The Wicked Act Of My Aunt On A Christmas Day

By Ikenga Chronicles July 31, 2020

— Anayo M. Nwosu

The childhood memory still lingers as if it happened today.

It was a Christmas Day in 1976 when all the Nnewi village based children of the compound of Nwosu Ezeonwaneti would go around in a group with our “Anya Akpọ Ego Ọkụ” masquerade, visiting all the households in the village dancing and be gifted with cash thrown at or spread on us by our hosts and in some cases are gifted some plates of rice with legs, necks and heads of chicken.

I was the first choice in adorning the masquerade due to my dancing skills and perseverance to wear a wooly sack and wooden face of the masquerade for a long period. I also got a larger share of the monetary collections .

The only regret I had as the wearer of the masquerade was that I wouldn’t eat anything be it food or meat during parade as it was an abomination for a masquerade to eat.

The masquerade was supposed to be a spirit descending from our ancestors.

That very Christmas, we agreed to end our parade on time to enable us visit our uncle’s house.

Uncle Willie came back to the village from Lagos with his entire household.

Our uncle’s children were all born in the UK. They were referred to as “citizens”. Aunty Ifeoma would travel to UK for child delivery so as to give her kids a head start in life. She wanted them to be global citizens.

Our cousins were not allowed to speak Igbo by their mother. They only spoke English. Speaking the mother tongue, my aunt thought, would make them different from the local children.

Not to be taken unawares, my home based cousins and I practiced English we learnt at Ogbe Central School Otolo to enable us interact with our cousins.

We were all in the primary school as at the date of this incident.

That evening, we were all well dressed; wearing our Christmas dresses of the same design which was a jumper sown by Amarandede de Tailor. The dresses did not come with trousers or pants. That would be too expensive.

We proudly moved about dangling our pendulums or our symbols or qualification for membership of the men’s folk or Umunna.

And we never cared.

Nobody cared too as our tools were not harmful since they were only used for urination. Even as at that, some women joked about Tony’s tool. It was later I came to understand what they meant when they said that “Tony’s wife would be a happy woman”.

In our best looks of the year and with great expectation of good interaction with our awayian cousins, we arrived at our uncle’s house before 5pm on that faithful Christmas Day.

But our uncle’s wife would not allow her kids mix with us. She asked them to go upstairs and have a nap to our great disappointment.

What was a “nap”? we wondered aloud.

Mrs Jiagbogu didn’t teach us anything called “nap”.

I concluded that our aunt was talking about National Advanced Party (NAP) promoted by Dr. Tunji Braithwaite and Dr. Arthur Nwankwo as 1979 elections were around the corner. I now know that she meant “to sleep”.

The mother of our cousins also restricted our movement to the veranda of their palatial mansion. We presumed that she deemed us contagious to her civilized kids.

Though we might appear rural or rustic, we were not completely unthinking. We got her message.

While my other cousins felt hurt by the discriminatory acts of our aunt, I was not. I presumed that she was sick. “How would a normal woman prevent relations from relating?” I reasoned. I rather pitied her “agric” children.

I managed to ride the bicycle of one of my uncle’s kids. The bicycle was called a Chopper.

Mama Ada, my uncle’s wife attempted to restrain me from mounting the bicycle but she was harshly overruled by our uncle, her husband, who might have noticed the no-go areas imposed on us by his wife.

As we meant to leave, our uncle dashed us 20 kobo each. It was a big sum. We also noticed that his wife was not happy as she didn’t answer our “thank ma”.

We left feeling so appreciative of our generous uncle while making an indelible note on the walls of our heart of the subhuman treatment his wife meted out to us.

Many years have gone by and those cousins of mine have since moved back to U.K, their country of birth.

They don’t know us.

We were probably dubbed too local and possible carriers of our parents’ wizardry or wealthy children stunting juju.

Some of my uncle’s children married Jamaicans or other nationals while the remaining are single parents enjoying themselves in Europe and America. They don’t have any connection to us, their relations, as wished by their mother.

By the stroke of chance, my life and that of my other cousins were not as our aunt had wished or proclaimed for us. We have grown up to become very responsible and more useful to that very uncle of ours who has since been abandoned by his foreign children.

Our aunt, now in her late seventies, has deemed me qualified for familiar relationship but I have refused to accept her overtures. I would rather remain that rural, dirty and contagious boy she barred from associating with her children. My other cousins view her the same way. We have forgiven her but have not forgotten.

If we overlook her apartheid, what about a generation of my kinsmen, her kids, she has shipped into a secondary slavery abroad? I have a feeling that those my cousins who are now in their forties think that I and my formerly home-based counterparts still don’t wear pants or still don’t understand the meaning of “nap”.

I, for one, cannot forget that day my uncle overruled his wife to allow me ride the bicycle of the son of a rich man on my bare buttocks.

I felt loved then and I now feel very obliged to be a lost son to him as his biological children now belong to Queen of England.

I have come to learn not to despise a growing child.

Initial poverty doesn’t define the destiny of a child. It is rather an incentive to success.

I have also come to know that little children notice the smallest act of kindness towards them.

It sticks.

They don’t forget.

  • Ikenga Ezenwegbu Nnewi,
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