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Oniovo: Duets
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Oniovo: ofe dey run belle
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Too much of a good thing doesn’t seem to apply here
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Oniovo: Sibling squabble
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Oniovo: We didn’t see this coming
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April in review: unusual weather conditions
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Oniovo: me ni ebe ai ta
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Oniovo: Aunty Betty
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Oniovo: diemu ode re?
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Oniovo: Cada

Oniovo: Duets

There may be no relationship…that’s closer, finer, harder, sweeter, happier, sadder, more filled with joy or fraught with woe, than the relationship we have with our brothers and sisters. – Jeffrey Kluger   “Victor! Come with Jnr.” Uncle E.E.’s voice boomed from his door. “And Ejiro, come with Idolor.” He continued before entering the room. E.E. (his initials are better sounding than his name) is a paternal uncle of ours, whose house we spent many memorable holidays while growing up. With eight children of his and us in tow, those times were devoid of any dull moments. Whether during his period in DSC or afterwards in our hometown, we always looked forward to the holiday gatherings with anticipation. The bond between a sister and brother sometimes tightly woven, sometimes loosely held, but never broken. – sibling quote He was also an expert errand master, making ample use of the several children at his disposal, giving us a feel of the situation at his office. There was always something to do, somewhere to be, an errand to execute and sometimes accompanied with a well – written letter. And like our lord sending out his disciples in twos, none of Uncle Edward’s[…]

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Oniovo: ofe dey run belle

It was December ‘93` Three of us – Cy, Jnr & Idolor – travelled to Lagos to attend a relative’s nuptials. The ceremonies – traditional, church, reception – were all successful, the way typical Nigerian weddings go. For the youth amidst family and friends gathered to celebrate with the bride, the substantial number of adults present made the occasion even more so. Their presence meant more money. It had become a growing norm of sorts for adults to share cash upon their departure at the end of joyful gatherings. This was no different; in fact, this stood out as one of the biggest pay – outs (if we could call it that) ever. The inflow of money seemed endless to our delight. It was as though every new day, after the end of the wedding, brought in more naira notes to increase the pile we already had until the last adult departed. Five days later, it was our turn to head back home. Though aware of the amount of money that had swirled around his house, our uncle (whose house was the centre of all the activities and where almost every out-of-town relative stayed) still added to that stack by[…]

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Oniovo: Sibling squabble

“Tell your sister she’s dead!” Marie bellowed down the line to Jnr, her immediate elder brother, almost searing his ear drums in the process.  Fleetingly, he mused over what could have happened between his two younger sisters, two bff. Only this morning, Marie was one excited, expectant girl as she waved her goodbyes and begun her very first holiday trip to the newly – created capital city, Abuja. No trace of the venom spitting out of her then.  Having sisters with roughly the same dress size came with its benefits. Our outfits were endless; the combinations we could create went on forever. Shopping in each other’s wardrobes (in consent with the owner) was part of our fashion lifestyle.  The down side to this sharing formula was the reason for one foaming mad sister in faraway Abuja, and another back in Benin wearing a satisfied smile. Initially, our exchange of baffs was a smooth, agreeable affair. All sisters consulting one another before any switch took place, and everyone lived in harmony. In time, educational pursuits and wanderlust collided to keep us apart from one another. That’s when the trouble began. Away from home or still living in it, we all wanted[…]

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Oniovo: We didn’t see this coming

A pair of fleshy legs, streaked with dirt, strolled leisurely but purposefully past the adolescent girls seated on the ramp leading to the garage of the house. Two of them were corn-rowing the third’s thick tresses.  Surprised, three pairs of innocent gazes trailed the legs as they sauntered on, giving the girls a back view of more dirt – streaked, fleshy body; wild, unkempt and filthy hair; and an unforgettable moment in their lives.  With simultaneous muffled screams and piercing shrieks, the three girls fled in different directors; one to the gaping front door of her grandmother’s house; the other two to their parents’ next door.  There was a mad woman in our compound!  Her first port of call was at Aunty Betty’s kitchen, the gas cooker drawing her attention. Silently, she lifted up pot covers one after the other and squinted at the contents therein.  From a safe corner and in an uncharacteristically calm voice delivered in her British accent, Aunty Betty assumed the role of a negotiator in a hostage situation. “Don’t touch that. It’s poison.” She informed the nude, noiseless lady invading her kitchen uninvited. “It can kill you.” Never in her wildest imaginations did the picture[…]

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April in review: unusual weather conditions

Dry spell. Another phrase to describe the last 30 days for me. My inspiration level to write was at an all- time low, like an abandoned dried out well. No form of stimulation worked out for me – tips for overcoming writer’s block, everyday prompts, noticing my surroundings more closely, change of scenario, etc. Nothing worked. I went from a banging first quarter to a parched desert traveler. If the Oniovo serie hadn’t been conceived, written and scheduled for posting every Sunday, I would have recorded zilch presence on my blog in April. And the plan was to feature other articles in addition to Oniovo, thus increasing and, indeed, exceeding my target monthly. I barely made it. What the heck happened?! How disappointing! Never again! Shaun T. jogged along smoothly, and I interjected a new routine towards the end of the month. It achieved what I hoped it would – variety – but also brought along with it some aches and weaknesses. Nothing the body won’t get used to in time. 9am – 5pm was humdrum too, and I began and stopped reading two e-books out of sheer boredom (or the zeitgeist of my month). Then got sucked into suspend[…]

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Oniovo: me ni ebe ai ta

“me na.” She’d croak quietly, firmly from her corner of the sitting room as Tg and Pru chased each other, with reckless abandon, around the place in whatever game they were engaged in.  With our maternal grandmother, we thought there were several issues:  The communication gap The conspiracy theory The paranoia The reportage In hindsight, it was just one –  the communication gap. She spoke and understood sparse English Language; our grasp of Urhobo was atrocious. Though her prolonged presence was tilting the scale of our native language acquisition slightly in our favour. This was odd because our parents rapped the linguistic constantly between each other, with our neighbours and friends of theirs of similar traditional leanings. To their credit, they often included us in the “die wo gwuolor? wo ka rio usi? wo ghe si ran ye” dialogue.  They made intentional efforts to improve upon our wispy grip on it. It probably didn’t collide with our willingness to progress on the technicalities, proverbs and pronunciations that was the Urhobo Language at the time. Even with the presence of one, two, three live – in tutors. This singular issue fueled many -a-misunderstanding between us and mama, as we called her. The[…]

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Oniovo: Aunty Betty

She was your typical grandmother – friendly, motherly, sometimes sweet, old – fashioned, long -winded, nosy, annoying, traditional, etc.  Sharing our spacious compound with us – our immediate neighbours – were a grandparents’ couple. Another Urhobo pair in this largely Bini setting. Our step dad and them had been friends in another place and time before setting up their lives in Benin City. The man was the quiet one. A reed thin, wrinkled patriarch who spent a huge chunk of his retirement time staring at the flickering TV screen; the woman the voluble half of the two. A rather smallish, bespectacled female with energy quite unusual for a grandmother.  Their children were contemporaries of our much older siblings; it was their grandchildren (two of them specifically) who were closer in range to us the younger ones, and with whom we bonded (whenever they happened to be around). One or two of their maids became fast friends with Pru and Tg (siblings #9 & #10 respectively) due to the similarities in their ages.  However, most of the time, they were alone, and found companionship with our parents frequently. Well, more the woman than the man. To this end, we witnessed countless[…]

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Oniovo: diemu ode re?

Whether by coincidence or like minds, the siblings from both sides of the blend had such cool names. Lloyd. Cy. Anthony. Marie. Pru. Those with traditional monikers were equally easy – on-the-tongue. Tg.Onos. Edirin. (Which was funny because we had encountered some seriously weird native names while growing up. Oteri. Okwuovoriole. Okukubribri. Otaighoaitana, etc) Nicknames were butter- melting in a pan. Dudu, Bibi. Then there was mine. Idolor. A wrecking ball of a name, and the tag of the sibling penning this serie. Hola! Encantada! For a long time, my name felt wrong. Raise your hands if you can identify with this feeling. Amongst my siblings’ signatures (read: easy, English noms), I felt short – changed in the moniker department. No, I couldn’t fully appreciate the significance of being named after my paternal grandmother.  Or even the depth of meaning my appellation carried. I was blinded by the contortions it forced the tongue and lips to undergo. Make it easy for me amongst my peers was all I cared about at the time. Couldn’t my parents have done better by me, namely…? It was complicated further by my nickname – a compound word made up of a term for an[…]

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Oniovo: Cada

To further cloak their mischief, siblings #9 and #10 developed their own language. It might have been a fallout from the one adopted by all of us…or not; it is difficult to say. For theirs was a combination of English Language and an unrecognized Linguistic. It started off in plain, simple terms even if it took a while for comprehension to set in for us older siblings. (Then again, wasn’t that the raison d’etre of it?) ‘He thinks!’ ‘He can!’ Often uttered in frustration or anger but devoid of complete expression, or so they made us believe. A while later, it expanded: ‘He thinks but he doesn’t know he cannot.’ They both knew exactly what they spewed forth, while the rest of us found it amusing and innovative. Not a lesson teacher of theirs though. And because he made a mountain out of a molehill, it became grounds for endless taunting for the poor man. It was a code between both of them that allowed for expression without glaring disrespect for whomever they addressed. Sometimes they spoke proper English but in slurred speech and mangled words only they could decipher. Afterwards, it descended into gibberish to the ear but, as[…]

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