No one in our shores is oblivious of the feel good factor that comes with a sacrificial ram. It puts smiles on the faces of children. It makes wives radiate with pride- that their own Afang too could do it. The sight of an all-white, healthy looking ram tied under an orange tree in the foreyard days before the Muslim feast of Eid-al-Adhais as good as any pleasant news. You even wonder whether these are not the same four-legged creatures we do tend to kick or knock with our bikes and cars post- Tobaski.
Despite his paltry monthly take-home, Junkung had always wanted to get himself and family a ram. In truth, he knew in his heart of hearts that a 10, 000 dalasi commodity was beyond his means. But for a family man living amongst a handful of fairly endowed neighbours who had their animals stationed in their verandah for few days, the 56-year-old cannot afford to be the odd one out. He has every reason for wanting to punch above his weight.
“Baa, when ours is coming?” asked young Sally, his 8-year-old daughter who was taunted by her play mates in their close knit compound. While they were outside doing the padinyed (a fun game played by kids in the street), they had teased her and her 4 other siblings that their father Landing will be kind enough to share with them some pieces of meat should his father fail to slaughter a ram. By their very nature, the kids meant no offence as they argued over whose father’s ram is bigger.
Junkung too would have no ram worries if only his boy Jenung had made it across the Mediterranean. Any chances of that were undone by a fatal ship wreck five years ago. To add to his woe, he just overheard a neighbour’swife Jalika remarking “Tubabudu is such a blessed place. See how our Lamin in just a space of few days managed to western (wire home) 20, 000 dalasi for our two rams. We all knew from his infancy that my boy is destined for great things.”
Lost for words and feeling broken and mentally battered, Junkung, who had wanted to bath after a tumultuous day all of a sudden forgot what he was about to do . Knowing it was getting late to go out, he swapped the bathroom for his bedroom, brought out a calculator that almost got infested with cobwebs. And Like some accounts clerk over the counter, he began to do some math in keeping up with appearances. Without even realizing, he moaned and groaned and cursed the 1 by 6 that means a cut in salaries for the next 6 for almost a half a year.
In his troubles, his wife Jonsoba maintained that in as much as Junkung wants to fulfill a scared religious rite and in the process make his family happy, he must take solace in the fact that it is Allah who gives and takes. “Besides, why should you sweat over a matter that is beyond your purchasing power? Can’t you see that there is life after Tobaski? Remember times are hard now and we will continue to eat,” reassured a woman who has proved to be such a dependable plank of support to her hardworking pauper of a civil servant.
On the next day – the eve of the Eid – when the clock appears be ticking faster than normal for Junkung, came the unexpected call. Amidst the pressure cooker, word was relayed to him that there was a ram for him to pick at their gate. He had no idea who the provider was. What was certain is that the timely gift was no largesse from the well-to-do money-pinching neighbours and friends with whom he shares the same faith and with whom the Imam preaches the virtue of sharing and caring with the needy.
Nothing beats the pleasure of a timely surprise package and here was one that came out of the blues from a wife who saves part of her Osusu money for dry spells like today.
Eid Mubarak to you all.