A Visit To My Village
Ehiaga Benjamin Imhans
Copyright 2020 by Ehiaga Benjamin Imhans
a story of one of my visits to the village, sometime in the
year 1997. It was fun to get to meet loved ones who lived most, if
not all their lives, in the village. Our visit to the village usually
brings admiration from the villagers. We speak in English or Pidgin
since we can’t speak and understand the local dialect fluently.
The villagers are usually awed when they hear us speak. We would go
to the river to swim and get water for drinking. We go to the farm to
harvest maize, yam, or cassava. There are lots of exciting
activities. In one night, I accompanied some young boys, in our early
teens, to pick snails from the forest. But, as we entered deep into the
forest, we saw a big snake. The outcome of that experience was one
that filled me with awe.
is said: ‘There is no place like home. Chase your dreams but
always know the road that will lead you home again.’ For me,
the village is a home sweet home. It takes you closer to nature. For
once, you have a break from the hustle and bustle of the big cities.
So when it was time for vacation as a junior high school student, I
planned to visit the village and derived pleasant memories. As usual,
I was not disappointed.
father arranged for a commercial driver to take us to the village. It
was a long drive of about three hours from where we stay in the city.
The year was 1997. Then, my family lived in Warri, Delta State,
Nigeria. My village is Ohordua, in Edo State, Nigeria. It is a
beautiful village typical of red soil. We lacked electricity at the
time. So, our source of water was either from rain during the rainy
season or from a river called Utor River that has a bridge that links
my village to the next.
we arrived at my grandfather’s compound, my grandmother, who
was alive then, rushed out to embrace us. Neighbours from nearby
houses ran out to welcome us. It was not unusual for them to run out
of their houses when they hear the sound of vehicles. We were very
happy. We took our luggage in and my grandmother prepared a delicious
meal for us. She is a good cook. Whenever we ate her meal, we ended
up licking our hands and the plates with our tongues. It could be
that the food cooked over firewood tastes more delicious than those
prepared over a stove or a gas cooker.
settled in so fast. I went around the compound to inspect if there
were any significant changes from our last visit. I checked the fruit
trees surrounding my grandfather’s compound to see if I could
get some oranges or tangerines. When I found some, I used the
go-to-hell farm tool to pluck them. The oranges from my village were
very sweet. I guessed it was only in the village I ate good meals and
a balanced diet. My grandmother prepared fresh meals and there were
fresh fruits to aid digestion. I liked eating pounded yam and melon
soup with smoked fish. I also enjoyed the bitter leaf soup. Though as
the name implies, you might think the soup tastes bitter. But, it
tastes delicious. The women in the village know how to prepare this
soup. You may end up biting your finger as a result of the pleasant
grandfather’s compound is well-situated and well-built. At the
front of the house is a wide area of land with sharp sand we use as
our playground. He built the house in such a way that there is also a
playground in the middle of the house fenced round. It was built like
a bungalow but no dormer windows. The toilet was located a good
distance away from the building since it is a pit toilet. It was
locally made by digging a hole, placing some planks across the hole,
and creating a small space in between where you can squat and answer
nature calls. Usually, there was no roof to shield one from the sun
or the rain. However, you have the trees to thank for providing the
needed protection. But, if the rain was heavy, then you would do your
thing getting wet. And that can be irritating.
located behind the house. It was constructed with palm fronds that
act as a cover from passersby. It has an open roof. So, if it is
raining, your clothes or towel you hang at the entrance to cover your
nakedness would get wet. Once, I had to hurry to leave the bathroom
before the rain became heavier. During the rainy season, I would play
in the rain within the compound. Since the playground was enclosed in
the building, no one would look at me when I roll over the ground
enjoying myself in the rain.
big plantation lay opposite my grandfather’s house. It
contained many trees such as kola nut trees, guava trees, orange
trees, cocoa trees, banana, pineapple, avocado pear, bush pear
(dacryodes edulis), and others I do not know their names. My
grandparents named some of the dacryodes edulis after their
grandchildren. So, my siblings and I have trees. When they want to
harvest bush pear from a particular tree, instead of calling the tree
by its name, they called it by our names. They would tell us which
trees they harvested a particular pear when we are eating them. When
they sold them, they would tell us whose tree they sold the harvested
fruit. But, we never get to touch the money. You can say, we have a
fruit business managed by our parents. The food, clothes, and school
fees they pay for us were the investment of our share of the
business. I would run into the plantation walking the length and
breadth scouting for fruits. My favourite was a cocoa pod. I liked
the sweet pulp. I also enjoyed the bush pear with roasted corn or
cooked corn. I am salivating already.
is our main occupation in my village. As early as possible, we were
on our way to the farm with my mother to harvest some yam tubers. I
hate going to the farm, especially in the morning. The dew keeps the
grasses wet. As we walk through the narrow path, we would get wet,
causing some sort of irritation. My siblings and I would raise our
arms to avoid the wet grasses. Sometimes, it was more of a game as we
meander our way through the narrow path to avoid being wet. Who got
to the farm with a moist seemed to win in the game.
we get to the
farm, we would carry the yam tubers to the barn constructed in the
middle of the big farm. The labourers dig the yam tubers, while we
take them to the yam barn. Sometimes, we take them to the house,
where we also have a yam barn. After working for some time, we would
roast some tubers of yam and eat them with palm oil seasoned with
salt and pepper. That will serve as our lunch. It tastes very
in the evening, at about 4 p.m., we go to the river to get water. We
would carry the keg on our head trekking home. It was a considerable
distance from the river. We may go for several times before we take
our bath. I enjoyed swimming in the Utor River even though I cannot
swim. Usually, I am scared of water. So, when others swim in the
deep, I stay in the shallow part where kids also swim. When you are
in the river, you could call a fish, not too close to yourself. But,
you cannot touch them. Before you can even get a chance to see them,
they are gone. You have to be vigilant. If you spit into the river,
the fishes would swim up to swallow your floating saliva. It was fun
for me as I watch how these fishes contend for it. I would do it
several times, fascinated by this act.
night, after eating dinner, we gathered to play whot (a game played
with a set of non-standard cards in five suits: circles, crosses,
triangles, stars, and squares). It was fun. Sometimes, I would win in
the game. If a player has exhausted the cards in his hands, the one
with the highest number, after adding the cards of individuals who
participated in the game, leaves the game for the others to continue.
The game will start afresh and continue with the same method of
elimination until it is left with two players who compete to finally
get the champion.
I am not playing whot, then, I would be playing in the sharp sand at
the front of the house with other kids who usually come around. The
moon sometimes shines its light making if fun for everyone. Those in
the village know no fear. They could move at any time of the night.
We then retire to bed when my mother or grandmother would call us in.
If not, we could play all through the night.
one occasion, the children who were in their early teens and younger
decided to go for snail-hunting. It was at about 9 p.m. They came to
the house to visit us and they were about to leave to get themselves
ready. When I heard about it, I was excited. I got myself ready and
followed them. We left with torches. As one who had lived most of his
lives in the city, I feared the night and the forest. I am scared of
snakes and other wild animals. Even a cockroach can frighten me. So,
I had to be in the middle to avoid being a victim of anything
unpleasant. But, they were not scared. They could enter anywhere and
at any time.
started fine. For me, I was catching fun. This part of the vacation
was the most thrilling. That was my first time in the forest so late
at the night and it could be the last. So, I wanted to enjoy every
moment. While they were more concerned about getting as much snail as
they could find, I was concerned about the thrill I was getting from
walking in the forest, through the dark, at that time of the night.
It was cold as we walked through the bushes. They were excited as
they were collecting snails. They knew where to find them.
we go deeper into the forest, we saw a big snake sleeping deeply.
Fear gripped me when one of the lads alerted us to the danger. I
quickly gripped the closest person and stood behind him. I made sure
I stood where I felt safe from any seeming danger. But, they were not
scared. One of them reached out for a cutlass and looked for the head
of the snake. He cut off the head and they took his body home. They
buried the head. That was the end of the snail-hunting. It was like
the biggest catch for them. We went home and cooked the snake that
night. They shared it among everyone including me. I could only
imagine how it tastes in their mouth. The meat they got was far more
than the snail we collected combined. I went home and related the
incident to my siblings.
spending three weeks, it was time to go back to the city. I never
wanted the holiday to end. The village is so calm and peaceful. Even
though there was no electricity then, we enjoyed the simple life. The
people, the food, the activities, and even nature made going to the
village so appealing, so refreshing. It is like you are living in
another world, where there are no worries, where everything seemed to
be free, where you don’t have money, but, it seemed you are
very wealthy. To this day, I love the life in the village more than
in the city.
Benjamin Imhans is a teacher and tutor based in Nigeria. He teaches
mathematics and phonetics. He is a self-publisher with Amazon. He
wrote the book ‘A Guide to Test of Orals’, ‘How to
Develop Ability as a Speaker and a Teacher – Five Proven Study
Guide’ and ‘Precious Tears’. He wrote ‘Precious
Tears’ under a pseudonym ‘Benammi Joseph’. He had
locally co-authored Mathematics Textbook for Grade 1 to Grade 6. He
enjoys writing stories and poems. He is currently a phonetic teacher
with one of the Federal Staff School in Benin City, Nigeria. He likes
sports, especially football and table tennis.
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