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.

Sile: (Smiling)

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.