Oniovo: The sibling serie

1
Oniovo: Duets
2
Oniovo: ofe dey run belle
3
Oniovo: Sibling squabble
4
Oniovo: We didn’t see this coming
5
Oniovo: Aunty Betty
6
Oniovo: diemu ode re?
7
Oniovo: Cada
8
Oniovo: Sibling Speak
9
Oniovo: B & B
10
Oniovo: Those to whom I offer counsel or care

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[…]

Read More

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[…]

Read More

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[…]

Read More

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[…]

Read More

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[…]

Read More

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[…]

Read More

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[…]

Read More

Oniovo: Sibling Speak

It is difficult to say how the following words became part of our vocabulary. Blame it on the many influences around us then – music, films, people, books, slangs, etc.  All of them came together to evolve into a code we called our own.    Tight. Strangled. I’m almost done. Just this strangled part left. Look at the tight thing I want to iron! These twin words sufficed for size. Usually the tiny, minuscule or little kind in the context of the conversation. Occasionally it could be used for food. Here it refers to clothing.   Gauge. Standard. Like the set above, it is closely related to size but in food matters only. They denote the desired quantity as dictated by the intensity (or lack thereof) of hunger pangs battering the user. I said standard, standard! And you gave me gauge! Sorry. Erring party taking the plate away to adjust appropriately. Sometimes it was difficult telling the terms apart.   Bus stop. Unlike other words, this was inferred.  Occasionally it found its way into conversations but wasn’t as popular because it meant more to non-family members. Once again, the location of our house had everything to do with this word[…]

Read More

Oniovo: B & B

We might as well have erected a signpost, replete with opening hours, services offered and, perhaps, rates. Thus, owning the other status thrust upon us. We could have converted the BQ to our area of operations, and, who knows, raked in money enough to build three residences in various locations; one we would live in, then lease out the others to a church and a bank – GTB perhaps, when they appeared early in the millennium. Wishful thinking. None of the above happened. But please read on, there’s a method to this madness. So most of the time, our house belonged to us because, well, we paid the rent. Most of the time also, it didn’t. As a revolving door swirled people in and out of a building, so was our home for out-of-town guests who were family, friends or family – friends. For all the perks it afforded us, the location was also the bane of our existence. Most times it was a B & B (and lunch and supper and sleepover and whatever else) spot for single digit visitors to whole families. Most times, as it was back then, there were no fore warnings or indications of visits[…]

Read More

Oniovo: Those to whom I offer counsel or care

Good morning God, Thank you for the night’s rest and for this new day  Will you accompany me as I go my way? Thinking through my mind, living in my heart, Speaking through my mind and guiding my feet in the paths You wish me to follow? Bless me with robust health and the physical strength to carry my share of the world’s load. Give me a clear knowledge of the right and the courage to stand steadfastly by my convictions. Make my will strong, but let my voice and my touch be gentle. Teach me to be patient, and to be kind. Grant me the wisdom to guide only to their greatest good Those to whom I offer counsel or care Keep me so scrupulously honest that the slightly trust…   As it turned out, our parents not only operated a B & B, unknowingly, for an ever- widening select few… The prayer above was amongst our mother’s litany which she recited every morning. The line in bold aptly described another tag hanging over our house.  …our home was also an unofficial counselling centre.  Our parents’ friends hauled over their issues – mostly marital – to our house and[…]

Read More

Copyright © 2013. Idolors domain