In Ignorant Bliss

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Telling Conundrums

“Mother, mother, enough of your endless stories; about the hare and the tortoise, the frog and the toad, the hare and the hornbill et al. Mother, is it true that you know all the conundrums there are under the sun? More than even the men ever engaged in wiles with no value to add to the uplift of the earth they revile.”

“O this son of mine. Not when many a story is yet untold. Have you heard about the sinner and the saint, the wayfarer and the journey, the songstress and the song? No doubt you must have been learning some conundrums lately.”

“Yes, my mother; more than you will ever know.”

“That’s my son that I’m ever proud of. Come along with them let us see.”

“Tell me, tell me, tell me, sweet mother of mine; what took water upstairs sans limbs?”

“It is nothing other than the coconut, O son of mine.”

“I see. Pray thee mother, what are two brothers with the broadest faces ever?”

“The sky and the earth my son have the broadest faces, one facing the other.”

“Tell me if you know mother what resonates the onomatopoeia kpum kpum gem gem?”

“It is an antelope galloping up a gradient son?”

“What of uchakiri gbam gbam?”

“Smart son of mine that implies that whoever is at the butt of a wisecrack knows way before the others can get a hang.”

“Mother who are two twins incommunicado?”

“My dutiful son, what else but the twin-pieced palm kernel, either enclosed in its own pocket in the union.”

“Then tell me, tell me, tell me ma; what it is that bullies a child even in the very presence of its mother?”

“Hunger it is my child, with the masqueraded wheals of its invisible cane’s lashes.”

“Then tell me mother, what is the towel of the gods; that cannot be wrung dry, even under the midday sun?”

“It is the tongue son. It is ever wet and petty come rain come shine.”

“I can see sweet mother of mine; but about what is the lonesome partridge’s plainsong railing about from the depth of the woods?”

“It is about nothing else my son, but the woman burden; a question inexorable in all the species.”

“The woman burden you said? Then, mother what is the tree with the deepest taproot?”

“Tree with the deepest taproot; I’m sorry I’ll need clues to attempt this one.”

“Unbreakable drum strung by the gods.”

“Yes.”

“The never-healing open wound.”

“Yes.”

“Two yam cutlets doused in red palm oil.”

“Yes.”

“The smelly but sweetly.”

“Still can’t get a hang yet.”

“O mother, don’t tell me you don’t know the bearded bank that only accepts deposits and allows no withdrawals.”

“Not in this world.”

“The hirsute grove, near yet far as the case may be, implausible beauty, canal of life, herald of death, unlikely victor, devil’s bandmaster...”

“Enough impetuous rascal; some answers to conundrums are better found out by the self when one is grown up and responsible, lest it consumed one.”

"Sorry mother, but I was only being the true son of my parents."

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