Some few years ago when mum travelled very early in the morning for some delegate conference stuff, I also had to leave very early to Asaba on an errand while my dad was preparing for work. I needed to do many things before going back to school for a new semester by weekend. My sister had already gone back to school days before and our help had an early morning mathematics examination in too. Mum and dad asked her to leave early for it too.
Dad told my brothers to fry eggs for breakfast and set the table. My brothers did so; set the table and were soon ready in their school uniforms too. Our driver’s family said that he was very ill and couldn’t get up and my dad told them to get him to the clinic immediately. They went back to the quarters and somehow got him out quickly too to the clinic. So my dad very early tidied up and got ready for work, briefcase and books already outside the room.
Dad washed the car and dropped my brothers off at school. He drove himself to court in time to deliver his 9 o’clock judgement too. His orderly who was quite early met him on the way and joined him. Lawyers, clients and judges were surprised and some offered to drive him back. They couldn’t understand their boss. Dad laughed and told them they’ve forgotten he’s a sporty and expert driver and joked about F1 races saying if he could join in another lifetime. I’m often reminded about his F1 jokes once in a while by his colleagues.
By noon, he went to Awka for a meeting and was calling each of us on phone to be sure that we were fine. He came back to my brothers’ school to pick them up too and also checked on our ill driver who was by then back from the hospital. Dad warmed the food for everyone to eat from the freezer and at night, he cooked dinner. Egusi soup and semovita.
All these did not make him any less of a man. He was still the tall, handsome, huge and distinguished respected ‘John Carter’ to everyone. This wasn’t the first time he did these things at home either.
The next day in the evening, he asked my brothers to prepare beans and supervised it. He made them tidy up everywhere and then, played football with them. I got back home and saw them playing behind the house and joined in. I scored one goal though (I scored none the week before when we played) and dad reminded me of how to kick the ball and avoid wounds. Dad often hated scars.
If we had scars, he’d scold us and still ask us to go play. He so loved our skin and hair to be glowing always. It was fun and he actually gave more football orders as though he was still a football captain like his younger days of playing and competing. We discussed and gisted about the happenings while away and the errand. After an hour, dad was back in his study researching and preparing for the next day’s work.
There is really ‘time’ and when we say have no time a lot of times in our lives, something’s a miss. Even if it is twenty minutes spent with your children or loved ones in a week or two week or month for extremely busy parents/people, make that twenty minutes glorious.
Last night, February 20th, I spoke to my brothers on phone and all these were all they talked about. They told me they were cooking too; porridge yam and plantain with smoked fish and wanted mummy to relax. It’s their break and they’re having a ball. They also said they were going to be freer from the kitchen and homework tomorrow to play football and compete with our neighbours in the play station games this evening.
I remember when I was so sick suddenly years ago and alone with my brothers. My youngest brother, who wasn’t even up to ten years washed the clothes, then joined the older one to prepare lunch. I never asked them to do all these. They bought paracetamol from the pharmacy and then asked if they can call our next door neighbour to drive me to the clinic.
Just as our neighbour was coming, mum got back and took over from them. I was shocked, happy and proud of them too. Real men don’t wait for women to do the things needed or insist that some things in the home must be done by wives or daughters. My brothers are not even up to seventeen years.
I look back and smile.
I remember a family friend in 1996 asking my parents how they got us to speak Igbo and English very well; and also speak and pass in school, French, Yoruba and Hausa (cant remember these now ). School did help with the languages too but I remember French being easier because mum could speak and write too. Now we’ve forgotten almost everything, we laugh at ourselves and wonder why or how. I remember people asking my parents how they got both girls and guys to know how to cook and tidy up even though we had helps. I also remember that some visitors who did not know us very well thought that our helps were my siblings or cousins. I remember some guests asking my mum why she often had my brothers cooking with her in the kitchen too.
Let’s just not worry about the answers or sermons my parents gave them; that’s another day’s story. I remember so many things and I look at a few things in my diary which I hardly even updated then and smiled.
I simply believe that some people are just mentally lazy and just do not want to take up responsibility to train kids and yet blame the society and schools.
Yes, the society and schools contribute and greatly influence but they are not also miracle workers and one cannot expect that they do all the work.
Start within your heart and families.
The families I know living in different countries outside Nigeria whose children speak one Nigerian language, English, Spanish and French (at the same time), cook and tidy up even though they have a house keeper do not have two heads. These things can be done. One can at least try. Sometimes, I really wish I could even speak six languages or more. No joke.
A lot parents and children think its cool not to know how to speak their native language or are just not bothered with it. Most think it’s cool to speak only English forgetting that children can learn up to two or more languages especially when young.
The English language is absolutely and officially necessary globally but you are not cool to me if you can’t speak or understand or teach your children your native language.
You are also not cool to me and absolutely full of bullshit if you teach only your girl child how to cook, clean, cultured and be polite while you leave your male children out of it.
That’s just so much more than ten truck loads of balderdash and fuckery. Don’t even pardon my French.
Thankfully, not all families or parents in Nigeria are the same. A lot are actually very amazing too.
I seriously hope and pray we become better than our great parents in future and that for those who are already parents and not doing it right, for them to pick up the strength and sense of direction to change. I pray for parents presently doing things right to keep up and reap great fruits too.
Some day, a lot of things will fall into place with us all.
Having gone through a lot of pains and griefs in life, I’m thankful for these memories too.
I look back and smile at these.
(EXCERPTS FROM ONE OF MY UNPUBLISHED WORKS AND WORKS IN PROGRESS TITLED “TRUE LIFE STORIES OF MEMOIRS EVERGREEN”)