Category: Vignettes

Elejo Wewe; A Vignette

It’s been six months since Papa died.

Six long excruciating months for me, who is only a granddaughter.

What about Mami, how has it been for her? How has she taken the death of her beloved?

Her routine has been one and the same for quite a while.

There were muffled tears in the beginning, wails at the funeral, walks alone, contrary to what was our history.

But now, Mami has totally gone overboard in trying to get over her loss.

Permit me to say she’s cheating on her beloved husband, Papa.

Permit me to use the word cheating because there’s no other word in my limited vocabulary to describe replacing him with this new fella.

This new fella.

What shall we call him. Let’s just refer to him as the new fella. Mami calls him Elejo wewe. She calls  me elojo wewe too but its mockery when she does.

But for him, the Yoruba phrase is filled with affection. It means talkative in our native tongue.

And yes, that fine old fella, who’d been a part Mami’s history liked to talk, talk, talk.

It was all he did, seat on Papa’s wicker chair and talk.
And Mami liked to laugh, so she laughed at all he said.

He made her happy. He made me angry.

This new fella could sing. He sang all sorts of songs that were Mami’s favorites.

He could sing Onyeka Onwewu, Uwaifo, Fela, Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey and Shina Peters.

Sometimes, while I did arithmetic over at the dining table, I would catch Mami, dancing to his songs, a smile etched out on her face.

She was so happy. I was so angry.
“Come over here,” she would beckon at me sometimes “come listen to what he is saying” I would ignore her, act like I didn’t hear a thing.

All his bickering annoyed me.

That she thought she could just replace Papa with that man toy injured my ego. We were to recuperate together. But noo, she was on a frolic of her own.

They would sit outside under the setting sun and he would talk, talk, talk until the sun went down and the full moon stared over at them.

She liked this new fella and I wondered why.

Nothing in me liked this new fella, so one blue night while I tossed and turned, I made up my mind that it was time for him to go.

I woke up early the next morning, a Sunday which was a late morning for Mami, to execute my plan.

I took the old thing by his head while he slept and smashed it into the marbled ground, thumping and jumping on him with my boots on, until he was thoroughly dismantled and all was left of this new fella was a screechy sound and soon after, death.

I watched Mami’s reaction when she walked up to his bed site that morning, still dressed in her night wear.

“Oh my Funke” She called for me where I was seated peacefully having breakfast without his voice to annoy me. “oh my, oh my”

“What is it?” I asked running into the sitting room, innocence outlining my features.

“He’s dead” she said “I didn’t place him properly. He must have fallen off”

“Poor old thing” I counter, emotionless, yet, surprised by her calm reaction.

“Well, it’s time to get a new one. I had that thing in the eighties; I’m surprised he still worked”

“Mami, don’t tell me you’re still going to get a new radio after this”

“Why yes of course” she replied pulling at my cheeks.

My face melted into a frown. So there again; a new fella, another elejo wewe was coming back to us.

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Mama (A Vignette; Part one)

Mama liked to make garri. So it became lunch for me every day, after school. She would turn the garri, her legs resting by the side of the pot, her hands holding tightly the omorogun, beads of  sweat decorating her dark forehead. Then she would serve it with vegeatables. Efo riro on some days. Ewedu on some others. She would feed me on some afternoons when I declined to finish the small bowl, shoving a ball of garri which she had pressed and rolled with her fingers and dipped into the soup of the day into my mouth. I would take an eternity to swallow but midway, she already had another ball rolling.

It was like punishment those days. Those days when I had to sacrifice watching the cartoons or playing outside with the neighbours to eat.

Now, when I think of garri and the subtle smell of well pressed school uniforms, I would remember those afternoons with a crooked smile. Mama’s face would come to memory, her shiny skin and full grey black hair, her graceful smiile and dainty gold earrings.

I tell people, I’m big because my mama force-fed me well with lots of garri.

 

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In her last days, I prepared garri for Mama most evenings. With a decision to please, I would stir and turn garri in hot water, hoping it was just good enough. I would serve it in a plastic flowery tray, the garri wrapped in white nylon in a glossy white dish plate and the vegetables garnished with fish and meat the way she liked it and stand back waiting for her barrage of criticisms. On some days, the criticisms didn’t come. On some other days, they came, enough to make me cry.

The lumps; She would complain about them. Or she might say my garri resembled feselu

Sick as Mama was, she would go to the kitchen and show me the proper way to prepare it and I would nod my head furiously, glad that I knew better.

But Mama has peacefully left me but her garri art remains with me, right here in my heart.