COPYRIGHT ISMAILA IKANI SULE ‘20/’99

 

 

 

 

Imagination…

There once was a very wealthy lady whose name was Moni. She lived in an enormous

mansion with her two daughters, Fayin and Fayintu. These two sisters were the mostbeautiful girls in the town they lived in. Everyone would go, "Wooo, kai! Moni’s daughters are just too beautiful, they surely can’t be ordinary human beings!", "Man, I tell you, I wouldn’t mind cutting off a leg and arm each just to marry one of those pretty creatures", and "Madam Moni, you’ve got some wonderful children, great assets, but have you ever thought of getting them insured? You’re in luck lady, see these papers with me…". Ah yes, Moni had things very grand indeed…except for one big rat which continued to terrorise her kitchen despite all efforts to get the thing exterminated. It ate meat from pots, took unsightly bites from loaves of bread and it made a hole in a sack of flour so it spilt all over the floor when the maid tried to move the sack.

"This crazy creature’s trying to mess with me, Moni the Lioness! Okay, very well, this is war, man!" she hollered one morning she woke up to discover that the rodent had begun to venture all the way into her bedroom. She got traps, she got rat poison and she got the best pest exterminators from near and far. Destroy the menace, now! were the orders.

All holes were blocked. Cats were set loose all over the compound and the kitchen was literally torn apart. As usual, nothing!

Anyway, next door to Moni lived a poor farmer and his wife. While their neighbours basked in all the splendor, comfort and delight riches brought them, these poor people had to struggle day by day to survive. They were suffering allright, especially as they had a daughter who couldn’t sing, but loved to believe she could anyway.

Ah say ye-a-i-g-gia-ay
Dis be what I say
Pipity-pour, pourty-sis (54 – 46)
That’s my number-r-r

they would hear her whine (that was the best way to describe her singing) while she fed the petrified chickens in the backyard every morning. "Eli, shut up!", her father had to shout each time she sang her favourite reggae songs. The whole town knew Eli and the disastrous things her songs could do. Everyone would go, "Yei! This farmer’s daughter is just too horrible! She can’t be human!", "Man, I tell you, I nearly lost an arm and leg all because of that creature’s awful singing", and "Mr. Farmer, get yourself insured, quick! Lucky for you, I happen to have these papers here…". Life was hard indeed, Eli’s mother would frequently wail, "Oh, my daughter, what a cruel fate has befallen thee. No man would ever wish to see you when you grow up let alone ask for your hand in marriage. Have we been cursed?"

Eli would try to comfort her mother with a song or two on such occasions.

No-o-o-o mama, No-o-o-o fly

No-o-o-o mama, No-o-o-o fly

Everysing gonna be allr-i-ight, baby

Everysing gonna be allr-i-ight

Sing along now,

Everysing gonna be allr-i-ight

"Shaddup abeg! The Wailers didn’t wail so!" her mother had to bark back and send her off to tend to the chickens instead.

"Why do we have to suffer?" the hens would cluck. The cock’s bright red comb would at that moment fall down over one side of its face. "Cuck-oo-my-poor-heart-oo" the bird went.

So life went on.

One day it announced over the radio that the President of the country and his two handsome sons would be visiting the town. They’d all heard about Moni’s daughters and marriage was one of the intents they bore in their minds for the visit (not the President, of course, he was already married to the first lady and that was enough trouble along with running the country’s affairs he’d say). Preparations had to be made for their arrival and Moni was most nervous – the President’s sons were most fitted as spouses for Fayin and Fayintu. She got them new clothes and made sure they received the best attention from maids and beauticians. However, more hands were needed in the kitchen as a result of this.

"We have to be prepared to feed our visitors and probably, the entire town with the most sumptuous of meals this country has ever seen. Those boys must take my girls as their brides before they leave. Get me more waiters, chefs and maids for the kitchen," the wealthy lady demanded.

Extra hands were sought from all over town and even from other neighbouring towns. The farmer reacted quickly and had Eli picked to serve as a kitchen maid.

"Please, dear daughter of mine, do us proud. Your mother and I love you so much, remember that. Now you’ve gotten this job, do your best…AND DON’T YOU DARE SING! BRING BACK MONEY, LOTS OF IT, UNDERSTAND?"

Eli smiled, she definitely had the best papa and mama in the world.

Working in Madam Moni’s kitchen was quite difficult, but Eli ran her errands and did as she was told… and, she didn’t sing.

The President arrived in a long convoy of cars. Secret service officials scattered themselves all around Moni’s home while some more of them huddled around the portly gentleman who stepped out of the jet black Mercedes Benz which was part of the convoy.

"Oh, daddy I can see Fayin. I’m in love. My heart’s skipped a beat."

That was the President’s first son, Waw.

"Daddy, I can see Fayintu. This surely is love, I’m shaking all over."

That was the President’s second son, Yahu.

"Man, they’re even serving fried chicken. This Moni chick’s really one serious lady."

That was the President.

And so everything started off fine. No one was happier than Moni when the President informed her of his sons’ intentions to marry her daughters. "This is an occasion for celebration", she beamed happily. There was a huge banquet in her garden and everyone was merry. Everyone who was anyone was present. Countless fireworks shot up into the sky. Eli was so excited that she spilt tea on the President’s trousers while trying to fill his cup.

"What service!" the man screamed but quickly composed himself, "And whose brat is this trying to scald me?"

"Look at her ugly face", said Waw.

"She must be an old hag", Yahu added. Eli knew she wasn’t an old hag. She was only ten years old.

"This isn’t Cinderella, my dear," Fayin remarked, "The ‘princes’ know we are the beautiful ones and you’re the ugly ‘sister’."

"Yes, and we’ve got hundreds of glass slippers in our rooms", Fayintu joined in.

"You miserable child, you! Trying to upset my guests. Oya, be gone!" Moni snapped. Deeply hurt, Eli slowly turned and headed home. The celebrations continued without her. Suddenly, it happened. The ever-mischievous rat that had been pestering Moni’s household for days popped its head out of the plateful of doughnuts Yahu had taken all for himself. Startled, the boy hurled the plate away. The rodent was thrown across the banquet table into Moni’s glass of kunu.

"What…?" she started and the rat… well, it burped. Nasty!

"Ye-e-e-e-i!" she screamed and flung her drink away only to have kunu splash all over Fayin and Fayintu who were seated beside her. They too screamed as the rat scuttled off across the brand new tablecloth their mother had gotten the other day. Soon the whole place was full of shouts and shrieks. The President, a juicy chicken leg in his mouth, hardly had the time to figure out what was happening before one of the Secret Service officials leapt into his arms. "What are you doing?" he asked cradling the full-grown adult in his arms like a baby.

"I’m trying to get you down for your own safety, sir… There it is!" the man yelled and his fellow ‘men-in-black’, charged with the President’s security, pulled out their automatics and machine guns. Their weapons blared away at the creature, which was making its way towards Moni’s kitchen. Chunks of earth and grass were thrown into the air. Flower pots exploded. Windows were smashed. Walls became riddled with bullet holes.

At last, Eli decided to make a stand. It wasn’t fair, people couldn’t keep treating her this way and hurting her feelings. Madam Moni, the President, Fayin, Fayintu, Waw and Yahu had to be told so right in their faces. She was going to do it.

She stomped her way back into her neighbour’s compound.

Though the President had been bundled off into his Mercedes, ‘for his own safety because the rat at the party could be part of an assassination plot’, it turned out that he had already been beaten to it. He lay, almost stunned, in the car’s back seat with the fat, furry creature chewing some nuts, calmly, on his chest.

"Help," he whined as if in a whisper, "I’m allergic to these things." And, as if the rat understood what he’d just said, it became defiant, resisting all attempts to get it off the panicked man’s chest. It began to snarl and snap until it was left alone to continue with its snack. Everyone watched silently. Then the silence was broken.

"Look, the thing’s dancing! It’s skanking!" True enough, it was. It rolled its belly and stumbled back and forth like someone who’d tripped and was trying to maintain his balance. But, why?…

Eli stormed into the scene chanting her protest.

So I don’t look like Cinderella

So I don’t sound like her

Ay-ya-ya-ya-ya

Butavyou ever seen Cindy chant so

Andavyou ever ’eardher sing witta tune

Dat can make one pant so

When all your energy don go

When Eli-a make you skank so

Skanking, skanking ,skanking

Like a monkey wey never eat anything

So all you could-a do is-a move

Move, move, move

Wit a riddim, To a riddim

Cindy

She was, they say, a lovely lady

But that doesn’t mean yougata maltreat me

Aha, don’t you know, this is Eli

I need a little courtesy

That doesn’t mean yougata maltreat me

Aha, don’t you know, this is Eli

I need a little courtesy

Heiy! Now she was mad! Angry! There was a shocked silence as all present in Moni’s compound watched the rat dance and the girl make whiny…er… sing.

"Keep singing, the thing’s distracted," one of the Secret Service men beckoned to her, "It hasn’t noticed my hand moving closer to grab it." Eli did as she was told.

Binchiki gi, Bim bim bim

Binchiki gi, Bim bim bim

The rat couldn’t help itself. It hurled its belly inwards and outwards to her binchiki gi chants.

"I’ve got him!"

Moni let out a squeal of delight. Mr. President puffed and sighed with relief. The Secret Service man had at last captured the troublesome rat. "Good man", "Brave man", "Astounding! You risked your life for the President’s! Are you insured?" could be heard all around. It was time to put an end to the rodent’s miserable life and then, the party could continue. Eli stopped them, however. "Oh Mr. President, spare the poor creature’s life. It’s so helpless, so alone and scared…"

"Oh, stop the pathetic acting, girl. You just want to keep it because it’s the only one who likes your singing," he cut her sentence short.

"Yes."

"Very well. I suppose I could grant it an amnesty – the public loves that sort of thing - , however, you must make sure it never threatens the…er… the nation’s security again. Is that clear?"

"Yes."

And that’s how it all ended happily. Everyone apologised to Eli for being so mean to her (although not to her singing) and she forgave them all. Waw and Yahu married Fayin and Fayintu and they all left for Antarctica on their honeymoons (the girls said they had to see the land with such a nice girl’s name). Madam Moni proved to everyone that she wasn’t such a snob after all, by having Eli’s home totally renovated and refurbished. She also found the farmer a job at one of her brother’s companies where he’d be earning a fat salary annually. Eli was also sponsored to the best school in the country. The rat? It was kept in a spacious cage in Eli’s room, where it could shake its belly to her binchiki bim bim all night long.

 

Words and terms some of you probably didn’t understand:

1st song: I say ye-ah

This is what I say

Fifty-four, forty-six

That’s my number

2nd song: No mama, No fly

No mama, No fly

Everything’s going to be allright, baby

Everything’s going to be allright

Sing along now

Everything’s going to be allright

3rd song: So I don’t look like Cinderella

So I don’t sound like her

Ay-ya-ya-ya-ya

But have you ever seen Cindy chanting so

And have you heard her sing with a tune

That can make one pant so

When all your energy’s gone

When Eli makes you skank so

Skanking, skanking, skanking

Like a monkey that hasn’t eaten anything

So all you could you do is move

Move, move, move

With a rhythm, To a rhythm

Cindy

She was, they say, a lovely lady

But that doesn’t mean you’ve got to maltreat me

Aha, don’t you know, this is Eli

I need a little courtesy.

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