A true story.
What does a sixteen year old girl do on Christmas day, when she is asked to face a live turkey, kill it, and dress it for the Christmas party?
Nineteen eighty-nine was an eventful year in my family. That year, my mother had a near-fatal accident that took her to Europe for bone operations. That same year, my father, a respected man in his profession as a mining engineer, and loved by everyone, got appointed as the chairman of the board of an oil company.
Because of the contrasting events, and a first Christmas without Mom, my elder sister convinced our father to throw a Christmas party. It was another first for me in my sixteen years of Christmases. Christmas was usually done entertaining guests, eating and drinking, but nothing like a formal party.
Christmas was a pleasant event I always looked forward to in my family. As the last of a family of six children, I enjoyed the company of my siblings. There was lots to eat. People gave us chickens and turkeys and gift hampers. The Christmas of 1989 was not different. We got a live turkey on the day of the party.
My elder sister, exactly double my age at the time, got upset with me because I did not know I was supposed to bring out the frozen turkey from the deep freezer earlier for the party cooking. I was not doing the cooking!
Well, what should we do for the turkey dish? My sister looked out, saw a live turkey, and handed down her verdict. I had to kill the live turkey as my punishment for not doing what I wasn’t even told to do. It was one of the most frightening things in my life. See my previous edits on the preceding paragraphs.
It was harmattan season. The weather was dry and dusty. I stood over the turkey, my heart pumping so hard, I thought it would jump out of my chest. I remember gingerly stepping on the tied legs of the turkey, holding an old newspaper over its head because the head region looked so disgusting. The rest is history.
Where was everyone when this abuse was taking place? I don’t know till today. I know my father was somewhere in the house. My brother was in the parlor, laughing with his friends. Two of my other sisters were with my mother in Europe. My cousin, who was my age-mate, stood aside, watching, crying. My ‘culprit’ sister was nowhere in sight.
There were other people around that day. But my sister insisted I ‘serve the punishment!’
After the horrible experience, I couldn’t even bring myself to eat the food, including the turkey! I wept for my mother like a baby. I knew she would never have permitted such an abuse if she’d been home.
Alas, the memory remains.
The experience taught me several lessons, one of which is the value for human character. I taught myself to be a better person than my sister. I taught myself to appreciate people and to be kind, especially on a day like Christmas day, when we are celebrating the birth of salvation and sacrifice; selflessness and kindness.
by Sinmisola Ogúnyinka