Skido had never bought a Ram in all his life. Each Christmas he watched with envy how his neighbours slit the throats of animals in preparation for the great feast. Such was his embarrassment at only being able to afford a mere chicken that he yearly insisted on frozen parts of poultry for his family.
‘How can I look the neighbours in the face if I sharpen my knife to kill a mere chicken while they kill baby elephants, tufia!’ he thought to himself.
This Christmas will be different. He had been saving for two years now and his time had come. As he hung on to dear life on the back of a pick up truck with his Ram next to him, he could not wait to see the faces of his neighbours when he got home. He beamed with pride. Even if he didn’t eat a morsel of food in the great feast, no one could take away his achievement. At last Sir Skido, the great electrician has slaughtered a Ram.
It went to plan. The entire compound came out to greet him. They spoke of the Ram as if it were a new car bought by one who had walked all their life.’This is such a fat Ram’ Tunde said as he slapped the back of the animal. ‘Gently Tunde, don’t kill it before its time’ replied Skido. Everyone laughed. Skido’s wife beamed with pride. She even brought out her second hand camera phone for a snap of the beast.Their ‘small fight’ this morning was all forgotten now.
She took exception to Skido announcing he was going on a long journey with his cousin Thomas in the early hours of that morning. How could he leave her with all the house work to do on this cold hamarttan morning she angrily enquired. They exchanged rude words which ignited her PMT and soon afterwards they traded blows in the centre of the compound. Skido’s wife was strong and muscular giving as good as she got. She also fought dirty. Skido was soon begging her to release her strangle hold.
The whole compound came out to beg before she let go. Soon Skido limped off with Thomas repeatingover and over again, ‘that woman will kill me, Thomas, that woman will kill me’. Lady Skido did not at all seem embarrassed in the slightest. They had fought twice in the last week. She spoke loudly with her friend Fola from next door, ‘I will make good stew eh, when you people smell it, you will all come and beg’. ‘I trust you Lady Skido’ Fola said giving her friend a high five.
The Skido children soon began to feed the Ram with fresh grass. It was a day of pride in the Skido household.
Two weeks later Skido woke his wife in the early hours of the morning, ‘my dear, the Ram’s voice has changed’. He shook her again. She sat in bed rubbing her eyes. ‘What time is it?’ she asked. Skido struggled with his watch which glowed in the dark. ‘Five thirty my dear’ he said.
‘So Skido, it has now come to this. You stay up all night listening to the noise from that Ram of yours. Perhaps I should be out there tied to the balcony eating grass while the Ram takes my place in your bed eh?’ with that she turned and slept. Skido felt tempted to wake her up and tell her that she had just made sense for the first time in their long marriage. Who in their right senses will steal her. She was past her sell buy date and snored like a Hippopotamus. Surely it would make more sense to have the Ram in the bedroom, safe from envious neighbours. ‘Let sleeping dogs lie’ he muttered to himself as he watched her chest rise and fall with each noise breath.Skido could not sleep. He wondered how the Ram would taste. Dead, fried and lying on his plate of jollof rice surrounded by dodo. He just couldn’t wait for Christmas. But why did the Ram sing with such an unfamiliar voice? He tip toed out of the bed and gingerly made he way past his children who slept like land mines on mats on the floor. All ready to explode in a noisy cry should he miss a single step in the darkness.Lady Skido would surely run her mouth if she found out he was embarking on this journey.
Outside the front door the cold harmattan wind hit his face with un welcomed familarity. He lookedwhere the Ram should have been but saw a black object.’Chai, a witch has turned my Ram into a black cat o!’ he screamed. The word witch has the power to pull the neighbours out from the deepest regions of sleep. Second only in invocating powers of the words ‘armed robbers’. Tunde shot out of his room first, holding a cutlass in one hand and with the other hand he held onto the ends of his loin cloth. ‘Where the witch, where the witch?’ he screamed. Skido rubbed his face and eyes and focused hard. ‘It is a CD player o’ said Skido. Tunde’s shouting had brought everyone out. ‘Tunde raised his fingers to his lips indicating everyone should remain silent and listen. The winds brought in distant noises from the mosques and churches. Therecorded bleating of the Ram resumed. Someone shone a torch light and it was indeed a CD of the Ram’s noises locked on the repeat function. Tunde moved close. ‘Skido, na bad thing don happun, bad belle people don sabotage your christmas’ He switched the CD player off and Skido promptly fainted.
By the time Skido was revived the whole compound was in mourning. ‘Who could have done this?’ they inquired of the old harmattan winds. Skido knew it was an inside job that had stolen away his dream. His beloved Ram. He was inconsolable. He went back to bed and refused to see or speak to anyone. Tunde whispered to Lady Skido to keep a watchful eye on her grieving husband so that ‘nothing foolish would happen’.
The next morning the Skidos took the limelight again. This time it was a vicious fight. Not the usual quarrels the neighbours were used to. Skido had gone mad and was beating Lady Skido. They had started in their room and spilled out into the compound. When the men intervened and pinned down the now berserk Skido , his wife ran swiftly into the house. She returned moments later with his beloved City and Guilds diploma. She poured kerosine all over it and set it on fire. The men held Skido tighter. There was no need. He went completely flaccid.
Suddenly Lady Skido’s was on fire. The kerosene has soaked into her cloth which burnt ferociously. Sir Skido moved with lightening speed to save his wife. He grabbed a bucket of water and doused the flames before putting a loving arm around her. As they went into their room the compound watched dumbfounded. ‘Do these people love or hate each other?’ Tunde asked out loud. ‘Love ke, Lady Skido give am juju chop o’ came a reply from Mama Ngozi; a sworn enemy of Lady Skido. No one could ignore her unusually jovial mood since the Ram went missing.
Later that day while Lady Skido went off to the local police station, Sir Skido was planning his master stroke. He had enlisted the help of the most dreaded Juju priest in the area in the search for the missing Ram. By evening the whole of Lagos had heard about the Ram. Mainly because Lady Skido has erected a posterbearing the face of her Christmas Ram which had been stored on her camera phone. The poster drew great crowds. The caption- HAVE YOU SEEN THIS RAM? REWARD AVAILABLE FOR INFORMATION LEADING TO ITS RECOVERY- sent the crowds into raptures of mirth. A welcome distraction from the problems of Lagos life.
K-TV were soon on the scene snooping for anything newsworthy for –Tonight with BBJ. Within two hours a camera crew was setting up in the Skido compound. Ben Benito Junior, alias BBJ, the TV star,was interviewing the neighbours. The CD player, which had now acquired the status of Exhibit One at the local police station was brought back by the P
olice under armed escort and the CD of the Ram’s bleating was played.
Lady Skido now wearing her Sunday best and spoke of a wreaked Christmas between sobs and copious nose blowing. She lapsed into the cliché- I wish to appeal to all well meaning Nigerians to come to our aid- a standard in all emergencies in Nigeria.