“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; I will be overjoyed because of my God. or he clothes me in garments of deliverance; he puts on me a robe symbolizing vindication. I look like a bridegroom when he wears a turban as a priest would; I look like a bride when she puts on her jewelry. 11 For just as the ground produces its crops and a garden yields its produce, so the sovereign Lord will cause deliverance to grow, and give his people reason to praise him in the sight of all the nations.”
The following took place in Okpanam, Delta state, in Aunty Ifeoma’s sitting room on the 1st of January 2015.
Aunty Ifeoma: Uzor, my brother, how was the flight na? Hope you rested in the bus on your way? Because sleeping today is still going to be far ooo.
Uzor: Why far? What is happening today that would require me keeping awake for long?
Pa. Orifite: Today is new ya! Ê mâ ò? Didn’t you know?
Aunty Paulina: Many many people are still coming o. Okwima aunty Ify house na area o.
Uzor (snorts): So if many people are coming here today, I should be deprived of my sleep, after a long journey from the States to this country?
Aunty Ify: Bia Uzor, all this one you’re saying is just grammar o. Kazi nke bu deprived? In addition, it is you that everybody want to come and see o; you know you have gone to Las Angeli since ten years ago and nobody sees you there. So, family and ndi oyi, ehn, they’re coming to see and pray for you. Plus today is now new year; house will full o!
Pa Orifite (stands and goes to look at the window): E be like Ada and husband have come. Their two children too follow come.
Aunty Paulina: Eewo o! My sister Ada have come o! Aboy! Aboy, come and open door o!
Aboy (runs to open door and carry Ada’s bag): Aunty Ada! Nno! Welcome!
Ada (smacks Aboy on the back): Aboy! Big man! E ne mé enjoy! How are you? Go and bring me water, I’m thirsty.
Aboy (runs to get water): Yes ma! I’m coming o.
Ada (rushes to hug Uzor): Brother Uzor! Nwannem! Doctor! I missed you o. You have grown o, orobo! How is our oyinbo wife na?
Uzor (shaking his head): Ada you were at my house last month in Los Angeles, why all this nonsense pretenses?
Ada (laughs and scratches head): brother is not pretense o. I missed you na. (she seats down beside her already seated husband and screams for Aboy). Aboy! Nmmri biko o! I want to faint!
(Aboy rushes in with a jug of water and a glass. He serves Ada)
Uzor: What stops you from going to get your glass of water by yourself, Ada? You should be very careful about what you drink; health is wealth!
Ada: Biko, doctor! I’m not in your hospital. Germs cannot reach us, God has promised us sound health this 2015. Rev. Father Dede said it yesterday.
(Uzor snorts and faces Ada’s husband to discuss politics. They wait for others.)
(Thirty minutes later. The house is full with everyone; friends, enemies and family)
Uzor: Had I known, I wouldn’t have planned my trip around this time. I would have come in February.
Pa. Orifite: E for no good. We would not have pray for you and everybody will not see you.
Aunty Paulina: Yez o! I for not see you. Ngwa, let’s pray sef; today is, new year. God must hear our heart desire today.
Uzor: Today is like any other day. There is nothing special about it. It’s the first day of a new year, so what? I don’t pray those your ‘Mother Mary’ prayers, I’m a Jehova witness.
Aunty Ify: Biko, if you will not pray, we will pray for you. Aboy! Come let’s pray o. (starts to sing loudly as everyone joins in.
(Thirty minutes later)
Uzor: What a long prayer and a waste of time.
Ada: Brother Uzor, God forgive your mouth o!
Uzor: Will you shut up! Do you know I senior you? (chuckles).
Aunty Paulina: Uzor, vex not. Ada, don’t vex ma brother o!
Ada: Uzor, oya ndo. I didn’t say it purposely.
Uzor: On purpose, Ada, on purpose. (He laughs).
Ada (laughs too): Market woman like me is trying o.
(Aunty Ify comes in with a tray of chinchin and biscuits. Aboy follows with a large bowl of chicken stew. Three women carry in three huge bowl of rice. They set it on the centre table.
Aunty Ify: Aboy, follow Nne Amaka and go and bring minerals for everybody to drink. Food is ready.
Uzor (shaking head): Just for new year? I’m impressed!
Pa Orifite: Yes o, me too. I’m epressed! This new year food will give us all health in Jesus name.
(everybody shouts Amen except Uzor).
Uzor (opening the bowl of chicken stew): Is this goat meat?
Aunty Ify: Yes ooo. For you imparticular, then everybody. God will be good to us this year.
Uzor (shakes head sadly. He picks a plate and begins to dish rice into it. He adds five soup-spoon of chicken stew, three piece of chicken and two goat meats to his rice): I wish all the money for preparing this meal had gone to a bank for Aboy’s education. The boy is bright and should go to the best school.
Ada: Yes ooo, I agree. But brother Uzor, doctor, your plate still full with meal of food! Aboy school fees money is what you’re eating o. (she laughs)
(Uzor scowls and faces pa. Orifite for comfort as they both have the same size of food).
To all my family members, thank you all for being an inspiration for this post, with your insistence that we make chicken and rice every new year, dalu nu. Unu a luka. To Dammy, don’t worry one day soon, you will understand how large family works. To everyone, I wish you a happy, prosperous new year ahead.