The Serpent and the Flame

The Serpent and the Flame

Èèmọ̀ (Trouble) was standing in front of the one-bedroom apartment in which Ijapa resided with his wife, Yannibo, and their only child.

Suddenly, the rain started.

Eemo knocked on Ijapa’s door, saying, “Brother, it’s raining. Please allow me to step inside your place so I don’t get soaked. This is an emergency.”

Ijapa said, “Of course. Please come in.”

Immediately he entered the house, Eemo said, “Friend, I’m starving. Anything to eat in your house? This is an emergency.”

Yannibo quickly went into the kitchen and prepared a delicious meal of yam and garden eggs which Eemo ate.

The rain had stopped. Eemo had eaten. But Eemo did not get up to go.

Eemo asked Ijapa, “How many bedrooms in this small house?”

“Just one bedroom,” Ijapa said. “The rain has stopped now.”

Eemo was not moving. Night began to fall.

Eemo got up, entered the bedroom and found Ijapa’s only child on the bed. Eemo kicked Ijapa’s son out of the room, locked the bedroom and took the bed.

Ijapa could not believe what was happening. He knocked on the door but Eemo did not open it. Eemo then said, “It will soon be morning. You guys find a place to sleep in the sitting room.

Ijapa and his family slept in their sitting room.

The following morning, Eemo got up, went into the bathroom and took a shower, and changed into Ijapa’s silk robe. Then Eemo went into the kitchen, fixed himself a meal and ate without a word.

“It’s no longer an emergency,” Ijapa told Eemo. “You need to leave now.”

“Oh no,” Eemo said. “I’m not leaving. I like it here. There’s good food and a warm bed.”

“Okay,” Ijapa said. “We can share. It’s just a bedroom apartment, but it’s big enough for you and my family.”

The following morning, Eemo called Ijapa and said, “You are a liar. This house is too small for all of us. You, you wife, and child must vacate this house for me now, or there is going to be trouble. I’m a man of peace, however, and as long as you and your family leave immediately there will be no trouble.”

As a child, I was shocked to learn this proverb: A lè fi ejò sílẹ̀ sí orí òrùlé ká lọ sùn. Iná la ò gbọdọ̀ fi sílẹ̀ lórí òrùlè ká lọ sùn.

It means, “One may go to bed and sleep knowing there is a snake hiding under the roof.  But you must not go to bed and sleep knowing there is a fire burning down the roof.”

Now, what should Ijapa do?

Picture shows some yam tubers harvested from my farms in Nigeria.

The yam get beards (bia-bia) sef.

There are lots of food and medicinal crops on my farms in Nigeria and there are paid workers tending to them.

II haven’t been in Nigeria since 2019–but why does it make me happy that those working for me are consuming these harvests, though I only see pictures of them?

But I’m happy just to see the pictures, knowing people are enjoying the products.

Strange, isn’t it, that that’s the funny way I think?

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