Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Small Slice of Family Life

Aunty (resting now)

Big&Beautiful Sis
Genius&Easygoing Sis
independent&Smart Bro
Fair&Lovely Sis
Petite&Baby Sis (aka “Shuweet” once upon a time)

Episode Title: Interesting things happen when impressionable Nigerian kids watch too much Western tv
We always had it at the back of our minds that “yeah right”, “damn it” and “Sheish!” were un-African slangs, and we always knew that Western tv was having a big influence over us, but we realized this most clearly in the Water Fight Between Independent Smart Bro and Big Beautiful Sis:

Shuweet (Baby Sis) and Fair&Lovely were staring at their two elder siblings wide-eyed, not paying any attention to Aunty, who was also staring at the two with undisguised anger. How could these children be arguing so loudly in the presence of mu’umeen (guests)?! They didn’t have any shame anymore. See spoilt children! Nobody would tolerate such nonsense back at home.
No matter how much she scolded, they kept arguing hotly. The two guests watched on in silence… kai, such shameful behaviour. She shook her head slowly. An’ya.

Meanwhile, Big&Beautiful Sis had stood up, filled with indignation at Independent&Smart Bro’s disrespect. Did he think they were mates? Well he obviously thought so. Or maybe he even thought she was less than his mate.
While she towered over him, he calmly continued eating his food, ignoring her. (This is called “kunnen Doki” or “Horse Ears”. Saying “whatever” hadn’t been thought-up yet).
She was so mad, she did the first thing she thought of- she threw her cup of water on him, like that woman Terry(?) did in Another Life a few days ago.
This created a different dimension entirely.

Everybody gasped, apart from I&S Bro, that is. He waited approximately five seconds before he took off his glasses and placed them on the deep freezer beside him.

GAN GAN! (Suspense music)

By now, B&B Sis must have been thinking ‘Now why did I do that, eh?’ but she kept staring him down.
I&S Bro slowly got up and reached for the big water jug beside him. B&B Sis was like ‘if you dare!’ and he dared.

Big Splasssh!

Fair&Lovely Sis and Shuweet began to hoot loudly like monkeys (this was Reality Tv Live!), glad to have dodged the splash. Unfortunately, the guests seated some distance behind BB Sis weren’t so dry. Aunty nearly collapsed with humiliation. They never uttered a condemning word; they just stood up and quietly left. Suna da labari, kam.
Fair&Lovely Sis and Shuweet also had a story to tell Genius&Easygoing Sis, who was at school at the time. And of course, Baba and Mama would hear from Aunty and deal with both parties effectively (shudders).

Another time, one of us was quite caught up with the idea of running away from home- on tv the reunion was always wonderful. In reality though . . .

These all happened several years ago, and I’m happy to say that we’re all well-adjusted citizens. (Somebody shout hallaluyah).

On a more serious note-

‘Empty-Nest Syndrome’ is a general problem, and ma Mere is going through it.
I thought that it was predominantly a Western thing, and since my folks (Mum especially) have not been as, erm, affected as we have been (courtesy tv and other influences), I had thought that they wouldn’t experience this. But this all-Nigerian couple is facing it, and they are not alone. One of her former co-workers said point-blank, “Madam, the worst is yet to come. When the big ‘R’ comes, you will know…” R for Retirement.

“Empty nest syndrome has become more prevalent in modern times, as the extended family is becoming less common than in past generations, and the elderly are left living by themselves.
In many cultures, such as those in Africa, India, the Middle East, and East Asia, one's elderly parents were held in very high esteem and it was considered almost a duty to care for and respect them. In contrast to most Western societies, extended families were common in those places. However, nowadays, even in these countries, as cities become more Westernized and industrialized, values are gradually changing. It is sometimes rather inconvenient or impractical to live with or care extensively for one's parents in a modern setting…”
– courtesy: Wikipedia.

It is a disheartening thing to watch parents go from “Kai, these children should do and go now!” to “Oh, I miss them. The house is so empty. I feel somewhat empty too.”
It is easy to tell them to find other things to occupy themselves with (wait a minute, it’s not so easy). But what kinds of things can an old couple living in Nigeria really look forward to sans children??? I’m the last one, about to “fly the coop”, so I feel extra guilty. I found this tip useful though: “Arrange with her when you will phone her and stick to that. Please be fair about this and remember to call when she is expecting you to. An extra email or text message on top of that will probably help to cheer her up. But don't do so many that she comes to expect them. They should be a pleasant surprise for her - and a pleasure for you to do, not a duty.” -

Yes O, the Seasons of Life! (shakes head) Any advice would be highly appreciated. Thanks.