The day was scorching and Kamsiyonna was squinting her eyes as the hot sun blazed furiously in the blue sky that Saturday afternoon. She was smiling and clapping to the djembe, shekere, and the jingling of the bells attached to the legs of the masquerades which her parents detested.
She loved her life. She was young, innocent, with not very much to think about. Nothing was constantly ailing her mind- yet. But today, she would enjoy. She would eat Yam and Palm Oil, drink Fanta, hopefully, she would get fried eggs and she would get to wear the new clothes her mother had bought for her.
Siyonna had the best hair, and the best shoes, according to her mother, and now she seemed to be so indulged in Chimamanda’s new gown, which was pink with puffed sleeves and a flounce on the sides, that she hadn’t noticed that the waitress had arrived with a plate of Jollof Rice and Chicken, and that Pastor Uche had gone up front.
She collected her food, and listened to him in silence.
“Hello, people of Ebonyi state!”
Clapping and jeers filled the air and slowly died away in seconds.
“Let us pray. Lord, thank you so much for another day of life on Earth. Thank you for another beautiful sunrise to enjoy. Thank you for the wonderful sounds of nature, from the cool breeze brushing through the trees to the birds singing melodies. Thank you for the new, fresh yam, and for the privilege to be alive to even eat it. You are a wonderful God, full of grace and mercy. I praise you for allowing us another day to spend with our families.
MERCIFUL Lord, I pray that you would give us strength to be strong for You in the world today. Lord, you know the struggles that WE will face today, the evil men and women we are going to meet. LORD AT THE END, LET SUCCESS BE OURS , IN JESUS MIGHTY NAME WE PRAY….”
A loud, sound, ‘Amen!’, rung from her lips and from those of many others.
Pastor Uche sniggered loudly as more people clapped.
“As many of us that are gathered here know, today is the… New Yam Festival, in the year 2016. Now, I never thought I would make it here-” -people laughed- “-but here we are, safe and sound under God’s mercy!”
Siyonna tuned out Pastor Uche’s speech as another waitress came around, handing out brochures to the older men and women. Siyonna got excited as her mother was going to give her to read it anyway and that would make her feel grown up. And when it happened, she crossed her legs and put on a serious model face and appeared to be seriously concentrating on the contents of the paper.
She was nearly done reading when, suddenly, her 5 year old brother, Obinna, began to plead,
“Siyonna, give me the paper, I want to read it!”
Siyonna responded, not looking into his beady, brown eyes, “No, some of the words in here are too big for you. And I am not done reading, so shut up and listen to Pastor.”
Then her sister, Chidera, tuned in.
“Which word is too big for Obinna to spell?”
Siyonna, suddenly enraged, turned to her and spat, “Mind your own business, you are always doing amebo in things that don’t concern you.”
“I’m not doing amebo!” she said, starting to raise her voice, catching the attention of her mother.
“Oya, what is happening here?”
“Obinna is trying to collect my paper, and Chidera is disturbing me.”
“I’m not disturbing anybody!” Chidera protested.
“But actually, Siyo, it’s a shame. That your brother will be asking you for something, and you have it, and you will not give it to him.”
“But I’m still using it! I told him I’m still using it, then basketmouth Chidera came with her smelling teeth.”
“It’s a lie, oh!” came a voice that startled Siyonna for a minute, then she relaxed, for it was only Chinenye, Siyonna’s other younger sister, swaddled in white clothing and her head resting on her bag.
“Chinenye, what I want to know now is who sent you to put mouth in this matter.”
Chinenye scowled and turned from her sister.
“Oya, give me the paper!”
Siyonna sadly handed it to her mother.
“Now, hear the pastor.”
“Lastly, at the very end of the ceremony, we will have a fashion parade including all the fifteen year old children of Igbo land,” he smiled, “and they will show off their gorgeous attires. But now, as it is time to laugh, I will invite Our Host Comedian, and my long time friend, OsaDavid!
A tall lanky man with a scarcely populated beard and sagging eyes appeared.
“Hello, people of Ebonyi, to the, Annual, 2016, New Yam Festival. My name is Osa, or David, or OsaDavid or, as a matter of fact just call me whatever you want, except ‘daddy long legs.’ A woman at the entrance just called me that, and for some reason I was so annoyed!”
The crows laughed. Most of OsaDavid’s jokes made no sense after that. Her mother laughed till her stomach hurted, but Siyo and her siblings just stared at her, confused. After thirty minutes of pure bad puns and exaggerated laughter, OsaDavid left the stage. It was six o’clock.