I remember it was one of those afternoons and she gathered us to go hunt for a missing chicken. Livestock was precious to her and she felt for them just as much as a human would care for another.
We ditched what we were unto; I think that was football but some of us were searching for an infinite solution to the heat which constantly planted beads of sweat on our bodies.
We went, trudging along the path and teasing each other, “Kesi, no go do mistake leave that fowl run if na your side e reach, shey you hear me?”
“You no get sense. Do you think I’m afraid?” I shot back, laughing heartily.
Dubem teases me a lot. She was there the day I asked for trouble by chasing a mother hen with her chicks. She saw me flee naked, abandoning my bucket of water, lather covering my eyes and my thing dangling in our gated compound. It was a very funny sight to behold. Ever since that day, she’s teased me with that every now and then.
But today wasn’t that day. Today, I was clothed and I had grown too. Today was the day Dubem looked for another incident to tease Kesi with.
As I flipped that memory over in mind and caught on with another memory, we journeyed along the path, asking the villagers for the whereabouts of Nana’s lost chicken. About four miles from home, we found it pecking at some grains on the sand.
“Ssssss!” We called out to it.
It turned, looked at us and continued pecking. I wondered what it was thinking. Chickens suffer from alexithymia, I think plus they have this bland face. They always looked at you in a deadpan way. You notice that too, right?
It didn’t want to come home but kept looking at us peripherally.
We had to get into a semi-circle formation and gave it a chase; the more we drew closer, the tighter the semi-circle became tighter making it hard for it to escape. This was a trick Nana taught us for livestock rescue: goats, sheep, chickens, etc.
I was in front and I could see its tail in flight, like the tail of a plane several feet above the ground. I caught up with it few seconds later and it cuckoo-ed and fluttered its feathers, trying to escape.
I held it up like a trophy, “Nana, take it. You see, I caught it today. I’m a man!”
“Nna, daalu,” She said to me as she took it from me, the look of pride unmistakable in her expression.
We laughed. Then, we journeyed home together, telling the tale of the chase.
It was one of the happy moments we had with her. The last.
About three months later, she was dead.
Copyright, Okwukwe C. Chukwuka