"Ibro Jollof rice!!!" Moses and Tunde, my cousins called as they entered the house.
"That's not my name!"
I watched my cousins go at my younger brother Ibrahim, Ibro as we call him at home. He hates that nickname with passion, showing his displeasure all the time. It makes them call him the name even more.
I find it very funny always. Hey, I'm supposed to do something about it. Heck, no I'm not! It only soils the fun. I still remember how that name came about. Till forever I will remember; only death can wipe that memory off.
It was a sunny Tuesday afternoon, a public holiday. Mum and Dad had gone to farm since morning and we had waited for their return for so long. There's that hope that when they return, there'll be something to eat, ṣe? But after waiting for a while, my cousins who were staying with us at that time started complaining. I was so tired of hearing my name called all the time-
Moses burst into my room,
"Sister Kejì, when would daddy and mummy come back?"
I rolled my eyes and fell back on my bed, scratched my head for a while and then sat up. I made the "come" sign to Moses, who nodded and came to sit beside me.
"You are very hungry, eh?"
He hung his head down and nodded.
"I know you boys have waited for long, Oya let's go into the kitchen and see if we can spring up anything."
He jumped up with glee and led the way almost dragging my hand as we made our way to kitchen. I heard Ibro and Tunde talking,
"What are you doing Ibro? Let sis Kejì come and catch you! I'm no there oh!"
"But if I finish cooking now, you will eat ṣe?
"Who is cooking? Ibro?"
I marveled as I entered the kitchen and saw my brother slicing a large onion, wiping his eyes and nose on his sleeve as he sliced.
My hands akimbo, I chuckled as I looked over the kitchen table at the ingredients scattered on it.
"Ehen! What are you cooking eh, Ibro?"
My jaw dropped, eyes popping, I turned to see mirrored expressions on the face of my cousins.
"Jollof rice? You that cannot boil water? Ehen! Jollof rice! Oya cook now. Do you need my help?"
Ibro shook his head with so much force, I was scared his head would drop off.
"Not even Moses or Tunde's help? Nobody should help you? OK oh! Moses, Tunde Let's go and wait for Chef Ibro in the parlour. What should we watch?"
I shooed them both out of the kitchen and into the parlour. I put in a compilation of the Tom and Jerry cartoon series and we soon got carried away with the watching.
While we were watching the cartoon, I made frequent check-ins on Ibro. He looked like everything was being taken care of, so I just left him to it. I had dozed off for a while (I think), I was woken up by Tunde who pointed to the centre table.
Lo and behold, Ibro had set the table oh. One big bowl covered with a flat plate. I sat up-
"-Tunde go and bring spoons."
Ibro emerged from the kitchen carrying a tray that had in it a jug of water, 2 cups and some spoons.
Moses prayed over the meal and opened the plate. I was shocked!
At least that was what I saw or what the food looked like. Dropping my spoon, I turned to Ibro,
"What happened to the tomato paste I saw on the table? You didn't use it?"
He looked so sad, almost near tears as he shook his head. My cousins were already laughing.
I picked up my spoon and took my first spoonful; ate slowly and swallowed. Moses and Tunde looked at me shocked. I paid them no attention as I ate, spoon after spoon.
The rice was tasty, he probably used up all the maggi in the kitchen but then he tried. After watching me for a while and seeing the rice reducing, Moses and Tunde joined me and then Ibrahim. We finished the food oh.
Later in the evening while they were playing, they got into an argument and were exchanging words; Tunde and Ibro. I was coming out of the kitchen, having taken care of dinner when I heard the phrase
"-Me àní? You nko, Ibro Jollof rice!"
Immediately Tunde said that, Ibro rushed at him. Thank God, I was there at the time. It didn't go any further than that. I warned them seriously about name-calling and made them go to their room.
In the night before we slept, I called Ibro to explain why the "jollof rice" was white. He had poured in too much water and tried draining the rice. This was after putting everything necessary. When the rice was almost cooked, he then noticed the colour.
"Why didn't you call me? Next time eh, you call me, OK? It's OK eh, go and sleep."
I rubbed his hair and patted his back. He smiled and said goodnight.
Even after warning my cousins about the name-calling, they didn't stop. And that's how it stuck. Some of his friends even wonder why he's called that but funny enough, Moses and Tunde don't take it lightly with anyone who tries to call him that.
LOL, Ibro jollof rice.