“Mama! Mama!” yelled little Ebuka, a very vibrant and naughty 9-year-old. His mother who has been in the kitchen since after the cock crow, yelled back his name.
“Ebuks! Na wetin? I no go res for ya hand again!?”
Ebuka ignored her usual tantrums and just went straight to where she sat and began tugging at the hem of her slightly loose faded wrapper. She turned angrily and pushed him aside. She began to re-adjust her loose wrapper.
“Na wush kan pikin you be sef ehn!? You no see say I dey do somtin?”
“Mama!” He cried out loudly. “Amaka don start again o!” He pulled at his right ear with his right hand.
Amaka, his sister, a very quiet and sly 13-year-old, rushed in as if dragged in by a strong wind, began to quickly defend herself. She talked with a stammer, making it difficult for anyone of them to make out what she was trying to say.
“Sharap ya mouth!” Their mother yelled. She stopped what she was doing and faced both of them like a judge about look into a case study.
“Na who fan palava fes?” Both Children pointed at one another almost immediately. She began to frown.
“I go ask una again. Na who fan strong palava fes!” Ebuka started to talk in a haste.
“Mama. See ehn! Na Amaka fes fan my yello palava!”
Amaka screamed. “Mma-mm-a! Nn-a-a li-i-i-ee o! E-bu-buk-ka na him fe-e-s-s…” Before she could finish the last sentence, the mother became irritated. She faced Ebuka who immediately started to cry.
“Hehhhhnnn! Hehhhhhn!!! Na she fan me palava fes o!” He began to point and poke at his sister. “She take my tin before, now she don take anoda one today!” He said this amidst tears dropping from his eyes.
Uncertain on what to do, Mama just hissed and sighed, obviously frustrated at their incessant joggling of several stale complaints of days passed.
“Oya! Before I hopen my eye ehn, una go don vamoose comot from here o!” She picked up a wooden spoon and chased them away from the dark-sooth-filled kitchen.
Finally, peace filled the air. Mama continued her cooking. She began to sing… “Trouble dey sleep, nyanga pesin go comot sleep for him eye… Na big palava him dey fan oooooo!”
The scream from outside the house jolted her and shortened her new found peace. That was Ebuka’s voice, loud enough to undeafen a deaf man. She quickly dropped the plastic bowl she had in her hand, and bolted out of the Kitchen, screaming.
“DJisos oooo! Na wush kan shidren you gif me o! Una no go kill me! Una no fit o!” She started to flog her children locked in a fight with a piece of tree branch she found on the floor. A strike of the cane on their tiny impoverished locked arms sent both children fleeing from their mother’s presence. She snarled at both of them, rained abusive words on them.
“Mama! Tell Amaka to give me my tin o! I no go gree for am o!”
“I no hold your tin o!” Amaka forced out these words with sporadic force. She began to prance about like a baby antelope. This infuriated her mother. Meanwhile Ebuka continued to yell at his sister
“Make she give me my tin o! Amaka give me o! Hehhhhhn!!!”
“Na whush tin she take for ya hand, make I ask you this small winsh.” Her finger pointing towards her troublesome son.
From a distance Amaka began to hush her brother as if preventing him from saying something important.
“Lemme o! Amaka, I go tell mama for you!
“Eb-u-u-k-ka!” She softly called his name.
Their mother just watched the mini show unfolding before her very eyes.
“Amaka wetin be that wey you dey hide?” She asked her daughter in surprise.
“Mama! Amaka enter kitchen…” Ebuka said. His mother started to nod her head as if agreeing to what she might hear. By then, Amaka had started to step backward, away from her mother, with a sober look on her face.
“Ebu-u-u-k-ka. Me abi?” Amaka continued in her plea, but Ebuka promised to tell. He began to take tiny calculated steps toward his mother. He got closer to her and began to tug at his mother’s wrapper.
Ebuka pointed in his sister’s direction “Amaka na tiff!” He said with passion and energy. “She enter kitchen wen you no dey go tiff sometin…” This tingled his mother’s ears.
“Mama na lie o! I no tiff eny tin o!” Amaka had began to move away from her mother who had shifted her gaze from Ebuka to her.
“She tiff the goat leg wey you wan take cook egusi soup for papa. Na so she go dey tiff every time..”
“Djisos!!!! Amaka you don kill me o!” Mama began to slap her thighs. She was lost for words. She squeezed her face in anger.
Amaka dashed off and disappeared into the next compound and into the a neighbour’s house. Mama chased after her, yelling.
“You this winsh pikin! You go vomit my goat leg today, if not na your leg I go use cook your papa soup” she continued to yell out.
“My goat leg o! Chei! Nwa ke egbuolam! This pikin don kill me!”
Ebuka followed closely behind his mother who had already picked up a piece of wood to hit her daughter with. Ebuka was enjoying the scene. He kept inciting his mother with more stories of how Amaka stole from her soup pot each time she felt no one was seeing her. This infuriated his mother the more.
Mama dashed into the other compound. She yelled so loud that neighbours came out to find out the reason for her loud tantrums.
Mama Amaka as people call her, is known to be a very belicose woman. She can pick a quarrel anywhere and anytime. People at most times try to avoid her and made sure they never get in her way especially when she and her husband fight and quarrel.
“Mama Amaka na wetin make you dey halla like this? You sabi say people dey this compound?” She eyed and ignored the intruder and kept raining abusive word on hiding offender.
“Hey hey hey!!!” Another neighbour yelled, trying to get her attention. ” You dey disturb us for here o! If you sabi wetin good for you and your tiff tiff shidren ehn, you go jus carry them comot for here sharp sharp!”
As if remote controlled, Mama stopped yelling and faced the young man who had just pinched her last nerve. “You see how God don punish you finish? See this armed robber o! You sef wan talk?” She walked toward him, clapped her hands over his head and hissed louder than the snails in her kitchen.
“Trouble dey sleep, nyanga pesin go comot sleep for him eye… Na big palava him dey fan oooooo!” She turned sharply, and wriggled her waist in a troublesome manner away from him, and turned to face the her son Ebuka who has been waiting for a showdown between his mother and the *broda*. This amused the onlookers. She ignored them.
“Make una tell that stupid pikin say if I catch am ehn, na her leg I go cut take cook her papa soup today…” She angrily and forcefully pulled Ebuka. They began to walk away, but mama continued throwing tantrums at everyone else behind her.
Amaka who has been sobbing, listened carefully, but did not come out from her hiding. Her mother’s voice echoed through the almost empty compound and into her usual safe haven- an empty concrete water drum…