Once I’d made the decision to leave, everything else was easy. Sorting out tickets, visa…being a famous author (albeit an apparent one hit wonder) certainly had its merits. What’s weird is how I feel little or no attachment to this place. Almost as if my mind has chosen to block out a number of things…and people…
I remember tid bits; irrelevant bits and pieces. It’s actually funny the things I remember. Like the day we; Udoka, Tetsoma and I, cried over a piece of meat.
It was a Sunday afternoon, after church and we all sat down to eat the customary Sunday white rice and stew at the dining table. We usually prepared the stew the previous night and boiled the rice Sunday morning so that we wouldn’t have to start doing it after a long service. I had prepared the stew so I knew that we had only five pieces of meat in it and so each person was entitled to just one piece. It was the period that things were tough, extra pieces of beef or even chicken were luxuries we couldn’t afford at the time. As we got set to go to church that morning, Udoka went to the kitchen and helped himself to some rice and stew with a piece of meat. I announced to him, in the presence of everyone else, that everyone was entitled to just one piece so he was free to take it but that would mean he would eat without meat when we got back from church.
So I couldn’t understand why, when I went to the pot to get my food after everyone else had taken theirs, there was no meat for me. I marched to the dining table and saw that Udo had taken a piece. I demanded that he relinquish it because it was mine and I had warned him. Mother interjected and said that she would give me a bit of hers. No! Why should he get away with taking two pieces? My brother and I started trading words heatedly right there at the dining table on a Sunday afternoon in the presence of my father, mother and sister. In retrospect I realize that my father didn’t say a word. He quietly ate his food and watched the ongoing scene. My mother on the on the other hand was distressed and tried to pacify us repeatedly. She even offered her full piece of meat just so that we would stop. This infuriated me more. Didn’t she understand that it wasn’t about the meat itself but the principle of the matter? And why was she always on his side? Why didn’t she reprimand him for taking it? I was so livid. The shouting match continued and escalated up to the point that our voices started to shake and hot tears of rage stung both our eyes.
And then out of nowhere Tetsoma started to cry. Softly at first and then she sobbed loudly. “Is this what we have become?” She asked through her tears. “We’re fighting over a piece of meat! Beef!” And then I started to cry and Udoka followed suit.
Sigh. The inconsequential things we bicker, argue and keep malice about.
I would gladly give up beef for the rest of my life for another chance with them.