IMG-20150323-WA0005IMG-20150323-WA0004I had seen a lot of ways by which people celebrated the birth of their new born with the mother of the child planning the event from start to finish; giving little or no room for the father to do anything. It had always left me wondering if fathers were ever excited to have a new addition to their list of expenses.
So, it was greatly amusing and sort of reliving for me to watch an overly excited Udo sing and dance at his latest acquired property – he was the father of a baby boy! My eyes never left him and his neighbor, Nnamdi as they sang one Igbo praise song after the other  worshipping God and drawing attention of everyone around Yaba downtown. Nnamdi will occasionally leave his sewing machine, stand up and shout his thanksgiving to God. After which he would sit down, pick up the powder container, pour on himself and on Udo, then start sewing again. The small crowd gathered would cheer them on as more people came to rub powder on their faces. It was a sight to behold!
(The powder signified beauty. Udo would be the first to rub it. And as many who came to celebrate with Udo, who are also trusting God to beautify their lives, would rub it till the powder finishes).
“I didn’t know, you will honor me this way,” Udo sang,  as Nnamdi poured more powder on him. It was now very difficult to see the original color of his skin, every exposed part of his body – from head to bicep – shone white. “I didn’t know, you will honor me this way, daddy. Lord, I didnt know o you will honor me this way….”
“Honor me this way, thank you Jesus!” Nnamdi completed, jumping as he shrieked.
“Lord you’re so good….” Udo raised another song. At the same time, two guys entered, each holding a bottle of Alomo bitters and five cans of Boom.
The roar that emanated from various angles of the small clothing section of the market was so deafening, I almost bolted. Men from different side of Yaba, their clothes in one hand and cigarette in the other, ran out almost immediately to share the treasure. That also explained Nnamdi’s hyper expression of joy, I concluded as I watched someone run off to get plastic cups. Udo raised another worship song  to God – Come and join me sing hallelujah – while they waited.
Pa Charlie, my tailor, muttered in Ibo, “This is what they’ve been doing since morning. Udo has bought nothing less than twenty alcoholic drinks today for everybody, including customers. And they will still continue till late in the evening until they are all drunk to stupor.”
Rosa, the woman that sells food to the traders on that row, chipped in: “The baby still dey hospital o, e never reach house. Udo dey waste money like this, e no go save all this money use am go bring e pikin and wife from hospital come house. Later na d woman go kan suffer the whole thing.” she hissed.
Uncle Charlie nodded, “Even so, he can gather the money and give his wife; make she use buy pampers for the baby and baby food. This no be e only child o. Young man like Udo, this pikin is number four.”
Aunty Njideka rolled her eyes at pa. Charlie and quickly rebuked. “You think say e dey easy to born boy? Leave the man alone make e express gratitude to God na.”
I shook my head, no longer amused at the sight of drunk men lined up in my front. There was no expression of gratitude in what they were doing; if for anything, they were insulting God. A male child for the Igbo man was a big deal. It signified he was very fertile. It signified continuity for the man’s  lineage. A male child also signified more productivity for the family. And yes, Udo had every right to be happy, but he was being thoughtless as well as making noise. Like Rosa stated, he was wasting money and being foolish and it bothered me. Why?
1. Udo was just a trader. Not just any trader, but one who sold okirika clothes at downtown Yaba market. He couldn’t be earning more than five thousand a day (if he was hardworking). With the excessive spending of his little earning on alcohol, he was already setting himself up for bankruptcy. Meaning, the child’s welfare will pay the price.
2. The family was still bound to gather and ‘thank God’. All the display of powder and drinks been done in his ‘working place’ will still repeat itself in his living place. This time, since it will be family and friends, ‘thanking God’ will be till the break of dawn. More money will go down the drain, leaving baby and mother to ‘manage’.
3. There was still omùgo, mama would come from the village to take care of the mother and the baby. If Udo and his wife were well loved, both mamas from both sides, would come together to do the task of caring for the new baby. They must be made as comfortable as possible. That amounted to extra mouths to feed and more financial strain on Udo who at that moment, wasn’t thinking about all of these.
Second guessing what was going to go down in the next six months in Udo’s life and worrying for his baby’s welfare, had me wishing I was older than the man. I would have given him a big slap and sent him home to his family. I was deliberating if I should go ahead, do as the spirit was leading and risk being burnt to ashes for drinking painkiller over another man’s headache, when pa Charlie tapped me. “Your clothes are ready.”
I nodded absently, paid him and sadly walked off . If only I had at least set my legs out for Udo to fall when he was running around buying bottles for the men to form a formidable choir for God, I would have felt a bit relieved knowing I did something for the new born child to ease the misery he was bound to face.


2 thoughts on “NWÁÓFÚ – THE NEW CHILD

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