Christmas Was Just For One Day!

By Iwara U. Iwara
By Iwara U. Iwara

The engine cranked to life at exactly 2.45am. It gave out a sound that pierced the silence of the wee hours and made sleep quite a wrestle. As I lay in my bed, faint voices could be heard beneath the sound of the engine and then, timed splashes of water as the engine did the commercial bidding of its owner.

Those who ‘woke’ this grinding engine close to my house up had come to grind tomatoes for the early morning Christmas stew. It is not as if this is the only stew they ever get to make in 365 days; the simple fact however remains that the Christmas stew is often eaten by many people and unlike the Sunday-Sunday stew, it is better embellished with frowning chickens, stylish beef and mouthful turkey.
By daybreak when the first set of rice bowls, carried in baskets or trays and covered with ‘atumakasa’ arrive as gifts from our neighbours or relatives; it was indeed clear that Christmas is indeed here. Make no mistake about this; the kid(s) sent from a relative or neighbour’s place to bring you a Christmas bowl of rice, happily takes to the errand because he/she knows that when they sheepishly tell you “do me Christmas”, you will oblige.

But sincerely, I do not know how it was in your place but all around my place, explosive ‘experts’ made sure I was on my toes, fretting at the sound of loud bangers. It was not easy to keep tabs on their activities and painfully, countless times someone had to watch his/her back or seal ears when the sound of one banger going off midwifes the arrival of another. From the little Scripture that I can draw from, bangers were not a part of the Gold, Myrrh and Frankincense that the three wise men gave our very own Jesus Christ. Whoever popularized the deployment of bangers and sundry explosives as a celebrative tool during Christmas did us non-existent good I must say.

Hey, I believe the best time to market the product of a brewery is during Christmas. It sure didn’t matter which brand was on offer because wherever there was an A.C.B (any cold beer), people gathered and downed same. Amazingly, more people were in pubs than in churches and speeches were indeed more slurred than whatever anyone spoke in tongues. While heads were often bent downwards and looks subdued by alcohol, conversations were at high pitch, just like steps were measured and alcohol-induced falls a common sight. Thank God iodine was not in short supply and those who made infamous trips to hospitals on the back of an ACB ride have scars to look to.

Because everyone wanted to be home for Christmas, adhoc transport operators came to the ‘rescue’ with vehicles that had mechanics as conductors; you know that kind of vehicle where the driver does not play music in it but constantly strains his ears to know if the tyres are about to come off or if the engine is making a knocking sound. Where some of this kind of vehicles broke down, passengers are either compelled to wait for a quick fix (?) or continue the journey without a refund of the money. It is at this point that passengers understand that the driver of the vehicle having anticipated a breakdown and the attendant demand for a refund of money paid by passengers, deliberately leaves the money behind before embarking on the journey, carrying only enough money for fuel. There is just one phrase for these passengers, “…dem don learn”.

Christmas also brought with her, false accented, never travelled people who spoke through their noses and told kindergarten lies. See-o, as the political gears in Nigeria’s centre shifted from PDP to APC, these our wannabees came to town asking for curriculum vitae, CV, “…and I will give it to Buhari so he can give you an appointment in Abuja. You know I and my friends worked really hard on the social media to get him into Aso Rock. You should also know that if we had not worked for him, he would not have won”, they say. So he wants to give you an appointment over above himself? Common, take this away; those who can truly double money, double theirs and not someone else’s. The guys I saw promising all sorts of Buhari accruable benefits are closer to our President only through his portrait hanging in all public and government places. Those who believed them and complied are either gnashing some teeth somewhere or licking psychological wounds as you read.

A few sisters got married to a few brothers who came into town with one sublime wonder on wheels or two. Thank God the Lord finally did it but then a couple of those brothers who got in, hired those cars for Christmas and like the Americans will say, “the car(s) ain’t theirs”. The trick is normally to go to a car dealer and sign a car up for the number of days a brother hopes to be away. If you look at the cars carefully, our brothers are chauffeur driven…hmmm…the driver is actually the car escort from the owner company, not a driver employed by our brothers. Now I hear a couple is back at their station and wifey cannot understand why the wonders on wheels have suddenly disappeared. Tell wifey if you please see her that she has a cold case file in her hands…it is a pity and a prayer for deliverance must go out.

But we cannot look at all of these negatives and insist that the celebration of Christmas must be cancelled, we will be sparking a war-o. I still remember that with a whole lot of friends and family, so much fun and laughter was shared and bonds strengthened. I can still see the glittering wetness of a happy tear shed as cars arrived and grandchildren ran into the protective embrace of grandparents. What of the big welcome hugs at family meals and the loud belch of a full stomach? These are not everyday spectacles; they are special moments that the Christmas season effortlessly brings. We may have been caught up in the confusion that the negative above represent, but sincerely, try as hard as these negatives try, they cannot be the essentials that sit on the hammattan’s haze and point us to the simple fact that the every Christmas season is indeed a time to love and be loved. Happy New Year folks!

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