Mama would dish out the entire food in a tray and watched longingly from afar as we gobbled and bickered amongst ourselves despite the billow of steam oozing out from it.

She’ll lick the ladle dangling in her hand and smacked her lips loudly in relish and that was all she would have for the night.

Most times, she’ll forgo the little crumb she picked from the ladle and hand it over to our younger brother who felt che@ted and whined incessantly because he could not gobble faster like us.

Mama would drag him to her bosom and rub his head soothingly in an effort to pacify him before handing over the ladle which he’ll wash clean with his tongue until it shone.


Mama would never allow us to eat separately, she insisted that eating from the same plate and drinking from the same jar helps in facilitating intimate bond between families and fosters indivisible love and unity.

Lest I forget, my name is Ebipere.

I was born into a family in which poverty exerts massive strength.


My father d!éd when I was six and my mother was saddled with the burdën of catering for three little boys.

I was the first child who stoically bear all the tantrums which Mama threw whenever she snap from the burdëns pressing down on her.

Growing up in a little hamlet far separated from the rays of civilization, we were den!ed basic rights of children including the privilege of attending school.

Only few in our circle whose parents are rich enough attended school while the rest of us ran from one end of the forest to another chasing squirrels and rabbits.

I was f0rced into maturity because my father has diëd early and I was expected to assume his roles and assist my mother in shouldering the emotional and financial responsibility of the family.

By the time I was ten, I’ve became a skilled fisherman and palm wine tapper who wandered from one hamlet to another, cutting down palm fruits, tapping palm wine and doing all sorts of odd job in order to bring home a pittance which would put food on our table.

My childhood and sweet innocence was st0len away by de@t which k!Iled my father.


My mother was emotionally fragile probably because she was made an orphan at the tender age of five while providence supported the cruëlty by making her a widow at the age of nineteen.

She was the only child of her parents just as my father was the only child of his parents.

This unfortunate coincidence affected us negatively hence we did not have aunts and uncles from both paternal and maternal side and no relatives came to our aid whenever the going becomes tougher.

We lived in the riverine area and most families including mine worshipped the river goddess.

Every child born in our hamlet is dedicated to the goddess and have a particular mark tattooed on their forehead to establish our ownership.

One evening, I was returning back from the forest where I’ve gone to fetch some raffia fronds which I intended to use for the repair of our leaking thatch when I came across an uncommon sight.

At first, I thought it was a huge derelict mortar abandoned on the pathway but when I took a closer look, I noticed that it was a gigantic snail crawling in an extremely slow pace.

All my life, I’ve never seen a snail so huge thus I was torn between picking and abandoning it.


When I remembered that Mama could not prepare a soup due to dearth of fish and she has already picked some mushrooms, I jettisoned all the fe@rs bubbling inside me and scooped up the snail which weighed more than a huge log of wood.

I heroically got home with my fortune and Mama was sceptical to touch or even cook the snail for the size was quite intimidating.

Eventually, she succumbed to pressure for my younger brothers prods and reminded her that we’ve never had a meat for sometimes.

The snail was bleeding when she k!lIed and cut the meat into pieces.

We had a sumptuous meal afterwards but when we woke up in the morning, our lips were all swolleën and everyone was down with raging fëver.

When my mother managed to retire to the kitchen to warm the leftover soup, she scre@med shrilly.

I bolted from the mat and ran towards her and lo!

The same snail which we k!lIed and ate the previous night crawled nonchalantly at the kitchen floor while the pot of soup was filled to the brim with magg0ts.

Just then, my stomach churned horribly and I lost my bowels.

I was excrëting magg0ts as I feebly ran to the loo and my mother was right behind me, wailing and calling out to the neighbors to come and assist us.


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