Domestic animals are quite common in rural Nigeria especially chickens and goats, not as pets but investment and easy meat when purse is running dry.
One big prey on chicks in my area are the hawks (Àsá) – they are fast, quick to grab especially newly hatched chicks.
My family had chickens for as long as I can remember.
Mother Hen rarely loses any of her chicks, she had eyes around her head to sense any approaching hawk. Neighbours sometimes called Mother Hen Okuroro Adie (wicked hen) because she protected her chicks from anyone be it humans or hawks.
Sometimes I think of my mother as Mother Hen.
My parents especially my mother worried I would be ‘lost,’ hence she hesitated for my insistent on going to Lagos at 18. I will stay with my older sister and I promised to listen to her and be back in a year’s time to attend college – I pleaded.
A year had passed, I was not in the least planning to go back home, I was busy. I’ve had three jobs behind me.
Lagos, I found was exciting. My sister took care of most of my expenses – life can’t get any easier. My salary was spent on clothes and shoes and this.
Moomi should be proud of me…so I thought.
Well to my second year I received yet another letter from home, Father’s hand writing but the voice of Moomi. This was the final letter and the bottom line was ‘pack your stuff and come home.’
The letter was hand delivered on a Saturday 8am by Gbadebo who has had to make two hours trip from his Ikeja area home.
A few days earlier, I went to visit a new promising job of being a Help for an Ijebu family. The husband seemed nice enough, he worked for Shell, wife was a school teacher. Their home library was the first that I have ever seen – full of colourful books with neat spines.
My new job starting from Monday would be to dust their mansion, every room twice a week and I would be paid weekly for the equivalent of my current monthly salary – how hard can that be? I’ll be so good this couple would keep me for life was my thinking.
So my mother’s letter was unwelcome in all fronts.
Nothing that I said made any sense to my mother and the fact I brought up news about my new job escalated the row.
I was at the college on Monday to submit my admission form. Back in Lagos for two days to pack my stuff and 450 naira savings.
That was the end of Lagos dream.
Six years down the line, I was chatting with my sister about life in general so I asked after the rich Ijebus. My brother in-law who did carpentry and furnishing works for the family says they are doing well, and that the family now had two children birthed by the young wife who lives in a separate house about four miles away from the family house unknown to the first wife.
The first wife is still hoping for the fruit of the womb. “God will answer her” I prayed. It is a whole different life to have fertility issue in Nigeria.
Then my in-law turned to me and said “Someone’s got to do it after you ran away”
“What?” I asked him.
“Ha, don’t tell me you didn’t know”
Did my mother have weird intuition? I do know she worries a lot but this time, the oddity did me well.
To all Mother Hen of the world – HMD