“Grandpa, Chinedu is too small to take snuffs. Don’t you know that you are destroying his lungs by giving it to him?
You ask your grandfather as he is teaching your younger brother how to put the deep brown powder into his nostrils. You try to imagine in your head, why grandpa should give that harmful powder to Chinedu, a very small boy of six.
You stamp off to your father to tell him what Grandpa is doing, and meet him teaching your mother how to breathe-in air, after putting the powder into her nostrils.
“What is all this?” you queried.
When all you get is a snicker from both your parents, you run-off to the village head to complain to him. You see him sitting on a dirty wooden stool, in front of his thatched hut sneezing continuously. An action, which you know very well, the after-acts of snuff-taking.
As you behold the village head, and wonder why everybody has turned into the famous Sam Loco Efe who heard of at the city. You feel the beads of sweat gathered on your forehead, and decide to go to the stream for a bath. You see your tall, lean and dark friend Ajana sneezing furiously and trying to hide a box of snuff in the grass at the bushy river bank.
You watch him from a distance, and when he undresses himself and goes into the water to have his bath, you slither like a snake and take the snuff box. You contemplate within yourself and decide to take the snuff because everybody is taking it. Your head screams something like “This is premature death in a brown powdered disguise?”
You stifle the voice in your head, open the box, dip your finger into dramatically into the box to collect the power. You remember how your grandpa was teaching your brother, how your father was teaching your mother and how your village head behaved after taking the snuff and you say aloud to yourself, “here we go”.
You put the snuff in your nostrils, inhales deeply but slowly and sneezes like a snuff-taking master. You’ve taken the snuff, the powdered premature death. Now what?
© 2015 Nnanna Esther Nneka