Stones were significant part of my childhood. It has nothing to do with my name starting with an “O” but has everything to do with my culture. Confused a bit? My rocky relationship with my African mum was the sole reason why I loved the stones. You see in our culture, children believe that if you commit a mistake, the only way to deflect the mother’s wrath is by swallowing a grit and then knotting a blade of grass. The grass must be strategically placed where the queen of beatings should cross it after her affairs of seeking nightly bread for the family.
If you have been brought up by a normal parent, you understand quite well that you can’t breathe. Neither can you demonstrate. A child must not break the tens of commandments that the parent has curved on an invisible stone tablet. The rules ranged from resisting the constant urge to lick sugar, bathing daily in cold water, taking care of livestock, to returning home in time. Woe unto any kid who broke any of the policies. It was better for Sodom and Gomorrah than on the kid during the judgment time when the mother returned. However, we knew that laws are there to be broken, and breaking them we did; daily. Every time we committed mistakes, the solution was always the same, search for grit, swallow it, then tie a blade of grass and throw it near the doorway where the lioness is likely to cross it when she returns from hunting.
There is one thing we kept forgetting. The parents knew these tricks and would look out for them. After committing crime, the stupid criminals always left evidence in the form of grass that the mother had look out for and become DCI officer. Within no time, the investigator would unearth the crime that the careless thieves committed. Since women are good at multitasking, our mothers were everything in the system of justice. They started as the complainants, became the investigative officers, the judges, and the prison warden, all in a span of less than ten minutes.
A careless child could, for instance, steal fresh groundnuts and eat. When the complainant found out that she had squirrels in the house that loved nuts, she would become a detective and summon all the suspects. One of the methods of fishing out the criminal (quite literally) was giving everyone a piece of raw omena to chew. For those who may not know, should you try to combine omena and groundnuts in the same mouth, you can vomit everything including whatever the body has stored in the rectum. The simplest method, however, was offering everyone water to swirl in the mouths and then spit. The culprit will spit some particles of the stolen wealth in the process because they our wisdom did not match NYS looters in covering our tracks. Needless to say, the swallowed grits and knotted grass worked in reverse and turned the women we knew us our mothers into beasts that could, as the oppressed say, not let you breath.