Christmas At The Johnson’s – The House Keeper’s Tale

“What?” The wife eye am up and down. “Shebi I said it’s okay? If it wasn’t for the money I make from my boutiques, your children would have been thrown out of school, but it’s okay. We were almost kicked out to the streets for not paying rent, but it’s okay. It’s okay o. I’ve said it’s okay”.


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For the past few months, Oga Johnson dey do like person wey dey prepare to die, since the day Pastor first come visit am. First of all, he start to dey dash people things anyhow. Oga wey go say, “neither a borrower nor lender be”, start to dey give person TV, chair, even cloth sef. Then, he come dey allow church members do fellowship for the house. Next thing, one Deaconess begin dey come every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to do one-on-one Bible study with Oga for house.

Oga Johnson wey no too like church like that before. In fact, after Madam die, e reach like five years before he start to dey go church again. Na him come dey do Bible study three times a week? Ah, e no pure. Something dey.

When Oga come talk say all the children dey come do weekend for the house, I been don too sure say he no dey alright. E body dey do am like say e wan go, e just wan prepare and say bye-bye to everybody first.

I know say Oga Johnson don kukuma knack eighty years and even pass am sef, so if he wan die now, he don try. But me I no ready for him to die o. Where I go go? I don dey this house for twenty-seven years now. I don old for here pass the age I be when I come sef. Shey I go leave Lagos go back to my papa village for Onueke? God forbid. That one na bad thing.


As I dey  ready the house for Oga’s children that Friday, my mind no even dey there at all. Even when Akpan bring him yeye leg come dirty the floor wey I don mop, I just give am eye begin mop am again. I no get strength to shout on top of him head again. Wetin consign trailer with overload?By the time Oga go go, all of us go kuku leave the house.

Na Ayoade, Oga’s first born, and all his family first come. Them kuku dey live for Lagos, but Oga Johnson no dey like make them come house like that and Ayoade no dey always dey sef. I think say him dey do container business. Maybe importer-exporter, I no too sure. But his wife na clothes she dey sell. She get plenty big shop for Lagos and sometimes she dey like bring me all this old mama clothes. I no know how old she think say I be wey she go dey dash me those kain clothes sha. I still be sisi na, my bobby never even fall.

Ayoade and him wife get two pikin, Junior and Morenike, wey spoil pass rice wey them never warm for three days. As the pikin just enter house like this, they just enter parlor begin dey watch TV, leave all their load for door make I dey carry everything. Them no even know when Oga Johnson enter parlor until he off the TV himself before them greet am.

By afternoon, Ayodele, the second born and only girl, and her husband, Babatunde reach the house too. Ayodele na medical doctor for Ibadan, the same with her husband, and she resemble her Mama ehn, e be like say the woman just vomit am. As Ayodele enter house come smile at me, my heart just do gbim because e be like say I dey look Madam Johnson for face.

Ayodele get three children, girl twins wey too resemble themselves so tey I no dey ever know which one be Taiwo and which one be Kehinde. Then one boy, Iyanu, wey only dey like make him papa dey carry am.

After them, na Ayobami come next with him new oyinbo wife, Catherine. Them come straight from the airport with plenty boxes. At first I think say dem dey move back to Nigeria but Ayobami talk say because Catherine never come to Nigeria before she no know wetin to bring. Me I just dey eye the box dey hope say my own Christmas present dey inside one of them.

As Oga Johnson dey greet everyone as them dey come, he just dey smile. The thing quick shock me but I just dey observe. My mind no still settle, especially as the last pikin no quick come. Akintayo na the one I like pass. Sometimes e dey do me like say e be my pikin sef. All the other ones don grow small before I come Oga Johnson’s house, but Tayo na my baby. Na me open door find am for Oga’s domot where him mama drop am.

Na the third day after them bring me come from Warri. As I do house work finish that day, I come hear person knock the door. By the time I open am, them don go leave the pikin for floor inside cloth. He no even cry, he just dey look me with eye like say he dey beg, “Aunty, no leave me like that one o”.

I no know wetin to do. I come carry am show Madam. Madam Johnson just look the pikin, touch the nose wey big like Oga Johnson’s own, then she just carry face. When Oga Johnson come back from work, I come show am the pikin. He too touch the nose, come look the pikin face small, then he go enter Madam’s room. After small time, he come give me money make I buy things for the pikin.

E go reach like three years before Madam die finally, but she never play with the boy once. Even Oga Johnson no too like look the pikin, so na me he go always stay with. For kitchen o, for room o, he go dey follow me as I dey work.

Na me he first call “Mama” sef. Na me he first tell when he first like person for school. I just been no know say na boy him like. Na only me he tell before he marry Laurent, that half Cameroon, half Nigerian boy wey he meet for university in Ghana. When he tell Oga Johnson that na boy he like and don marry, Oga disown am quick quick. The man wey don already disown am since he be small pikin, na to marry boy he go accept?

So the thing surprise me when Akintayo finally come with Laurent for Friday evening and Oga Johnson greet them for parlor. Na that one I take know say true true, Oga Johnson wan die and he wan make all the family forgive am before he go.


Dinner for Friday night just dey very quiet. Everybody just dey face their food dey eat like say Akpan cook some kind delicious continental dish when na only white rice and stew with dodo and fried fish.


Saturday morning breakfast just be like Friday night dinner. Everybody just dey focus on the food again like say e pass akamu and akara. But Catherine, the oyinbo wife, dey look the akamu like say poison dey inside. Ayobami come tell her say, “It’s just like porridge”, but she no gree chop am.


The same thing happen for lunch. Akpan go cook eba with okro soup. I no know who send am. Na so Catherine look the thing like say e be river wey dem want make she drown inside.

She come talk say, “I can’t eat this”, and begin to dey stand up from the table.

The husband come dey smooth talk her, “Baby, wait. Come on, it’s not bad. See. Just try it”.

He swallow one ball of eba with the soup make she see as we dey eat am, but the wife just dey look am like say she wan slap am.

“I. Said. I. Am. Not. Eating. This…thing. Isn’t there anything else I can eat? Rice? Pasta?”

“But baby don’t you want to at least try this first?” Ayobami just want make him oyinbo wife like Nigerian food by force.

“I said…”

The woman’s voice don already begin to rise, but na so Laurent come enter am, “Don’t worry Catherine. I’m sure the cook can prepare something else for you.”

“Excuse me, can you please just mind your business?” Ayobami just give Laurent one look.

“I’m just trying to help”. Laurent shock. Even me sef I shock join.

“No one can tell you how to live your own life, why don’t you let other people live theirs?”

“Just as you’re trying to let me live mine right?” Oyinbo wife just turn the whole thing on Ayobami before she waka commot for table. Ayobami come follow her.

Laurent come dey vex. Akintayo try to make am calm down but he no gree.

“Your family still doesn’t accept me Akin. And they’ll never fully accept you too”, Laurent too commot for table in anger and Akintayo follow am. Oga Johnson just dey look the remaining people on the table.

“Anybody else want to storm off too?” As nobody talk for table, Oga come turn to Ayoade. “So, how’s business?”

“It’s…it’s…going okay”. But as Ayoade talk finish, him wife, Folashade just dey laugh.

“Okay? You call what is happening with your business okay? Okay o…it’s okay”.

“Folashade”. Shame full the husband face.

“What?” The wife eye am up and down. “Shebi I said it’s okay? If it wasn’t for the money I make from my boutiques, your children would have been thrown out of school, but it’s okay. We were almost kicked out to the streets for not paying rent, but it’s okay. It’s okay o. I’ve said it’s okay”.

Babatunde come touch Ayodele, “Maybe we should go and let them talk”.

“Why?” Ayodele look am like say she wan slap am too. “Are you ashamed to be seeing other people’s dirty laundry? You didn’t seem to mind washing your mistresses own”.

Ye! Chineke! My head just start to dey scatter. I begin dey wonder wetin Akpan put for that okro soup.

“And by the way, I know she called you last night. I warned you what would happen if you ever talked to her again. I am getting a divorce. I am taking my children and I am leaving your cheating ass”.

As Ayodele dey comot for table, oyinbo wife carry box come downstairs.

The husband dey beg am make she stay, but she just dey shout,“I’m sorry I’m not familiar with the ‘right’ Nigerian customs. Maybe you should have married a proper Nigerian wife”.

Akintayo too dey beg Laurent make he no commot the house out of anger. Everybody just dey shout, dey argue.

Na so Oga Johnson just vex. “Enough! Everybody sit down,now!”

Everybody just turn quiet jejely like say them pour cold water for their body.

“I invited you all to my home because I had something important to tell you.” As Oga begin to dey talk my chest just dey do gbim gbim.

I don prepare the tears I go cry when Oga announce say he go soon die, but na so Oga come talk say, “I have decided to remarry”.

I no even know when I open my mouth come talk,

“Ah, Oga you no dey die again?”

Oga just throw me eye.

“Don’t be silly Sarah. Why would you say that?”

I no even know why. Shame begin dey catch me. I just turn my face.

Oga come talk say, “I was going to say it during lunch on Sunday. I had invited the Deaconess to introduce her to you all. I wanted to have the ceremony on Christmas day, and I wanted you all to be there.”

All of them just dey look Oga like say he tell them na him kill Jesus. My own shame still dey catch me so I no even say anything. I no even know wetin I go say. I still dey try reason am whether na real Bible study wey Oga and Deaconess dey do for three times a week.


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