On Certain Days

On Certain Days

Smiling tears of lean parents
Praying a food that only bins could offer
Taught economics
Even … cancelling the physical
Encouragements of these
To teach a religion of reliance
In Aondo for hope of better
With history coming to offer a puzzle

Of what (who) not to remember

– (The Teacher Called the Count  – Su’eddie Vershima Agema)

 

They would be great…

The cock crows, a cliché to many but the sign that anyone still sleeping must be up in Mbatar. Mbasoon washes his face in preparation to go to the farm, the cold notwithstanding. He salutes his father by name and does same to his mother. He remembers that most of the work on the farm has been done and decides to relax a bit. He goes outside and notices some of his friends going to school. Their uniforms have patches and stitches all over, age wearing them to a colour that belies the original. These students do not seem to notice. They throw a greeting his way, not waiting to get a reply as they are late. They move as if the appointment of school is one that they would not miss for anything. Mbasoon replies to their backs. He shakes his head, envying their luck. He can’t go to school – where’s the money? There’s hardly enough to pay for anything. They have to survive largely on what they produce primarily, largely cassava.

It is not long before the first meal for the day comes: cassava. Mbasoon goes to the farm later with the family. By evening they are back and the meal is set by his mother who is very fast. The large pounding sounds have betrayed the meal a long time back: pounded cassava with okro. There is no meat or fish but they are used to it. The young chap decides to go hangout with some friends. They decide to go and watch the Manchester United versus Chelsea match showing in the only viewing centre close to the market. It is heated and fans nearly kill themselves over the results. Mbasoon and his friends decide to celebrate the victory of their club. They roast some yam they have sneaked from their parents’ barns. As they eat the meal, they bring out some raw gin that rubs the stomachs of the ten year olds. Their eyes shine but who cares. They smile as they trade tales before they all head back to their respective homes. The darkness calls to him. There is nothing to do but sleep. The mosquitoes sing the lullabies drowning the reality of time till the next cockcrow.

This is a typical day in his life, plus or minus the reason for ‘celebration’ on a near consistent basis.

It isn’t long before his stomach begins to take the shape of a more rounded calabash than it is. His ribs can be counted like those of many his age mates. When the malaria adds to the malnutrition, it takes serious contribution to get him to the nearest hospital miles away –  St. Martins, Mbape. The roads do not help and when Mbasoon arrives at the hospital, he is in a far worse state. The parents are advised to make his case a serious prayer point. Meanwhile at home in Mbatar, Kuyanger, his younger sister who is barely three sees some ice fish hidden in a corner. It has been a long while since anyone saw anything close to meat or this. She looks left and right, discovers there is no one in sight and quickly puts the piece in her mouth. Later, her parents would find her body made lifeless by a meal of a rat-poison laced fish…

_____________

Aondo: GOD



10 thoughts on “On Certain Days” by Sueddie Agema (@sueddie)

  1. Pathetic. I liked the style somehow but its the story that touched me. People still live in this kinda state till this day. God help us.

  2. I echo Goosie’s sentiments. The story is the kind that holds you by the throat and does not let go.

    The telling works…but not all through. For instance, I felt as though the opening lines; namely:

    “The cock crows, a cliché to many but the sign that anyone still sleeping must be up in Mbatar. Mbasoon washes his face in preparation to go to the farm, the cold notwithstanding. He salutes his father by name and does same to his mother. He remembers that most of the work on the farm has been done and decides to relax a bit. He goes outside and notices some of his friends going to school.”

    had too much of a start-stop thing that did much to slow the thing down…but it does pick up pace along. My opinion.

    It is a great story…so well done. Imagine a child being killed because hunger drove her to eat poisoned fish…but that part is slightly inconsistent. If they are as poor as you say…where did the fish come from?

    Nice nonetheless.

    1. @Seun, thanks man. I think we really should put our thoughts on works like this. I still saw the thumbs up here… :)
      Well, A writer shouldn’t really defend one’s craft or tale but just for the note – that part is something that really happened. The events of this story were inspired by lots of events in the village. Yes, I am a village boy. I spent some three months or so in the village and it inspired this. Sometimes, so friend, the bafflement of yours wonders even me.

  3. So you just wanted to get people saddened abi?

  4. Well done @Sueddie!
    I like that opening prologue that ushered in the story itself. Tells of what to come without giving it away altogether.
    However, my honest opinion is that the present tense narration didn’t do much for the story. It sorts of restrict the switch btw the active and passive voice which could have rid the story of the monotony of ‘they do this…, they do that…’. There also were fits and starts basically due to the many clipped short sentences in the begining of the story.
    I also feel certain sentence could use some restructuring:
    Mbasson replied to their back- sound off to me. You could try “Mbasson waves to the receeding figures”
    Also, ‘It is heated and fans nearly kill themselves over the result”. The first thought that came to mind when I saw ‘fan’ was the swinging appliance with blade, and that was because of the allusion to heat “heated” that preempted it. I just felt ‘soccer enthusiasts’, might be better, maybe even “soccer fans”
    *It isn’t long b4 his stomach begins to take the shape of a more rounded calabash than it is…i figured it will sound/read better with ‘it isn’t long b4 his stomach begins to take the rounded shape of a calabash than it really should be”
    On the whole, the present tense narrative looks experimental to me.
    Just some thoughts.

  5. Hmm… @Sueddie, I liked the idea of this as a ‘day in the life’ story told in the present tense, so I didn’t really like the last paragraph, which switched the style. Maybe you could have done a foretelling, i.e. something like

    As Mbasoon goes through the monotonous existence that it his life, he does not realise that his frame is become bonier and his stomach more swollen. He does not know that very soon, he will collapse and be taken to hospital…

  6. @gooseberry: black man no dey blush o! Hmm, don’t make me change nature! :) Thanks.
    @Kaycee, no worry, na the plenty stories wey una drop force me put am. @Midas, hmm, I am chewing on that. Which one be waives? :) Thanks. @Tola, noted. I see your point clearly. Thanks for the thoughts and the tip. It might be a spoiler if I told you all how this story came to be … Got a magazine call me to give them an addition to a story on An Overview of Poverty in the world. Timing was limited. Got my system and scribbled what came to my head. Voila! The poem at the beginning is totally different and from an upcoming title. The idea to even put it there came when I was posting it on NS… So did the title of the story masef.
    Would work on getting it better…I can only hope that I would get more views as healthy as those already shown.

  7. @ Sueddie: ‘The cock crows……a cliche to many……’.How you wowed me with that sentence.Now that is a wonderful, wonderful way to begin a story. I no get much to talk.Tola has expressed my mind completely.

    Well done!!!

    1. Thanks @easylife2…many thanks. Would sure try to keep all the thumbs up in mind so that when the book comes out, I would know who to start taxing to buy first ;)… and of course, who to sacrifice to the critics…hee hee hee

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