Monday, September 2nd 2019.
This is the story of EDIYE
*People always ask why I don’t eat chicken, I lie it is a medical condition, but we both know it is more than a medical condition, it is my sheer hatred for wicked chickens that lay devilled eggs. The medical condition only came later*
Haa Sazzzzzzy! Almost three decades and I just can’t forget this hatred I have for roosters. Let me walk back memory lane.
I was seven or maybe eight years old. I remember mum always package us to granny’s place to have some breathing space. Who would blame her? Granny lived a few streets away, and mum has four kids to top it all, Sazzy as tiny as she was and still is, was one of her children.
Growing up, going to Granny’s place was heavenly as it was a day to skip mum’s unending Ten Commandments that flowed with many eye movement and body language. It was also a day to be unruly without restraint. Oh, how I miss my Granny. Iya Eli, Wuraola, a mother made of titanium love. With Granny, there were no rules, no fear, nothing but a world of dangerous freedom without cane. I relished in too much freedom as a child, I was spoilt to pieces with the altogether self awareness of my person as a child with rights which UNICEF child-to-child network program was good at chanting every Friday in primary school. These rights I will never churn out to my mother as she was Abacha twin sister, but will dictate to my Granny who didn’t even need UNICEF to teach her what she already gave me as her beloved grandchild. Just like others I dare to say I was her favourite grandchild (All these na lie, Granny took this secret of favourite grandchild to the grave).
Saturday were a-no-consequence day. I spent them doing only God-knows-what. I remember our part of surulere then was a cluster of no fence houses and those who dared to even have one; I don’t even know why they did, as a child I could climb those fences to reach out to my friends. We all normally knew ourselves as *confraternity of mischievous grandchildren* on holiday or around for the day to constitute nuisance.
Granny’s house was very big with this big space to the front and unending expanse of land at the back. The back had a well, I was forbidden because trust now, *I short well well.* We also had two apple trees. I don’t even see those kinds of Nigerian apples anymore and the best part was, the neighbour whose child was an actress, his one-storey adjoining Granny’s house at the back after our playground, had this ever gracious fruit bearing banana tree that will not stop bending over into our own compound.
The man will shout and scream that we have come again to eat and destroy his Bananas, but his shrieks was the spark of our fun. If Baba never shout, it was almost as though the Bananas were never tasty enough. His frustration was real mehn, as he couldn’t cut down the tree because the best part or I think the surviving part of the tree was always growing over our fence.
I use to think we were wicked, I never knew Granny always paid him off for all our exploits (He got his land from her) which made him a constant complainant (The man is an unforgiving soul). It got to a point that we got used to his shout that we do not even answer him. We would rather spread the mat on the floor and have a picnic as though the man was just a buzzing fly. On our menu was iced water and blackcurrant tasty time in one of Granny’s transparent plastic jug, whatever snack my mum packed for us, our freshly plucked apples and of course Baba’s bananas, which we cut in a merciless manner, ripe or unripe.
Before he would turn round from his street into ours, his mere sight would let our elder cousins know his reason for coming. They will quickly alert us and help us wipe out all evidence. The one that use to pain me the most in the matter was, they will collect the bananas from us. Our aunt would inspect our mats and show Baba Banana we had no bananas with us, he would be showing my aunties the part of the tree that was freshly cut, everybody would act like he was insane (all the while I and my sister Amope will just be thinking *let this circus end and let us cut fresh ones o*) when he leaves, the backyard was too big for anyone to even be doing monitoring spirits and the fact that they were all too grateful we did not disturb them, when everything becomes calm again, I mean *Baba Banana has carry him wahala and go*, we would have cut fresh set of bananas by climbing the fence. Before he goes 360 degrees back to his house, as crossing the border of one long street to the other was quite a hurdle, I would have enjoyed the glory of seeing his toothless angry child shout like a maniac with his altogether nonsense eagerness to report us to his father as I cut another branch while sticking my tongue out. Granny was darn sure we ate them Bananas, others never had proof and those who did, were bloody accomplice. The highlight was we would have the best time of our lives make the man watch us from his backyard, while his wife and actress daughter laugh. His wife was my friend. She never had a problem with us having them Bananas, I really don’t get what Baba Bananas and his son problem was.
Aaaahhhh!!!! I remember another beating of my life because of this same Banana, I will write the story another day. Today’s own is for *Ediye*.
As a child, when the option of taking Baba’s bananas was no longer appealing, my attention goes straight to the chickens. Who owns them? I don’t know. Why there were in Granny’s compound? I don’t know. How may chickens and chicks they were? I actually don’t even know. Now, they were not towards the back of the back where Baba Banana trees leaned, the location of this big helpless cage was to the east of Grandma’s backyard.
Now, Mother Hen was always caged in her own compartment, but her chicks were always out in the open. (I must state that her chicks were always without end) I never knew where the older chicks went neither could I phantom who took them. All I recall is that more than once I saw Mother Hen eggs hatch and out the new chicks came. I thought this creature were a powerless helpless one and I, being a humanbeing, I can do all things as I like. I learnt my lesson from experience.
Whenever I am without my sisters to play picnic or for any reason skip school because I fell sick, or days I throw serious tantrums and chose not to go to a party (I hated parties as a child), mum will just drop me off to enjoy my Granny’s protection program and go do her thing with other willing children. As soon as Granny takes a nap, I immediately get bored and jobless. I will just dash down to the big cage with many compartments and begin my onslaught. My favourites were the chicks. I will pick the chicks by their wings and start flinging them. The way they fall and struggle to stand amused me a lot. I could do this the whole day.
Sometimes I will take a sitting position and begin to pamper chick by chick, rub them to sleep and place them in the above compartment and leave to sleep too. Other times, I will line them up while wielding a cane as though I needed them to form a straight line and be ready for school. I could go as far as using the cane to wake them up and cause chaos in the chicks’ cage, while I use the cane to sweep them out and then turn each chick that can’t run so fast or doesn’t get the gist of my game to a football. It was mad fun.
The best of my wicked act was when I pricked their feathers, like I see my mum do when she pours hot water on the already slaughtered chicken. No one told me you only needed to do that after they have been slaughtered. How can they not tell me this golden rule? The only problem I had, but failed to notice was that all the while I was playing, Mother Hen sat on her other eggs and watched me with her 5HD lens. She mentally wrote down all my deeds day by day. She charged and prosecuted me in the court of animal kingdom every blessed day and won the trial. She got her verdict to inflict grievous bodily harm on me and all the while I thought Mother Hen had no brains, like they say chicken brains. I failed to understand Mother Hen was also a mother and hated my guts and all I did for fun to her chicks until that fateful day, was a WRONG SHE COULD NEVER FORGIVE.
My dear people of God, it was a day in September I will never forget. A day before that day Mother Hen dealt with me, I was alone with her and her chicks. I pricked them and beat them ehn, I even kicked them. Mother Hen was flying up and down in her cage and all the while I was just happy she was just being an animal reacting to me unlike her docile self. I also failed to see that there was something awful about my acts and she was not having it. My elder cousin more than once dragged me away from the cage area and even Grandma made me sit beside her till Mum picked me up that day.
Just because I was not satisfied with my playground a day before, immediately I dropped from the car the following day, I went straight to the side of the house passing Granny’s shop. The skilful way I disappeared ehn, my mum was so scared I didn’t even know she was suspicious of me and was a few steps behind me. (I forgot to mention, my mum is better than CIA when she wants to nab you in the act). This maternal instinct of my mother saved my flesh.
I did not even know my cup of Mother Hen’s anger was full and runneth over. Ghen, Ghen, that was how action movie of my September to remember began.
Dear people of God, I stormed into the back like Van Damme and the first set of chicks I saw, I used my leg to fling them in many directions, which felt really good. I saw them scatter like kites in the air. What my eyes failed to see was that mother hen was just a few meters away, NOTcaged.
This life is wicked sha. No one even told me chickens can fly and fight. Another golden rule, I did not even need National Geography for. (This chicken experience made me embrace channel 181 and 182 with my life – man must know what we’all getting ourselves into)
Oh people, the last thing I saw was that Mother Hen flew, hovered over me, with claws and beak causing me many many physically big big pinch. I smelt the stench of anger in the air from this beastly creature. I was raced to the ground by this chicken and for all the time I caused her chicks the pricks, her beak did wonders to me. I cried and screamed and shouted Grandma, before all of my help cometh from the Lord through my own mother, Mother Hen melted down complete vendetta of the entire verdict she got from the court of animal kingdom. I passed out for a few seconds or maybe I closed my eyes really tight.
My mother used her bag to heavily wade the Hen away from me while she picked me from the floor. My mother picked Mother Hen by her wings like I do to her chicks and forcefully threw her in her compartment of the cage and locked it. All the while, she secured my safety behind her.
As old as I was, I saw the chicks I use to fling with my feet and pick with my hands and I got so apprehensive, I jumped on my mother. They all resembled monsters and I had Goosebumps all over my skin. I didn’t come down from my mother’s body o. My mother lifted me into my grandma’s room as I held onto her with my life, where between their laughs and my cries we explained it all. Actually, those who heard my scream and came out, didn’t see what happened.
My mother told the tale as though it was a mixed-up emotions. My mum thought I was off to the apple trees and I came in the way of Mother Hen and her chicks. With the way my mother said the story, I knew I was forgiven for whatever wrongs I had committed that morning, but my cousins laughed out loud. My mum didn’t get the gist. I hugged my Granny close and whispered into her ears not to tell my mum all I use to do.
My mum suggested they clean up my wounds and I take paracetamol and rest a while. Then, she remembered to tell my Granny I didn’t eat my breakfast and she should make me eat it before the drug. By the time they opened the cooler ehn, it was rice and chicken wings. While everyone saw boiled rice, stew and chicken wings, all I saw was rice, Mother Hen and her beaks on me. I screamed and pushed the cooler crying. This was where my hatred for chicken started.
I couldn’t step outside the house. The Banana man’s bananas rested for a while (In fact, he once asked Granny if I was sick – the man was just all *gragra*). In fact, I was glued to my granny whenever I had to go to her place. The situation was so bad, for my sake, Granny made a law of no animals……and all adhered to it. The cage was removed, every form of chicken expelled from Granny’s house and adjoining property. If my older and even younger cousins wanted me to behave, all they needed to do was say *Ediye* meaning *chicken*. My state was a sorry one.
It took me a very long time. A very very long time to be able to look at a chicken again and not be scared for my life. In fact, chicken tasted more like bread in my mouth and if I even dare to eat it today, it has to be really roasted mehn….then, I can tell my brain, Mother Hen has been crucified in the fire, she’s dead, you can eat it now. I will quickly throw it in my mouth and swallow. But, if I have the right of option, just give me fish or *Malu* meat abeg!
Till date, I can’t even go close to a chick and I can’t tolerate a live chicken. All my body will just stand up as if something is about to harm me. Dear Future Husband, if you mistakenly like chicken and you even goan think that I will cook it for you, YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN. your best option is frozen chicken. No live chicken will enter my house. NEVER!
Ok. Its Monday and while I sit here waiting for a doctor….i finally got the time to write about Ediye.
THE TALE OF MOTHER HEN aka EDIYE