I woke up this morning feeling happy. Maybe more excited than my usual Saturday morning. Exhilaration. Yes, I am pumped. Sunny, breezy, enchanting, and hypnotizing sort of morning. The type of morning I shared with my parents decades ago. The early years of my life. The 1960’s. Daily morning tea. Brewed in a special teapot and meticulously poured by Virginia, my mother. Her beautiful teapot. Only special hands handled such ornament. Rare hand created China. Of course, it’s an ornament. She displayed it on a cabinet when not in use. We admired it, but never touched it. Mother would have died if we broke it.
Every Saturday morning after tea, we drove to our country home outside the bustling commercial city of Onitsha. My mother would make sumptuous feast. Smell of curried rice with exotic herbs sent out invitations to our neighbors. Uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends. The power of wind delivery system. Instead of tea, she served lagers, stout, and ale beers. No wine for lunch. For the few alcoholics amongst our guests, my father brought out his priced Schnapps. The green square bottle. Only the owner poured the content into small liquor glasses. Most of the time, after the last drop of the fiery brew went down their throats, I heard sighs. Sighs of relief, or sadness? Well, only the alcoholic knew what he felt. Was it because Dennis, my father, would only allow a shot of his schnapps at a time? However, there was one consolation. Although my father did not drink, he served the finest liquor to his guests.
The children settled for exotic fruits plucked directly from trees that littered our estate. Passion fruits, Guava, Papaya, Mango, and some I never knew their names. It was noticeable that my father was an amateur horticulturist. Life was simple and memorable.
One day in early part of 1967, after the military coup in Nigeria, we lost everything we owned. Bank accounts, stocks, and bonds were gone by fiat. We also lost our house in the city. We started over from nothing. My father traded his cream-colored tailored suits for farm clothes. We persevered. We even prospered by local standards. I learnt the value of hard work from that experience. “Only dead people give up,” my father would say. You are right Dad. When you are down, please never stay down. Lift yourself up and keep on trying your best.
On this day, August 15, 2015, the feast of Assumption of the Virgin Mary, I doff my cap to you Mom and Dad. I hope you are enjoying the benefits of your hard work on earth in God’s kingdom.
Fidelis O Mkparu
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