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That Day, 16 Years Ago by chinyerevivian

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· @chinyerevivian ·
$12.47
That Day, 16 Years Ago
Here's a little something laced with superstition. Do enjoy.
***

<center>![girl-1868930__480.jpg](https://img.whaleshares.io/wls-img/chinyerevivian/cd58b99e43f2de47ecfc8cd5e614e4d23c64dc1c.jpeg)</center>
***

*The day was 28th, December. The place was my Aunt Adaugo's house. I was seven years old.*

Ten days earlier, Papa, Mama, my brother, Chima and I had travelled home for the Christmas celebrations. Home was the village. We had left Enugu by 6.AM, so as not to get stuck in the heavy traffic caused by people also going to their different villages to spend time with their families, and slowly made our way to Ifite Awka. I had only been to the village once, shortly after I was born, when they took me home for my father's people to see and name their first daughter. I had hoped that even though I was only a child then, I would somehow recognise the single-laned untarred road that led to my father's house. But that wasn't the case. Chima and I pressed our noses against the side windows of the back seat and watched the strange, but busy street of Ifite came to life in the morning sun, as we drove to the house. Papa had told us to roll up the glasses to keep out the dusty harmattan wind. 


The first thing I noticed was how different everything was. Our previous Christmases were usually slow. We would go to morning Mass at St. Christopher’s Cathedral, Independent Layout. After that, we would go home, and because it was Christmas, Papa would allow us to watch any channel we wanted on the TV while we waited for Mama to prepare the coconut rice and fried turkey. But here, while we sat in the car and listened to Papa’s response to people who walked over to say *nno* to us, I noticed some children running around the church premises. I tapped Chima and pointed at a boy with a big balloon, surrounded by eight boys of about the same age.



“I’ll tell Papa to buy one for us,” he said. 



I shrugged. Papa never liked balloons. “I don’t want that blowing up on my face,” he would say. The only thing he allowed us to keep was ribbons, which Mama would later use to tie my newly plaited hair when school resumed in January. But Chima never noticed anyway. He said the same thing every year. 



On the night of the 27th, Papa announced that we would be visiting our Aunt Adaugo. She was Papa’s elder sister and she lived with her husband at Nnewi, a town about forty minutes drive from Ifite. I liked her, though I hadn’t met her. I liked her throaty laughter and the easy way she said my name whenever she called Papa on the phone and demanded to speak to us. Chima said she sounded local, but I didn’t mind. He never seemed to like what I liked. 



We picked up Papa-Nnukwu, our grandfather, on our way. He had told Papa that he wanted to go with us. We arrived at Nnewi at 11.AM. The small house was flanked by a tall fence and an equally tall red gate. Aunt Adaugo heard the sound of the car and told Nzube, his first son to open the gate for us. We parked under an orange tree at the east side of the large compound.



“*Nno nu*, welcome,” she said and ran to us.
 


She hugged Papa-Nnukwu first, then Papa. 



“*Nwunye m*,” she said before hugging Mama. She always called her my wife. Mama had explained that when a woman got married, she didn’t just marry her husband, she married his family as well.



She carried Chima up, laughed and dropped him.



“He's looking more and more like you, Ugo,” she said to Papa. 



She then turned towards me. My hear was beating fast. I had expected to see an average woman, someone a little like Mama. But the woman standing in front of me was tall and big. Her laughter had more ring that it did on the phone. 



“Akunnaya, you’ve grown into a beautiful girl,” she said and hugged me so hard I almost choked. 



She was the only person who called me by my native name. Back in Enugu, it was Eunice. All the girls in St. Monica’s Primary School went by their christened names. Here, my native name sounded beautiful and I felt alive. Akunnaya – Her Father’s Wealth. I always wondered if the father was Papa or God in heaven. 



She served us white rice and *ofe akwu,* a stew prepared from palm fruits by boiling them till they were very soft, before they were mashed and the paste squeezed out with the help of warm water, till only the shaft and uncracked kernels remained. Papa-Nnukwu beckoned at me and when I came, slipped a piece of meat inside my mouth. Papa grunted in disapproval. Papa-Nnukwu patted my back and pushed the empty ceramic plate away. I picked it up and headed to the front of the house, where I had earlier seen Nzube soak a plate inside a large bowl. Before I got to the front steps, the plate slipped out of my hand and fell. I froze and waited for it.



“It's that left hand of yours,” Papa was saying. “Always use your right hand, you won’t hear. I may have to cut if off for you.”



“She's a child, she’ll learn,” Papa-Nnukwu quipped. 



“She's left-handed? *Nwunye m*, why didn’t you tell me? That means she’ll be a very rich woman,” Aunt Adaugo beamed. 



Papa snorted. 



“Sit down, Akunnaya. I’ll get some oranges for you. 



I sat and avoided Papa’s eyes. She reappeared holding six oranges. She handed Chima and I, one each, after peeling the back. I began to peel the pith slowly with my nails, using my right hand this time.


“Careful not to swallow the seeds, or they’ll germinate and grow in your stomach,” Papa-Nnukwu said. 



I looked up. Chima already had a slice in his mouth. 



“He swallowed the seeds before,” I said. 



“Really, when?”



“Before we came for Christmas.” 



“That means the roots will soon burst his belly.” 



I stared at Chima. He shrugged and continued to munch his orange. Mama chuckled. 



For two years, I waited and watched Chima's stomach. Nothing happened. 



*I’m twenty-three now. I still glance at Chima’s stomach whenever I remember Papa-Nnukwu's words, only this time, with a smile. I wish the left-hand myth were true. That way, I would sleep all day while the money flowed in. It’s destiny after all.*


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@tts ·
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@wafrica ·
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@curie ·
Congrats on a Curie vote!
Hi chinyerevivian,
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This post  has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed).  Have a great day :) <br>
 
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@chinyerevivian ·
Thank you for the continued support.

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@road2horizon ·
hi dear @chinyerevivian, I really like your story! I take it for granted that it is a true story (maybe it is not, but it is so real that you can touch it!) and it is very beautiful how you remember this aneduct of many years ago, with tenderness and love for your roots :-) ) I'm sorry you didn't get rich, all the best for you
congratulations on your curie vote
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@chinyerevivian ·
It's fiction with a touch of superstition. Thank you for reading.

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@iamsaray ·
Hello Hello!

Your story caught me, it has something attractive that I keep seeing ...

Greetings from Venezuela!
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@chinyerevivian ·
Greetings to you too and thanks for stopping by.

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@marcybetancourt ·
Hi. I find your narrative very interesting. It is simple and pleasant. I really liked the names and possibly how they are pronounced. When I read that the story began on December 28, I immediately thought of Innocent Children's Day but the story did not refer to this topic and I loved that.

You have a very peculiar dialogue:

> "... when a woman got married, she didn’t just marry her husband, she married his family as well."

I think that in any culture this is very true and you write it so naturally that it can go unnoticed.

I also really liked the ending. I also smile and want the myth of the left hand to be true, hahahahaha

A cordial greeting @chinyerevivian
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@chinyerevivian ·
Hello. Thank you for reading. I had no idea that 28th of December has something special about it. I'll look up Innocent Children's Day.

I'm glad you liked the story. Your comment is well appreciated.

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@delishtreats ·
What a cute story. It's always nice to read about someone else's memories. My husband used to take out seeds from grapes before eating them because he was so afraid that they would grow inside of him :D It's funny how adults can scare kids with such nonsense :) 

I wish for you that the left-hand myth were true too :)

Thank you for sharing and have a lovely weekend!
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@chinyerevivian ·
I wish it were true too. Thank you for reading. Beautiful weekend to you.

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