Writers’ Blokke
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Writers’ Blokke

Back With Family [Fiction]

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

I looked outside my window and beheld the half-naked kids still playing a toilet float as football. Their parents were not yet back from their farm, and they have been playing all day. When I first saw them was by 4 p.m. when I stopped my music box, closed my laptop, and closed my window blinds to take a nap. Now it’s 6 p.m., and they are still playing energetically. Looking upward, the sky was cloudy as though it was going to rain, but these kids did not seem to mind. They kept shouting and having fun.

It has been two weeks since I came back to Nigeria from Canada where I completed my bachelor’s degree in English Language. Back to my father’s land to enrol in her NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) programme before looking for a job.

Nigeria has changed so much since I left her, but unfortunately, some things seemed to have worsened, like the road to my father’s compound. I was told that my father had long stopped parking his Toyota Corolla at home since the last time it got stuck in the mud while trying to get home. He now parks it at work and takes a motorcycle back home. I had always known him to avoid motorcycles, but what choice does he have; the road is nothing to write home about.

It is nice seeing my younger siblings, but there seems to be some distancing. They have grown these past four years without me. Though I have always communicated with them via the telephone, our discussion was always centred on their studies, and nothing personal. I guess I would have to do a lot to earn their trust, but for their respect; I can see they respect me from the way they behold me and help carry my bags, but I long for a unique relationship with them.

I have been looking for a way to earn money outside a white-collar job, so I opened a blog where I talk about anything and everything about food. I cannot say I am a foodie, but I love good food. So far, I don’t seem to be doing well. I have tried Google AdSense twice for my site, and both times, I have gotten rejection emails. I am holding on because I believe someday will be the day.

Dad would be back this evening from his journey to Abuja. He had called to inform me that we would have to discuss my NYSC placement at Nasarawa. He is sceptical about me staying in the northern part of Nigeria, though I have assured him that there is nothing to worry about; he used the fear of Boko Haram (a terrorist group in the northern part of Nigeria) to dissuade me from accepting my placement, but I guess I am being stubborn. I plan to accept whatever he says to me tonight. It wouldn’t hurt to drop my stubborn ways. I have been trying to do that a long time ago. Starting now won’t be bad, I guess.

Looking at the side of my bed, I sight the pile of clothes I would have to wash the next day, and deep within me, I wished I had done my laundry gradually instead of leaving them to pile up. My younger sister initially promised to help me with them, which made me lazy, but unfortunately for me, mum sent her to spend the remaining two weeks of her holiday with our cousins at Ogun State. So, I am left with my burden. I gladly accept them, but wish I never allowed her promise to make me laze. Looking all around my room, I know aside from washing my clothes, I have a lot of tidying to do. After which, the book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, which lay on my table, would be my partner for the rest of tomorrow. With that, I let out a sigh and said my favourite quote, “There is so much to accomplish, but very little time.”

I left my room and went to the kitchen. Mum had called me earlier to inform me of lunch, but I told her I was busy. Now there was no food in the pot. I searchingly looked for her yellow food flask. As I opened it, I was greeted with the aroma of her sweet jollof rice, and the sight of a peeled boiled egg and smoked fish. I quietly took the food to my room. I would not want her to find me taking lunch by after six in the evening. She told me she was going to the market and would be late. She had promised to cook efo egusi and pounded yam, which was my dad’s favourite. She indeed knows what to do to please him.

I quietly devoured her delicious jollof rice as I tuned my radio to Nigeria Info, 99.3 FM. A man on the radio was discussing the recent happenings in the country, but I could detect that he did that with so much caution. I guess he dreads stepping on toes. I unconsciously switched between stations as I ate, but none held my attention. So, I switched off my radio and played music on my phone. Listening to my favourite album by Maverick City and Elevation Worship, “Old Church Basement”, is always exuberating. I swayed my head and tapped my feet as I listened and ate my jollof rice.

Minutes later, I could hear some shouts, “good evening ma,” from outside my window; so I hurriedly finished the rice, swallowed the egg, but kept the smoked fish for later, and I slipped into the kitchen to drop the food flask, before rushing to the door to welcome my mum. I opened the door and took the bags with her, while she noisily slumped into the sofa, and cried, “I am tired.” I requested I do the cooking while she rested, but she objected. She wants the meal to be perfect for her husband, my dad. I guess she is afraid that my stay in Canada has diluted my cooking skills. I haven’t told her of my cooking adventures back in Canada because of her busy schedule. I helped her light the stove, wash the pots for the soup and the yam. Then, I left the rest to the cook, my mum, while I took the mortar and pestle to the backyard and washed them. Few minutes later her phone rang, and with the way she greeted the caller, I knew it was her good friend who is never satisfied if the call duration is not over thirty minutes. Deep within me, I laughed, because mum would eventually leave most of the cooking to me if the call did not end in the next five minutes. I guess luck is on my side to prove that I am still an expert cook, especially in the making of efo egusi and pounded yam.

I learnt how to cook efo egusi when I was thirteen years old, because my dad loved it, and my mum was always cooking it. I fear that when my siblings and I leave for our respective homes in the near future, all she would make for my dad would be efo egusi and pounded yam. I can’t help but laugh at such a thought. Few minutes later, she came to the backyard and told me to help her check the food. At the end of the day, I did the cooking. When she was done with the call and realized that I was done cooking the soup and pounding the yam. She looked at my face, to check if there were doubts on my face, but she saw my big smile. She smiled, took a spoon and tasted the soup, and said, “you tried,” which made the laughter I was barely holding back, out. She laughed also and left the kitchen.

I quickly pounced on the egusi soup, took part of the pounded yam and went to my room to give it the justice it deserves. When I was done, I could hear my dad’s voice and my mum telling him to take his bath while she dishes his favourite meal. He quietly obeyed her and went into the bathroom. He took his bath and came to the parlour to devour the mountain of pounded yam on his plate. He was known to be someone who does not eat during a trip, except when it is estimated to last over 24 hours, so my mum most certainly made no mistake when she overwhelmed his plate with the pounded yam, and his soup with stockfish, but the funny thing about him is that he eats slowly that you would think that he isn’t hungry. He finishes that food and says “thank you, ma” to my mum. The way he says it is always funny. I sincerely had missed all this drama, but I guessed it had to happen.

I strolled into the parlour as he started eating and greeted him, to which he replied. He quickly reminded me of the meeting he wants to have with me, and I assured him that I was still aware. Few minutes later, he called me and told me that he had left some portion of his food for me to eat. He said that it had been a long time since he did that for me and would love to do it again before I go for my NYSC programme. I assured him that I was filled, after the jollof rice, egg, smoked fish, pounded yam and egusi with stock fish; but he was unwilling to hear my plea. I quietly sat down to eat the remaining portion of his meal while he watched. I could see the happiness and joy on his face. He had so much hope for me as when I left for Canada and I am grateful I did not dash his hopes. I graduated magna cum laude from the University of Victoria. He almost hosted a party, but my mum told him to keep my “little success” quiet.

As I quietly devoured the pounded yam, he narrated the recent happenings in Nigeria, and though I have heard most of what he told me already in the news, it was delightful hearing them from his perspective. He told me of his plans to assist me in finding a relocation for my NYSC placement and requested I wait patiently, which I accepted without any objections. When he was done relating the happenings in Nigeria, he spoke of the female gender, relationship, emotions, and marriage. This was the first time he ever did such, and I felt honoured to be considered an adult, though I was still a young fellow. It was as though he did not want to stop as he constantly warned me at intervals not to get myself entangled in a relationship or marriage that would cause me to regret. He further went ahead to read the entire verses of Proverbs 31 from the Holy Bible, advising me to watch and pray so that I marry a virtuous woman, and made me understand who a virtuous woman is. Whilst my mum was not in the parlour, he praised her and spoke highly of her. He spoke of all the time she had been more than a helpmeet. When he ended his words, I could see that he wanted to say so much more, but he ended with the words, “my son take heed, take my wisdom and live”, and he left me in the parlour.

I was left alone in the parlour as I pondered on his words. Deep within me, I knew that they were words I could and should not do without to be fulfilled, and there and then I realized that I was a blessed man to have a kind of family like this.

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Favour Olumese

Favour Olumese

Favour Olumese is a lover of the creative use of words who utilises poetry & non-fiction to relate humanity and divinity in this ticking phase called life.