© Ottih Onyedikachi
We love akamu. It’s a frequent breakfast at home. With a little bit of soyabean, milk and plenty sugar. For us anyway. My parents add just enough sugar to say, “we put sugar”, but between me and you, it never tastes mildly sugary.
We have a big, stainless plate for making my parents’ akamụ. We, even when the house is full, use a smaller stainless plate to make ours. We don’t drink as much as my parents do. You can call their akamụ plate ‘long’. It can enter akamụ for five people.
Whenever we make akamụ for my parents and the quantity is not at the middle of the long plate, my father would complain that it’s too small. In his words, “nna eh. akamụ nke a pekwaranụ mpe.” But at the end of the meal, he’d not say he didn’t eat to his fill.
It’s worse when my mom is not around. He will turn the plate, weigh the pap, put his spoon to check the depth of akamu in the plate and repeat, “nwa, akamụ nke a pere mpe. Eh!” (Daughter, this pap is small)
Well…we can’t stand something for so long, can we?
The fateful day, my brother went out as usual to purchase our regular breakfast, returned and gave it to my younger sister.
Do you know how akamu is made? It’s usually in solid form. You know how much you need by doing mental mathematics. You put it in a plate, add a bit of water and turn it to a smooth consistency. It should not be too thick or too watery(except you want it very hard or very light).
Before you turn your akamụ, you put a good quantity of water on the fire. When the water boils putuputu, you bring it down and carefully restir the content in your plate, then proceed to pour in the hot water till the liquid in the plate becomes reasonably solid.
My sister dropped a huge lump of unmade akamụ in the long plate. The she-devil did not want father to have any complaints today. Soon, akamụ is made, covered and taken down to the shop for breakfast. Smiling from ear to ear, she happily told me that “today, daddy will not complain.”
Down in the shop, my dad uncovered his plate. I’m very sure his heart missed a bit because he stared for seconds at the plate he was still holding the cover. He stared, slowly creased his brows, looked up at me who looked back with the same shocked expression on my face(is this how much akamu you girls did for me?), looked at the mischievous perpetrator of the dastardly act of sheer wickedness, opened his mouth, looked back at his plate, the rage forming words on his lips, frown deepened and he blurted out,
“Chiemela, ihe a, ọọ akamụ ụnụ meere m. Jesus. Ọọ ihe a ka naanị m ga-aǹụ? Adara m elu akamụ?” He obviously is angry. The akamụ in his long plate missed a little more quantity to topple over the top. It would be difficult to even turn it. And twenty cubes of sugar would still give you a not-really-sugary meal.
All through the happy meal, he kept looking at my sister darkly. My sister carefully avoided his gaze till breakfast was over, smiling wickedly.
Twenty minutes after we, the children, finished our own meal, my father was still bent over his plate, taking his akamụ one spoon at a time. Thirty minutes later, he was now nearing the bottom of his plate.
Hot sweat dripping down his body, he unbuttoned his shirt and hanged it on his chair. By the time he was over, it was a little bit into mid-day.
Our punishment? He answered us that the pap we had in the morning should suffice in our stomachs till dinner. My sister? Well…she cried. A whole lot