Here is a brand new serial to distract you while Sisi Eko extricates herself from the many excitements of the Asylum system. Last anyone heard of her, she was raising a rumpus over a peeping-tom X-ray machine at Heathrow Airport. Meantime, what follows now is an email from Big Charlie Chinchi, a relatively well-off resident of the riverine, fictional village of Waterside, in Nigeria. He and MaCharlie, his wife of 32 years, have just heard some strange rumours which sent him hurrying to the UK. He is now sending MaCharlie the first email of her life.
You now know the drill! This is probably more of a whydunnit than a whodunnit. The best guess gets an autographed copy of my poetry collection, Memories of Stone and a hundred comments will keep our stories spinning next week. I hope the muse runs deep…
It is good you have an email now. But why Yahoo?
There is no other way to say this so let me just say it with one mouth: what we heard was true. I have now seen him with my own two eyes (may God forgive my sins). Call the Aja age grade. Buy them two cartoons of Star beer and two nests of kolanuts (yes, I said TWO). Tell them to dig a new grave under the Ironwood tree. Let them dig it beside my father’s grave, because I’m bringing Small Charlie home this weekend.
They say he killed his wife – that same woman that the whole village warned him about – and then he killed himself. And they didn’t even leave us a grandchild! But we both know that we did not send a madman to Britain. We sent the flesh of our flesh, a boy whose mind was running water, whose eyes were stars, and whose tongue was sweet palm oil. But this is the madness I am reading in their papers, and seeing on their TV, everywhere I turn in this land. Therefore the name I borrowed from my father is ruined. And the dignity that he loaned from my grandfather is soiled forever. – Our only child from whom we expected such great things has ended the lineage of Chinchis so disgracefully.
Please, trust your husband, MaCharlie (and hold yourself well)! Something has happened here to drive our son mad and I will get to the bottom of it. Before I bring him home this weekend I will know the truth. Have I not told you to hold yourself? I know we are both too old for children and I will not ask miracles. But what I ask, you must do faithfully. You may not believe it, but what I am about to say is harder to hear than what I have said already. Do you remember how I stood against the riot police when the whole of Waterside ran for cover? Was it not me who chased after the agberos that snatched your handbag on our trip to Warri thirty years ago? So it is not Cowardice that speaks now, MaCharlie, it is your husband Big Charlie Chinchi, following the path of honour.
If what the papers are printing is what truly happened and our son did this abomination because he could not bear to see his wife leave him, then this weekend, you must return to your father’s name to remove the last Chinchi from this world without more bloodshed. And you must call the Aja age grade again. (Have I not said you should hold yourself?) You must remind them that you paid a double fee. And you must have them dig a second grave for me. For I shall bring my son home. But then I must follow him myself. I swear to this by the Staff of my fathers.
I am now going to see Small Charlie’s childhood friend, Solumu, to find out what he knows about this abomination. If you return to Utaka’s shop at this time tomorrow, I will email again to tell you know what I have found. I am not sure I like this your email address. Don’t you know the meaning of ‘yahoo-yahoo boys’? You have to be conscious of the family name. I hope that all is well at home, and that my bus driver is returning the correct money. You need to watch that man. He is a snake…
Is this not funny? My life is finished and I am still talking about bus money! May God forgive my sins!
Big Charlie Chinchi.