This is how I remember you: pert nose, breakfast enthusiast, forger of tears, akara hoarder. You were with me when the old woman’s mangy dog dug his teeth into my buttocks; that day we took all our Christmas money—money scrounged from returnee uncles and aunties—to the old woman’s sweet shop, to buy snacks filled with saccharine. You were with me when the local nurse scraped the teeth marks away and gave me the chlorophyll of bitter leaves to drink, and you aped around me, saying that in no time I would only be able to bark, incapable of speech.
Remember when we rode our bicycles on the laterite soil, traversing every nook and cranny of the hamlet, city children full of pep and glee, until we came upon the priestess in her white calico wrapper tied about her chest, her eyes circled with nzu. She swung a dead and bloody chicken in her arms, invoking the rain to ruin the traditional wedding ceremony of a client’s enemy. We rode away fast, fear thudding loudly in our eyes and for days we never dared tell anyone what we heard or saw.
You were there when we thronged behind Grandma on the first journey to the farm to harvest cassava, with the birds fluttering and glorying in their songs, everything in the greenery of the bush crisp with life.
You were with me when we bathed our naked bodies, standing on a sheet of zinc, the hot water in the enamel pail filled with the smell of firewood, and the late night harmattan wind licked up our skin before we could reach the towel.
You were there with me under the plastic canopies when Aunty Ada was decked out for her igba nkwu and when, with a horn of palm wine, she searched shyly for her groom and we thought adult games were embarrassingly silly.
After Christmas, we promised to write each other. We were sad to see the end of another holiday season.
#TalesOfAnAfricanChristmas is a seasonal series. Everyday until Christmas day, we will post a story or flash fiction about Christmas. So come back tomorrow for a brand new story.
About the Author:
Ucheoma Onwutuebe’s works have appeared in Prairie Schooner, LipMag, Kalahari Review and a bevy of other outlets. She blogs at www.ucheomaonwutuebe.blogspot.com.