This is a story written by Micheal (OMA4U)….. If you missed the part Five yesterday read it HERE!!!
Remi called out to Jolomi, “Jolomi, add little curry to that jollof!” Remi’s voice was audible enough to reach Jolomi. Jolomi opened the cover of the cast pot, the smell of boiled onion mixed with oil and pepper with magi was enough to savour. Chunks of boiled beef and dried chicken were smiling at her from every nook of the pot. The hot vapour fell on Jolomi, but the euphoria of her birthday did not even let her feel the burning heat, rather it warmed her. She smiled, life was bearable now, not like years back when she would wonder if really they were eating jollof rice, because it was obviously flavored with palm oil. Then, it did not really matter to her if the rice was really jollof, after all it was red and had the taste of magi. It was the kind of the special foods they had on Sundays. Sunday was one of the days Jolomi and Jamal always longed for. It was the day Remi always prepared what they called special dish. Remi Jackson was a tall kind of woman, agile and kind. Her children took exactly her colour, especially Jamal. She was the best thing that would ever happen to Beko and the family as a whole. She was understanding and caring, and Beko always made sure he returned her kind gestures. Dibu, Beko’s friend, who they used to work together at the garage as transporters had attempted to lure him into fidelity, but he remained truthful and sincere to his wife. Remi Jackson was not the kind of woman that deserved to be cheated on. Remi sold cloth at the road side behind the garage with other sellers and buyers. Her market was not bulky, but when she sold the little she had, she would go to market again to get another. She was able to stand up against poverty and hunger. With Beko’s income, they could afford the children’s school fees. They wanted to give their kids the best of education. Remi, sometimes after selling one or two cloth, she would make sure she arrived early, to prepare the dinner before her husband’s arrival. And Beko appreciated and loved that, with the fact that even if Beko did not leave any money for her, she would hustle her way to save the family from hunger. Something other women would lock up their husbands at the neck. Occasionally when fortune beckoned and Beko dropped enough money the following Sunday meant a special dish. Slice of breads, tea, fried eggs swimming inside oil. Before Jolomi ate the eggs many loaves were gone with oil, she enjoyed eating the egg alone after devouring the bread. She would fix her eyes on her food and was always shy to raise her head, to look at her father dipping breads soaked in hot watery tea into her mother’s mouth. Remi also would do the same before they both hugged each other. The sloppy sound her mother’s mouth made while she was eating always made her smile. Jolomi was always smiling and hoping to end up with a man like her father. Jamal would pitch himself and his food close to the black and white TV. Another Sunday, it might be the oil flavored jollof rice, the kind her friends called concoction. After the rice, they would sip a cup of yellow- red juice, whose flavour came, not from the ingredients, but from the way they shared, toasted, before they gulped down the juice. They smiled and threw banters as though they were all friends. After meal Jolomi would sweep the floor. The floor was not tiled or covered with anything, the floor had been cracking and when she swept, dust would be thrust out with shards of concretes. Sometimes, Beko would come home with piles of bend down boutique cloths. Jolomi loved the pairs he always brought home. She loved the scent that radiated from them, it made her pray for her father and bless her mother. She felt unique and loved, she felt blessed with such a fantastic home. She would pile the cloths in her school bag, she was always proud to show her friends. “See, my daddy bought it for me.” She would also show them pictures they snapped. The fuss and scurries that came after showing them triggered her sensations. Let me see! let me see! Her friends would request. I wish my dad could be doing this. She made them feel jealous and envious of her family. The pictures always amazed them, different poses and outfits.
After Beko got a new job, snapping pictures became a norm. He would call a photographer to come and snap him and his family or they would go to a studio to snap pictures. The flashes of the camera across their faces were enough to rejoice. Jolomi blessed God for Beko’s new job. Things were much better indeed. The journey to his new job was what should be called an unfortunate-fortunate incident. …………………….. In the 1970s, Beko’s father was a courier of money for an unknown looter, launderer, transporting bills of Nigerian currency abroad. Beko’s father was so smart that before he transported bags full of stacks of pounds abroad, a colossus clandestine parcels had absconded into a furtive room in his house, which he barred all inhabitants from entering. The day his sharp axe became drab was when pounds was changed to naira. He was abroad then and he had no iota of the changes that occurred, that Nigerian currency could be changed at that time. By the time Jolomi’s grandfather came back, the money was due for exchange. To whom could he complain? To whom could he tell the miseries that hit him like a juggernaut? Hearing the news that the currency had been changed, he was instantly struck by heart attack that miserably deteriorated to stroke and paralysis. Beko was so furious at his father’s greed, callousness and stupidity. For twenty years or thereabout Beko was being troubled by a constant visit to the General Hospital, which in one of his visits, he met the influential philanthropist, Moshood Abiola, who had come to ensure every patient was being attended to. He paid large sum of money for the patients to be taken care of and he didn’t stop there, he visited always to ensure proper medications were being proffered. After Beko’s father stopped responding to treatments and eventually gave up the ghost, Beko had become a frequent acquaintance of Abiola, then he was fortunate to be employed as a security officer. A position Beko didn’t know what it meant. He neither worked nor laboured but his salary were being paid. It was far better than public bus driver. That was how fortune knocked his door and he solemnly opened. Life became bearable, and home was more interesting. That was how they stopped eating oil flavoured jollof rice and yards of carpet were used to shell the patched floor. New TV came in. Life was good, far back, far back before grandma intruded.