping her out in the kitchen without any particular order. She was preparing banga soup aka “ofe akwu”. She knew it was my favourite probably that was why i was the one called.
I used the opportunity to remind her of the costume she was supposed to get for me on our visiting day which is also our feast day. At Tansi International School, Awka my alma mata likewise other missionary and seminary schools then, you were compulsorily expected to belong to a cultural dance group. Those days we had the likes of “igba umuoma”, Atiliogwu” “drillers” , “igba mmonwu”, “ufie” and host of other dance groups.
From the onset I respected myself and joined “The Drillers”. They don’t do much. What they do basically is match past using the colouration of dum belts. I had to join them because I knew that as a tall person, i will not have the patience and energy to be bending down and shaking waist like “tolotolo”(Turkey). At a point, the management saw that students no longer go to the dancing groups but prefer the drilling thingy thus making the dancing groups compulsory for everyone while drilling was made optional. They later released the list of students with the corresponding dance group they will be shaking their waist.
Before our Xmas break, we were told to come back in January with our respective cultural or traditional attires( preferably lion head material aka isiagu) in preparation of the feast of Blessed Iwene Tansi, which my alma mater represents.
From pounding the palm kernel, to pounding crayfish with pepper and other things. Within a short while I became comfortable in the kitchen. I and mum started gisting about school. I was still dragging with my mum why they have not yet gotten my own “isiagu” for the dance, when she said “bia nwaa nyekene m efe”(This boy leave me alone) and went to speak with my dad.
Immediately she left, the security in the kitchen became porous, i had unrestricted access to the pot where the meat was steaming and Lucifer, the devil himself came immediately to use me. I first of all encouraged myself with the igbo proverb that says “ogbu opi na eficha imi”( a hard-working person deserves commendation)before proceeding to my mother’s pot.
I first of all tasted liver and nodded in affirmation, it was followed by intestine, this time around i shaked my head closing my eyes. I was determined that the third one will be the final one before my mum comes out..
As i was finishing the residue of the old layers Chicken intestine in my mouth, i was stirring my mum’s pot to see the last lucky piece of meat. I stirred and stirred the pot but i didn’t see a smaller piece of meat. I already convinced myself that that taking the smaller chunk of meat will not be a sin or at best it will be a forgivable one. The demon in me asked me to keep trying. I tried one more time and there it was was.
I quickly picked it with the ladle, blew off its steam and threw it in my mouth. Bearing in mind that sollute ought to go with solvent, i quickly dipped the ladle back inside the pot and fetched a small quantity of the meat water with the intention of using it to wash down the content in my mouth.
My lips, tongue and face was buried in the ladle, when i heard a slap on my back and my mum’s voice saying “Nwoke m wepulu m onu ule gi na ngazi ofe m”(my friend remove your smelling mouth form my ladle). The force of the slap interrupted the digestion process about to take place and flushed out the meat and the water that was supposed to take it in.
As if she saw something strange, she came closer and examined the meat that came out with him her slap. The next thing I heard was “nya ujo aturozigi, oburuzia ita eko okuko papa gi’(so you no longer fear to the extent of eating your father’s gizzard. I was tempted to ask her mummy what is eko okuko.
Then ,I didn’t understand why igbo men place so much importance on gizzard. I didn’t cry nor shout, i was thanking God that i was going back to school that morning.
My mum let it slide at that time but i knew it was not over. The goodnews was that i was going back to school and whatever she might intend doing to me will be overtaken by the event of my leaving the house. I didn’t see the mouth i will use to conclude our isiagu conversation so i let it go.
Back in the school, the preparation of our feast was in top gear. Everything was set, My co-dancers were moving around with their different attires. When asked where my own attire was, i usually reply them not to worry that they will bring it on the feast day. I even boasted that the reason why it’s not with me was because my mum took my material to one of the best tailors in Onitsha to sew.
The feast day finally came. Parents were happy seeing their kids with their different attires. My parents nor anyone affiliated to me were not on sight. They were about calling our dance group when a classmate of mine came to inform me that my mum has been looking for me. My joy knew no bound. He took me where she was. I don’t remember, greeting her properly before asking whether she came with my clothe.
She smiled and brought out a clothe from one of her bags. I was happy until I saw the clothe. My face got swollen like a bread with brommate.
Mummy, this was not the clothe I said, this is Dad’s clothe, i said to her.. My mum smiled and informed me that my dad said I should wear his clothe since we are now mates. That was when it struck me that i was being punished for eating my dad’s gizzard. She even brought a red cap that i didn’t ask for.
Mum joined other parents in the canopy. She was eating, smiling and waving at me at intervals.
The clothe even made me to forget the dancing steps I learnt. It was a dance for the elders.