Happy birthday wishes to our very own Ikechukwu Nwaogu – an insanely talented and hardworking friend of the house. In the birthday mood, he shared this beautiful piece… Enjoy.
And so it did happen one day that Mama Eliezer, who sold fish in Cana market, was having the wedding of her second daughter, and as such, she invited her close friend and loyal customer, Mama Jizos, aka Mary. And Mary, who was using style to be looking at her first son, Bros J, aka Emmanuel, and , having never seen him Fraternising with the females, decided to form like Da Vinci, and pass him the code, that he was getting a bit long in the tooth to be sitting around unmarried, after all, a thirty year old was a grown man, and while she knew a priori that he was a special child (the angel said so na, that miraculous pregnancy something), she was also using corner of mind to hope that he would locate one beautiful and pious jewish girl from a good family, and set her on the course for grandmother-hood, after all, her mates were preparing for omugwo, and even her cousin Eliza, if not that her son John, who was senior to Emma by a couple of months, was still in the mountains, crying out about a savior, he would have had a wife by now, perhaps even a baby. John had a way with the ladies. He had this rough, earthy look about him, and she knew that ladies found him attractive. He was tall and well built, as though he spent a lot of time working outdoors. He even looked more like a carpenter’s son than her own Emma.
So she wheedled and deedled him, and coaxed and cajoled, made promises of jollof, till at length he agreed to come to the wedding. He even showed up with some of his friends.
So Emma, aka Bros J, #turnt up at the wedding, with a few of his goons in tow, since they had heard that His mum was in charge of Jollof, and they were short of serious activity for that day.
That was where the problem came up.
You see, Titus, (not the one Brother Paul would later write a letter to, mind you) was the man getting married, and while he had made provisions for the provision of a large amount of tombo-liquor, palmi, akpeteshi, and sapele water, he either underestimated the love of his guests for alcoholic beverages, or the amount of guests ( and gatecrashers of the “mo gbo, mo ya” sort, which, I may add most reverently, includes our dear Lord) , and as such, at some point in the course of the festivities, when platters of steaming jollof were circulating freely, and men were swilling freely from the numerous tankards, goblets, and mugs of spirits, a servant, Sebastine, who we shall henceforth address as Saba, was seen to be fluttering his hands in distress, and pacing back and forth near the service entrance, where Mama Emma, alias Mumsy J, the mother of our Lord, was ensconced, overseeing the heaping of platters and trays with jollof.
Being a kindly sort, and one who would naturally commiserate with someone in any kind. of trouble or unease., she sent one of the serving ladies to call the fluttering fingered fellow.
“Saba, how far? What deyeth?”
(Translated from the old Hebrew, ‘wetin dey?’)
“Ah, Mama Emma, there is problem o”
“Problem? What kind of problem is that?”
“The drink iyaf finish”
“Ehn?”. Her exclamation of surprise was enough to make one of the servers drop the platter of jollof she was in the process of
heaping, which fell on top of the pot cover with a thud, and nearly poured on the floor, before it was saved by another serving maid with quick reflexes, after all, it WAS jollof, and worth more than gold, in its own unique way.
Saba fluttered his fingers some more.
“Iss true ma, the drink has finished, even the one they reserved for the after party, we have started serving it, and some have not even gotten.”
Mary sighed. It was a practiced sigh. It came from years and years of putting up with a child who, though excelling in wisdom and virtue, and in favour with God and man, also excelled in getting his parents nearly sick with worry. Remember that “left behind in the temple” incident? Ehen, that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about, plus Bros J’s younger ones, who were a pain and a blessing, but sometimes more of the former.
“Wetin una go come do now na?” Mary inquired.
I no know o, I just confuse. I send Theophilus make e go help me check whether we go see drink buy for Shelatiel place, make we take supplement, but e never come”
Mary sighed again, sober with the weight of impending wahala. She imagined what would happen when the guests began to complain. It would cast a huge shadow over what was, so far, turning out to be a swimmingly enjoyable wedding reception. Bella leJew and Linda EKG were going to have a swell time chronicling the failure, how the tight-handedness of Titus had made his wedding flop due to lack of tombo-liquor and akpeteshi.
She walk-waddled over to a chair and sat down. It was still walk, but it was becoming more waddle than walk, like most Hebrew-Jebu women, she was getting a little thicker around the middle and hips, but no wahala, some men still stared when she walked past, but that was all it would ever be, stare. She winced a little as she recalled the rumours of adultery, when she was pregnant with Emma.
A slim, fair lady came, bearing a tray. She had just finished serving some of the guests, and she was sweating. It takes a lot to bear heaped and steaming platters of jollof to and fro on an empty stomach.
“Call my son for me”
‘Your son? Where is he?’
“There. See that table there, the one wey people gather plenty plenty. That one wey hold meat for him two hands na Judas, see the way him eye de shine? No be him o, The one wey dey near am, that one wey de smile ……”
‘That fine one? The one wey e dey carry hair wey dey curl so, wey fine, and e get bear-bear?’
Mary glared daggers at the girl. How dare she ? Imagine the Babylonian arrogance! Then she remembered that Emma, aka Bros J, was actually a handsome young man in exactly the same way that Hannah was a beautiful young woman, okay, not so beautiful, every mother thinks no girl is good enough for her son, but cute in her own way, and hard-working. A joy to work with, but to marry, who knew?
“Abeg call my son for me before you stand there daydreaming, time is passing”, Mary chided.
Hannah sidled up to the table where Bros J and his goons were dealing with their jollof, and whispered into his ear. Bros J, being the Boss of all Bosses and the Lord of Lords, already knew, but still inclined his head to hear what she said.
“Ya Mama dey call you, she say make you come”.
The good Lord nodded. He glared at those sitting near to him at the table: On the left, Jude, who was always behaving like an ass, hence the nickname “Jude-ass” or simply “Judas”.
And on the right, grinning at Bros J as he tore into a chicken lap, was John, later to be known as the Disciple whom Jesus Loved.
As Bros J pushed back his chair and made to get up, from the corner of His eye He saw Judas snake his hand towards the meat in his plate, and He sighed
Beware: Anyone who can try to steal the meat in your jollof can betray you. Even without 30 pieces of silver
As Bros J made his way towards the service entrance (actually, corner is the word that comes to mind) where his mother was waiting for him, he could (of course) read her mind, and noticed she was worried he wasn’t looking at females, of which they were many, and as gaily adorned as tropical birds in full plumage.
Just to amuse her, and allay her fears, he pretended to stare at the rear end in his front.
Mumsy J watched her son as he approached, wondering if she could ask him, and what he would do, knowing how he liked to mind his business because, according to him, his “time” had “not yet come”
She looked at him, thirty years old, in the prime of his life, and wondered what he meant by his time having not yet come, and when, indeed, if ever, the so called time would come.
“Mama, how far? That girl”, pointing at a retreating Hannah, “say you dey call me”
‘Yes o, Emma, e get wetin I wan tell you’. Here she fidgeted a little.
“I de hear you na, talk.”
‘Emma, this wedding, you know say e get as e be, because na my friend, Mama Eliezer, na my very tight friend, e no get wetin she no de do for me. And now, as this wedding dey so, drink wey them get don finish. And this thing na big falling hand for my friend, even for me sef. Wetin you go fit help them do?’
“Mumsy, haba! You no go free me? Shebi I don tell you say my time never reach, why you come de draw person leg come out? This thing wey you de do no gel o, I de tell you, e no gel at all.”
Mary smiled. She knew he would respond like that, he was her son, after all.
‘ Emma-emma! Bros J-bros-Jay’, she cooed. ‘J-bros the fine boy!’ It was one of his nicknames of which he was more fond; she always called him that when trying to soften him up.
Then came the knife twist
‘After all the wahala, all the stress, e no dey good make pikin dey ungrateful, especially pikin wey be say e take him parents eye see nwiih, all the wahala, all the running upandan, run go Egypt, run come back, all the wahala for temple, and yet, the one wey person go ask am, e go still de form, de do shakara.”
Bros J sighed.
It was one of those deep, heartfelt sighs. One of those sighs that are heaved the world over, by victims of subtle and not-so-subtle manipulation and wo-manipulation, the people whose arms have been “lovingly” twisted by mothers, partners, sisters, colleagues….
Mary smiled, a warm, secret smile. Signalling the worried Saba over, she whispered to him,
“Anyhting wey e tell una, make una just do am, no reason am, no ask foolish question dem. Just do am.”
Saba, not quite understanding, nodded. He didn’t know Mary quite well, nor did he know Bros J, but rumour had it that he was something special, he was not really sure of the specifics. But as he turned from Mary’s side, he found himself looking straight at….
“Guy, show”, Bros J commanded.
Saba hurried over to him.
“You see all those drums wey dem take pack the drinks, carry water full all of them”
“Bros the drinks don finish o, another one no dey”
Bros J gave him one of those looks that have become so popular on twitter and instagram.
“You now fill them first, make we see.”
Signaling to Asher and Dan, or Akpos and Dafe, the young men who helped him serve the drinks, he left the hall, and soon they were busily engaged in drawing water from the well and filling the six drums.
By and by, the drums were filled, and Saba came back to inform our Lord that the task had been completed.
“Oya fetch am for big cup, take am give Chairman”
So saba found himself a large mug, and, filling it from one of the drums, headed for the Chairman’s table, and set it before him.
The Chairman was an “Iziro dulling” kind of somebody. So when Saba set a glass before him, he took one gulp of the rich, sparkly beer, and sent someone to call the bridegroom, pronto.
“Tai-tuss? This your pattern hard o, you first bring out normal drink, na when people don de drink well-well you come bring out the Orijin? Kai! Omo see sense! E good like that sef, make people no go drink am finish. Abeg tell them make dem reserve like ten liters for me, I know say na you de marry, but me sef get work for hand, you no know say man pikin still de jiggy-jiggy?”
And the man winked fondly at brother Tai-tuss, who, in confusion, turned, catching Saba’s eye.
Saba looked away, in some confusion himself, and caught Mama Emma’s eye, and she in turn, looked around, and sought Bros J, and Bros J, having already waved someone over to serve Him and His goons with the new brew, and being all knowing, turned around, saw his Mumsie of Life staring at Him…
…and winked, before turning around to clank mugs with John, the one he loved, and Judas, whose thunder was already doing press up.
Everything was going to be fine.
Ikechukwu Nwaogu is a writer, occasional poet, and playwright who lives and hustles in Lagos. A member of the mainland book cafe, he is an avid lover of books, reading, and poetry. He blogs at www.inkspilla.wordpress.com and tweets via @eyekaywizard[/color-box]