Daddy Series (II):Me, Daddy and Dirty Gutter Water

My sisters will see this title and have a good laugh because they probably remember what exactly transpired and how funny it was afterwards. Unfortunately for you reading, it’s one of those jokes that is only funny to us because its a family thing and because you need to actually picture my Dads furious face and hear the voice with which he shouted “dirty gutter water” to understand why but then again only an insider probably would get it totally. Nevertheless, let me share yet another episode of Daddy and me.

My father is a perfectionist, extremely intelligent, very finicky some would refer to him as a “slave driver” (I certainly think he is). He would push you and push you until he got the result he wanted. I personally think this character trait is a huge part of his personality; being a first born and a first son he is pretty much used to being in charge, when you add to that the African culture of almost “absolute respect” it increases in leaps. Fortunately or unfortunately for us,(his kids) it is a trait that was highly reinforced and exploited by his military and medical career (He literally is used to having people lives in his hands). As a senior officer in the Army it is not unusual for you have a plethora of soldiers answering “yes sir” to your every request and so its super easy to understand why when my Dad gave instructions, he could never for the life of him identify or understand why these instructions were not obeyed like someones life depended on it. The weird thing is he actually likes a good intelligent conversation or argument and so he raised us (his daughters) to be like that but then got offended whenever we exhibited that trait in his direction lol!  And so whenever he said jump he expected you to ask not just “how high?” but also “in what direction?”. That’s simply his way.

Which brings me to the gutter.. so we had recently moved into a new estate. It was a lovely estate but in typical Naija style very badly taken care of and My father could NOT stand that at all. Two Saturdays after moving in there, he sorta proclaimed himself the sanitation chairman of the estate and insisted that everybody adults and children alike clean out their environs i.e weed, plant flowers the whole shebang….

On the designated cleaning day, everyone came out and started cleaning rather grudgingly I might add because in

Clean Clean

fairness to them “who is this new neighbour making all this trouble?” But my dad is as demanding as he is charismatic and so while the adults may not have cleaned along side the young people they were convinced enough to come out to watch the cleaning process and instruct their household to participate in cleaning as well. Trust me the Estate was filthy ( I have never understood why Nigerians do not take care of their living environments) … anyways I remember the place being very smelly dirty and having a lot of stagnant water….urghhhh …

After cleaning for probably about 4-5 hours (unity really makes work move fast) the whole place was so clean, the grass cut, the dustbins emptied. I just remember everywhere looking really nice (I was about 6 or 7 years old) . There were some hired hands clearing up dustbins and rounding up the cleanup and after being forced to watch the cleanup through the windows I was finally allowed outside the house. I so happy and I remember I walked straight towards the gutter because that’s where the heavy duty work was done and “damn” the gutter was clean.

Probably what he saw…

It had been cleaned out and literally washed and for the first time since we moved to this new house, there was no spyrogyra and stagnant water and all the rubbish that comes with that, in the gutter. Now for reasons I cannot explain to you I was so taken by this clean gutter and the flowing clean water, I genuinely felt it was a good idea to put my foot in the gutter (Please I do not know why I was a child…). I had barely put my right foot in the gutter when I heard my someone scream my name “LADY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? My heart literally stopped beating it was Daddy watching me through the dinning room window. Did I mention that my dad is finicky (like we were forced to wear socks and shoes to go out to buy sweets kind of finicky) so I assume he must have been  horrified by the idea of me being in the gutter for whatever reason (in retrospect I can’t blame him that gutter was something else).


My Dad ran (yea he ran literally) out of the dinning room abandoning his breakfast still shouting in his very loud army voice  “Why are you playing with dirty gutter water?” he asked…. I turned looking for the direction the question was coming from and well, how exactly was I even supposed to defend what I had come to realize was a very  stupid decision… with all this intense emotion and shouting?  Before I could figure out what direction Daddy was coming from, he was beside me repeating very loudly the same “dirty gutter water” question… this point, I am almost peeing myself in fear but I boldly try to explain that I wasn’t playing with “dirty gutter water” because in my child mind the gutter was now clean ….. My dad was already seeing red before I could muster any more words I saw myself in the air…. my father lifted me up with one hand and straight through the back door, via the stairs and into the bathtub upstairs this time yelling straight into my face “Can you explain to me why you are playing with “dirty gutter water?”… I start crying ,my mom, my sisters my aunts, the house-help everyone is coming upstairs after hearing all the yelling probably thinking someone had died….. and then Daddy still shouting, says I should start having my bath immediately (I had clothes on) and wash of all that “dirty gutter water”……

I think my mom had to ask him to calm down (I think he was a bit embarrassed for over reacting lol!) and maybe hunger (I don’t know)… Daddy eventually went back downstairs to eat his breakfast and my sisters never let me forget when daddy yelled at me about playing in “dirty gutter water”.

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