Christmas has come and gone, but the memories will linger for a very long time to come. For people like me that permanently live on Christmas Season Avenue, I have a lot of awesome memories about Christmas, but there is one Christmas I will never forget.
Growing up, my brothers had this penchant for selling anything they could lay their hands on to “CONDEMN”. If you grew up in Aba in the 90’s and lived near cemetery market, you will surely understand what I am talking about. “CONDEMN” was the “OLX Nigeria” in those days. You could sell anything to them. You could sell your old clothes, those ones that cockroaches has turned into their permanent home address, you could sell your old shoes, those ones that are already facing up like the canoe that is carrying propaganda, you could sell your old pants to them, those ones with big big holes that you use to receive “cleansing” on Wednesday night, you could even sell half of your kidney to them….Condemn was a lifesaver.
Now, the problem with my brothers was not their undying love for condemn, the issue was that they sold anything that looked useless to them, even if it was useful to another person, to condemn. I will never forget how they sold the red brezzi, that I used to collect fresh breeze under the mango tree. Do you know that those boys sold it and used the money to cook indomie for all of us to eat? They even gave me an extra egg with the indomie , and I was busy shouting that I have romantic brothers to anyone who cared to listen.
I nearly ran mad when it was time to receive fresh breeze, and I did not see my red brezzi… how am I supposed to survive without fresh breeze? Is it that my brezzi has gone ahead of me to collect breeze alone?? Idonberrivit 😮 . It was Gaemezu that finally told me in secret, that he saw my red brezzi walking towards cemetery market accompanied by Mezie and Okey. Ayemi!!temi!bami! .. I mourned that bra like I was mourning the loss of a loved one. I was still trying to recover from the loss of my brezzi , when they suddenly arose and sold my mother’s score slippers, and used the money to buy Milk chin-chin and hamburger. My mother did not talk, she quietly marked calendar for them, she even gave them money to buy crush mineral to digest the hamburger… if only they knew.
Finally it was Christmas….
My mum went to Ariaria market for shopping. Infact that shopping was only for me. She bought me readymade skirt and blouse with matching shoes … it is not today that my slay queen started. She then paid a special visit to cemetery market, condemn section to be precise. Oh! I forgot to tell you, apart from buying stuff from people, condemn section also sold stuff they bought.
That Christmas , my mum bought three AGBADA ,up and down , popularly called one thousand , five hundred from the condemn section for my brothers, with matching caps. The Agbada was the exact Agbada Lord Lugard wore in 1914, when amalgamation wanted to transfigure him. Surely, the wages of sin resides in cemetery market.
After buying those Agbada , she proceeded to Cambridge and sons Nigeria dry cleaning enterprises limited. Oga Cambridge (God rest his English soul) nearly entered partial coma, when he saw the clothes my mum came with. Wonderment! He screamed, when he was told about the intimate relationship my brothers had with condemn. He promised to help my mum exert revenge on my brothers. So Cambridge went to work.
After washing Melaye out of those clothes , he proceeded to add starch to the clothes. See! The starch I am talking about, is not all these packaged perfumed ajebo starch we have in the market these days, he used the original starch , the one you dissolve with cold water first before adding hot water to thicken it , those ones that came with natural fufu aroma.. that was the type he used. By the time Oga Cambridge added starch to the clothes , the clothes swelled up like a corpse that has been left unattended for three days. He finally ironed them and packaged them in a special nylon, and handed it over to my mum, who hid them in the bottom of her box.
Umuahia here we come.
Christmas morning dawned bright and beautiful… before you could say JACK ROBINSON , I had already showered and dressed in my new attire … Umuahia must know that their daughter has returned.. shege Jagwa!
Trouble started when my brothers rushed into the bedroom, expecting to see new clothes, only to behold agbada that has been resurrected from condemn section, infact Mezie recognized the Agbada, and the exact condemn store, my mother brought it from.… Eskiss me mother, when did Mustapha and Moses become brothers? Is it Christmas or Ramadan Abubakar, that we are celebrating ?
Meaning what? Shouted Okey , I will not wear this ooo , he shouted before bursting into tears . Very soon Chime and Gemezu followed suit. Never! We will not wear it , we will not!! Mummy eeeee!!! Three of them wailed like broken records. It was then my mother brought out her red eyes…..
EHHH!!! That you will not wear what? She screamed , you will not wear clothes that I bought with my hard earned money ? ashi !ashi! , you have finished wearing it, it is the story of how you wore it that you are about narrating. She concluded.
Suddenly , from nowhere my dad appeared.. Which cloth did they say that they are not wearing? SILENCE!!!
Which clothes did they say they will not wear? Silence. Issorai, since everybody has gone deaf and dumb, I give all of you ten minutes to dress up and hanlele forward march to church!!!!
That was how all three of them jumped into their condemn agbada immediately. They were really a sight to behold. Infact by the time the three of them entered inside their Agbada, there was no more space in the room. EVERYWHERE AGBADA!!.
Excellent, beautiful clothes!! I have never seen anything more beautiful…my father screamed with joy as he helped them put on the caps that came with the Agbada ,by then I was rolling on the floor with laughter.
Oya !!! straight to the church, my father bellowed…….. off to the church they went , with their Agbada struggling with the wind, and their caps, making them look like Junior assistant to Pontius Pilate.
I was still at home, putting finishing touches to my slay queen status , when I heard someone knocking at the back window. Onyinyechi! Onyinyechi!! Onyinyechi! the voice called. Hian!, which Christmas spirit is calling my name again this morning ? it’s like village people has started their trial version. I closed my ears properly and continued applying tiroo to my eyes
Onyinyechi eeee!!! The voice shouted again. With speed and alacrity , I opened the window.. behold my brothers , the had secretly sneaked home from the back road to change their clothes. Okey begged me to bring shirts and trousers for them.
They were about changing into the clothes I handed over to them when my father suddenly appeared from nowhere… the earth stood still. I quietly escaped for my life. Somebody’s blood cannot come and stain my Christmas cloth.
Taaa!!! My father screamed , I will kill somebody today. My brothers took off for their dear lives.
My father pursued them all the way to the church. it was a hilarious sight to behold. My brothers in running in front, their respective agbadas directly behind them , and my father at the back, with a big stick… ..Gemezu had to remove his Agbada as he ran, to enable him run faster.
My father made sure they entered the church with their Agbada before he turned back.
Unfortunately for them , that Sunday was the annual harvest day for my village church , so the church was filled to the brim.
The church ushers had to clear three benches for my three brothers and their Agbadas , one bench to one Agbada
My brothers never ever went near condemn section in cemetery market again