My fondest memories of Christmas in the village are nothing but food. We would eat like apocalypse was round the corner.
Everybody looked like they were six months pregnant after lunch. That was the season of eating delicacies such as chicken, bread, biscuits, soda, chapatti, rice, etc.
We would move from one household to another, eating like we had been hired. Constipation was the order of the day. Even the toothless and senile would munch pounded meat or settle for soup.
I remember a family that was extremely poor. Their idea of enjoying chicken was seeing the neighbour’s hens running through their compound. They had no choice but to declare themselves vegetarians. No wonder the father became an animal rights activist.
He championed livestock immunisation in our village and was known for vehemently opposing the eating of beef and chicken, especially if the cow and hens were providing milk and eggs, respectively. That is why I am always keen to find out why vegetarians don’t eat meat.
Then there were the night angels who moved door-to-door gracing families with Christmas carols and in return they would be given a token of appreciation, preferably in monetary terms. Christmas was also the time when the church expected a bumper harvest from the faithful. They were optimistic that almost everyone would bring their tithe.
The other target group was those from the city and other urban areas. The church would secure the front pews for them and accord them VIP treatment. Then the priest would proceed to read a list of outstanding debts that the church had incurred since last Christmas.
Congregants would carry food, domestic animals, handwork items and utensils for auctioning in church to raise money to meet the debt. Then the auctioneer would tactfully coerce the city and urban visitors into buying the goods at a hefty price.
The priest was always ‘trigger-happy’ because most of the bought stuff would be offered to him as his Christmas package. The day was always crowned with a disco in the village trading centre after watching action-packed movies.
It was quite ironic that you would listen to the gospel based on forgiveness, mercy, peace and love in the morning and then proceed to glorify violence, war, and promiscuity portrayed by the evening movies.
The disco dance would end in fights between the lads over village belles. What started off as a celebration would end up in misery, symbolic of the happiness that came with the birth of Christ and the misery that followed with his crucifixion.
A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Source : The Observer