This is the second in the series, you can read the first here .
I grew up in a Christian home and my parents were staunch believers in the ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ verse of the bible. In fact, no day goes by without the quotation of that verse by my mum or dad, but mostly my dad. My mum was usually the enforcer of the verse. It was some sort of an Irony; my dad would quote the verse in faith all day but like stubborn demons, we wouldn’t bulge because we knew that he was bluffing, but my mama was no bluffer, she was the activator of my dad’s faith in that verse. So each time my dad spoke the word, we would quickly turn to see if the ‘holy spirit’ (mama) was around to activate it.
In carrying out her duty as the enforcer of the word, mama usually stored lots of arms in her armoury. Some were subtle, others could kill. Yes, I meant K I L L. Each arm had a specific role and was used for specific battles; battles that were never lost. My mama, in turn was so skilful in the use of each arm that we usually wondered if she fought in the Biafran war. The list of arms was led by the cane – that evil instrument of oppression and suppression. The cane, to my mum was usually a side arm, always ready to afflict and my mama was quick and swift in its use. Mama had different kinds of cane (each with different types of bullets). Some were made of wood, others, of rubber. Mama had one that was made of iron (I told you my mama could kill). That one was used in the fiercest of battles. Anyone that fell victim to that arm must have offended both God and the devil.
There were other small arms in the armoury. One of them was the destabilizing grounded pepper. Mama was a real soldier as far as disciplinary battles were concerned, she would first use the pepper to destabilize her opponent and then use her side arm (cane) to finish him or her. I would confess here that I was twice a victim of the grounded pepper attack, and I would say that it is not an event you would like to experience a third time – twice beaten, thrice shy. The type of side arm that would be used after her opponent had been destabilized would of course depend on the nature of the crime. Mama was also very creative, she could improvise other arms in the event of the absence of her most cherished cane. One of her improvisation was her shoe, we called it ‘grenade’. If the grenade is thrown at you….
But mama was not a cold hearted soldier, she would usually give one, two or three warnings for you to back down. The warnings themselves were a mystery, never direct, always coated in one proverb or sign. Mama had different mysterious warning tools; her eyes, nose, mouth, ear, feet and hand. Deciphering the sign language was usually a herculean task as no particular sign had a general meaning. A wink of the eye while watching TV could have a different meaning if you were to be playing with your friends. Only the wise could understand what the ‘spirit’ (mama) sayeth and wisdom of course, is something that is sure to come if you experience the ‘pepper effect’ twice. We, as kids then, did not just sit down and be oppressed by the cane other instruments of suppression, we had our own tactics, but that is a story for another day.
The church did not help matters as they kept on emphasizing that verse. No adult was interested in the verse that implored parents not to provoke their children. In summary, I would say that our house was a disciplinary war zone and it was easier for an elephant to pass through the eye of a needle than for one to go through a day without being drawn to the battlefield of discipline which of course as kids, we were bound to loose. My dad, as usual, still proclaims the ‘spare the rod and spare the child’ verse in faith but my mama is now retired…