Kerosene- Indomie.

“Jesus!!!!”

I exclaimed rather inwardly with my lips barely moving and a pin in my throat.. Snapping out of my shock,I hurriedly covered the big bottle containing kerosene instead of vegetable oil and placed it back. Then I grabbed the similar bottle containing vegetable oil and poured some of it into the indomie like it was gonna change anything..

Indomie has always been my brother’s signature food since we were kids..he doesn’t mind if it was garnished or not..as long as the seasoning has been emptied into it,then he’s good to go. But me being me , I’ve never liked it much coz it nauseates me. Serve me a plate of indomie and the next few minutes, if you do not see me puking or holding my throat, you’ld see me desperately looking for something sweet or spicy to consume. I only like it when it’s spicy or when its garnished with sardines,eggs, tomatoes, onions and pepper.

Being kids, my mom would buy cartons of Indomie and keep it alongside other foodstuffs. Then, some days after,ild hear my mom say it seems*so so so* amount of indomie had gone missing..then the matter would be dismissed. “Yeee!!!….Is there a rat in the house??!! Because it seems a rat is what precisely happened to this Indomie oo!..” my mom called, leaving the “attacked” indomie aside and checking on others in the carton. She took the affected indomie and went off to show my dad coz they haven’t seen any trace of a rat being present in the house..She then tied the affected indomie in a black nylon and asked me to throw it away while she carried the carton and left the room.

I knew she was going to keep it but I didn’t bother to follow coz she’ld order me to get back.. whenever Nigerian mothers keep things ehn, yould almost sweat blood before you find it without asking her where she kept it, and if you ever find it anyways just know you’re a pro. Another immeasurable Joy is that of finally locating what your mother kept hidden from you..Trust me,the feeling is undescribable. Tearing my eyes away from the retreating figure of my mom,I looked at the Indomie in my little hands. I wouldn’t throw it away and if I guessed right, I knew just what happened to the Indomie..Caleb happened to the Indomie. I kept it nearby and busied myself with one of my storybooks,gently awaiting his arrival..He was in high school then while I was just about to graduate and get into one also,so he always arrived home last.

I saw the familiar face-cap and white socks,then I heard the familiar exchange of greetings. “Have you seen a rat in the house?…or do you know of anything that happened to a pack of indomie?” mom asked him and he said no. I let him have his shower and change his clothes and just as he was about to eat, I got him cornered.

“I need straight answers. Simple ‘yes’ or ‘ no’. And don’t forget mom and dad are both in the sitting room. It will cost me nothing to take a few steps and go tell them everything, and you know they always believe me coz I’ve always spoken the truth” I told him ,my arms crossed at my back, my eyes looking straight into his as I slowly advanced towards him. “What happened to the Indomie?” I stated, rather than ask, not wanting to waste much time because I needed to get back to one of his English textbook, there was a comprehension there that had caught my interest,so I wouldn’t take time with this. I had noticed that his recent favorite spot had been anywhere around the carton of indomie so I just knew he was what happened. “What Indomie?” he asked. I brought my hands forward and showed him,my eyes were fixed on his. I saw a fleeting expression cross his face and I smirked. It was him. Not good at lying himself especially when he knew I always found him out, he asked me not to tell and was giving me a goofy smile..I laughed and gave it to him and watched as he was snacking on it..I made him promise not to repeat it. Offering some to my little sister, she ate it and exclaimed,urging me to have some too, going on about how it tasted better than when it was cooked..Out of curiosity and disbelief, I yielded to her.. and that was how I tasted the forbidden fruit.. Some days later,we found ourselves searching for the box of Indomie. We had heard mom saying she would restock the box the coming week and that,it was just one Indomie that was left in the box.. Great!, wether that Indomie liked it or not,it has automatically turned to our snack . And so, the Indomie hunt began. We were starting to give up when my brother excitedly pointed upwards and we saw the tip of the box at the far end of the top of the tall wardrobe..and that was another Mountain to scale..

Our brains got to sharp work, and we all started teamwork. We dragged a table towards the wardrobe, then also went and dragged the closest largest and tallest bed and propped it against the wall, and so we climbed the table, and my brother used his toes and climbed up the propped bed before leaping unto the top of the wardrobe and throwing the box down..We helped him get back down and replaced the table..we were stressed and just left the propped bed coz it was too heavy..It was determination that helped us prop it up in the first place but now our attention was on our snack- to -be..

To cut the story short,we consumed it and left little pieces in it.. just to convince our mom that a rat ate it again..then we did the hardwork of placing it back on the wardrobe. Well,she later discovered and we confessed we actually snacked on it.. and she spared us.

Back to the present.

It was my first year in high school and we always had to wake up very early,rush whatever we wanted to do and leave home as early as six. This particular day, while we were all busy rushing,I was asked to cook any fast food and the best shot was Indomie. While cooking,I had just one more signature to add, vegetable oil. It was plain indomie,coz there was no time for garnishing..I had complained that I wasn’t going to eat it coz it nauseates me and my brother had retorted,saying I’m free to go hungry for the morning before recession in school. I was lagging behind and I needed to pick up my pace and get ready along with others. I was about to reach for the vegetable oil when suddenly there was power outage.. I called for light but it was taking someone an eternity to get it to me. I couldn’t wait anymore so I just shot out my hand after making a mental picture of where last I placed the oil.. just as I poured it, a scent of kerosene shot through my nose as I brought the big bottle near my face and my stomach clenched. I froze and muttered just how doomed I would be if mum ever got to taste it.. A ray of light and approaching footsteps brought me back to action..I covered the bottle of kerosene and brought out the big bottle of cooking oil itself and I asked my sister who brought the lamp to stay as I poured the oil..I wanted her to be my witness in case I was called and queried on the presence of kerosene in the Indomie.. I started to thank my stars that my dad was at work while I was dressing up..

I shouted at my brother to hurry up and I put a large portion of Indomie in his plate..I gave my sister a little portion, put two spoons on my own plate and smeared the surface with streaks of Indomie prints, then I poured the rest away to prevent mom from asking if there was any left..I tasted the Indomie myself and noticed the kerosene was slightly obvious coz the noodles was very hot but once I blew it cold,it shot it’s speed down the senses lane..Damn. I threw the rest away and urged my brother to be fast with his food.

My sister wasn’t much of an eater.. she ate one spoon and placed the rest aside,as always. Good, she didn’t notice. Then I focused on my brother through the corner of my eyes.. He was pacing round the sitting room as someone in a rush does, and taking the forkful of Indomie in swallows..then,he suddenly came to an halt in the middle of the sitting room..I knew what it was. “Hmmph!! Something smells like kerosene.” He said,unsure….Then he carefully took a spoon, and then another, and then he dropped the plate on the table. “What did you do to this Indomie?!” He asked me in a deadly tone..I flinched inwardly coz if I didn’t convince him, he would draw mum’s attention and that would be the end of me. Suddenly, I got annoyed at how he raised his voice on me. Arrogantly, I raised my brows and asked him in the same deadly tone,.much icier even..my mom was used to our showdown whenever it comes to it anyways..a quick showdown in the morning wouldn’t be bad after all. “What are you trying to accuse me of, brother?. That, I put kerosene in the Indomie?, Seriously?!!”.. He picked up the plate and started eating it and then put it down back, annoyed and confused..”Why is there kerosene in this food? You cooked it!” He threw the fork into the plate and called mum to come taste it..He was sober and I felt guilty but I wasn’t gonna fuck up..”This isn’t my first time cooking Indomie and lil.sister was there when I added the oil!”..I said,also calling my sister..I knew I was gonna need a witness and I was just right..

My mom came in and picked the Indomie and my sister also came in..My brother was ready to drag this,his favorite food had been abused and he wasn’t gonna let it go…I wasn’t ready to drag but I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of winning also.. My sister gave her speech.She couldn’t have done better and I buttressed it up by showing my plate too..(I didn’t even eat two spoons. I never liked plain Indomie anyways and I had said I wasn’t cooking it but,my brother had jeered at me and encouraged mum to order me in cooking.. Mistake happened and boom!, here we are)..I looked at the wall clock and heard the Jaybees opening their gate. I thanked heavens for the timely intervention and grabbed my bag,adjusting my tie and skirt pleats, and dashing inside to grab more chocolates before dashing outside. I yelled a goodbye to mum, and dashed to the Jaybees compound, avoiding their ram which threw me against a pile of sand some days back all because I didn’t give it enough chocolates. Sitting in the car, I waited for my brother to get in coz I knew his frustration would disappear as soon as he starts his usual banter with the Jaybees son.. That didn’t stop him from throwing me a look anyways and I glared back..God was the one who said we wouldn’t have a showdown that morning.

Relaxing into the backseat, I tugged at the seatbelt and was looking forward to the excitement that awaited in school and people I wanted to deal with.especially seniors who bullied my friends.. Most of all, I looked forward to having that favorite ICE-CREAM..to flush away the little taste,…of the kerosene-Indomie..

Writing Chinese?.. Speaking Chinese!

Consuming a freshly cooked delicious meal of melonsoup with fish and meat, accompanied with a typical swallow “Amala”.. It was an early evening of a beautiful day I and my siblings didn’t know was about to turn sour..

There’s this common phenomenon where, once you’ve just had a delicious meal to your fill, you worry less about other things and get very carefree. This was the case for my siblings and I.

My parents went out to have their discussion session. They like the cool evening air and had made it a custom to sit outside and discuss while enjoying the natural evening breeze. Well, my siblings being my siblings, proposed we play some games..I reluctantly agreed. Why?? It’s because my elder brother and my junior sister were very smart and my brother could cheat you right under your nose! I always left a game crying because it’s either he cheated on me,or he discovers I’m winning and he scatters the game. In some cases,he would carry the paper and have me running after him to snatch it back but too late! He had shredded it and had started dancing around making pucker tongues at me and at the same time wiggling his butts. While in board games especially ludo, he would change the position of the buttons or cleverly place a dice with the number six on the board before upturning the container which actually contained just the other dice. He always had one cunning trick to pull and me being the girl of honor that I was, always turned down his request. My younger sister was his game rival, she would fight it out with him and it wouldn’t take long before you start hearing things getting heated up. But as for me? I have no energy to fight, so I turn down his requests. He’s not gonna be the end of my tear ducts. There are better things to cry about.

Well,this time around I agreed only after I made the both of them swear there would be no cheating or else their next fish or meat when dining would be mine..So we got to business, got our pens and papers,went to a room and laid on a bed. The game officially began. Name of names, cross puzzle, riddles, X and O, button football, Choose a colour, and it went on like that. I was recording the scores coz that task couldn’t be carried out better by anyone else..We were engrossed with the games.

“You guys should check on the soup after some minutes because I’m warming it…”….no response. The curtain got raised and that was when we tore our eyes from our activity to see our mum. She repeated her words. “Don’t forget it’s just for some minutes,itld be better if someone stays in the kitchen oo!” she called. “Don’t worry,we won’t forget!” we responded…Hmm. Eagerly, we went back to our games ..we got engrossed again. Having exhausted all the games we could think of, I came up with an idea and we decided to round up the games with it. The idea? It was a competition on who could write the most comprehensible Chinese, and also who could speak most fluently in it..Boom,we started. My little sister was out of the game and my brother and I were tied..I started gaining upper hand and I was the winner. Not to worry,we were actually speaking gibberish but I was more closer to getting the pronounciation and writings of the language. It was late evening now and twilight would set in any moment soon..Hmm!

After the game,(sure,there was a lot of paper mess everywhere..) we started reminiscing and laughing about some certain reminisce when I sniffed the air and told my brother I perceived Rice and beans with locust fish-stew was being cooked somewhere..My brother paused and agreed then I instantly became hungry and we started talking about eating some dishes.

“Yee! Hope the soup is no longer on fire???!!” my mother’s voice rang from outside. That statement was like a death sentence.. especially to me, my father’s ” Nwa- Adam gold”* . Over the weeks he had been teaching me how to cook and exuberantly emphasizing the relative importance of the kitchen to a growing girl-child. I was always staying away from the kitchen whenever he wasn’t aware .He made me slice a tuber of yam, i dropped the knife after making few slices,I was crying my hands were itching.. never felt anything like that before. He also made me prepare pap for the first time in my life and a lot of pap got wasted as in..a lot.my mom complained that the big bowl of processed corn paste in the fridge will soon finish but he said weld buy another one. It wasn’t until the tenth time and the sudden appearance of whip on the chair where my father sat, that I finally got the pap rightly prepared. Damn, hell no, that thing wasn’t touching my body.

But tonight,it sure would but I don’t know by whom.

Getting out of my imaginary coffin, I dashed to the kitchen and oh,I was greeted by very dense smoke. Choking back a cough, I opened the pot and I was welcomed by darkness itself..I instantly wished the earth would swallow me up. My mom came into the kitchen, opened all doors and windows, and it didn’t take long before she meted out her punishment..on my brother and I. After that, we were kneeling in our various positions .My heart wasn’t beating because my dad had said nothing yet..Then the voice I knew so well musically made its way to us. It’s this sweet pleasant voice you wouldn’t even know a man could possess..We went outside just in time to see my dad pulling the table towards him. He was smiling at us..”Kai!! Tonight, we’re gonna turn kebabs!!” (suya) I told myself. An outsider would pleasantly react to that smile but unfortunately, We were the only ones who knew the dangerous aftermath of that smile.

“So, I heard some fuss going on inside and your mother also told me some things..Does anyone care to shed light on this matter??” He asked, smiling, belt,whip, and hardpalm on the table..of course,he’s someone who let’s you choose the style of suffering you want. Anyone you choose is okay by him..There was silence..we had just gone through the belt phase with mum, the varieties eloquently displayed here couldn’t even let us think.

“Alright, since there’s no explanation,… choose the one you want and be careful not to waste my time.. I’ve given you your chance.” He stated, drawing the table even closer. He called my brother first but then he changed his mind and ordered me to come closer..My legs buckled..”God, is this how today will truly end?” I said out loud, facing the sky, with tears in my already puffy eyes.. I sensed he suppressed a chuckle and a tiny ray of light shone in me.

I moved closer to the table and started narrating how we were actually playing games and how we were speaking Chinese. If not for the Chinese phase,the soup could have been saved. I was weeping loudly now.. Then, next came the orientation my dad would give after asking you for an explanation..I was nodding my head through the orientation and agreed that the house could have equally been burnt..I kept agreeing with his points and stared at him with teary Bambi eyes..I pleaded for mercy. But I ended up lying on the table..I stilled myself and made a mental note to release the threatening urine once I got the first hit.

I waited but nothing came, then, I heard my brother..”Get up! Didn’t you hear??!”..I flew up and started thanking him for sparing us, coz truly,we deserved the punishment. What if the house had been burnt? It takes nothing less than that to burn a house…We were dismissed with a last warning. Hurrying back insto the house, we collapsed unto the chairs..after gathering some energy,my brother started after looking at me for some minutes. “Thank Goodness, I didn’t reveal a secret to you..see how you narrated everything..as in, every single thing we did and said from the beginning of the game,to Writing Chinese and to Wishing of eating some dishes just on perceiving the aroma we didn’t know was the soup that had been long burnt.., to dad!” ..I smiled and told him. “Well, you should be thanking God I was the first person chosen coz I said everything to the T, just to buy time and cool of the little annoyance I sensed was wearing off on him..If I hadn’t gone first and pulled that little script,then we all would be done for by now.”…

I looked at my sister, she was lying still, looking at both of us.Her usually sharp mouth was quiet. Then, I sinked back into the chair and caught sight of the Chinese scripts we wrote not far from where I was. If I had just gone before the Chinese game, the soup would have been saved and all this trouble wouldn’t have occurred. Replaying the drama I had with my dad, I laughed at his reaction when I told the Chinese part..He asked me to speak in the language we were writing. I knew he was being sarcastic,..but I actually did speak Chinese.

Sounds funny,but it happened.

Baanggg!!!!

The impact of the collision against the roof resonated in my ears…my heart picked up it’s frenzied beating..as I didn’t need to wait a second for what I knew would come next. And it did.

My brother,who actually few seconds ago was my spectator and happened to witness the Sonic explosion I made, was now staring at me with eyes that almost popped out of their sockets..He had both hands on his head with a combo of surprised,laugh-suppressing,and freaked out looks.. and that wasn’t helping matters as I turned to him in that fraction of a millisecond.

Turning to my heightened defence senses, I whizzed around with fast neurological shuffling of proper non-suspicious, and convincing responses that an adult could buy from a child..

All these happened within two seconds.. Trust me,you can’t begin to imagine..No one lives with my dad and won’t get sharper, even if it’s just by one percent, you must surely get sharp.

Then, just as the second “seconds- time- lap”, was over, I heard the chair screech..

A military man will always be a military man. Especially a dilligent one with skills and heightened body and security senses. Sensing anything in slight resemblance to a threat would always bring out a reaction…but the source of that *threat* right at that moment was my playful self..

“What was that??!!” ..The bass voice boomed from the verandah to the backyard where I actually was with my brother who was still in the same position from few seconds ago, watching how I would handle the situation.

The gravity of the punishment danced in my mind’s eye.. People were sleeping and I woke them up with a scary threatening sound,..What if I broke a window glass,…or the big devilish stone had gone out of the compound and hit a passer-by??!…

“It’s nothing!!”, I yelled back..I was literally stopping my heart from jumping to my throat.”What do you mean *it’s nothing*, didn’t you hear that sound??” I heard my dad speak. I detected his position and actions from his voice and instantly knew he was inspecting the roof.

“Uhm,yes!, I did..” I answered back rubbing my sweaty palms together..”What was it then?” I heard him again..but this time,he was on his way to the backyard. No!..I couldn’t let him know!. My brother hid behind the tank and I gulped.. Seeing my dad’s serious, and shocked face, with his offence/defence mode activated,my brain automatically created the response to cool down that adrenaline.

“They were actually birds papa!…..And I saw them!”

“What kind of bird is that?”

From his response,I knew he was already considering my explanation. It hurts that I had to lie but it’s not like I’ve got a choice..The gravity of the punishment was still dancing in my mind’s eye such that skilled acrobatics were beginning to get involved in the picture.

“Twooo biiiiiggg Eagles!! Yes!(I said to convince myself actually since I wasn’t a good liar)..They were both fighting and ended up crashing into the roof!”.I explained with hand gestures the way a child like me would.( I was a teen then but I actually didn’t grow the way others did..I still loved the peaceful comfort of childhood).

“Really? Wow!!..Are they still there??” He called. “Nooo, they landed on the ground after the collision and flew away!!”. I yelled back.even though there was no need for me to.

“Okay oo..” my dad said and took a survey of the compound,still marvelling at how two eagles could make such a big bang.

Sensing him sitting back on his chair and people who were awoken, getting back inside,..I let out a long breath I didn’t know I’ve been holding. The dancers and acrobats in my mind also vanished into thin air. My Haggard breathing and erratic beating heart were the only reminders that what I just scaled through was real.

My brother came out of hiding and I didn’t bat an eye before jumping on him and tackling him to the ground. He ended up begging me and started laughing hard. Then, he congratulated me for scaling through. But he didn’t stop laughing.

My junior sister came around and he started filling her in on everything from how I asked him to watch me pull off a stunt I had successfully executed..It involved me rolling my hands vertically in an almost 360Β° turn with a stone in my hand, and releasing the stone which would actually fly high, before my hand came to rest… Well in the middle of the process,the stone went the wrong way and collided with the roof making one big Sonic explosion..

After filling her in on everything,she burst out laughing and I couldn’t help but join..The moment of the big bang’s reaction was intense, but telling the tale, …it actually sounds funny.