“So you really can’t even look away from your phone for two minutes to watch what’s going on in your Country, ehh Sylvia?” Sylvia’s mother asked, gesturing to snatch the phone from her daughter. She had come into town for a few days and as with most mothers and daughters, they had been butting heads all weekend.
“Mummy, please leave me. You know I’ve never liked Nigerian Politics.” She said just as Anjuola walked into the living room with a plate of jollof rice in one hand and a can of Sprite in the other.
“Yes! But that doesn’t matter Sylvia. You don’t know you’re a lawyer? This is your work!”She hissed. “Anjuola, Onyeori!* Isn’t that your third plate this afternoon? This your small figure won’t last forever oh!” Anjuola and Sylvia burst into laughter.
“Ahah mummy, I’m just trying to show you how much I missed you and your cooking but please continue facing Sylvia- the lawyer that hates Nigerian Politics.” Anjuola answered in between chuckles.
“I don’t hate it but I don’t like it either. It just seems to drive people to do the most insane things.”
“I don’t know when this one started oh. She used to watch news when she was young. She even read news back when she was in primary school.” Sylvia’s mum retorted.
Sylvia clapped loudly as she laughed. “Mummy, that doesn’t mean I liked it before. I can’t even remember doing any of those things.”
“I actually remember seeing a picture of something like that. You tied one serious head tie like the true Igbo babe you are.” Anjuola added in between gulps.
“Some years ago, it was actually my New Year’s Resolution to keep an open mind about Politics. I was going to start watching news, buying newspapers and all those things good Nigerians do but then one woman crushed those dreams and after that experience I lost all hope in anything being free and fair in this country.” Sylvia explained
“Wait oh! Don’t start the story yet. Let me get more rice.” Anjuola grinned as she raced to the kitchen.”
“If I had not known that girl for so long, I would have said someone had cursed her to eat food wherever she saw it.” Sylvia’s mum said, her gaze following Anjuola till she disappeared into the kitchen.
Sylvia threw her head back as she laughed. “Mummy, not everyone eats or doesn’t eat like you.”
“I can see that. These folds on your stomach tell me you’re more like your friend in that regard.” She said as she attempted to poke at Sylvia’s abdomen region with her index finger. Sylvia jerked back in protest.
“Ohh Jesus! Mummy you’ve come oh. Please leave my stomach for me. Even though I don’t like politics, I can still put your name on No-Fly list, so that my stomach and I can be in peace.”
Her mother laughed off the threat. “You know you can’t do that mostly because you and Anjuola need my food too much, because the things I met in that kitchen can’t sustain anybody. Learn to cook – mba!”
“Nobody is putting you on No Fly List mummy, don’t mind Sylvia. If you can’t fly down, I’ll come and drive you down. Nothing will come between me and this jollof rice.” She said as she stuck her tongue out at Sylvia. “So, back to the story. Who stopped you from carrying out your New Year Resolution.”
“Ohh yes.” Sylvia continued. “It was one woman at a party oh. Anjuola, I think you were there.
“You think we share all your memories. I can’t remember any woman at any party.”
“You were there. It was a kid’s birthday party. We went with Lola. Oh yes! It was Lola’s niece’s tenth birthday party.”
“Ok, I remember the party but what happened there?” Anjuola quizzed
“You really can’t remember?! We were just sitting there watching the kids dancing. There was this one girl that was seriously dancing! As in hinging and unhinging that poor waist-“
“Ohoo! I remember” Anjuola loudly cut in. She jumped to her feet to describe what Sylvia had been trying to explain, much to the amusement of Sylvia’s mum who looked ever so comfortable watching them relive the tale.
”Mummy, that girl could dance! And she couldn’t have been more than ten! We were just shouting and cheering her on from the canopies where we sat…..”
“Lola! Biko, how old is this child?” Sylvia asked as she tapped her friend repeatedly. Lola had dragged them to her niece’s birthday party so she wouldn’t be bored. She and Anjuola had grudgingly agreed to come. Well, she had agreed to come and literally tricked Anjuola into coming along.
“Which child?” Lola asked as she scanned through the children dancing to the headache-inducing music blaring from the speakers.
“This girl backing us and winding her small waist.”Anjuola leaned in to see who Sylvia was talking about.
“Ohh, her name is Ngozi. She’s my niece’s classmate.” Lola answered.
“The girl can dance oh. She’ll definitely win this round.” Sylvia said as she watched the girl move very skillfully to the music.
“Sylvia, where were you when your mates were learning how to dance? If you should mistakenly go against this girl, she’ll floor you.” Anjuola joked.
“See this girl. You, with your two crooked left feet! If I ever felt bad about my dancing, I would look at you and give myself hope.” Sylvia snickered.
“The fact that you would use me to give yourself hope further emphasizes my point.” Anjuola sniggered.
“Excuse me ladies.” The three ladies, who were now in stitches after mocking each other’s dancing looked up to at the woman standing beside Anjuola.
“Hi, You’re Joshua’s mum right?” Lola asked.
“Yes. Yes I am.” The woman had a bit of an accent. It didn’t sound convincing enough to be real or fabricated enough to be fake. It was hard to tell. It was easy to tell she was rich though. All the accessories on her could buy Sylvia that new model Mercedez Benz she’d been dreaming about. Sylvia already knew there was something off about her. They were about to find out what it was.
“Actually, Josh is in the dancing competition now.” The ladies looked up at the kids dancing and Lola showed them which of the boys Joshua was. He wasn’t doing much in the way of dancing. Just scattering sand here and there actually.
“He seems to be having fun.” Lola added as they looked back at Joshua’s mum.
“Hmm. Yes. Well, the thing is Joshua is a sweet little boy and I’d really like him to win this competition. It’ll make him very happy.” She said giving her best smile.
“Ok, but what has that got to do with us?” Sylvia asked. Her impatience with this woman and her improvised British/Russian accent couldn’t be hidden.
“When the M.C asks for the winner, Could you please vote for Joshua?” She asked looking expectantly at the three women.
“What if we want someone else to win?”Anjuola asked raising her brows.
“Well, in that case.” The girls watched as the woman sat down and brought out a wad of cash from her bag and held it out to them.
“Wait, you’re going to bribe us to get your son to win a dancing competition? Ndi uwa biko negodu! *” Sylvia exclaimed.
“No need to make a scene. I want something and I’m willing to pay to get it.” She said still holding out the wad of cash.
“It’s a dancing competition at a child’s party. It’s not that serious.” Anjuola said looking from the woman to the money in her hand. At that moment, the music stopped and the M.C began to talk.
“I won’t vote for your son and I really wonder what kind of mother you are if this is what you’re teaching him to do to get ahead. Wow!” Sylvia lamented. She glared at Anjuola and Lola until they turned back to listen to the M.C.
“…Who thinks Amara is the winner?” The M.C asked as his voice resonated through the venue. A few people raised their hands.
“Who thinks Ngozi is the winner?” Sylvia’s hand shot up even before the man could finish his sentence. Anjuola and Lola and a few other people raised their hands as well.
“And lastly, who thinks Joshua here is the winner?” About ten people seated around and behind Sylvia raised their hands. Joshua had the most votes to Sylvia’s bewilderment.
“What? How did he win?” She asked. Joshua’s mum leaned in beside her and said “You’re not the only one in this world my dear. If you won’t budge, others will. Call it Nigerian Politics at play.” She smiled wryly as she walked away to congratulate her son.
*Onyeori – Someone who eats a lot.
*Ndi uwa biko negodu – People of the world, please come and see!
WRITTEN BY NKY OTIKE-ODIBI