“ If I swear for you, if I dare swear for you ah, I tell you, you would never amount to anything in this world”
That was usual line the of Smart Igwe's mother to him cum his siblings when he was in primary school. It seems to him as if that line of anger expression was passed down from generations to generations. He have heard it being used by his aged grandmother on everyone not just his grandkids. It has been the favorite line of his mother to all her seven kids.
To think that Smart older and younger sisters started using the same line at very young age bellows his suspicion that it has become a jingle to them.
He smiled to himself on remembering the past years later and wondered if his mother has ever truly used those curse words on her kids outside her normal threat.
He thought that unlikely or maybe, her curse carries no force if she ever did for all her seven kids amounted to something. If education, wives, husbands, kids, shelter and three square meals are yardstick for measuring who amounted to something, then the mother must not have used those curses or it has no effect.
Smart was number five in line of seven, last male of the family too. Since four siblings were before him and among them are two females and after him, another two females, he was kind of freed from domestic cores.
His helping in the farm, to kitchen work, even cleaning were limited to the barest minimum. Anytime any one grows out of particular function, another sibling would have grown better than him to take over. He was just coasting along till the mother decided to end that jolly ride.
The mother saw it feat to teach him the route others have gone by introducing division of labor that tribal and family culture is against. He had acquired enough cultural logic to support his arguments sometimes.
His mother’s anger always ends in: “If I swear for you ah, if you ever force me to swear for you ah, you would never amount to something” threat.
They had gotten used to her jingle that they were surprised beyond word one evening when he was in year two primary school. The father who was kind of semi passive in running if the family had bought a lucozade drink for his dear wife that was complaining of being excessive tired to tackle the tiredness.
The energy drink is what the kids used to see in TV advertisement and at times during inter school sport competition. The mother had underrated the ability if some of her wards. She had been taken the thing daily in measured quantity as if it is recommendation from the doctor without looking the way of her kids.
“To be honest with you, I never tampered with the lucozade drink or even paid attention to it. Not as if it was out my mind, but I was focused on soccer then” Smart latter said.
But someone among the seven deemed it feat to teach the mother reason in sharing, tiredness or not. The mother seems to realized that that must be thought of whoever tampered with her drink and decided to lay aside her jingle and be physical.
One day, when a celebration was going on in a family not far from theirs, their mother picked out seven quality canes, one for each. She must’ve decided that the culprit can’t escape her and decided on collective punishment.
Her jingle forgotten, physical retribution too over. The kids never anticipated or ever believed that their mother is a professional canner.
There is this young man bear their house every one knows as a sadist. Whether the mother paid him for the works he rendered that day or not, no one knows.
This guy would go and intelligently call out one of the smart’s siblings and as the canning starts, he would not far, smirking and openly enjoying himself. After the mother is through with the person, she would push the wailing person inside another room and locked the person there. Then it would be:
“ Charles, go and call so, so person for me”
“ No problem”
The sadist neighborhood boy would answer with happiness and set off to call another person with ever hinting on the purpose of the mission. The trend was the same until all the kids had it.
The sadist swore over and over again and again that he was never pay. He even claimed that he heard nothing that the door were tightly closed.
Well, that incident was the first and last he witnessed their mother engaging on collective punishment. As Smart was lost in thought, he marvel how things, economies, people and situations have changed since early 80s. What was regarded a luxury then is no more rated in top 20 today.
“ Those are for my alms mater and those at the other end for the community primary school. I want them all delivered today and in time”
That was Smart now as a CEO of a flour producing company in the state capital.
He sat there reminiscing about his childhood and all he passed through. He had remembered that canning about a week ago and decided on an impulse to buy those energy drinks for his Alma mater and another community school. Charity begins at home.
“My donations would make those kids forget about glucose and lucozade and focuse on their academic,”
To think that some kids as he was sitting there were being canned somewhere for one energy drink or another amazes him.
He had moved up slowly on the executive ladder of his company and once there, had swore that his community kids that are still suffering from acute poverty to warrant being in danger of suffering collective punishment for one nonsense thing or the order must passed through primary at least from the coffers of his company.
He had been making underground moves that the next Depot his company is proposing would be built in his village. He has seen many mutual benefits it would bring to his community and the company. They call something like that win-win situation.
He suddenly jerked out of his musings when his secretary voice boomed in the intercom reminding him of his flight to Abuja.
“ Shit, I have even forgotten”
He called his driver, rushed to the airport to realize he nearly missed his flight by seconds.