My grandmother had called my father ‘Uncle Eze’, as long as I can remember but I thought nothing of it, didn’t my own mother call me Mommy when she wanted me to do something I wouldn’t do normally? Maybe like my mommy, she too used it to move the immovable force Mbaise children tend to be.
A few days ago, I was teasing my dad about something. In the past, teasing him like that used to be the sure way to negotiate for more pocket money or getting a major boost to the “anything for the girls” ministry. Sadly, I am grown-up and independent *hot tears* and that teasing does not yield monetary results but the routine has been set and the man likes it (he’ll deny it if you ask him)
“Uncle Eze” I said as I patted his shoulder and I suddenly wondered why he was uncle to his mother, I knew it wasn’t a reincarnation story. What could it be? I asked myself.
“Why did Mama call you Uncle Eze?”
“You’re the one who told her to call me uncle” he replied.
“Mua Adaeze?” I gasped and he chuckled.
“One day she was calling me nwa and you said ‘why are you calling my daddy nwa?’”
I burst into laughter, I was a slightly imperious child and assertive too. Most times, the stories of the quirky things I said back then always seem to be of a different person.
“What did she say?” I asked, still laughing.
“She asked you what she should call your daddy” he continued, he was smiling then but his eyes showed his thoughts were in that room in the past with his mother and his young daughter.
“You told her- ‘call him uncle’ and she agreed.” he was smirking now.
“Just like that?”
“Just like that,” He confirmed.
As I told Paul this story this afternoon, while I sat across the table from him with chocolate ice cream warming my blood and icing my tongue, it hit me that my grandma had been laying the foundation for a lesson she wanted me to learn- that my voice mattered regardless of how small I was at the time, that I would be listened to and my ideas considered, and if they are superior- they would be adopted.
And the funniest thing is- she didn’t need a fancy speech or to join a million-woman march, or to get a Harvard degree in gender studies to teach me these things.
Sometimes, the biggest fires were simply because two stones rubbed together at the right time