Day 3: On Family
Kosisochukwu is another kind of boy. Believe me when I say you have never met a more smart and energetic one. Handsome as well. I’m permitted to be biased. He’s my baby cousin after all. I never spend a minute with him without leaving with a lesson or two on behaviour; good or bad, you choose.
I visited once when he was five. After the usual initial one hour of shyness, we were buddies again, picking up as if we had never resorted to a long-distance relationship. That same evening, he marched up to me. Yes, I said marched. “Aunty Chioma.” He called.
“I know very many things!”, he said.
Looking at his face, I burst out laughing. Maybe if he had been smiling, I would not have but the champ was sporting a small worried frown. You know, that look of an old man burdened to carry the weight of the world’s knowledge?
I asked for proof and he went ahead to recite and spell some five and six lettered words. I responded to the presentation with a sitting ovation and screams of his wisdom.
The next morning, I’m taking him and his little sister to school when he gets into that same mood from last night, what I call “the elder mode”. His shoulders sag and he shook his head gravely. “Aunty Chioma,” he that was in front fell into step with me. “Do you know what this thing we’re walking on is called?”
With eyes wide, I answered “No” so he shook his head again and decides to educate me. “Gravel. It’s called gravel. Can you spell gravel?”
This time I said yes, then proved it.
The boy’s eye widened in amazement and he sent me laughing, trying not to fall over with his, “You know many things too!”. His eyes revealed his joy at finding a kindred spirit in knowledge.
This could have been the end of my story today but something else happened. Koko looked at his sister with his elder stare and then lent me wisdom. “Somma does not know anything sef. Don’t ask her o”.
Oh, the 3-year old who was being referred to and had been contented to skip by our side all along quietly, lifted her eyes to me. They had already started to fill with tears. She squeezed my hand, “It’s a lie, Aunty Chioma. I know many things too”
Before I could reply to her, Koko burst out laughing. “Oya spell floor”. No answer came.
She looked to me again, lips quivering but strong, “But I can spell cat”
This time, I intervened. I told her to spell cat which she did boldly. Then I assured her I had faith in her knowledge too. All this time, Koko was looking between both of us with compassionate pity.
When my baby girl was calm enough, I faced the now skipping-ahead boy. “Koko, you that know everything. Can you spell, bronchitis?”.
Oh, the look on his face as he searched his elder brain, only to shake his head in negative.
“Okay then. Spell electromagnetic”. Another head shake.
Then a small devil raised its head in my mind. “Ok Koko, let me give you a simpler one for someone your age. Spell Antimonopologeographicationalism”. This time around there was not even a head shake. Only silence and a slower walking pace.
“So you see, Koko. You don’t know everything. You can’t even know everything”.
At 7:49 am that Thursday, I delivered an ego-deflated boy and one smiling 3-year old to school.
Remember when I said, I learn from them always? That morning, as I walked back home, the lesson for that day was simple: God himself resists the proud. I had just played God.