Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - grandmother, harsh village life, village bullies, village, grandchildren, private international school, neighbours, children born in townships, farms, firewood, water, goats and chickens, school.
“Adanna! Please what is the time by the clock?” Nneoma, Adanna’s mother asked. She was washing clothes in the bathroom and was bothered that other her children had not returned from a visit to their uncle’s house. Adanna stood before the clock in the living room and stared hard and long at it. For weeks her parents and siblings had been teaching her how to read the clock and tell what the time was. She looked from 12 down to 6 and from 6, to 9 and right up to 12; she was sure the time was eight o’clock. “Ada! Didn’t you hear me? What says the time?” Nneoma asked again. Just as Ada was about to open her mouth to tell her mother the time, her siblings returned from their visit to their uncle’s. Ada didn’t want them to deny her the chance to read the clock aright and give the accurate time, so she shouted, “Mummy! The time is eight Okwu’lock!” A raucous laughter erupted amongst her siblings. “What!!!” yelled Nneoma. “Adanna, what did you just say the time was?” Nneoma asked in sheer disbelief. Ada had no clue as to why her mother yelled the way she did, or the reason her siblings laughed irrationally. She studied the clock once more; the long hand was at 12 while the short hand pointed at 8. Proudly she replied her mother, “Mummy, the time is eight Okwu’lock!”
Adanna was born in Brisbane Australia; that was before her father’s business took a nosedive. At a very tender age she was brought to Nigeria to live with her grandmother while her parents relocated to the United States to try their hands on a new business. After having spent years with her uneducated grandmother, Adanna took after her in every way, losing in the process all the polished bits of lifestyle she had brought home from Brisbane, including her refined foreign accent. She was sent to a local school in her father’s village, Ishiala Mbano. Her grandmother gave her no special treatment as a child born abroad. In fact, her grandmother, Ahudiya, believed that children born in townships and more so in foreign lands, behaved like sheep, and had to be trained with iron hand to rid them of the foolishness that came with living in cities and foreign lands. Ahudiya spared not Adanna from the harsh village life. She was made to go to the stream with other little children, roamed the bush for firewood and went to farm with her grandmother. If she was beaten up by fellow children, Ahudiya would lead her back to the playground and ask her to give back as much as she took, while she stood akimbo and watched. If Adanna did not give back a good fight, Ahudiya would bring her back to the playground the next day to fight again until she was satisfied that Adanna had beaten her attacker to her satisfaction.
In the process of time, the survival instinct in Adanna kicked in and she made up her mind to survive the village until her parents were buoyant enough to come take her back to live with them. When she embraced the harsh village life, she became the queen of it. Slowly her story changed from being the bullied to the bully. On some occasions when she was sent to go fetch firewood, her friends would arrange fights for her as a means for her to pay back those who bullied her when she newly arrived at the village. She would fight so bravely that by the time she was done fighting, her opponent will have lost a tooth or had been given a swollen eye. To survive the challenge she met in the village, she had to throw care to the wind about whether her fair supple skin which she loved to protect, was scratched or not. At streams she was feared, if her water gallon was broken, she would mount herself at the top of the hilly path to the stream and would push down every water gallon her mates brought up out of the stream. The bolder she grew at taking on village bullies, the more Ahudiya loved her for it. “I have no problem with your water gallon being broken so long as you break all the water gallons your fellow children bring to the stream any day they break your gallon,” Ahudiya would instruct her.
Ahudiya’s interest was not in education, if Adanna failed in school or not did not matter to her. She just could not figure out why children should be sent to school to spend hours there, when they should be sent to the farms instead. Initially living with her grandmother was hard for Adanna, but with time she understood what made Ahudiya tick and began to give attention to those. After a few years, Adanna and her grandmother made a perfect team and became inseparable. They would plan attacks against their neighbours’ goats which often grazed in their ugu (pumpkin) farm and carry them out to the letter. When their neighbours would come to Ahudiya’s house in the evening with some elders to have released to them their goats which Ahudiya and her granddaughter had seized; Ahudiya and Adanna would go fighting, breaking and tearing everything in sight. If Ahudiya threatened to sell the goats she seized to recover the money she lost through her ugu farm being grazed in by their neighbours’ goats, she would do exactly that. Though Ahudiya had lost her husband a long time ago, she did not let that stop her from demanding what was her right. If one of her chickens or goats strayed and did not return home, Ahudiya would send out Adanna to kidnap as many chickens and goats she could in place of their lost chickens and goats.
After spending years with her grandmother, Adanna became just like her. She rarely went to school and cared only about their farms, firewood, water, goats and chickens. If the women in the village had meetings and shared garden eggs without giving Ahudiya some special consideration in the sharing formula, she would stage a fight and scatter the meeting. With Adanna by her side, Ahuidiya believed she could put the entire village on the run; however because she was old and a widow, people chose to let her have her way. She didn’t see things that way; rather she believed she was so strong that people would prefer not to pick a fight with her. By the time Adanna’s parents returned to Nigeria to spend some time with their daughter and to eventually leave for the States with her, they were shocked by what they met. They could hardly recognize the soften-spoken, polished, tender daughter of theirs whom they left with Ahudiya. After weeks of shouting match with Ahudiya, Adanna’s parents decided it would help their daughter if she was taken to the city and given access to quality education in a private international school to have her polished up a bit before taking her out of the country.
When they got to the city, Adanna’s parents realized just how far-removed from civilization Adanna had become. She could hardly make good sentences or solve elementary mathematics. In terms of education, there was a chasm between Adanna and her younger ones. However Adanna’s brothers and sisters loved her for her crude, uncivil and fearless lifestyle. Adanna would often keep her siblings busy all night narrating to them in smattering English how she and their grandmother terrorized the whole village if so much as one of their chickens or goats got missing. There were moments their parents could not help listening to Adanna’s stories. After some time, Adanna’s siblings began to pester their parents to take them to the village to go live with their grandmother so that they could also terrorize the village with her. Nneoma, their mother, would lift her hands to the sky and shout, “God forbid! So you want to become as primitive as your elder sister? That will never happen!” “Mommy, Ada (short for Adanna) is not primitive! She is hot! Ada is hot!” the children would protest. “No children, Ada is not hot! She is disadvantaged and it breaks my heart. Your sister at her age cannot solve simple math, she can’t speak good English! She can’t even tell what the time is on the clock! None of you is going to spend time with grandma ever again!”
In spite of how unexciting Nneoma tried to make living with their grandmother to sound, by night, Adanna would make all that lose their grip on her siblings with spellbinding stories about her time with Ahudiya. She would often stand and demonstrate how Ahudiya taught her to fight and to catch goats. The smile on Adanna’s pretty face when she narrated such stories would make her brothers and sisters to think that what Ada had with their grandmother was pure bliss.
After an event which happened in the school which Ada and her siblings attended in Abuja, Nneoma decided to stop Ada from telling her stories to her siblings. On a certain day in school, Daniel, Adanna’s immediate younger brother was beaten up by a bully in his class. When Ada heard it, she did nothing; instead she took her brother to the school clinic to make sure he was fine. After Daniel was checked up, Ada was told that her brother was fine. To carry out what she had in mind, Ada told her brother not to report the boy to the school authority, and assured him to leave the matter to her. The next day Adanna came to school determined to show the boy who beat up Daniel that she was the granddaughter of Ahudiya. Until that day no one knew just what she was capable of. During break time, Ada waylaid the bully, just as he tried to pass by where she hid herself, Ada grabbed him and taking him high enough, she crashed him on the ground. The big bully was stunned to see a girl lift him like a loaf of bread. Embarrassed by what had happened, the bully sprang to his feet and attacked Adanna. Adanna swung around and evaded his punches. Instead of fighting, Adanna told her siblings who were present to sing her one of the songs she taught them. As her brothers began to sing, the other students present joined them and began to mime along with them. Then Adanna who was bouncing around turned to face the bully and was very glad that after so long a time, she finally got the chance to fight again.
Like a tigress, Adanna attacked the bully; it took only a minute before the boy was on the ground crying with a tooth knocked off. Ada had hoped the boy would give her a good fight but was disappointed that he brought nothing to the fight. The bully was a big-for-nothing fool. Still spoiled for a fight and disappointed with the boy’s lame fighting, Adanna asked Daniel to give her the rope they bought the previous day. After she made a noose with the rope, she strung it around the boys next, tightened it loosely and asked Daniel to lead the bully to the field to eat grass like a goat. Before the teachers in the school could arrive at the scene of the fight, Daniel was already sitting on the bully and forcing grass into his mouth shouting, “Eat grass! Eat grandma’s goat! Eat grass! Eat grass goat!” After the bully was rescued from Daniel and Adanna who stood by and watched, their parents were summoned to the school to hear what atrocity their children had committed. The school authority was livid over what had been done to the bully and threatened to expel Adanna and Daniel, but later dropped their threat after many children in the school testified that the bully who Adanna beat up was in the habit of doing same to them. Some parents who heard about the school bully getting a taste of the treatment he gave to other students, came behind Adanna’s parents and insisted that if the school would expel Adanna and Daniel, then they should also expel the bully who often took from their pupils their lunch and text books.
At home Nneoma reprimanded Adanna harshly, “Adanna, after what you did to that boy in school, I do not want you to tell stories about your time with grandmother anymore. If I ever hear of those stories in this house I will beat you up just like you did to that boy.” Ada didn’t care much about what she did to the boy. She had done worse in the village. Her only regret was that she didn’t get a good fight from the boy to show what she could do. As for her stories to her brothers and sisters, she did not stop. At school during break time her siblings would crowd around her and she would tell them about her time in Ishiala Mbano. Years later, Adanna turned out a student whose brilliance in academics was comparable to her beauty. In 1999, she left for the United States with her parents. In 2013, she was admitted into an Australian university to study law. Till date, she still argues with her mother over whether her time with Ahudiya in the village was a waste of time or not. To Nneoma, Adanna’s time in the village with Ahudiya, left her retarded for a few years and was a total waste of time. She would often tell her, “Ada, if I had the chance to undo what your dad and I did by sending you to Ahudiya, I would do it. We did you so much evil by letting you go live with grandma.” To Adanna, the years she spent with Ahudiya helped to shape her personality and taught her to fight for what she believed in. Those years formed a solid base on which she built her life. Till this day, Adanna still writes Ahudiya. Her other grandchildren living with her would read and explain the contents of Adanna’s letters to her. In her letters, Adanna would tell Ahudiya that after her studies in white man’s land, she would return to the village so they could rear goats and chickens and fight their enemies together.
Ahudiya loved to hear from Adanna; she believed that training Adanna her way was her biggest achievement in life. She would often boast to her other grandchildren, “Can’t you see how Adanna turned out in life? I made her that way! If you listen to me and follow my instructions you will be just like Ada nwa m (Ada my daughter).” However what Ahudiya did not know was that everyone thought of Adanna as shockingly stubborn, and blamed her for it behind her back.
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