I decided to continue my posts on sweet throwbacks. This one is from a friend, he is a poet and when I saw this his throwback, my unselfish self had to share it. He is one of those whose poems I find myself yearning to read. He is from Western Nigeria so Yoruba is his official language. His name is Wole Ayodele-Fash (Ayodele-Fash is a compound name). He blogs at http://wolespeaks.blogspot.com . This is a daddy throwback that I love to read and re-read. Enjoy!
“Parents always end up screwing up their kids in spite of their good intentions”. If you doubt it, I invite you to watch the series, HOUSE MD, where Hugh Laurie made that interesting remark. He made an interesting argument in support of the seeming strange assertion and by today, I’m no doubt convinced, parents do screw up their kids, some get screwed up in a good way, others in not so good ways. And if today you find me interesting, charming, fun-to-be-with, intelligent, hardworking, cunning, down-to-earth…, believe me it’s because I got screwed up! If your dad was anything like mine, I’m sure you’d be screwed up too.
Growing up, he was the type of father who represents voice of reason because when he yells at you for something you did wrong, its either your brain does hard-reset on account of what his canning can do to you or you lose control of some of your senses and since we were all boys, it seemed apt to start calling him ‘Coach’ behind his back until he accepted the name. Hewas very funny too, he could make you laugh uncontrollably till you submit and roll on the floor, he was that funny. He often regaled us with tales of his escapades whilst in modern school. We couldn’t help but wonder why he would frown at our little little misfeasance.
One day mother bought some groundnuts on her way from work and announced she was going to make groundnut soup. Of course we were surprised, it was more than strange to our hearing as it was a departure from the usual Yoruba soups we were used to. As it is common to us we started arguing, each one wanting his voice heard over theothers.
“Epa o see s’ebe” (groundnut cannot be used to make soups), I said, as if I was the world renowned authority on eligible soup ingredients.
“Iro ni yen jo” (that is a lie), shouted Kay my immediate brother and in no time, it turned into a shouting match and neither of us was willing to give up his point for the other. It was right in the middle of this uproar that Coach walked in on us. Like a smothered shout, our voices took a trip. “Ekabo sir” (welcome sir), we all chorused,
“Hello boys”Coach replied,
“Fine sir”we meekly replied.
After diner, we all agreed that groundnut soup was tasty. Coach stole a glance at mother and quietly but comically remarked that groundnut was better eaten uncooked. We stared at him like ‘hey dude, where have you kept our dad?’On seeing the incredulity loudly written on our face, he decided to narrate a story on groundnuts to us.
It was one Thursday afternoon when he was still in modern school that the Agric master told him just before walking out of the class that he would lead his classmates to the school’s Agric farm to harvest the school’s groundnuts in two days’ time. Coach has always told us of how good a student he was when he was of our age. We’ve heard so much of those stories that, like a memory verse in the scripture, we know them by heart.They set for the farm on the appointed Saturday morning as early as possible. When they got to the farm, they were amazed at how big the groundnut plantation was. They worked all morning till the scorching sun parted the clouds and announced its presence.
At this point, according to Coach, “ebi ti pa sege si wa lara” (the hunger had become unbearable),so they decided to take a break under the huge ebelebo (almond fruit) tree beside the groundnut farm as they dared not return to the dormitories without completing their tasks. Under the ministration of the breeze and the relentless hunger accompanying it, hestarted to wonder if uncooked groundnuts are edible. After mulling the thought over for some time, Coach said he decided togive it a try.
“…but daddy ko se je now” (but dad, it’s not edible), Ayo our 3 year old last born squeaked. Coach smiled and told him, “ni suru jare, je kin pari oro mi” (hold on a bit, let me finish the story).
We listened with rapt attention as Coach continued that he picked the nearest harvested groundnut, pressed a pod, picked out the groundnut and popped it for taste. Althoughit wasn’t particularly sweet, it harboured promises of filling his incredibly starved tummies.
“Ogbeni ki lo n f’epa se?”(What are you doing with the groundnuts), asked one of his colleagues who noticed him.
“Ki lo jo people mo n se?” (What does it look like), he replied while he continued eating the groundnuts. After a while, one of them curiously approached him, took a pod, pressed it and popped the groundnut into his waiting mouth. Before long, all of them were busy filling their tummies with the school’s groundnut.
After completing both tasks, they carried the bags of harvested groundnut to the Agric master’s house. He could not be roused from the huge bowl of eba and okra soup his wife just served him so they all had to wait till he filled his bulging tummy. He nearly had a fit of stroke when he counted the bags and discovered that they were more than 3 bags short of the usual harvest. He had to see for himself so he took a trip to the school farm where he saw a pile of groundnut pods. He was convinced they had eaten the deficit. When he returned from investigating the missing deficit, Agric master announced his discovery and invited them to confess to eating the groundnut and receive lighter punishment than they had incurred. Father said no one dared admit for they knew such a volunteer would receive the largest punishment. They all denied the allegation as vigorously as they could to which the Agric master instructed them to form a single queue. A huge drum was rolled out from his pantry and was filled promptly with water from a tap beside the pantry. Each student would step forward, drink a cup of water, swirl itwithin his mouth and spit it back into a transparent bowl for everybody to see. At this point, they all knew they were merely delaying the discovery of their wrongs.
Just then, mother walked in on us.
“Eyin omo wonyin e lo f’obo yin”(these children go wash the dirty plates).We all looked at Coach with imploring eyes for help.
“Fi won le dear, mo ti fere se tan” (leave then dear, I’ll soon be through). Thankfully, mother agreed to let us finish the story.
As the leader, he was the first person to take the test, Coach continued, so he stepped forward, took a gulp, swirled it around the mouth and discovered that certain groundnut sediments emerged from their hiding places. He quickly swallowed the water, sediments and all. Before the Agric master could say one word, Coach said he had taken a second drink and promptly swallowed that one too. We were all clapping at his display of cunningness, grinning as mischief twinkled in our eyes. Agric master became angry, he was as livid as someone whose wife was borrowed by his house-help, he threw a fit.
“Did I ask you to drink the water ehn”? “Did I ask you to drink it or spit it in that container after you have gargled with the water?”Agric master asked him? Coach said he cheekily replied that he thought the water was to quench the thirst the labour task aroused in them. Agric master was too angry for words.“Kneel down there!” he told him and beckoned to the next person on the line to come forward and prove his innocence. Like zombies every of them did exactly what Coach had done. Coach chuckled until Agric master became frustrated and had to introduce his dreaded cane ‘bastinado’ to their buttocks. They shared jokes for long on how Agric master not only fed them with groundnuts but also made them drink cool water to quench their thirsts.
At this point, we were all holding our sides from too much laughter each with the understanding of where we took our cunning streaks from.Mother walked pass smiling too. That was what growing up with father looked like, plenty laughter, plenty discipline too.