Dad rushed into the living room, elated. We had just finished lunch. The Sunday tradition was something local and heavy at 4:00pm.Today was Fufu with groundnut soup, and the goat Alhaji had given us
for the Eid. Against the backdrop of a whizzing ceiling fan and a repeat of last
night’s HardTALK, we sat up, uncomfortably full, to appreciate the spectacle before us;
dad, with his hairy chest bare, and a grin like the moon, kept pointing to his chin.
He had gone past retirement; a full 3 years, and – as a matter of
pride and principle, had no grey hairs to show for all his years. But today was different. Today, his scanty beard had at last sprouted the seedling of wisdom and age.
“Kids!” he beamed “Your old man is growing grey!” he emphasized the
‘grey’ with a gesture to his single strand of grey hair. “Isn’t it marvelous?” he asked for assurance.
We, the kids, were lost between congratulations or scorn. A single hair? On his chin? No way!
Our odd smiles did nothing to deflate his spirit. He even walked up to mum to hug her, and pat her on the head like an old man would to a young one.
My youngest sibling, Ama, naturally more curious and concerned, walked
up to dad and tried to climb him like a tree. “Lemmie see! Lemmie see!” she cried.
Dad, in his joy, lifted her off the ground and to his face; her eager hands already reaching down there.
I’m only glad dad didn’t drop her after what happened; she reached for his chin, and with her cute little fingers, wiped his “grey hair” off, clean from his face, and put it straight into her mouth.
In the confused and absolutely comical silence that followed, all she could do was squeal “It tasted like soup!”.