We all have things we love to do. Some of us love to read, some of us love to write, some of us love to bug others for money and clothes. Some people are talented and enjoy drawing, painting, singing or impersonating break-dancing chickens at a children's party for just some fifteen minutes before jealous adults have you bound up and carted away to some medical facility outside town. 
Bala Beekul, he had one passion - cooking. His mother thought this was sweet, his father couldn't understand why his seven-year old son had such a great interest in cooking when his nine-year old daughter already had this thing for boxing.

"My mother warned me someday I'd have children like this, Amina," Mr. Beekul would tell his wife as they lay stretched out on a sofa late at night watching cartoons on television, "I used to drive her insane with the traps I used to set around the house because I thought I wanted to grow up and become a hunter. I caught two of her goats in one trap once. The poor things would always run off whenever they sighted me approaching from a distance after that."

"Haba, Odu," Mrs. Beekul would reply, "Your children aren't that weird. Chenemi loves boxing and Bala loves cooking - that's perfectly normal for children of their age."

"Chenemi boxed my own goat unconscious last week then when the creature came to, Bala knocked it out again with one his dishes he prepared. I had to pay so much money to get the animal treated and we wound up having to eat it anyway! Oh, my mother couldn't stop sneering at me for a whole week..."

"Stop that! Your mother wasn't sneering at you."

"Hah! I know you women! I lose my goat and whenever conversation comes up, the old lady would look at me like this and like that, smiling to show me she still had teeth, and then ask me 'Mmm, Odu I'm feeling a bit hungry. Could I have some meat?' Gah!"

"You know perfectly well she'd just returned from a journey that day, of course she'd be feeling hungry!"

"Then-why-would-she-mention-'meat'-first!"

"You mother was right. You can drive someone insane, you silly man."

"Hah! But you married me!"

"I was young, you tricked me!"

"What are you talking about? You're the one who insisted on us getting married just before Nigeria's football match with Ghana so we could watch it together at my house. Ah-ah, no dey lie like this, madam..."

"Are you accusing me of lying? That's it, Bala's cooking tomorrow!"

"Come now, nobody wants that kind of war. I was just playing with you. You are my sweetie-sugar-sugar-bom-bom, and I'm glad I married you and that we have such wonderful children (one of whom doesn't have to cook tomorrow)."

Oh, the Beekuls. They'd laugh after such late-night discussions, watch their cartoons and drop off to sleep.

Bala was a nice boy actually. He was a little shorter than other boys of his age. He was always smiling at people with that look of curiousity gleaming from his large eyes. He was among the top five students in his class and teachers were especially impressed by his good behaviour. He was always writing essays on cooking and this impressed them too. Whenever the other boys would try teasing him at the playground, Chenemi would appear and box them a couple of times in the belly until they patted her brother on the shoulder and agreed he was a 'nice guy'. Mm-mm, she wasn't a tomboy. She just loved boxing. Bala wasn't a 'softie boy' either, he just loved cooking. In fact, when he played football with the other boys, ...hmmm mehn (man) sit down..., nobody could dribble and score goals the way he did. Oh yes, he was known as Bala the Football Cook. So, it wasn't that difficult for him to make lots of good friends at school.... neither was t for Chenemi (leader of the school's 'All-Girls Boxing And Other Fun Things Gang').
Bala had one very special friend though - his grandmother. He had a very close relationship with Mama, as she was called (Mrs. Beekul was 'mummy'). He'd come back from school, greet his parents, have his lunch and run off to Mama's room. Mr. Beekul's mother had been staying them ever since his father died some years ago. She had her own room in the house down a corridor, the only one with a direct view of the garden. The old lady was still very active for her age and occasionally insisted on taking care of the garden instead of 'lazing around with people looking after me'. Now, Mama was found of her grandson - the young boy was always in a happy mood, always asking her questions about plants, cooking (of course) and all those experiences that make up life. She was always glad to have him around. 

"Ah, Bala, you know when your father was your age he'd..." that was all Mr. Beekul would her of the conversation between the funny pair before they burst out laughing. He'd slowly open the door to Mama's room and the laughter would cease almost immediately. He'd look at his mother for a while moving his tongue behind his lips like a surgeon who just realized he'd lost his watch in a patient while performing an operation. Slowly, the gaze would move on to his son. Bala would smile and his father would sigh. A sleepy look would appear over his face and he would leave them to their 'gossips'. "Everyone's teaming up against me," they'd hear him go, "I know you're sneering, Mama!"

Mama also spent a lot of her time teaching her grandson to cook.

"Pffft!" Mr. Beekul spat out one Friday afternoon the family sat down for simple meal, "Mmm, that was delicious. Your cooking, right, Bala?" He smiled at his son who smiled back. Good parents tend to encourage their children to pursue their dreams so they don't always like to tell them the truth about their cooking. Chenemi was busy skanking to the reggae song playing on the radio.

Say banganbili bili bom
Me be de boxing champ
Me box me opponent an' fall down to de ground
I had to box some more so me knock the referee down
Then me had to box down some supporters, boxing all around
Me box down the security man an' police officer
Box de man at the 'Lost an' Found'
Me even box Mr. President with him gown
He was-a shaking me hand 'cos me win de Olympics finals boxing round
Me box all around de town
Say banganbili bili bom
Me be de boxing champ

Mama and Mrs. Beekul thought she looked cute, Bala smiled, Mr. Beekul nearly choked on a glass of water because he was laughing. It was a lovely afternoon. The Beekuls were enjoying the little things that made a happy family, made life worth living - that was mainly Chenemi's skanking. Then tragedy struck, Mr. Beekul made this announcement: "Ay-ya, I forgot to tell you all my cousin Ikani's coming to spend the weekend with us."

Silence.

Say banganbili bili bom
Me be de boxing champ

A fly buzzed past.

And so no-one said anything more for the rest of the afternoon. Mr. Beekul couldn't blame them. Everyone knew Ikani the craze-craze man. He had to admit it, Ikani was a terrible person to spend the weekend with. Ikani hadn't had a job in three years and he was always moving from one relative's house to the other taking advantage of whatever hospitality he could find. He ate and drank everything in the fridge never bothering to wash the plates, cups and socks he littered the kitchen with. He bossed the children around sending him on errands while he relaxed on their parents' sofa all day and night watching films about famous fat people and wrestlers. Ikani teased Mr. Beekul a lot, asking him if he was really cool. He said he thought Mr. Beekul and his wife were being immature watching cartoons at their age. He'd grab hold of Mama's jaws and squeeze her lips so he could look and see if "eh-hey, there are still teeth in there?". He criticized Bala's "baby" cooking and always beat Chenemi at arm-wrestling. Kai, Ikani was nothing but bad news for the weekend.

"Look on the bright side, everyone," Mr. Beekul tried to cheer his family up later that evening, "Ikani is part of this family and we ought to be pleased he's coming over to add a of flavour into our lives."

"The kind of children that boy is going to have later in his life..." Mama began.

"I want to run away this weekend. You can come too, Bala."

"Okay, sis."

"Stop that," Mrs. Beekul sternly hushed her children, "Nobody's running anywhere. We'll take the car..."

"Allright, enough jokes. Ikani's coming and that is all. I am going to take a shower!" her husband got up and disappeared into the bedroom. She got up and left after him. Mama sat in the living-room with her grandchildren. They all had long, sad faces. I-I-I-I-Ika-a-a-ani's coming o, hahahahaaha... the wind blowing in through the windows seemed to howl at them.

"Well, it's time to do something about that craze-craze man. I have a plan. Come closer children." Mama was suddenly sneering.

Saturday. No school, no work. Chenemi and her mother were washing clothes. Mr. Beekul was dismantling an old radio while Bala was with his grandmother listening to tales of when she'd gone fishing as a beautiful (she kept stressing that word) young girl years ago and had nearly been eaten alive by a crocodile. 

There was a screech of tyres at the gate. Sound dust leisurely drifting away in the morning air. A door slamming. Some silence. Another screech. Some more silence. The sound of boots crunching away at sand and gravel. A crow let out a shrill cry from the treetops somewhere.

The sun glinted off his dark glasses. His bag slung over one shoulder. Black leather jacket worn over a dark green shirt. Faded jeans and hiking boots. A nasty unshaven face. Yeah, an even nastier pot-belly protruding forwards. Ikani had arrived! ... Another shrill cry from the crow...

"'Ey, how y'all doin' everybody? I'm here, oh nyeah!" Ikani strutted into the compound 'bouncing' like the heavy guy he believed he was. In his mind's eye he was the very embodiment of 'cool', 'heavy' and 'too much' smoothly prepared, combined and nurtured with 'heart-throb'. His belly appeared to throb too.

"Oh nyeah, mm-mm, mm-mm-mmm! Coz Odu, how's it goin', my man. Haha, am I happy to be here. Cousin D's fridge hasn't been working properly for the past two weeks, I just had enough and told her, look I can't take that crap no more. Moving on, baby." Ikani walked over to where his cousin had been sitting outside with bits of his radio on a table and flung his bag right on top of the table. Bits of Mr. Beekul's radio went flying in all directions. His tongue began to play behind his lips. Ikani gave him a big hug.

"Glad to see you, man."

"Ikani, when did you last have a bath?"

"Heh-heh, how'd you notice, coz?"

"I'm suffocating!" Mr. Beekul gasped. Ikani let go and the poor man dropped back into his chair breathing deeply. When he'd gotten enough fresh oxygen back into his system, he help the other smelly man with his bag and they headed off toward the house to meet the rest of the family.

"'Ey, how you doin', baby?" Ikani greeted Mrs. Beekul, "Hmm, those brats of yours are makin' you age faster, eh? Ay-yah, don't worry, thanks to the miracles of modern science a little plastic surgery'll have you lookin' relatively good again, know what I mean? Pfft, but nobody's perfect not even plastic surgeons."

"I'm going to rip out your thr..."

"Dear!" Mr. Beekul quickly grabbed his wife by the arm before she broke some laws of the land.

"Hello, Ikani, and how are you?" she did her best to control herself. Ikani took off his shades.

"I'm cool. Hot, but nyeah, I'm cool. Look whip me up a warm meal, okay honey?" He spun round and grabbed his bag from his cousin. "Chenemi!" he screamed out, "Chenemi!"

"Uncle Ikani, welcome," the children kept calling him "uncle". Chenemi stood before him staring at his belly. "Here I am."

Ikani stuck his hand into his bag and pulled out a revolting, hairless little doll wearing a soiled, torn dress. He handed the hideous thing over to the little girl.

"Here," he said, "I found this in a gutter, but don't worry I've sprayed it over with some of my deodorant for you so it don't smell too much. Now get some dough from your old man and go get me a bottle of Fanta. Move! Bala!" Bala was there too and he was grabbed harshly by the arm. "Still cookin' all that stuff you cook? Sheesh, mehn!"
Mama had her teeth inspected as usual and then Ikani was off to watch some television. He left an annoying trail of sand from his clothes behind him as he went. Mr. Beekul looked at his family and made a sign with his eyes to them to remain calm - things couldn't be that bad.

"Aw mehn!" Ikani yelled out from the living-room, "I think I've accidentally blown my nose on your curtain. Sorry, man."

Mama made her own signal with her eyes. "Time for action, people!"

Two hours pass.

"'Ey, yo, yo, yo, I'm starvin' over here! Where's the food, Amina? Like, what's takin' Chenemi so long gettin' my drink?" Finally, the meal arrived and he gobbled it all up in mere seconds.

"Aw, that was awful! What on earth was that muck I ate?"

"That was my cooking, Uncle Ikani," Bala smiled.

"Yeyh!" came Mrs. Beekul's shout from the kitchen, "You used Mrs. Bitrus' manure instead of the curry, Bala! Goodness!"

Ikani bolted off to the toilet where he did his best to let everything back out again. When he finished throwing up he stormed back into the living-room seeking a certain child to throttle. Bala was nowhere to be seen. Mrs. Beekul got the enraged man some bread instead. Chenemi appeared minutes later with his Fanta drink.

"Thanks, girl" he took a swig and coughed out when she punched him in the belly.

"Come on let's box, Uncle Ikani!" she challenged him, crouching over behind her tiny fists and shuffling around the room like Muhammad Ali taking dancing lessons.

"Ow, stop. Bala, come here!" he caught Bala trying to sneak by to his room. The boy had some suya (kebabs)  with him. These were promptly confiscated. 

"I'll have those. Nyeah, that'll teach you to try and poison me. Heh-heh, off to your room, dude," Uncle Ikani began to chomp away at the meat. Pepper.

"See, I always add a touch of pepper to my suya to bring out that delicate flavour..." 

"Eeeeeyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaggggghhhhhh!!!" Ikani's painful expressions and exclamations drowned out the little chef's explanations. "Ggboof!"

Chenemi threw some more punches that delightful punching belly. The children's Uncle ran off to the toilet once more. He was back twenty minutes later to catch them by the ears and carry them over to their parents.

"I don't believe this mehn, these monsters are trying to poison me!"

"What? Bala, Chenemi you tried to poison your Uncle?"

"No we didn't, daddy!" Chenemi protested, "Bala cooked for him and I only wanted to box for a little while."

Mama and Mrs. Beekul were there watching Chenemi's father very, ve-e-e-e-e-r-r-y closely. He swallowed and smiled.

"Mmm, I'm sure that was delicious. Your cooking, right, Bala?" He smiled at his son who smiled back. Good parents tend to encourage their children to pursue their dreams so they don't always like to tell them the truth about their cooking.

Ikani looked baffled. Case closed.

Lunch time came and the children set the table. The food arrived and their guest swooped down on everything.

"Boy, I'm famished!" he scooped all the rice on to his plates and poured all the tomato stew and chicken over it. "Haha, yes baby, time for action!" There was nothing left for anyone else. He never noticed, just gobbled. The children began to cry.

"Cut that out, you little rascals! You don't always get what you want in life, you're gonna have to live with that! Mmmm," munch, munch, munch! Mrs. Beekul stared sternly at her husband. He cowered and shivered. Mama got and said she'd prepare some fried plantain for the children instead. Ikani smiled, cheeks stuffed with food. He was full by the time the plantain was ready so he posed no threat to this meal. He collapsed on the sofa and began to watch beefy wrestlers take it out on each other while a skinny referee watched from a safe distance.

Bala was sad. 

"Daddy, I had wanted you to taste that rice - I helped mummy with the cooking..."

Ikani's ears perked up.

There was laughter. Mrs. Beekul and Mama.

"Yes," Mrs. Beekul said, "Funny child, I just found out you'd confused Mrs. Bitrus' manure with the curry again."

"What, you mean that wasn't curry I poured into the stew? But the containers look so much alike!"

"I know, I keep forgetting not to keep manure in the kitchen."

"Oh, dear," Mr. Beekul sighed.

There was a sharp "Yaaaaaaahh!" and some coughing and burping from the toilet followed by a "Gboof! Not now, Chenemi!".

Ikani left that very afternoon. He said he had a friend he was supposed to meet over at a hotel. He'd probably be there for a few days before moving on to another town for a job interview. Mr. Beekul escorted him to get a taxi and when he got back he found his family all smiling innocently at him. He moved his tongue behind his lips.

"You know, I've noticed you sneering for quite a while now, Mama." he remarked.

Say banganbili bili bom
Me be de boxing champ
Me box me opponent an' fall down to de ground
I had to box some more so me knock the referee down
Then me had to box down some supporters, boxing all around
Me box down the security man an' police officer
Box de man at the 'Lost an' Found'
Me even box Mr. President with him gown
He was-a shaking me hand 'cos me win de Olympics finals boxing round
Me box all around de town
Say banganbili bili bom
Me be de boxing champ

And that was the story. Hope you have an excellent meal today.

 

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COPYRIGHT ISMAILA IKANI SULE '23/2K+2.
All characters in this story were fictional especially that Ikani craze-craze man dude.

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