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At home Jeremiah narrated to his wife, Odinaka, his experience at Oleka’s house, “It should be considered a capital offense for a man t...

At home Jeremiah narrated to his wife, Odinaka, his experience at Oleka’s house, “It should be considered a capital offense for a man to dwell without knowledge. Odii (short for Odinaka), can you believe that on account of failure to understand the word your esteemed husband used today at Oleka’s house, he would have been lynched by Mazi Udemba, Oleka’s father in-law. I spoke in the parlance of erudite men like me, and the old man misunderstood my intellectual vituperation.” “My husband I will not blame Mazi Udemba for his reaction. Even me, your wife, does not understand half of what you say most times. I do make use of guess-work to make meaning of your words. You should not speak above people’s head. Try to speak the tongues of men; that way, they will understand you easily.” “Don’t be linguistic Odinakachi! What are the parameters for your blind assertion that I do not speak the tongues of men? Since when did English language become a heavenly speech?” “What you speak cannot be English language. Do you really think I understood all you just said now? All those big words you used are they part of the English language? You shouldn’t speak to people and expect them to figure out your meaning by perhaps the sound of the words you make use of.”

“Odinaka, even if I make use of big words, should a simple word like ‘lingered’ be the reason for your husband to be killed?” “Maybe not; at least I know the meaning of the word unlike your other words that sound like Ogbu na igwe (bomb).” Jeremiah was pleasantly surprised to hear his wife claim that she knew the meaning of the word ‘lingered’; and so he asked her, “Odii did you just say you know the meaning of the word ‘lingered?’” “Yes of course,” Odinaka  replied her husband proudly. “So what does the word mean?” “It means to stay, remain or wait. I think it is in a past form, though I do not know what that means.” “Hahahahaha! Oh God! May this woman not make me sick with laughter!” Jeremiah laughed ebulliently and asked with sarcasm, “Who taught you such rubbish? Oh I see, your teacher must be the mad lecturer at Egbu road Owerri.” “Don’t you make fun of me Jeremiah. I learnt it from our son Udochukwu. He now attends English language lesson at Dr. Silvanus’ house. Are you more educated than Dr. Silvanus who studied in Amirica (America?)” Odinaka was absolutely right about the meaning of the word ‘lingered’, but her husband, Jeremiah, was so full of himself and ignorant that it would take him a century to make the effort to read and realize he was wrong.

“Don’t be linguistic woman! How could you compare a luminous (he meant to use luminary) academic (academician) like me to an escapee student like Dr. Silvanus? Imagine, he calls himself a doctor yet he owns no hospital or administers treatment to anyone in this village. How could you compare me to him? He is nothing but an academic juggernaut! (He had no clue to what he said). I am a thousand times better than he. In fact if you are not careful I will call Umu nna (kins men) and demand a white cock from you for committing such a travesty against your luminous husband.”  “Why are you angry my husband? What has Umu nna got do in a private chatter a woman is having with her luminous husband? But seriously speaking, Jeremiah, you are beginning to sound like the Eze (king) at Olokoro. Do you mean to tell Odinakachi who did not get much standard education that you do not know the meaning of Dr. Silvanus being a doctor at English language?” “Shut up Odinakachi, your boldness is becoming too arrogance. You should first understand the meaning of words before you present your argument. Now tell me, does Dr. Silvanus treat his students with black board and chalk? He should humble himself and tell us he is an English teacher… Nwa teacher (a common teacher) and not a Dr. at English language. Even Nwaraka, the old one-eyed native doctor, is better equipped at treating ailments than Dr. Silvanus.”

“I am not going to argue with you Jeremiah, but I know what I am saying. Silvanus is a doctor in English language.” “What do you know Odinakachi? Listen and learn from your husband!” “Wait Jeremiah, I know what I am saying; I heard Dr. Silvanus has VHD (Phd) in English language, that is why he is a doctor.” “What is VHD in English language biko nu (I beg your pardon?) So soon you will get VHD in moving your goods around the market and become a doctor?” “Gbam (Exactly!) And the government will give me a motor car like the one they gave to Dr. Silvanus. Won’t you like it for your wife to get VHD?” “I have said it times without numbers (number) that your mouth is too LOQUACIOUS. How can you get VHD before me? If anybody should get VHD in this house, I should be the one to get it first.” “I know I did not go to school as much as you did, but frankly I hate it when you hide behind those big words of yours that can derail a train in Umuahia to insult me.  Why should you tell me to lo kwa shot (swallow shot)? You Jeremiah lo kwa shot! (swallow shot!)” “Odinaka, this conversation with you has become very harmful to my medulla oblongata. I did not tell you lo kwa shot. I said LOQUACIOUS…” “So what is the difference? Jeremiah, it is you who goes to football pitch very often to watch boys play that will swallow shot and not Odinakachi. When they play the shot, make sure you swallow it. Nwaraka will be very glad to remove it from your belly for just a keg of palm wine. Imagine this man! I move around the length and breadth of the new daily market to find a living for me and my children, and when I return home hopping to have a decent conversation with my husband, he tells me to lo kwa shot. See, if your father was not still alive, I would have told you that it is your father who will lo kwa shot.”

Odinaka stormed away from her husband, leaving him completely stunned. He wondered aloud, “What is it with people these days that when you speak English, they understand England? I spoke English in the morning and Nduka started a fight with me, I spake English to Mazi Udemba and he attacked me with his footwear, and now I have spoken English to my wife and she has started third world war in my house! No! The world has gone mad!” From a distance away, Odinaka shouted at him, “Your grammar is causing you too much trouble because  ogbara uka (because it has gone sour!”)   STORY CONTINUES...

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Written by:
Uzoma Ujor

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