Hello Yarners, eerm… you’re welcome to Day 4 of the 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS and if you’ve been playing the guessing game on which member of the Team is going to appear in the House, I’m sure you can’t go wrong today as we have the fourth member of the Team in the House – Aideyan Daniel.
P.S: Look out for “The Task” after the story – It holds the key to unlocking Day 5.
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//From Baga With Love//
The whirring sound from the boiling pot on the gas cooker, harmonised perfectly with the chopchop-chopchop beat of the knife hacking on a cutting board, filling up the kitchen with a melody that was culinary in genre.
Rahila’s fingers worked skillfully as she sliced the vegetables, her left hand instinctively shifting an inch backwards every time the blade of the knife descended on the greens. The process was a beauty to behold as Rahila’s voice, in rhythm with the chopchop-chopchop beat, sailed in a song around the room.
You changed my whole life…
Don’t know what you’re doing to me with your love
I’m feeling all Superhuman you did that to me
Superhuman heart beats in me…
Jumai sauntered into the kitchen with a mischievous glint in her eyes. Her nose was turned up in a sneer as she watched her heavily pregnant sister sing.
Rahila was oblivious of Jumai’s presence as she busied herself with her cooking, expertly gliding from slicing the vegetables on the counter top, to checking the simmering chicken stock on the cooker.
Nothing can stop me here with you…
Rahila turned slightly towards the door, a smile plastered on her beautiful face. ‘Why are you clearing your throat? Did you swallow a frog?’
‘No Sister,’ Jumai giggled, her eyes dancing suspiciously.
‘So what is it?’
Jumai picked out a tray from the rack as Rahila’s eyes tracked her sister’s every movement.
‘I just can’t wait for Uncle D to be back,’ Jumai started, unpacking the soup ingredients from the polybag onto the tray.
Rahila paused, her brows arched questioningly at her sister. ‘And what does my husband’s return have to do with why you are clearing your throat?’
Jumai chuckled as she caught her sister’s arched brows staring down at her. ‘Atleast we’ll have someone in the house who knows how to get you to stop singing, cos’ I sincerely dont know how much longer I can bear this punishment.’
‘Eh!’ Rahila gasped, slackjawed.
Jumai let out a soft laugh.
‘I cannot sing in my house again?’ Rahila asked with exaggerated shock. ‘Ten of you and your Uncle D cannot stop me from singing in my house,’ She added, watching her sister creak with laughter. ‘Better get used to the punishment.’
‘Me? I don’t have wahala o,’ Jumai shrugged, ‘I can put my earphones on. It’s the baby I feel sorry for.’
‘Don’t feel sorry for my Prince,’ Rahila countered. ‘He is enjoying mummy’s voice, unlike his aunty and daddy.’ She cupped her belly in her hands, rubbing slowly on the bulge, and just when she was sure she had her sister’s attention, burst into another round of singing.
You changed my whole life…
Don’t know what you’re doing to me with your love…
Jumai smiled as she watched her sister roll her eyes and sing with an intentional nasal ring. ‘I don’t know why it’s the people who cannot sing that will not let the world have peace with their voices,’ She muttered with a grin playing around her lips.
The sisters glanced at themselves at the sound of the doorbell.
Jumai’s stare was quizzical.
‘It can’t be him,’ Rahila answered with a quick shot at the clock on the wall. ‘He’s not due to arrive till like six in the evening, and this is just past one.’
‘Coming!’ Jumai hollered back in response as she hurried out of the kitchen to answer the door.
Sunday evenings at the Base were usually serene – except of course in the mess hall where officers who were off duty, tried to take advantage of the usual weekend half the price promo on drinks. The offer was valid till eight ‘o’ clock.
The mess hall brimmed with energy as men used to shuffling to the music from guns and artillery fire, gyrated to the frenetic tempo of the sweet afropop sound blasting from the radio’s speakers.
The excitement was palpable.
Dariye sat tucked in a corner of the hall, a smile set on his face as he watched his colleagues engage in some alcohol induced theatrics. They called it dancing, he called it free entertainment.
The lyrics of the song did not make much sense but it did not matter to the dancing soldiers who chorused along, interjecting their singing with occassional chants to recognise a colleague who was displaying some inspired dance steps.
Boko killer! Boko killer!!
The Commander bopping his head to the beat, lifted his hands high up in the air, before doing an acrobatic three-sixty degree spin in the middle of the hall. He was clearly basking in the adulation of the chants of &Boko killer& ringing around the hall as he shook his frame from side to side, jerking his shoulders vigorously like someone having a seizure. The only difference was that he had a smile on his face.
Dariye kissed the lips of the bottle in his hand as the rhythm of the song titillated his ears and seduced his head to swaying motions like those of the banana leaves in the harmattan. He felt the smoothness of the cold beer caressing his tongue and smacked his lips in delight. The grin on his face widened as he watched the Commander attempt to dance the etighi. The effort was greeted with a loud cheer that quickly dissolved into the chorus of the music playing from the loudspeakers.
Where your mama dey o
Where your papa dey o
Where your sister dey oh eh …
Dariye was not sure if the word in the first line of the chorus was ‘mama’ or ‘madam’ as all he could hear his colleagues shouting was, ‘where your madam dey o?’ while he could have sworn it was ‘mama’ that was playing out from the loudspeakers.
It was his colleagues’ version that resonated with him the most and even though he knew where ‘his madam dey’, he could not help but wonder what she was doing at the moment. Different images of his wife’s beautiful face flooded his mind at that moment; smiling face, angry face, funny face, laughing face, worried face, disappointed face-
He paused on the image of the disappointed face, letting his mind’s eye run through the barely visible but present creases that usually lined up his wife’s face anytime she was disappointed, like she was sure to be at the moment.
He had promised her the last time he was home in June, that he would do everything within his powers to make sure that they spend this years’ Christmas together, after she had pointed out to him that they were yet to spend Christmas together as a family since they got married three years ago.
Dariye sighed, head bowed as he tapped the base of the bottle gently against the table. He had done everything within his powers to keep his promise and had gone as far as rescheduling his off days from September to December even though he was itching to see his wife who had announced to him excitedly on a scorching afternoon in August that she was pregnant. It was their second pregnancy in three years of marriage. The first had ended in a miscarriage.
Everything seemed to be working to plan for him to keep his promise and he had reaffirmed thus to his wife last week on a phone call when he had visited Maiduguri. It was the only time he could make calls to his wife seeing that there was no network service in Baga where his unit was based. He had told her that he would be home with her today, Sunday the eighteenth, and she had screamed in joy, immediately going on an endless chatter on how she and the baby -whom she believes is a boy because of how hard he kicks- couldn’t wait to see him, before painting her fantasies of what their first Christmas together would be like. Fantasies that seemed destined to come true until two days ago when a protest by the men of the 21st Brigade deployed to Bula Bello caused the Command Center in Maiduguri to ask his unit to be on stand-by, effectively cancelling all leave permissions.
Dariye drained the last drop of beer in the bottle, turning it upside down into his mouth, before returning it to the table with a soft thud. He lifted his gaze momentarily at the dancing pack in the middle of the hall and a sad smile crept on his face. He missed his wife. He rose up slowly from his chair, left hand stuffed inside his pocket and bristling against a copy of the letter he had sent home to his wife and headed for the exit.
I miss you – yes, everybit of you, even your singing
eerm… especially your singing
I know I promised to be home for Christmas
Infact I’m supposed to be home right now
Cuddling you in my arms
And staring deep down into the eyes of my doe-eyed princess
Those beautiful almond eyes that make my knees buckle and my heartbeat race –
But I’m sure you heard the news about the protesting soldiers
I know you did – you’re always in touch
Well, my unit has been ordered to stand in as back-up until normalcy is restored
And so all leave permissions have been cancelled
I’m sorry Babe
I wish was a Banker, an Engineer, a Doctor or even a Poet
But I’m a Soldier
And Soldiers wives don’t cry – so wipe that tear off
Rahila wiped off the tear trickling down her cheek with the back of her palm but not before a drop had landed on the page of the letter. She peered at the next line, misty-eyed.
Okay I lied – Soldiers wives do cry
But not when their husbands are still alive
Rahila cuddled closer to the pillow as her eyes travelled down the letter.
I miss you babe –
I miss you like Nigerians miss the real N50 gala
I miss you like we miss the third fish in the sardine
‘Na so,’ she muttered, giggling to herself.
I miss you like we miss Jonathan
The only difference is – I’m not ashamed to say it
‘Ah!’ Rahila gasped delightedly on the bed. It had been a good decision afterall not to read the letter in Jumai’s presence when it was delivered with the package in the afternoon, or how could she have survived her sister’s bantering after seeing her like this; giggling and flushed with so much excitement because of a letter.
Rahila’s gaze shifted downwards as she read through the last lines of the letter. She had a smile permanently set on her face as her eyes brightened and dimmed to express the emotions contained in the letter. She reduced the pace of her reading, scared to come to the end of the letter, but as she read through the last ten lines, the letter felt like a Christmas gift, coming seven days early.
Do write me a reply like you always do
And I’ll read it when I’m home
And if I can’t make it home before Christmas
Then I’ll spend it with you in my heart
Cos’ this year –
We must spend Christmas together as a family
I love you R
And I’ll never stop loving you
It’s your husband D
And this is from Baga, with Love.
Share with the house your favourite Christmas delicacy.
= We need a Minimum of 20 Responses to Unlock Day 5 from the Grinch’s hold =
It’s Sunday and it’s about FOOD – two solid reasons why you don’t need too much ginger to express yourself (I know the word ‘solid’ already made you think of fufu). Telling us about your favourite Christmas food should be enough ginger but just incase it’s not – remember we need your responses to unlock Day 5 – So let’s do this people – let’s make this a food festival!
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