*** since i had this in my drafts, i decided to leave u guys with this post as a bye bye..I am going away for a while and wont have internet, for about a month or so.. so enjoy this post and MISS ME NOT!!.............
It was the summer of 1989. 8 year old bimbylads was ecstatic. She was going to spend the summer with her grandmother, Mama Surulere. Ever since her mother had taken her away from Mama Surulere 2 years back, Bimbylads had always looked forward to either spending the summer in England or at Mama Suruleres place. The trend was that, each summer, her mother would take her to mama S’s place for the first half, and the second half will be spend abroad. Truth be told, the first half of each summer meant much more to Bimby than the second.
The whole Itire crew (the area in surulere where mama S lived), loved the 8 year old wide eyed, sharp mouthed bimbylads. She was lively, and never looked down on them, she was able to fit into the crowd and play whatever games they had. This was not a crew of Barbie dolls and Nintendo. This was a crew of sugar cartoons, bottle covers and sand. Yet, whenever bimbylads came by, she fit in perfectly because after all, she once lived there……
This particular summer, my mother dropped me @ Mama’s place, “be a good girl o”. “you know mama will flog you if you misbehave”… “if you like, sleep in Jimoh’s house again like the last time and see if mama will not beat you senseless”… those were the usual warnings my mum would give as she dropped me. I was used to them, although I did not understand why my friendship with Jimoh or the crew disturbed anyone. Jimoh was my BEST friend, regardless of his number 11 ondo marks, or his bald head, or even his inability to pronounce R…(for Jimoh, all R was pronounced as G… (ive blogged about this before but for the benefit of the newbie’s)… so instead of Rice, Jimoh would say Gice.... so for Jimoh... 'i am really upset' would be ' i am gilly upset'
My Itire CREW:
The crew in Itire consisted of Nneka, the very yellow ibo girl with orange-ish hair that lived opposite Jimoh. Although her hair was always woven in permanent thread, Nneka was still very pretty and her ibo accent was deep. For some reason, she always added ‘eh’ after every word... so she would say... ‘ abimby- eh.. let us-eh.. go-eh and play-eh’.
Nneka’s grandmother, Mama Caroline was a strict catholic woman that would call us every evening to make us recite hail Marys.. Mama Caroline did not joke with evening mass o!... once its 5.30, mama carol will gather all of us and drag us to the Itire Catholic church, plus Jimoh. Jimoh would always grumble: ‘ mama cago, Muslim ni mi o, mi o kin pgay ni shosh’ …. ( Mama Cago, I am a muslim, i dont pgay in shurches)
Also in the crew was Francis. Francis was a very timid boy. He hardly ever spoke, and when he did, he dragged his words so much that you would almost slap him down with a mortar to shut him up. He lived on the same road with Jimoh, Nneka and my grandma. And so, we 4 became fast friends. I was the most exposed and the loudest so naturally, I led the crew, with Jimoh as second in command.. loll!! The memories make me laugh.
Mama Carol;Nnekas grandma, and my grand ma were tight meen… they spent most evenings gossiping and catching trips about the neighborhood. Mama C knew everything from which woman papa Kingsley was sleeping with to how Iya Kafayats son was not really in London as a doctor but was in Abidjan doing cobbler work.
I thoroughly enjoyed standing in a corner and listening and absorbing the entire gist. I dared not listen in from of them, I always hid myself and listened till I was tired..
This particular evening… I was tired of sitting at home and decided to go and ask my grandma if I could play outside… I was walking towards her room when I heard my grandma talking to some one.. I stopped to listen….I could only hear my grandma’s voice... the conversation went thus:
“ o tio”…. “ni tani?” ( no o.. who?)
“aje ke?” ( a witch????)
“ iro ni!... emi naa so be” ( it’s a lie!!… hmm..I thought so too)
“ o ka? o n fo ke? Lo’ru?... Oluwa sha’nu fun wa o”
( she confessed? she flies? At night? God have mercy)
The conversation stopped me dead in my tracks.. who was a witch in Itire o? a flying witch? Wonderful!! I had to warn the crew… but before I do so, let me listen and grab the gist well… so I listened as my grandma rambled on in Yoruba:
“emi o ni ki mo o” ( I wont talk to her again)
“ani aje le’yan, e tun beere” ( I said someone is a witch and u r still asking....)
Then paused, sighed and said
“Ah Mama Caro o!... aye yi sha” ( Ah mama caro; this life!)
When I heard the last bit.. I was frozen. MAMA CARO WAS A WITCH!!! Yeeeeeeeeeepa!! I began to shake!! All the evening Mass she used to call us to??… all the gurudi I used to eat under the moon light with Jimoh, Nneka and Francis, the akara nko? Fresh hot and succulent? Ehhhhhh!! My life o!! Mama caro!!!!.
I almost shouted but I did not want my grand ma to catch me there so I retreated back to my room and waited.
The next morning I was up at 6 am. I had a mission. I had a calling. I had to warn the crew that Mama caro was a witch. I crept out of the house. First point of call: Jimohs parents room. I knocked on d door. Mama J opened the door, wide eyed, she asked what I wanted so early. Jimoh had gone to fetch water she said
‘OK ma. I replied. ‘
'Mo fe warn Jimoh ni ma'’ ( I want to warn Jimoh)…
‘warn ke? Kilode?’ ( why)..
‘ ma- ma ca- ca- ro- a -a- je’ ( ma-ma carol wi- wi- tch) I stammered…
'Ki ni'? She screamed at me.. what?... just then Jimoh came back with an iron bucket on his head..
“ Jimoh, aje ni mama caro o! mama mi so fun mi … aje ni mama caro..” I chanted as if I was in a trance ….( Mama caro is a witch my grandma told me.)… Mama Jimoh looked at me, and for some reason asked me to narrate my story. I told her all I knew, but I added jara well well.
I told her that someone had told my gran mum that Mama Caro had confessed to witchcraft in the middle of the night.. and THAT my grandma told me to quickly warn my friends especially as we always ate dinner at mama carols place..
Mama Jimoh nodded and told me not to worry that all would be well. Satisfied that I had warned Jimoh, I proceeded to Francis.
It was easier with Francis. He hardly spoke. I told him that mama caro was a witch, he nodded in response. “Tell your mummy”… I warned. Tell her today,today that my grandma said mama caro is a witch. He nodded. I assumed he got the message, and I sped off.
I now had just Nneka to warn. How would I tell her that her own mama was a flying witch .. like superman but with fadeyi oloro powers? How could I? but I had a calling… I told myself. The crew depended on me, so I summoned courage and knocked on their door. Within minutes, Mama caro opened the door. I looked into her eyes and made the sign of the cross across my tiny forehead. “Abimby, ah, did Mama Surulere send you so early”? She asked, lovingly pulling me close to her.
I froze in her grasp… then suddenly fought my self free and ran back home while she watched me in amusement-. I decided I would conclude my mission tomorrow.
A few days after my eavesdropping, my grandma sent me to go alongside Bose, her Togolese house help to grind pepper.. on our way back home, we heard noises in the distance, and as we drew close, I realized the noises where from my Mama’s house.
We walked up to the house and lo and behold, standing in a straight line was 4 or 5 of the kids in the neighbor hood, plus Jimoh, Francis and Nneka. Sitting down was mama caro, mama J, and 3 other neighbors plus my grandma. I went nearer. I noticed mama carol was crying. She was saying “ why una go callu me winsh eh? I no be winsh eh?”… the other neighbors were trying to console her and at the same time my grandma was saying.. “ but who said you were a witch?”…. KASALA DON BURST O!!! I hid behind Bose.. and hoped with all of me that no one would say they heard the gist from me.
Mama caro told her that the kids were calling her names, and isolated Nneka as a result of that. She said they pointed to my grandma's house when asked where they got the gist from.... my grand ma was livid....
“Oya, 8 of you, line up here” bellowed my grandma in anger…
“which of you called mama caro a witch”? she screamed, tying and retying her wrapper in anger…
I had pissed in my pant behind Bose. I was still hiding and had no been seen yet.
Jimhon spoke first- the goat. “ mama suGuleGe.. bimby lo so pe mama caGo je aje… laaaGo kutu kutu lo wa si ile wa.. egly morGin’’
( mama surulere, bimby told us that mama caGo was a witch, she told us that on a very eaGly morGing) (replace R for G)
Ewwwwwwo!!this idiot!! Wetin I go do nooww??!! Jimoh had casted me. His mum did not help matters, she narrated the story as I told it, plus her OWN JARA!! She was gesticulating as if she was acting Indian film… ‘ehn o.. omo yin lo so fun wa o! ehn o! ( yes o.. your gran-daughter told us so)
Francis attested against me too… ‘ na bimby tell us say mama caro say na winch’
Nneka nodded in agreement
The other four kids( who I had never spoken to in my life) too spoke.. one particular one was crying and gasping and just saying .. ‘bimby… mama caro.. bimby .. aje.. bimby..’ ( bimby... witch.. bimby..mama caro)
I clutched on to BOSE and wished I could disappear.. I was in Deep trouble.
My grandmother was hysterical, she screamed my name. MY FULL NAME.. ‘abimbola. ADEBimby lads’… BOSE pushed me forward as if she was on remote control..
I lurched forward, clutching my skirt and weeping.
"Emi ko ma…"( not me ma) I attempted to lie… KPAI! That was the sound of the slaps on my face… kpai, kpai kpai.. like 6 slaps.. at one go.. grandma was seriously beating me in front of crew.. she was screaming.. shouting ….”alakoba omo… ko ni pa mi.. alakoba” ( you wont put me in trouble... this girl)
Then she made me go on my knees and beg mama caro. Made me say it was not true.. then she made me do frog jump… meen like 150.. up down,, up down…my ears, legs and back were in agonizing pain..
Infact, in my entire life, I had never been flogged or humiliated like that….. imagine, I had to go to all the neighbors to tell them I had lied and that mama caro was indeed a serious mass going catholic and that I started the rumor.
the lesson i learnt...that day.. that year..... the SUMMER of 1989............*************************************************************************************
I DISCOVERED LATER THAT-
Apparently, mama caro was not a witch, my grandma was talking to someone on the phone, they spoke about someone whom they thought was a witch, then changed subject of conversation and talked about mama caro and how nice she was.. which is why my grandma was saying that she and mama caro were friends… I only in my childlike foolishness jumped into a very deadly conclusion… which cost me my seniority amongst my crew, plus increased my leg muscles….