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The stories in this blog are first draft stories with minimal editing, sort of like a practice blog.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Mugs



It was the mugs that did me in, the mugs that shattered the dam that held my tears, the caramel, long and slender twin mugs that had Paris 1921 printed on them. They had belonged to my grandparents, my grandparents who have now departed this world. Those mugs were set on the table that looked like those hospital tables with the U-shaped legs. They’d sit on the veranda and watch the people on their way to and from the river, responding to the many greetings that were their due as old people while they’d give scraps of bread to the many children that sat around their feet.

 The mugs now sit on my father’s bed side table, he used one of them to drink tea when we came back yesterday. We got home at night even though we’d left Lagos before dawn, bad roads and impatient drivers conspired to make the journey last almost twice as long.

The compound was lit by our headlights as we drove in, it was only the second time we’d seen the house in pitch darkness on our return home. The first time it happened, my grandfather had been struggling for his life in a Lagos hospital and my mother travelled with us to the village without my father and my grandmother. This time is different, my grandmother died only four months ago.

 Going home for Christmas is a ritual that Igbos all over the world are known for, we’d shut down our homes and businesses and move eastward to our towns, villages and homes. Some people travel every year no matter where in the world they stay, it is unthinkable for them to miss the football matches, visits to friends and relatives and the downing of vats of palm wine and other alcoholic drinks that are hallmarks of the season.

 We didn’t go home every year, it was too much of a bother. The plotting, packing and the stressful journey by road, besides we also liked Christmas in Lagos too with its light-heartedness and the waking up at seven instead of five, the christmas lights that festooned on every corner, the carols that wafted to the ears from shop to shop. When we came home to Mbaise, it was very different. We would wake up at six with the wind whistling in our ears and to the rattling of our fragile bones, we’d shuffle our bodies to the parlour for prayers and then try very hard to escape from the little chores that our father liked to spring on us.

If we didn’t see steam rising from the bucket, we’d refuse to bathe with the tepid water because it would almost certainly freeze over before we finished bathing. We’d then apply thick layers of Blue seal Vaseline to our feet and legs, a thin layer of Vaseline would evaporate before noon. Breakfast would be waiting when we were finished, steaming cups of tea- except for mine, because I can’t tolerate hot food or drinks; and jagged masses of soft bread or thin slices (which was rare) of the same soft bread.

 Then we’d go to the veranda to watch my grandparents eat. When we were younger, they’d give us sips of their tea and give us tiny pieces of bread to soak, they still offered us sips of tea but we'd shake our heads and point at the nearly naked children at their feet who monitored every movement of my grandparents cups. My grandfather would drink only half of his tea before calling them to take their sips of tea, my grandmother wasn't as generous with her tea but she too would give them scraps of bread.

My grandparents always had tea at breakfast regardless of whatever else was on offer, rice and tea, yam and tea, beans and tea but never eba/fufu and tea- a tradition my parents maintained. Unlike us, they had actual tea and not the chocolate and milk mixture that we called tea, Their brand of choice was lipton and even though we thought it a horrid drink, our grandparents' tea never tasted horrible when they called us by the names they had given us and 
 My grandparents didn’t leave much behind, my parents and uncle and aunties can have everything if they like. I just want those mugs.

3 comments:

  1. Aww, i wish i had a lot of memories of my grandparents too. This is so cute.

    How have you been?

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  2. "I just want those mugs." Beautiful account.

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