Chapter Four

          I've got oil and beans.

          I've got oil and beans.

          I am not scared, no, not at all

          I'm not scared of having twins

          I've got oil and beans.

Eniiyi scowled at the women's loud singing. She looked around for the mother of the twins, all she could see was the women and children. Some sat around the lounge room, singing. She could hear the noise some were making from the kitchen and from the aroma, they were cooking. She could see her grandmother among the women seated and just when she was going to look away, the woman caught her gaze.

'Eniiyi, wáńbí,' she called over.

Eniiyi winced and looked at Lastborn who nodded her on. She turned back to her grandmother, sighed and started to walk towards her, lowering her head to scowl. Why did she have to call her that loud in these room full of women? Now all those annoying people would start staring at her. She made a mental note to give Lastborn a piece of her mind. All she'd wanted was to see babies.

'Ẹ káàsán mà,' she said and curtsied low on reaching her. Grandma had insisted she at least learn how to greet 'properly' in Yoruba. pulled her to sit on her lap and touched her all over the body.

'Káàsán, Eniiyi. How was your sleep? Are you feeling okay now? Have you eaten? I told Taiwo to serve you food once you're up.'

'I've not eaten,' she answered the question that seemed priority.

'Ehya, he probably didn't see you. That boy, and he was supposed to keep an eye on you, o.' Grandma frowned, as if Taiwo were in front of her right now and she was reprimanding him.

Taiwo was's houseboy and the only person Eniiyi actually warmed up to. The man of nineteen always made her laugh whenever he was around.

'Iya Kutu,' Grandma called to a very dark-skin woman who was just exiting the kitchen.

The young woman walked over to her wiping her hands on her outer wrapper. 'Yes, Mama Nurse?'

People called her grandmother Mama Nurse, because her husband had been a nurse when he was still alive, Taiwo had explained.

'Can you find something to serve my daughter here?'

The woman smiled. 'We just put the moin-moin* off the stove. Would you like moin-moin and ẹ̀kọ**?' The woman looked at her.

She had dazzling white teeth, and a deep dimple on her left cheek, Eniiyi noted. She nodded yes and smiled back.

'Ṣé oò le sọ̀rọ̀ ni?' Grandma chided her.

'I'd like that,' she said. Why was now angry she'd only nodded, it's not as if the woman didn't understand. She suddenly remembered she was still perched on Grandma's lap and stood up.

The woman was already heading back to the kitchen and she wasn't sure if to follow or wait for her to bring the meal. In the end she decided to follow. She pushed through the crowd in the living room, wondering where the baby mother was in all these.

'Is your child's name Kut?' she asked the figure in front of her.

The woman turned on reaching the kitchen. 'No, the people call him that. We named him Cuthbert.'

'Smashing,' Eniiyi muttered under her breath, sarcastically. Gratefully, the woman didn't seem to hear.

She was served two wraps of moin-moin and a cup of pap. She'd have preferred custard, but she had an idea she'd probably never get to take custard till she was back in Osogbo.

'Why are you cooking when it's not the naming ceremony yet?' she asked while eating.

Iya Kutu dimpled fondly and shook her head. 'No one jokes with twins. They're children that have a legendary reputation of making their parents rich. So everyone welcomes them with arms open. A Yoruba adage says "Ọmọ tó bá ṣípá ni ìyá èńgbé", meaning: It is the child that has his arms outstretched that the mother carries. Besides, if it had not been twins we'd have cooked, too, but not as elaborate.'

By then Eniiyi was done eating and she stood up to go and rinse the pap cup and discard of the moin-moin leaves.

'Hey, you, child! Didn't your mother teach you to wash plate after using it?' A tall skinny woman asked over where she was scooping pap into containers.

'But I just . . .'

'Don't talk back to an adult when you're being spoken to,' a woman beside the first added.

Eniiyi scowled and drew her eyes to slits. 'I was just about to tell her that I'd rinsed the cup, thank you very much, you're not welcome.' She dropped the cup on a tray and, pretending not to hear the women gasp, left the kitchen. She did catch a look of surprise Mrs Kut (Or what was her name again?)'s face.

She smirked. The nosy women had asked for it and she was not one to let anybody condescend her, be it an adult. Any adult that provoked children was calling for disrespect and shouldn't flare up for getting what they asked for.

It was Lastborn that derailed her from her loose train of thoughts.

'Let's go see the babies. Folakemi is related to the mother, so, they'd let us in.'

She noticed he now had three friends with him. She tightened her lips and followed him anyway.

'Did you eat mẹ́mẹ́*** ni?' asked a dark boy with afro style hair.

'Duh, yes.'

'Chai, I'm hungry, too o, I was beginning to think I'd die of hunger before I get food what with the adults not yet served. How did you manage?'

Eniiyi shrugged. 'You don't have to wait for the adults to eat before you do.'

'Haba, Eniiyi, ìwọ lo mọ̀.' Lastborn pulled the embarrassed boy away from her. 'Don't mind her, Kutu.'

Eniiyi broke into a smile, and said, 'You're Cuthbert? Gosh, your mommy is pretty.'

The boy looked more embarrassed.

'Don't mind me on what I said earlier, it was your mommy that served me.' She smiled triumphantly and left them behind. 

They headed for a bedroom where people were entering and leaving almost every second.

A woman was lying on a large matress on the floor. Beside her was a low double bassinet in which lay two babies.

'Aww,' Eniiyi and a girl said together. 'They're so cute,' added Eniiyi.

Eniiyi went up to the mother. 'Thanks for the meal.' 

The woman smiled, confused, but also amused. 

'The babies are cute, can I carry them?' She further said.

'Yes, please, ma?!' The others put in.

The mother smiled. She looked tired.

'Only two of you, the rest can watch from their hands.'

Eniiyi smiled and went to cary one of them. There was no need to wait for the others, hadn't she been the first to ask? The babies looked exactly alike, the only thing to differentiate them was the colour of the fat beads encircling a fat wrist each. The baby she'd picked had a royal blue bead while his brother had a navy blue one.

Eniiyi was thrilled holding the healthy, glowing, fat baby carefully in her arms, taking care that he not slip. His face was pink and scrunched up, a fat finger near his small mouth. A warm feeling spread through her breast and she smiled at the baby and pressed a light-as-cobweb kiss to his left cheek. She felt euphoric holding the small but so very alive human in her hands. Not that she hadn't seen babies before, she had, up close and even touched but had never carried so before.

'He's sooo cute!' she cried.

'I feel like eating him up,' Avosuahi said and bared her teeth playfully at the other baby she had in her hands.

'Let's exchange,' Eniiyi suggested, she wanted to touch both babies.

Avosuahi stared at her with big eyes for a moment before dropping the baby she was holding gently into the bassinet and then took Eniiyi's. Eniiyi picked up the other one and felt happier. The other children stared on in awe.

'What are their names?' Kutu asked.

'But it's not naming yet, right Auntie?' Folakemi looked towards her aunt.

'We know, but which is Taiye, which is Kehinde?' Lastborn said.

The mother of the babies smiled fondly at her babies. 'That—' she pointed the one Avosuahi had in her arms '— is Taiyewo. And that —' she pointed at the one with Eniiyi '— is Kehinde.'

'You're Mama Nurse's grandchild, aren't you?' she asked Eniiyi.

'Yes, I am, ma. My name is Eniiyi.'

'Eniiyi, Enieye,' said the woman distantly with another smile plastered on her face.

Eniiyi frowned. Why do people keep suffixing that to my name?

'Why don't you children run along and let your younger ones rest?' the woman suggested, slightly looking more tired.

Eniiyi frowned, again, it was unwelcomely becoming her favourite expression, of lately. 'But they're not related to us, well except her.' She pointed at Folakemi.

The woman laughed lightly. 'This child does not understand Yoruba,' she said more to herself. 'Do you?' she asked Eniiyi.

Eniiyi squirmed, not understanding how she'd suddenly become the center of attention. 'No?' she said, skeptical. 'Not really,' she added.

'She meant that like, ẹnà, figuratively,' Lastborn explained.

'Ooo, I see.' Although she saw positively nothing except her own confusion. If this Yoruba is this hard and complicated, I might not want to learn it again.

Taiyewo ( Taiye/Taiwo) — a name in Yoruba land given the one of the twins that comes out first. It literally means 'Taster of the world' because he/she came out first before the other twin to see how the world is.

Kehinde — a name in Yoruba land given to the other twin that comes out last. It literally means 'The one that comes out last' because, well, he/she did. Kehinde is believed to be the older, because he/she sent the younger one to go and see how the world is.

*Beancake, made from black-eyed peas.

**Corn meal [pap]

***Moin-moin (colloquial)

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