Her neighborhood wasn’t all that fancy. Technically, it was the opposite of fancy with mud splattered houses, little streams of stagnant water beautifying the untarred paths. Chickens and ducks were always close by, hunting for scraps to call their food. And the children…naked, they would run after each other, in a dirty game of catch with the mosquitoes hot on their trail. Their mothers, with nonchalant gaits, would be found outside, bickering about what was and what wasn’t while their fathers, off to the local bar for a lovely game of Football and a round of hot drinks to quench their raging passion.
Her neighborhood was very rowdy. Different sounds would pierce the air from dawn to dusk. For them, it was quite normal actually, very normal for the birds on the tree directly beside the old woman’s house to chirp very loudly at midnight. Their coats were glossy black and their beaks, a phenomenon on its own. So, it was very normal for the birds to be quiet when someone in her neighborhood died. While her parents parried blows, the family who lived opposite played their loud gyrating music. The young boys who rented a room inside their house also contributed a generous share, their loud drunken voices adding harmony. The babies never stopped crying for one was born every month – lack of family planning. The Clerics never stopped screaming either, as problems never really ended, there was a new one everyday.
But Sundays…everybody became polite. The noise, it seemed, would dim a little for her neighborhood was highly religious. Prayers would tumble out as enemies passed by each other. Her father would polish his worn out black shoe so hard it would gleam and her mother’s headtie was never out of place, the cheap trinkets on her arm, lipstick donned and brows drawn with cheap pencil. Her brothers would iron their shirts very hard and with the ever present help of starch, it would hang, unaffected by any powerful wind.
Her hair, made by her mother, ever glistening with the natural power of Shea butter and her face, white with cassava flour.
Hand in hand, they would go to the only chapel available in their locality. The men who beat their wives and drank hard liquor would raise up holy hands and teach Sunday School. The women who gossiped would cry holy tears, touched by the “Holy Spirit” and never raised a hand to spank their children while in church. Prayers were said, offerings were given, men were criticized and children were given biscuits to eat. The children had ample time to discuss their parents’ not so secret behaviors and the discussions they had overheard.
She loved Sundays for it brought a little pretense with it. On Sundays, everybody was holy and righteous. It was fun to watch them go into their different roles.
Monday would come again and the real characters would be back. The scene, over.