It was the month of December, the end of the year; that time of the year when students returned from various schools and colleges, workers were also on holiday—the environs was filled with a myriad of activities ranging from street parties to mini carnivals. My household was no exception as Christmas was obviously in the air. Every living soul was in high spirits and earnest anticipation as the portentous aura was scintillating.
It was the 22nd day of December.
“Oga take the two fowl for N3500,” the woman at the market said to my father, almost amidst tears. “Na the last price for local chicken be that,” she added.
My father was still contemplating on buying two chickens for Christmas but considering the number of, visitors we may have, he bought two.
“Check that chin chin on the fire, it has been in oil for too long,” my mother said to my elder sister as she reacted begrudgingly. I’ve always longed to join the ‘chin chin department’ as I called it for all the tasting and eating that comes alongside frying. The first set of fried chin chin were crispy and tasty as we always made it; we made half a cooler for the guests and their children that may drop by our house for Christmas visits.
It was the 23rd day of December. My sister had disappeared to a nearby salon to have a hairdo, and of course the boys went alongside dad to have a hair cut as well.
“Oga barb me round cut,” my brother that had just returned from school was telling the barber.
My father overheard their conversation and quipped, “What is round cut?” he asked. “Oga barb that hair low cut for im,” he added and
“Daddy it’s just the style, the reigning style,” my brother retorted. My father ignored his argument for a round cut hairstyle. The barber progressed until he had cut our hair. Later that day, we continued to our most anticipated part—purchasing our Christmas clothes.
“Chidi that shirt is too small for your body.”
“Nnaemeka you have a black trouser already at home.”
“Victor that polo is too bogus for your small body,” my father yelled. We stayed in the shop testing different clothes until we found those that fitted our slim figures. My father paid N10,700 in total and we left the shop. At home, we brought out antiquated lights from previous years and started decorating our parlour. Dusting the upholstery, the windows, the centre table and our picture frames on the wall. We then bought newer decorations to augment, with captions reading ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy New Year’. We were set, ready to welcome this year’s Christmas like first child birth from an expectant mother, with high anticipation and eagerness.
It was the 24th day of December, the Christmas Eve. Noises from ‘knockout’ — as we called it—were heard from our neighbouring street; children, parents, everyone was in high spirits.
At home, we swept our dusty rugs, washed every dirty dish, and ensured there was enough water for convenience and for bathing. My brother and I had been fetching from our well in the compound. Christmas music filled the air, featuring our all time favourite, Bonny M, singing:
“Long time ago in Bethlehem
So the Holy Bible said
Mary’s boy child Jesus Christ
Was born on Christmas day…”
We gathered together and envisaged how this year’s Christmas should look like whilst reminiscing on previous years. We talked about visiting the amusement park, but the decision was thought lame and rebuffed by Silas our most senior. He said there was nothing amusing to see over there and suggested that we all go the cinema or spar for sight seeing and some window shopping.
It was the 25th day of December. Christmas day, the most anticipated day of the year. We all woke up early to the noise of ‘Happy Christmas’ and the sounds of knockout from the neighbours on the next street.
My father led a short devotional as we headed to get prepared for church. We all brought our newly bought clothes and wore excitedly as we headed for the door to show our age mates in the compound. My father was preparing for church also, he wore a native dress with a new Italian shoes his brother had sent him from abroad.
“Be fast! And don’t forget to come along with these hymns when coming!” my father shouted at my sister. “Big boys, shall we?” Off we went happily to church with our father.
The rest of the day after church service was absorbing and filled with life; as we were never bored to a standstill. Members from church visited our house, there were plenty to eat and make merry. We followed Silas’ suggestion and went to see movies at the cinema in town, had extreme fun till stupor until we boarded a cab and returned home, and retired to our beds.