I grew up with religious grandparents who did all they could to bring me and my siblings up in the way of the Lord. This included no gadgets, no plaiting of strange hairstyles, no makeup, prayers every morning and night, church every Sunday and any other day of obligation, no going out and of course, some serious whooping when you did otherwise to top it all off. I’m sure most people can relate to this, it’s the typical Nigerian way of training your kids. But I’ve always
been curious and at 9, I stole a neighbour’s Hint Magazine and digested it in a night.
My sister was also as curious as I. When my sister’s menses started, she already knew how to take care of herself. My grand mum was liberal enough to teach us sex education in fairness; however I can’t forget the fast one my sister tried playing on her.
Grand mum: I saw blood stains on the toilet seat, how did it happen?
Her: (frowning) Am I the only one in the house? Why ask me?
Grand mum: Ever heard of menstruation?
Her (still frowning and thinking): Yes, I see it at the back of my New General Mathematics textbook.
Grand mum started laughing and said that’s measuration and not menstruation.
At that point she told her to be careful with those ‘Street Uncles’ because she had the tendency to be loose. She had told me not to be those rascals who argued all day under the mango tree behind our house. Thanks to her training, I turned out to be the sex educator among my peers.
So, we got the basic home training from our grand mum on how to cook, clean and behave. She had told my sister to remain a virgin till her wedding night (It’s always the “wedding night,” won’t the two parties involved be tired and spend the rest of the night talking and analysing how the food finished and who gave the best gift? Why can’t it be the night after the wedding when things are relatively calm?)
My grand dad was always the quiet type who said nothing but complained to grand mum if we did something off like, say, forget to clean his shoes, or that his whiskey and scotch had been refrigerated.
We learnt many lessons from them, and listened to their (grand) parental lies too. In the last publication, I promised publishing the lies.
My grand dad told me that oil spots on the street were little kids that got run over because they didn’t hold anyone’s hand while crossing the street. He always said it anytime I tried forming big while walking the road with him. I would succumb, but the little pretty eyes across made me feel so timid. He had also told me that replacement batteries for my toy weren’t sold in the stores. That when it stopped working, that was the end. I remember wanting him to get me those coned ice creams on our way from church and he said when the ice cream vendors were playing music; they had run out of ice cream.
The old guy said people got 10000 words per month. If one reached the limit, they couldn’t physically speak until the new month began. Anytime I was especially talkative, he would say,”careful now, I have to think you are up over 9000 by now.” That automatically shut me up. He also said the diseased bulges you’d see on trees were kids that
wandered into the woods alone and got swallowed by trees.
My grand mum wasn’t exempted. I don’t know who lied better or worse, but when I was about 4 or so, she told me if I lied, the devil would stick his pitch fork through the ground and pull me down to hell. At that time, we were in Sokoto for a conference for Knights of St. John. It was hot. I figured we must be close enough for him (the devil) to do that, I was a very honest child for a while. As kids, she convinced us that the people at the bus stops were thrown out of the cars because they misbehaved. We were perfect angels until my dad actually took us in a bus. After all, no one could throw us out of our bus.
Grandmother would tell us when we didn’t eat all our meal, “think of all the starving children in Sudan that don’t have anything on their plates to eat.” I still don’t know how eating all my food helped the children in Sudan!