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The Tale of Meddling Mama Daniel



Since the birth of human businesses, human beings have not learnt to mind their businesses — folks are always hungry to interfere in a person's private part. It's simply not advisable to meddle in other people's affairs, unnecessarily. Courtesy demands that you respect a person's decision — help if you can help, but never do because you want to make mockery of the person's intelligence.

OkraWell, I am sounding like this because of what happened in my neighbourhood. There was a fight.

My elder sister was negotiating with a mobile seller of wears, and a neighbour, fondly called Mama Daniel, interfered, asking the seller not to sell to my sister, Elizabeth. Perhaps she was only joking.

And my sister pounced on the 40-something-year-old woman. They exchanged blows on their bodies. And my sister, who was more muscular and raging, grabbed the woman's wrapper and opened her secret. This is where everything ended and began, simple and complicated.

See this fact: my elder has been a psychiatric patient since 2006, and the entire neighbourhood and people close to us know about this. This has been a huge battle in the family, especially as the public barely have an education on the incredible intricacies of psychiatric disorders.

It appears that only I understand my sister deeply, little wonder I'm her closest friend — perhaps I'm myself psychotic. Well, telepathy and empathy are the major functional mediums available to me.

Let me tell you a little about my sister and me: My sister was the one person that processed my birth. By birth I don't mean the biological procedure; I mean something else. I mean my love for books, my love for poetry, the love that has no name. It has everything to do with water and my lifespan.

It was from my sister's pile of books that I stole poetry, or say poetry kidnapped me. Being a literature student, she had some copies of West African Verse, The Joys of Motherhood, and many other dramas. This was the beginning of my blood-relationship with my sister. We spoke through books and blood; we flooded the house with bookblood.

Flashback: before the incidence of her mental illness, my sister was the type that could make rocks turn to something orange — her jokes and joviality were her only names.

There was this day she prepared a pot of okra. Okra wasn't a friend of mine, so I quarrelled her for cooking my enemy. Strange as her smile, she came to my ears: 'Does okra affect your masturbation?' Mad girl, always using metaphors to mend a face.


"This was the beginning of my blood-relationship with my sister. We spoke through books and blood; we flooded the house with bookblood."


Mama Daniel and Elizabeth. Of course, even if the seller had agreed, my sister wouldn't have bought whatever she had bargained. Most times, if she needed a thing direly, she comes to make a request — it's one reason she's provided with every wear and ware she will need.

My sister's behaviours are periodic, yet unpredictable and erratic — lots of mood swings, seclusions, and activities like needling, collecting eggs and arranging and re-arranging her room. Elizabeth is not harmful to humans the way the public have misconceived about folks battling with mental issues.

As a matter of truth, she makes my best company. When she is in her lighter moods, she greets and laughs with every colour of the day.

Because not every voice can pacify my sister when she's provoked to anger, we often allow her to shout out her anger and hit stuffs just to release and relief herself, and in less than 30 minutes, she forgets she ever went angry. My sister is incredible; she takes and gives us understanding.

The noise at the gate was what drew me out of the room. What I saw turned my face to the corner in our house where flowers sat. I got my mother's wrapper for Mama Daniel. I never knew it had to do with my sister.

The women who watched the fight couldn't save Mama Daniel and my sister. Nakedness was what changed the air. It pained me that all what the onlookers did was to pass gossips to their itching ears. Dangerous. When we gossip, we wound ourselves. When we gossip, we wound ourselves.

I embraced my sister, while she kept spilling heavy words. She has had her way with language and literary devices; but I can't tell you if she's had her way with people's perception about her condition — she never gives a fig! One of her statements got me teary: 'mind your injury, and let me mind my injury'. I patted her more and lured her inside the house.

I walked to Mama Daniel, spoke calmly to her. Not only is she older than me and my elder sister, she's mother to six (6) children. All I felt my respect will be to her was to say sorry to her.


Sorry that we go through things that disgust us. Sorry about how complicated life turns many times. Sorry.

I ended the peacemaking with this line: 'She has no problem with anybody; she just doesn't want anyone to interfere with her.'


David Ishaya OsuDavid Ishaya Osu is a Nigerian poet. His poems have appeared in: Atlas Poetica: A Journal of World Tanka, Birmingham Arts Journal, Tipton Poetry Journal, Watershed Review, The Missing Slate and elsewhere. David is a board member of the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation, and he is currently polishing his debut poetry book.

Topic tags: David Ishaya Osu



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Existing comments

What a wonderful sister. How fortunate your sister is to have your unconditional LOVE David. Treasure each other!

Pam | 18 March 2016  

What a touching story, that gifts us new light in new perception. Thank you for sharing. Bless.

Erica Chamlee | 23 March 2016  

I love this David!

Marie | 23 March 2016  

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