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ODILI, MY FIRST (SERIES #5) – Saa’s Morning Inspection

ODILI MY FIRST (SERIES #5) – Saa’s Morning Inspection

Hi, Welcome to Odili, My First Series. We are already in series #5. ODILI MY FIRST (SERIES #5) – Saa’s Morning Inspection. In case you missed series #4, read it up here.

Our guest author, Ifeyinwa Ani takes us down memory lane. If you are able to read this and understand them, it means you also went through some kind of morning inspection.

“Monday came in a twinkle. The dew collected on the zinc and the harmattan fog made the early morning chilly. My brothers with the exception of Udoka, who was still recuperating from the snake bite, saw Papa and Chikelu off to the ‘uzo moto‘ (Bus stop)  where they would board a bus to Onicha.

The bus from Aku always comes out in the wee hours of the morning to convey passengers to Onicha, passing through Oji and Awka. It was faster than commuting through 9th Mile, Ngwo.

Chikelu saddled the small trunk containing his clothes and Papa’s on his head, while Ikenna and Ozioma carried the garri and gallon of red oil Mama had processed. Inside the black sack bag, Ozioma carried were abacha, indigenous fermented condiments- okpeye and ogiri, yabasi, okpa flour, and well-prepared igba oka Mama had woken up very early to make specially for Papa. Whenever Papa is returning to Onicha, Mama would almost empty the house, forgetting there are people with her.

“Mama, the igba oka (condiments of corn cake) remaining will not be enough for us”, I whimpered, watching her empty the pot containing the well garnished ‘igba oka’ shimmering in the white nylon she used in tying them in twos.

Ozioma had left very early in the morning to grind the fresh corn used in making the snack before people that sell akara start trooping to the ‘engine’ to grind their beans. I watched in envy as Mama mixed the pudding with nchu anwu’ (scent leaf), fresh ‘akidi’, and dried fish popularly known as ‘onwuru kerefu anya‘ (dead but mopping).

“Mama, you don’t make our own as delicious as Papa’s when he’s not around o’, I had smiled at her; helping her scoop the mixture into the white nylon and tying them in twos with twine.

“Nekwa nwa nkea (look at this child). Are you jealous of your father, eh?”, Mama said with feigned seriousness. She rubbed her hands on her wrapper, lit the fire, and balanced the pot on the ‘ekwu’ firewood cooking seater).

ODILI MY FIRST (SERIES #5) – Saa’s Morning Inspection

“Go and prepare for school”.

Monday was always inspection day in Aku Primary School. It was a day that had defaulters rubbing their buttocks from the stinging pain of Saah’s (Sir)  cane. The pupils named his flogging type ‘ose Nsukka ‘ because it normally sends a hot sensation all over the culprit’s body even on a cold harmattan morning.

Saah not only flogs dirty pupils on Monday morning but also relieves the teacher on morning duty his or her duty and punishes late-comers himself. It was always a festival of tears on Mondays and to avoid that, I would not mind skipping breakfast.

Ikenna my eldest brother volunteered to help me with the rest of my chores. I took my own share of the igba oka to school as breakfast to avoid lateness. Even with the sad atmosphere in the compound the previous day, I followed Mama all round giving her no rest until she cut my hair.

While other children use razor blade which leaves their heads shining like the sun, I preferred Mama’s scissors which she uses expertly on my hair. I would not want anyone screaming ‘onwa na-etiri oha‘ (public moon) whenever I pass.

At the assembly ground, Aunty Vero addressed as ‘Missus’ by the pupils led the prayers which were always lengthy. Our legs were already hurting when she finally said ‘The grace’. We all stood in straight lines according to our classes.

Our white shirts tucked in red shorts for boys and red pinafore for girls shone brightly. For those that could afford coal iron, their uniforms were neatly ironed. Chikelu helped me iron mine, making diagonal patterns on the back of my shirt and pinafore. My legs were adorned with brown ‘basket’ sandals which I polished with vaseline.

“Attention!” Our legs made sturdy sounds as Saah took over from Missus.

“I suppose you know what today is”, he continued with a smirk. Defaulters were already uneasy. To show he leads by example, Saah’s neat looks showed how he highly values and recommends hygiene. His well-ironed white shirt was tucked in tight-skinned brown plain trousers.

His old-school hairstyle was parted just like Odili’s. The oil on the hair shone in the glorious morning sun. The only odd thing was his old pair of black shoes which were bending. We at Aku Primary School called that type of shoes ‘psykpo’.

The thought of Odili reminded me of the ‘unfinished business ‘ I have with him. For starters, I would not talk to him.

ODILI MY FIRST (SERIES #5) – Saa’s Morning Inspection

“If you know your hair is unkempt and your school uniform dirty, better come out before I fish you out”. Saah flinged the cane in the air, startling us. It was a demonstration of how the cane would land on the culprits’ bodies.

“Sing!”, Saah roared.

“Onye nkuzi bia n’isi m, bia n’isi m, bia n’isi m, onye nkuzi bia n’isi m k’i mara m’odi ocha…” (Teacher come to my head, come to my head, inspect my head and see if it is neat”).

We chanted, our hands-on our heads and other body parts to be inspected. The teachers fished out those whose nails, hair, and uniforms were dirty. There was one pupil Saah brought out himself. It was Nwude.
Nwude never disappoints, he was always punished every Monday. He looked exceptionally dirty, like someone buried and exhumed. Saah made him face the pupils to get a better view of his appearance.

“Nwude has decided not to disappoint us when it comes to dirtiness. Today we will help him bathe, to show him how a good pupil should look”, Saah said holding Nwude’s hand.

I had thought Saah would exorcise the spirit behind Nwude’s behavior with a cane instead, Missus fetched a bucket of water and the unthinkable happened. Nwude was asked to undress before everyone to take his bath and wash his school uniforms. Giggles and murmurs began. I was ashamed on Nwude’s behalf as his whole anatomy was exposed.

On Saah’s instruction, a special song was sung for Nwude who Saah nicknamed ‘ezi Bida‘ (imported Pig from Bida). The pupils clapped in derisory while the song increased in rhythm.

(A song for the students who came to school looking unkempt)

Atiti bu ule, ajiji isi bu okpu, ati anya bu tanjele o bu ka o si adi? Mba! Meaning; dirt is rot, tattered hair is crown, specks in the eyes are makeup.

The pupils clapped and jeered. Nwude was asked to dance as he began to scoop cold water over his body while the cold harmattan breeze blew over him.

ODILI MY FIRST (SERIES #5) – Saa’s Morning Inspection

ODILI MY FIRST (SERIES #5) - Saa's Morning Inspection
ODILI NKE MBU M (ODILI MY FIRST) – Series #5 by Ifeyinwa

To be Continued……