The Sneaky Ways Of Papa Ejike (Short Story)

The Sneaky Ways Of Papa Ejike (Short Story)

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Papa Ejike is not a man of many words, in fact, he barely talks, this habit was so bad that some people once started a rumor that he was just a coward; their aim, according to the village drunk was to make him angry to the point of a confrontation . “Abel will never face me man to man” Okoro boasted to one of his friends during one of his drinking routine, “you see”, He continues “I wonder how he made Mama Ejike marry him o, Hia! I am sure someone must have spoken to mama Ejike on His behalf.”

The word of Okoro may be that of a drunk, but he was not totally wrong with his insinuation, however, no one wooed Cecilia for Abel, but Abel didn’t use words either. It happened that Abel first met Ceecee as she was fondly called by her friends at the market on one Eke day, her beauty immediately captivated him, but he neither talked nor made any move like boys of his age would have done, all he did was stare at Ceecee so long that she had to turn and look at him, she dismissed him as one of those boys that used to disturb her in the village, but after looking back at him like five times and the young man was still staring without blinking, she began to ask questions in her mind, but before she could look back the sixth time Abel was gone without a trace and she would not see him again till after four eke days which left her in confusion.

Even after they met again, Abel did not approach her or express his feelings, he only went around the village to make some findings on her background, after which he made up his mind to make her his woman. He would go to the market at the time he knew she would be there, not just that, he would help her carry things and then disappear without a trace, there were also times he helped her break fire wood and fetch water, but this mysterious young man would do all these and not say more than a greeting. When it was too much for her to take, Cecelia had to inform her parents who later called the man and ask him what his intentions were. The rest today is history.

Ikenna is a boy of about 20 years of age; he is the second to the last son of Papa Ejike. To the old people in the village who knew Papa Ejike when he was a young man, Ikenna was a replica of his father in look and even in gestures, he is however different in some ways, he was a lousy boy with a huge appetite. His appetite is so huge that mama Ejike often say he will eat the whole house one day. All efforts to make papa Ejike call the boy to order proved abortive as Papa Ejike would not budge, to him, the boy was going through a moment and he would outgrow it. But Ikenna never outgrew his bad lust for food, in fact, he only grew worse. It is now a normal thing in the village that Ikenna is a glutton who must not set his eyes on the food of any type, the only thing will be to devour without even caring who owns the food.

Two months ago, there was the harvest celebration at the St Andrew Catholic church, Mama Emeka, the woman in charge of the food had packed all the food belonging to the Ikenna’s group members into a large bowl and handed it to Ikenna to give the leader for sharing, but instead of going to find the leader, Ikenna went to a corner of the St Andrew Primary school and had his fill. There was trouble immediately others discovered the food belonging to them all has been devoured by one person,  the embarrassment was too much for Ikenna’s mother to bear, even his siblings hid their faces in shame.
Papa Ejike heard about it through his wife did not even bother to tell him and he made up his mind to do something about his son’s gluttony.

One evening, mama Ejike and Adaku, her first daughter were almost through with cooking of supper when papa Ejike instructed his wife to put another pot of yam on fire, “but why Nnayi”, are you expecting some visitors?” mama Ejike asked with surprise written all over her face, “just do as I say, woman, and stop asking me questions” Papa Ejike snapped at his wife. Supper was soon ready and excited Ikenna rushed out of his room, grinning from ear to ear “chai! Mama, you know my love for you use to double each time you cook egusi and pounded yam, you are simply the best mother in the whoooollllllleeee world, you know pounded yam is my favorite”. “hia!”, his mother replied, “can a glutton like you have a favorite food? Didn’t you say garri and ogbono are your favorite yesterday, just go and take your food and stop disturbing me”. As Ikenna was about to enter the kitchen, his father called him to join him in his room to have his supper.

Unknown to Ikenna, his father had asked his mother to bring the second round of food she cooked to his room with lots of soup and fishes. As Ikenna entered, he was confused when he saw the big bowl of pounded yam on his father’s table, but his confusion soon turned into joy when his father ordered him to sit on a chair and start eating from the big bowl. “Ikenna, I know you have worked hard today, so I need you to sit and eat so that your energy will return, but this is the rule, you must finish this food, if you know you can’t finish it, go back to your mother and eat your normal food won’t say more than that”.  Ikenna looked at the food longingly, at first, one may think he was going to walk away from the temptation presented to him, but all of a sudden, he sat down opposite his father and started attacking the food like a hungry lion. Papa Ejike smiled to himself and knew immediately that his plan was going to work. Everyone was through with supper, remaining Ikenna, the village glutton. He had tried to stop eating but his father had insisted he continued. Ten minutes later, he was already groaning like a woman in labor, swallowing became very hard for him as every morsel he took met with pain in his tummy, his siblings were now gathered in his father’s room, each and every one of them begging the old man to have mercy, but he wouldn’t budge.

All of a sudden, Ikenna belched like a cow that has been feeding for long , this led him to empty all the contents of his stomach right inside the bowl of pounded yam and egusi soup, mama Ejike didn’t know which was more disgusting, the sight of her son in pain or the messed up food on the table. On seeing the latest development, Papa Ejike gave a sigh of relieve and stood up from where he was sitting. He ordered his first son, Ejike to take Ikenna to his room and told his wife to clean the mess. Like a dutiful wife she was, she cleaned the mess, but not without telling her husband how wicked he was for his action.

It surprised everyone in the house when Ikenna started eating less, at first, he could barely finish a wrap of Akpu, his siblings attributed this to the stomach upset he developed after his food encounter with his father, but weeks was running into months and Ikenna wasn’t back to his usual self, the mere sight of food irritated him and it was obvious he was merely eating to survive.

The following year, it was the harvest celebration at the St Andrews Catholic Church again, Obinna, Ikenna’s best friend had gone an extra mile to get his friend extra food, but to his surprise, Ikenna collected the food which was packed inside a nylon bag and headed home, “what is wrong with you now, won’t you eat? Or are you sick”, his friend called after him. “I am fine,” was all Ikenna said as he hurried home. He got home and dropped the food on the table, he told his sister Adaku to share the food and leave a small portion for him because he doesn’t want to eat much. On hearing this action of Ikenna, Papa Ejike smiled to himself, “less talks, more actions get the work done” and “who says having a little too much cannot cure an addiction?”

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