I arrived Ibadan a quarter to five and was seeing one of my siblings during sunset when these little cousins (Alabi, Sile and Damilola), whom I had asked after before their arrival, gave me the proper welcoming with the accent and their tender, yet didactic, jocularity. This was how it went:
The three of them: Haa! Booda Laitan, ekaabo! How was the journey? What did you bring for us?
Me: Alabilabi! Olasile mi! Damilola mi owon! Booni? The journey was fine. I bring peace and healthiness. Where have you all been?
Damilola: (Feeling sad) Mama has been sending me errands since morning, while Sile and Alabi have been away playing.
Me: Sile, Alabi, ngbo? where went you both? Do you play this much and don’t have time to be good boys just as Damilola is a good girl?
Both of them: (Almost simultaneously) No o! We were not playing o. We only went to buy ‘sicken’.
Me: (Amused) ‘sicken’?
Sile: Yes, ‘sicken’! It is the meat of a cock or an hen. That woman over there sells it. She fries after slaughtering and then sells.
Me: Ehen! I don’t know o. What of the meat of a goat, fried and sold?
Sile: (In deep thought) ermmmm.. That doesn’t have a name.
Alabi: It does. Maybe ‘sunken’.
Damilola: (To the rescue) Abi suya! The meat of a goat, fried and sold is ‘suya’. Mallams often sell it. They make use of a goat’s head and legs only. They fry them and then add pepper at the customers’ requests.
Me: (Nodding to myself) You see. Damilola is a brilliant girl just because she runs errands for Mama.
Me: This your smile is suspicious, Olasile?
Sile: Damilola that can’t spell ‘horse’.
Me: She can’t or she couldn’t?
Sile: She can’t. Tell her to spell it and you’ll see.
Me: (Jokingly) Damilola, humiliate your enemies.
Damilola: (Trying to hide her shame) Not that I can’t spell horse, Booda Laitan. Errrmm.. you know horse is a fast animal. Whenever I try to cram it, it runs away from my memory. Tell him to ask me to spell ‘mosquito’. Mosquito always perches and will want to suck blood.
Me: (Laughing hard) Ehen! I got your point. Don’t mind them jere, Damilola; you are a good girl. Just keep cramming. A horse may find a stable in your brain soon as a mosquito did. (Facing Alabi) You don’t know anything ntie. Why are you silent?
Alabi: Me? I know many things. I know everything in this world. I know soil. It is the planting of yam, rice, maize, and many many things that we eat.
Me: (Laughing really hard) I see. I’ve had enough of you guys. How much does a chicken cost, Olasile?
Sile: One ‘sicken’ is ten Naira.
Me: This is fifty naira. Buy three and save the rest. S’ogbo?
(The three of them run off with the chant of ‘sicken’ ‘sicken’)
Me: (Sighs): Such free fellows.
About the author:
Aremu Adams Adebisi is a poet, a playwright and an essayist. An undergraduate of Economics in a prestigious university.