Friday, December 14, 2012


Pascal noticed that the crowd at his welcome party was finally thinning. Yet another unknown welcomer walked into the living room and up to where Pascal and his brother, Askor, sat with their chattering parents, uncles and aunts and grandmother.

“Mummy Pascal, I am going o,” she said, smiling at the floor.

Their mother turned to Pascal, who got up and disappeared down a corridor inside the house. He emerged with a small pack of mini Toblerones. Pascal had bought dozens of them, just for this purpose. “Nobody will want to leave empty handed when they come to welcome you from America,” Askor had warned via email, weeks before his return. He handed the chocolates to the woman and took his place again beside his mother. The welcomer stood there for a moment, examining the chocolates like she was waiting for something more. Then with a quick bending of her knees she turned and left.

“Who’s she,” Pascal whispered to his mother.

She shrugged. “I don’t even know. Maybe someone from church.”

Pascal chuckled. So he wasn’t the only one who didn’t know everyone at the party.

“What?” his mother asked with a smile.

“Nothing,” he said, putting his arm around her shoulder and hugging her close to his side. Pascal looked around the living room, at his family squeezed into the couches in an arc around him, some people perched on the arms. All his parents’ six brothers and sisters were there, including Uncle Dominic, most of them with their spouses. His cousins who had come had slowly drifted to the canopies set up outside, within the compound, to drink beer and eat fried goat meat. His grandmother, who sat beside his father two places away from Pascal, took a break from chewing her meat. She stretched her neck toward Pascal, flapped her hands to get his attention.

“Pasical!” she called.

“Yes, grandma,” he said, leaning forward to look at her.

“I hope say you no pregnant oyibo wife for there,” she said, waving her index finger in a warning.

“No, grandma, I didn’t impregnate a white girl,” Pascal shook his head, his smile indulgent.

“Ahem,” she nodded her approval. “Those oyibo girls dey turn man into woman. And their leg no dey close.”

“Actually, grandma,” Pascal said, raising a finger. “A recent study has shown – and I don’t remember now where I read this, but it was quite popular – a study has shown that Nigerian women are the most promiscuous in the world!”

“Who is telling that kind of lie!” Uncle Dominic’s wife cried.

A frown came over his grandmother’s face. She looked around for an explanation. “Wetin him talk?” she asked.

Pascal then remembered she only understood Pidgin English and Urhobo. His father turned to his grandmother, “Him talk say…

“Popsy,” Askor cut in. “Let me.”

Askor stood from his position on the arm of the chair beside Pascal, and walked to stand in the middle of the arc, in front of their grandmother. He bent at his waist and peered at her, with a look of utmost seriousness.

“Mama,” he said. “Pascal talk say, out of all the girls wey dey this world, na Nigerian girls dey fuck pass.”

His grandmother gasped, clutched at her sagging bosom.

“Askor!” their mother shrieked. “How many times have I warned you not to use bad words in this house!”

She tried to spring up from her place on the couch, but the bodies were packed in too tight and her movements were clumsy. She fell back in an undignified plop. Askor guffawed and ran out through the front door, slamming it behind him. Pascal shook with laughter, even as his mother glared at him. His father hid his smile behind a wineglass. Uncle Dominic chuckled, shaking his head. “Clara, that your son is something else.”

                                                               . . .

The above is an excerpt from one of the stories I submitted for our fiction workshop this semester. Many of my course mates liked it, and the feedback was helpful. Some are of the opinion that I should turn it into a novel-length thing. But me and novel-length work... we have our issues. I get bored when I try to write very long pieces, and so I have a lot of 'works in progress' which I abandon. Jeanette Winterson will be teaching us next year (I cannot wait!), and she said there's no extra merit to writing a novel over short stories, and if I don't want to write a novel I shouldn't write a novel. I think I already knew this, but it was good to hear it again.

Anyway, in a bid to add some Christmas cheer to my room (and also because I've always wanted a small living plant for my window ledge), I got me a tiny little tree. It may not look it, but it's alive.

Because I like to add a picture...

Merry Christmas!