an amusing scene with my mum.

A cock crowed in the distance, signifying that mortals could now wake and go about their daily routines. It was on a Christmas day. I was 12. My whole existence was filled with great joy; the new clothes, new shoes, going to the village square to see ‘mmanwu’ and off course, the anticipated amounts of money from uncles and aunts, who would come to visit. To me, all these didn’t complete the joy of Christmas. Only a particular thing actually did; the head of the chicken! I could share anything with my siblings or friends but not the head of the chicken.

The night before, everyone had gone for the Christmas vigil except grandpa and I. Grandpa sat on a bench, paying total attention to the walkie-talkie close to his ear. It wasn’t intentional I skipped the vigil, I was so worn out that I fell deeply asleep.

That morning, I quickly rushed to the backyard to ensure the fowls were still intact. I smiled at the sight of the two fowl; I added some water on a bowl, poured garri on a plank, drew it closer and enjoyed every bit of what followed.

“Di’okpa, ngwa. Bia gbuo ha!” (Boy, come and kill them!)

“Ebuka! Kedu udiri ura ihiri na-abali?” (What kind of sleep was that in the night?), my mum’s voice appeared from the room. I shivered, “good morning mummy” I managed to greet as I yawned.

“I tried to wake you but you didn’t wake. Each attempt made it less likely that you would get up from sleep”, my sister added. Whatever mum and sis said about that night didn’t matter to me, it was in their world. I began to ponder on the fowls; the way they rushed the garri and nodded up their heads while sipping water from the bowl. I imagined what it meant to look up at every gulp. In all of that, I was particularly anxious about eating the heads.

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“Di’okpa, ngwa. Bia gbuo ha!” (Boy, come and kill them!) My mum intoned, and pointed towards the fowls. Tears began to roll down my cheeks. I cried, not only because I didn’t want the fowls dead, but killing them scared the boy out of me!

“No Mummy, please I don’t want them to die” I trembled in fear.

“Bia nwoke, Don’t waste my time!” she added. I looked at her and let out a loud cry. That moment, a ripple of smothered laughter circled the compound. My mum and siblings embarked on a series of laughing competitions. I went limp and struggled to hold myself. When I got up, I ran like a chicken with its head cut off.

Hours later, lunch was served. Everyone’s plate of rice was filled to the brim and mum had instructed that we should indicate in case we needed more. I immediately glanced at the plate; it was only one head with another meat. I wasn’t interested to know what part of the chicken it was.
I took a deep breath, trying to wipe out the tears that were already dropping from my eyes. I sniffed my nose severally. The joy of Christmas, to me, was about to be denied.
“Bia nwoke, you are not hungry? Go and cover your food and eat when you’re hungry” mum said.
“I can’t find the head of the other chicken here,” I complained.
My younger brother looked calmly at me, “oya, come and take”
I stood immediately, a sudden smile sank in. I stretched my hand to collect the meat but was restrained by the voice of wisdom.
“You don’t know you have brothers, you want to eat everything alone” mum giggled. I bent my face in shyness and everyone in the house was thrown in the mood to laugh.

kingsley