Everytime I visit Nigeria, I meet a family member I’ve never met before. This time around I met my cousin EverReady, whose mother is my mother’s second cousin. Fortunately for him, his parents didn’t name him EverReady, I did.
On my first day in Lagos, I was awakened by the scent of EverReady’s cologne. He was dressed in jeans, a t-shirt and leather slippers. I wondered where he was going but I’d only known him a few hours so I decided to mind my business. He didn’t go anywhere, he was home all day.
On day two, I woke up to find EverReady dressed like P-Diddy (or whatever he calls himself these days) on his way to the Grammys. His grey and white striped shirt was starched to stiffness and tucked into a pair of black trousers, held in place by a handsome looking belt. The black leather shoes that imprisoned his feet were polished to mirror. This one wants to confuse all the girls in his office, I thought to myself. I wondered where he worked but didn’t ask. I barely knew the guy, cousin or not. We exchanged polite good mornings and then he proceeded to roam around the house all day, moving from room to room like a ticket inspector hunting down fare dodgers.
Day three. I woke up and headed for the living room. I opened the door to find EverReady in a pair of jeans, a dazzle-the-chicks shirt and the black shoes he had worn the day before. I had to say something.
“If you know you’re not going anywhere today, I beg you, go and change.”
“Why?” he asked, obviously confused.
“Who are you trying to convince that you have things to do? Every day you dress up like a betta person and then sit at home watching movies. If you know you’re not going anywhere, off your cloth and stop oppressing me!”
He burst out laughing. I fell in like with him.
My family were the best thing about being in Lagos.
KFC smothered Efiko with constant displays of affection and Efiko pretended KFC was the most repulsive creature to ever grace the face of the earth.
I harassed Efiko every time I walked past the dining table where she sat furiously tapping away on her keyboard, notes scattered all around her. ‘Are you the first person to go to school? I beg stand up from there jo, efiko!’ ‘I’m not an efiko!’ she would protest, eyes still glued to her notes.
EverReady provoked CousinR every time she questioned his kitchen etiquette. ‘You’re not happy I help you in this kitchen. When you go to your husband’s house will he help you?!’ CousinR, the gentlest soul you’ll ever meet, always lacked a fitting retort. ‘Erm erm…you’re not serious! It’s not your fault!’ she would squeal in her high pitched voice.
Efiko and I relentlessly teased KFC about his expanding waistline. We would have left him alone if like me, he humbly accepted his reality and vowed to go on a 40 day fast. ‘I’m not fat,’ he would object, ‘I just have big bones and plenty of muscle.’
I teased my Uncle T mercilessly when he dragged KFC and EverReady out for an early morning walk only to come home and devour a huge mound of semovita and banga soup for breakfast. ‘I play tennis at least twice a week,’ he defended himself, palm oil dripping from the corners of his mouth.
I felt loved every time CousinR called home from work to check if I wanted or needed anything.
‘I’m in Shoprite, do you want a pizza?’
‘No thanks Cuz.’
‘No, thank you.’
‘Nah, I’m okay.’
‘Ice-cream? You can keep it in the freezer for later?’
I gave in. Isn’t she a sweetheart?!
Being in Lagos reminded me just how important family is. In spite of all the migraines they induce, I love them, most of them, dearly. The same blood runs through our veins and that blood as they say, is thicker than water.