No one can stretch the truth more than my old man. Interestingly, my father had a knack for forcing people to believe what he said, especially those who were beholden to him - like his children, wards and especially his wife, my mother, Ma Musu.
Every time the old man stretched the truth, his best witness was always Ma Musu. “Ehn da how it happened? Ehneh Musu?” Ma Musu dared not say otherwise. The pap had a rusty old caliber .45 pistol from World War II which he used to threaten Ma Musu if she ever got brave enough to contradict his yarns. And as my old mom had open mole, she was very particular about disagreeing with the pappy just in case he got mad and shoved the pistol in her nose and her nose started bleeding. Like the one time she was brave enough to contradict him in public about some tall tale he had told his friends and asked her to confirm the truthfulness.
One fine day, during the harvest period, after the family had finished eating a hearty meal of country beans cassava leaf soup topped with newly harvested country rice, my con man opened up the lecture as the new moon shone brightly above our village on the Weasua-Gbarma Highway. It was usually the time of the year when Dudu Village entertained guests from Monrovia, especially as the mining site in Yangaya was booming, and guests were a regular sight as flies on a dead dog.
That evening after we had our bellies locked and loaded from eating heavy cassava leaf mixed with black back deer venison and dripping palm oil, my old man took his pipe, stuffed some tobacco in it, lit and started puffing, as he rocked to and fro in his forbidden hammock. That hammock was really forbidden. Any child whose backside made the mistake of resting therein had better do so when the old man was out of the village. And even when he returned he would rush straight to the culprit and attack: “You sat your bony butt down in my hammock today.”
I swear I don’t know how the old man always knew who sat in his hammock. But he had a parrot perched on top of the hammock, and the parrot knew all of us by names. I always suspected it was that parrot. And truthfully, from the day my younger brother Tombekai ate Polly, the old man stopped accusing us about his hammock.
So this evening we were all reclining in our family piazza, and the moon was shining and the women were telling stories about the wondrous exploits of Pa-Kinnah (spider), when the old man suddenly interrupted the conversation.
“Ma Musu, you remember the time I shot the pigeons that sat on your right and left shoulders along the Weasua road?” I mean just out of the blue I don’t know why the old man had to come up with that kind of question that had no bearing on the stories the women were telling us. That kind of bold face lie too.
“Ma Musu? Tell them about the pigeon.” And he looked hard at my mother, his mouth twitching funnily, maybe wanting to smile, but trying to grimace some hidden threats.
Of course she was embarrassed in front of the guests and her children but she had to do her duty or get busted.
“We were on our way from Sirleaf Camp to Weasua in the thick forests when two pigeons flew from the bush and sat on my right and left shoulders,” the old ma begun her story.
When the pigeons sat on my shoulders of course I was afraid, that kind of thing just doesn’t happen commonplace. I knew something was behind it. But knowing my husband was an excellent sharpshooter from World War Two, I just knew he could kill those pigeons. I stood still and he aimed and fired, and both of the pigeons fell to the ground.
“Musu, what was on the other pigeon leg?” My old man asked through squinted eyes.
“A gold ring was on the left talon of one of the pigeons.”
“And the other pigeon?” con man was really out for stretching this one beyond its elasticity.
“The dark blue pigeon had a gamble seed tied on its neck.”
To make long story short, my old mom said as soon as they entered Weasua, the whole town was upside down with lamentation. The paramount chief’s two wives had suddenly died while asleep. Both had bled to death. Ma Sombo had a gold ring on one of her toes, while Hawa Zinnah had a gamble seed tied on her neck.
My old mom always said that the story actually happened, and my old man always smiled happily when she said that. Up to this day, I don’t know which part of the yarn was more stretched. The part about the two pigeons landing on my mom’s shoulders and being fell with a single shot, or the paramount chief’s two wives transforming into pigeons to bewitch my parents.