Dalung and the Rat in a pot- Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

Dalung and the Rat in a pot- Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

Have you ever caught anyone ‘red handed’ doing something they shouldn’t be doing and rather than lift their hands and surrender, they stammer out a ridiculous explanation?

When I was much younger, something happened.

We lived in a big bungalow, a well maintained former colonial quarters. It had sprawling grounds and a whole section of staff quarters or boy’s quarters. The only staff my parents had in the quarters was the gardener, our helps always stayed with us in the main house. The other self-contained (sitting room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom) apartments always had either families or friends that had accommodation issues. It was built in such a way that if you lived in the boys’ quarters, you could go and come without being in the way of the people in the main house. Going to the main house would be deliberate and not by mistake.

Now, our back door led to our kitchen and the only time it was bolted shut was when we were going to sleep at night. There was a wooden mosquito netted door that had a spring that automatically slammed it shut.

Holf on, I dey go somewhere, stay with me.

Now my mum was a fantastic cook but she did go overboard with portions. Her chunks of beef were huge and would easily equal four generous pieces in my pot. She always cooked like it was some party.

Now, a family that lived in one of the quarters at that time had as their oldest child, a boy in his late teens/early 20s.

One day, my sister walked into the kitchen just in time to see him standing before my mother’s beef stew pot with one lid in one hand and the other hand mid-dip into the pot.

Talk about being caught literally red handed. Perhaps it was a moment like this that led to the coining of the phrase ‘red handed’.

When he was confronted by the formidable duo of my mother and his mother, he gave the unbelievable explanation.

“I saw a rat in the pot and I was trying to catch it.”

This statement was ridiculous on so many levels.

He could not have seen what was happening in our kitchen without intending to, remember the path to the quarters would not give him that vantage.

But he could see our back door. Was it possible for a rat to pull open the door? It was not that kind of door. It needed a deliberate energetic pull and a rat wouldn’t be able to do that.

Ok, so what if, this rat was strong enough. We had cats in our house. We never had a rat infestation growing up. NEVER. It was not even 1 cat that we had, we had several.

Ok, if this Hulk Hogan rat pulled open the door and dared cats how on earth did this guy see it make its way to the pot? Remember you cannot see what is happening inside the house from outside. So even if the rat entered the house, did this guy run fast enough to catch the rat entering the pot?

Ok what if all that did happen, why was there no rat inside the pot when he was caught?

And it certainly wasn’t a pot of stewed rats.

So we gave him a name that day

“Mai baira a tukunya” meaning “Rat in pot guy”.

I remembered this incident because my nanny went to throw the thrash out. I was also about to drive out. I stepped out of the gate to look for our gateman and there was the security man opposite our house blocking my nanny. He was saying something to her and on seeing me, he quickly blurted out a ‘rat in pot’ explanation.

“I was just asking her to buy the liquid soap that I make…I don’t know if you would like to use it.”

I was like hmmmmm….

You see me every single day going in and out of the house and you never stopped me to ‘market’ your liquid soap, you blocked my nanny because somehow in your thinking, she will make the decision to buy the soap for the house abi? So if you are trying to sell the soap, where is it? How come you are not even displaying it? How come I have never seen you with it in front of your house?

Nope. You were toasting the girl and got caught in the act.

No ‘rat in pot’ stories accepted here.

Man and woman are sleeping on the bed, at about 3a.m, his phone rings.

You all sit up and you look at him wide eyed. He then stammers and then scratches his head as he keeps looking at you. He quickly ends the call.

“Who was it honey?”

There is silence… he clears his throat and at that point my sister you can be sure a ‘rat in pot’ explanation is on the way.

“It is my subordinate in the office. She is sick and won’t be able to come in today. She will go to the hospital in the morning.”

Because you are foggy with sleep, you accept the explanation.

Three days later, you are in church singing and clapping then it hits you from nowhere…

The ‘rat in pot’ness of this explanation.

First. Why would the girl call him at 3am?

She was obviously fine enough to wait till morning to go to the hospital, the call could have easily waited till daybreak.

Why would you call a boss in the throes of sickness in the early hours of the morning?

The boss was not a priest to administer a miraculous prayer.

The boss was not a medical doctor.

The boss was not even family.

My sister, there is indeed a rat in a pot.

That is how one prophet said Clinton would win and she didn’t.

Rat in pot story started loading…

The ultimate story is the one in which a guy actually said he couldn’t pay child support because he died. That has to be the most ambitious story ever.

There is no honour in these stories.

Sometimes the honourable thing to do is to raise your hands in the air and admit that you have a problem.

The last 18months have been full of “rat in the pot” explanations in this country.

The fumbling and bumbling and blaming are not working.

Like our beret Minister trying to explain why they did not pay the Falcons with an incredibly unbelievable explanation.

Lift up your hands and say you are in soup… get it? Rat inside pot of soup… (There is some intricate wordplay somewhere there.)

Whatever you are selling, Nigerians are not buying… not that they could even if they wanted to (recession things).

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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