Growing up in a typical Nigerian home

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The day was almost over like one of the poems we usually sing when I was in primary school, the sun was driving slowly to its usual spot in the North pole just before the night guard — Moon — took over.

As I played police and thief — one of my best game — with my siblings and some of the neighbour’s children in the compound, everywhere was filled with different kinds of aroma coming from each mother’s cooking pot.

“Shola! Shola! Shola!” I heard my mom call at the top of her voice.

Like how many times do I need to remind this woman that I’m not far away and she should stop screaming my name as if I fainted and she’s trying to revive me, I thought.

She dare not hear this else I will be reminded how she carried me in her tummy for nine months and breastfed me for 3 years.

Yen, yen, yen; I rolled my eyes.

“Come and go and grind this pepper for me at Iya Chidinma’s shop.”

This is one of the times I don’t like to be the firstborn child. Why do I have to be the one to run errands all the time. Why!

My mind was hooked on the police and thief game we were playing. The next game was suwe, ten-ten and I call on, I was not going to miss that for anything.

Hurriedly picked up the bowl of pepper from the kitchen counter and took money from her purse as I rushed down to Mommy Chidinma’s shop down the street.

“How are you, my dear?” she asked while attending to one of her customers.

“I’m fine, ma,” I responded.

“My mummy said you should grind this pepper now now,” I lied.

“Okay, my dear,” she responded as she took the bowl of pepper from me.

I danced to the tune of the grinding machine while I silently prayed that the machine will not develop any fault and then she would send me to her shop in the next street.

Minutes later, she was done.

“Tell your mom, I sent my greetings,” Mommy Chidinma said.

“Okay ma,” as I handed her a hundred naira note and collected the bowl.

I dashed out of the shop to drop the pepper and continue playing. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on my side today.

In about two buildings to our house, I kicked my leg on a stone and poured most of the pepper away.

Ghen, ghen, I’m in trouble today.

“My mommy will kee me o,” I said as I wiped off pepper my clothing to avoid it burning my skin.

I got home with the almost empty bowl of pepper. Obviously, she knew what happened just by looking at me.

“Drop the bowl in the kitchen, go have your bath and change your cloth,” my mommy said.

Ehn mommy, I’m sorry. I didn’t see the stone there so my leg hit it,” I apologised.

“I said drop the bowl, go and have your bath,” she thundered.

I don’t trust this woman, I said to myself. She might just wake me up in the middle of the night to beat me or drop some heavy punchlines that will hurt more than any beating. At this time, she knows no neighbour will come to my rescue.

I remember one time I asked her for the money Aunty Taye — her younger sister — gave me when she came around during Easter.

I wish I never did.

I was reminded how she has been feeding me ever since I’ve been born; morning, afternoon and night; the Christmas, New Year dresses and shoes; shopping at the mall and so on.

Well, I didn’t ask to be born; I thought. You people should have left me wherever I was.

That day, I asked to be returned to my biological mother because my real mother will not treat me like this.

“Mummy, where should I put the pepper?” Olumide, my younger brother asked.

“Put it on my head,” she said with a straight face as she chopped vegetables.

Please dear, if you know what’s good for you just carry yourself to the kitchen before you’re being doused with ifoti oloyi, I communicated with my eyes.

Moments later, dinner was ready.

“Shola, come and pack it to the dinning,” she called from the kitchen.

I moved around the kitchen with caution to avoid her landing one igbarun on my face that can make me forget my name for a minute or a resetting abara on my back that would make me thirsty almost immediately.

Worst case scenario, she might wield the most dreaded weapon — omorogun — with her left hand or any other weapon available in her arsenal depending on the severity of the offence.

“Do you think I want to beat you? Huh, Me I don’t have your time today,” she hissed.

“Take the food to the dinning then come back and th-ro-ug-hl-y wash that amala pot when you’re done eating,” she stressed.

Ah, Amala pot? Mo rire o, just let me faint already.

Iya Shola knows how much I hate to wash amala pot not even when she didn’t give me the option to soak it then come back and wash.

I said it, this woman is not my mother. I will run away from this house las las, I thought.

If this is the punishment for pouring the pepper way, no wahala. I would gladly serve it, at least it’s better than receiving pankere on my palm or doing frog jump or touch your toes.


Half-awake in my bed, I heard crickets chirping in the compound as if they were gisting about how their day went.

My day was eventful until I poured Iya Shola’s pepper away, I responded with a low chirpy voice.

I waited the night for my mommy to enter our room and give me the beating of my life and remind me of all the offences I’ve committed that she didn’t scold me for or drop those punchlines that will make me reject food for the next two days.

She never came.

The sound of the crickets ushered me to sleep while I dreamt of sitting in the toilet bowl to pee.

It’s a new day, the morning light leaked into the room, making me slightly awake. The wetness of my cloth seeped down the bedsheet leaving it moist.

Alas, I wasn’t dreaming. I peed in my bed. No doubt, today is the day I’ll pay my ancestors a visit and come back with Iya Shola’s beating.

Copyright ©2020 by Omolara Oseni




Writer | Storyteller | Photography and Media Enthusiast.

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Omolara Oseni

Omolara Oseni

Writer | Storyteller | Photography and Media Enthusiast.

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