Feeding the three picky eaters she had given birth to, always required plenty thought, trickery and cunning and if all failed, her weapon of last resort- fried plantains and scrambled eggs would get them to finish the food, leave two or three slices on the plate, or eat the fried eggs and four slices of plantain respectively in order of their births.
That Monday evening in the year of our lord Nineteen hundred and ninety eight and nineteen years to this day, however, it was beans and fried plantain and custard that our mother presented to us just before whispering a prayer that Ikenna would at least eat a spoonful of beans and two spoons of custard. Despite the tears and tantrums and threats to “grow up and never eat beans again”, she sat beside us and coaxed us to eat, singing songs for Ike and keeping an eye on Obinna who thought beans was the devil’s punishment for God fearing, toy car dismantling little boys.
A small noise gathered momentum outside the bungalow in Lawanson we called home, we all looked looked at the door and Ikenna tried to leap over the center table to the door- he was still young enough to think he could fly, but Mummy gave him the look that has stopped trains on full speed. The noise continued to gain weight and it threatened to suffocate us- actually it was our curiousity, so I pushed the table and jumped out of the parlour in three leaps while Obi followed closely, we were outside in thirty seconds and saw people dancing on the street.
“Thank God” was buzzing in the air as they danced and when we saw one of our friends, we ran to him to ask what had happened.
“Abacha is dead” he said and continued to dance and shout.
We went back to tell our mother the news, she was still inside with Ike who was frowning at the spoon with beans in it that she suspended in the air in front of him.
“Mummy, Abacha is dead”
“Shhhh” she said and went to switch on the TV that was never on while we were eating beans.
At 6pm, only LTV had news on so she tuned to LTV.
“The head of state was announced dead this afternoon”.
“General Sani Abacha is dead! Why!” Ikenna wailed and fell on the ground to cry.
“Adaeze bring the juice in the fridge” Mummy said and I walked over Ikenna who was still crying.
As I put the juice on the table and went to get the cups, I saw Ikenna’s eyes walk the length of the room with me and when Mummy had poured the juice, he paused his tears and drank a little to keep up his strength for the crying.
My brother cried until Daddy came back and petted him- he was Daddy’s boy (and Mummy’s boy, but that is not today’s story). At the time and even until an hour ago, I thought my brother cried because he loved General Sani Abacha- he always called his full name and rank, I thought he was prostrate with grief because he loved the ‘president’ so much. As I write this, the truth hits me, I realize that the little boy was slicker than I thought…
Dude had found a way to avoid eating his beans