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“What is the higgledy–piggledy about, Eh Jeremiah? From the Ujiri tree near the junction I co...

“What is the higgledy–piggledy about, Eh Jeremiah? From the Ujiri tree near the junction I could hear your wife’s voice. Has the Armageddon in Western Jamani (Germany) reached your house?” Nduka asked as he entered Jeremiah’s compound.  “The rumpus you heard is very artificial; save your linguistics Nduka. The hullaballoo in Western Jamani (Germany) cannot find expression in my abode. I have said it for the umpteenth time; I am married to the most benign wife in all the world. The hubbub you heard was only an exercise at intellectual omnipotence,” replied Jeremiah, grinning from ear to ear.  “I am happy to hear that.” From her kitchen Odinaka stormed out yelling, “Instead the two of you will sit here idly speaking words that have no meaning, I suggest you go to the evil forest and join the new church there. The two of you sound very much like them. They speak yabah Yabah Yabah all the time in the name of prayer.” “Alas! What is this Jeremiah? The intellectual omnipotence you spoke of has affected your wife’s medulla. This is not the Odinakachi I know!” Nduka exclaimed in surprise.

“No Nduka! Her medulla is fine. She is simply suffering from hallucinatory perception of having been insulted. I made use of a word which her uneducated mind could not interpret and since then she has been accusing me of all sorts.” Odinaka did not get what her husband said and so she got angrier, “Let me tell you something Jeremiah, all those curses, halluci, percefi, which you have heaped on me, will follow you. If you have forgotten, I am from Uhumeze; curses do not affect us easily.” “Nduka, what you have witnessed now is a picaresque example of what today has been for me. It started with you Nduka, then to Mazi Udemba and now my beloved wife. Why can’t people understand simple grammar? If I knew, when I had the chance to travel out of the country with a white man in Pra Court (Port Harcourt), I would have left with him! Life amongst the uneducated in this village is frustrating!”

“Jeremiah calm down and explain to me in clearer terms what the matter is. There is a time for big grammar and there is a time to settle war on the home front. This is not the Odinakachi I know. What great sacrilege have you committed against her?” “Nduka I only told her that her mouth was running very LOQUACIOUS and she misunderstood the word for lo kwa shot. Her mind is that I cursed her with a big word thinking she won’t understand.” “Hai! Ewoo! Odii don’t be offended. But Jeremiah, you should not have used such a heavy weight word on your wife. Such words can cause deep wounds,” Nduka admonished. At this juncture, Oleka arrived at Jeremiah’s house wearing a long face. “Jeremiah! Jeremiah! When I warned you about your usage of unnecessary grammatical venoms you didn’t listen, now see what your convoluted expressions have caused for me!” Oleka barked. “What is it again? Have I not had enough troubles for one day Oleka? It is only in this town that men of great intellectual endowment are hung dry and left to die for the inability of the majority fools to understand them.”

“So my father in-law whom you insulted with your meaningless big words is now a fool? Now hear this, if by the next seven market days, you do not provide me with a robust he-goat to appease Mazi Udemba, you will not know peace in this village.  If I buy the goat, then I will drag you to Amadioha.” “Hei! Oleka the matter has not come to that yet. God is my witness that I did not insult your father in-law. When I told him to ‘linger’ to hear our wisdom and knowledge, I did not call him atinga (skinny person). Even you acknowledged that I did not call him atinga. It was this fool who made the matter what it is now.” “Jeremiah I am not a fool. I only gave the old man the meaning of ‘lingered’,” Nduka countered. “Okay you are not a fool, Nduka, but you must help solve this matter. I do not have the money to buy a he-goat for Mazi Udemba.” “My suggestion is that we leave very early in the morning to go see the old man and plead with him.” “My father in-law is already expecting a he-goat; he won’t accept a mere apology,” said Oleka. “No he will, if we embellish the apology with grammar,” Jeremiah insisted.

The next morning the three of them set out to Umuokoro. They took along with them a keg of palm wine and kola nuts to add weight to their words. Mazi Udemba was surprised to see them arrive his house that early. “Oleka, what brings you and your friends to Umuokoro this early morning?” Udemba asked. “Mazi our arrival to your abode this early is borne out of our deep yearning to appease your inflammable temperament over the insult which you were treated to yesterday.” Udemba scratched his head wondering the meaning of what his son in-law said. Thinking he had figured it out, Mazi Udemba replied, “I have forgiven you already, but you must do that which is required of you for watching while your friend called me atinga.” Jeremiah stood up and cleared his throat, “Heh heh! Mazi Udemba, I will try my best not to be linguistic. The insult which you spoke of was all my fault for unleashing a big word for your pint-sized ignoramus caked mind.” Mazi Udemba leaned toward his son in-law, Oleka and asked, “What was all that he said?” “He said he has deep respect for you and has brought the keg of palm wine and kola nut to tender his apologies to you; and hopes that your honour which is far more that those of the best wrestlers in the villages around will make you forgive him and not ask me to give you a he-goat,” Oleka replied.

Mazi Udemba smiled at the idea of being thought to have more honour than the best wrestlers in and around his village. Jeremiah buoyed by the positive effect the interpretation which Oleka gave to the insults he aimed at Mazi  Udemba, decided to unleash more of his Jargons hoping Oleka will make them sound better to his father in-law, “Great Mazi you are the Trojan horse of our epoch…” “Amen!” Nduka responded. Udemba beamed with a smile and thought to himself that whatever Jeremiah said must have made so much sense for Nduka to approve of it with an ‘Amen’. Jeremiah continued, “Mazi my humble self, who is qualified to be your espionage in various learning, cannot lower myself so much as to lambast you. You are a poor old chump (fool) who has spent his entire life far from the light of knowledge.” “Amen!!!” Udemba shouted under the impression that Jeremiah was praising him. “Eehm! Jeremiah, you no longer have need to continue your apology. The sort of praise you have given me today I have not received it before. You have shown to me that indeed you are not LINGUISTIC like you often say,” Udemba said and paused to known the reaction of the three men to his usage of the word LINGUISTIC. Oleka and his two friends clapped their hands and chanted, “LINGUISTI! LINGUISTIC!”

That morning Mazi Udemba forgave his son in-law and cancelled the he-goat he demanded from him. He and Jeremiah became good friends from that day. He was often heard shouting at his fellow elders during meetings, “Don’t be linguistic!” Whenever he said that, they would shut up and gave him audience.


Written by:
Uzoma Ujor

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DON'T BE LINGUISTIC! - Episode 4 An African Literary Blog
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