“Chinedu Cornelius Agwu!!!”
If you are familiar with Nigerian homes, you would know that when your mother wakes you up this way, you are in for some ‘’wahala”. It has been two months since we moved to Canada and I always thought that when we moved something would click in my mother’s head and she’d become cool overnight. Little did I know that Nigerian parents do not know the word ‘change’. As it is a completely non-existent word in their vocabulary.
“Chinedu Agwu, don’t make me come upstairs!!!”
And almost immediately all the sleep cleared from my eyes as I remembered my grievous offence. Realization hits me that despite not even being awake yet, I am in deep shit of my own making.
I run down the stairs and cut straight to the kitchen knowing fully well that any time I waste is to my own dire detriment. And upon entering the kitchen I see my mother’s usually fair and calm face beet-red with flaring nostrils, pointing accusingly at the pile of unwashed oily plates from the night before.
“I can explain…”
But before the words come out of my mouth, I see my mother’s pink rubbery slippers flying straight at me.
“You this boy!” She shouts as she begins to chase me around the small dimly lit kitchen.
“Mummy, I forgot, please forgive me” I scream in between bursts of laughter as my mother’s running -well, let’s be honest- is bloody hilarious.
Some people may think my mum is violent for this, but well, she’s Nigerian. Plus, we have an understanding, which is pretty simple: Do your chores or get whooped.
It is pretty easy to follow except the only time I have to catch up with my shows coincides with my plate duty. And one has to suffer.
“What time will you be back today?” my mum asks as she spreads the Nutella evenly across the bread.
“I’m not sure, today is the tryouts for the track team. And that begins by around 2.” I pause, dropping my spoon back into my plate of cereal. I pause because she barely asks me this, so it could only mean one thing.
“Could you help me get some stuff at the supermarket?”
There it is! I just knew I had something to do. And if you don’t know, her asking me is just out of courtesy, I really had only one choice which was:
“Of course, mummy.” I smile sarcastically, then mutter under my breath, “I could go to the moon as well if you need moon dust too.”
“Kedu ihe ikwuru?” (What did you say?)
“I love you so much mummy.”
“You better.” She says as she laughs mockingly at me, slicing the bread into perfect triangles placing them on the plastic wrap.
“I’ll send you the list on ‘Wazzap’(WhatsApp), make sure you’re online ooo.” She shouts as I walk out the door to the bus stop.
Leaving the house, instantly reminded me of how nervous I was supposed to be. Today were the track tryouts. And I know that it is not football (the greatest sport ever invented), it is still the only one I am remotely good at. By the way, when I say football, I mean proper and real football, the most popular sport in the world and the one the most athletic man in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, plays. The sport where the ball is actually kicked and played with the feet. Not the one where an ugly pigskin is kicked once every 20 minutes.
However, it was exceptionally unfortunate that no matter how much I loved football I could only watch, because no matter how hard I tried, how long I trained, I could never learn the footwork. It was always so complicated. Like, how do they move the ball so well? How do you get that much power and accuracy into a shot?
But one thing I did learn from my time playing, was that I have an explosive acceleration, which is literally almost unstoppable. I remember I always said to myself: “My speed is just too much and the ball can’t bloody keep up.” But it was merely a sad excuse I cooked up to cover for my glaring inability to kick a ball right.
Thankfully my internal rant helps take some of the anxiety off. I take a deep breath hoping it would reduce the tension I am felling…
What was that sound? Why am I falling? I ask myself as I get closer to the ground. Today are the tryouts… What will I do?
And as I crash to the ground, I feel a sudden wave of sadness.