• Toluwani Obayan

The Tale of a Disgruntled Pair of Nigerian Flip-flops

Updated: May 24, 2020

As Mama Bose hit the ground with a thud, Uduak struggled to keep a straight face. Only a few seconds before, she had been anticipating the usual stinky rubber hit that graced her face every time anything went wrong in the shop, or in the house, even with things that were beyond the control of her 12-year-old self.

This time, however, as Mama Bose skillfully stooped over to swiftly transform her rubber footwear into a weapon of “singular” destruction, something out of the ordinary happened. She slipped.

Mama Bose slipped and landed hard on her oversized buttocks with legs wide apart. A customer who had been waiting to collect her change burst into uncontrollable laughter but Uduak knew better than to join in. Instead, her eyes rested on the pair of Flip-flops that had been flung across the room during the fall. She smiled at it whispering a gentle “thank you”.

To say that Flip was overwhelmed by Uduak’s show of gratitude, would be an understatement. As a pair of Hawaiian born Flip-flops, this was the very first time any human had acknowledged him in such a personal way. Could she possibly know that he had made Mama Bose slip on purpose? No, he wouldn’t dare cling to such a hope.

For Flip, Mama Bose’s fall was the one victory he could boast of since he had started living in Nigeria. He was born in Hawaii but had been shipped with his parents and some others to a duty-free Hawaiian shop at Heathrow Airport. It was the sort of place that was perfect for last-minute shoppers on their way out of the United Kingdom. Nigerian’s, were pros at last minute shopping.

On the day he was bought, a dark lady with a thick accent approached him saying

“12 Pounds? Mtcheew, let me just buy this thing now before Mummy Bose will be complaining that I did not buy anything for her”.

Flip was extremely nervous but his parents encouraged him by telling him he was better off than his cousin “Flipska” who had been bought by a man from the winter wonderland of Slovakia where Flip-flops where as good as vampires because they hardly ever saw the light of day.

At least in Nigeria, the sun existed, and more importantly there he could fulfill the highest duty of a pair of Flip-flops which was to make walking enjoyable for humanity. That day he left his family with the hope that Nigeria would be his Hawaii away from Hawaii.

Mama Bose treated him like a pair of custom made leather sandals. The boisterous woman only wore him when she had special visitors. She always found ways of adding him to the conversation. Over and again, she would tell her friends that they had common Nigerian bathroom slippers while she had been blessed with Oyibo Flip-lops. Those were the good old days.

A few months later, she brought in a 12-year-old named Uduak to work as a domestic help and shop aide. By the time Uduak arrived, Flip’s days of special treatment were over. At this point Mama Bose had been using him to frequent the badly kept latrine at the back of the house, he had also become her go-to weapon for the annihilation of Cockroaches.

As a Hawaiian blooded pair of flip-flops, these were not the dignified tasks he had aspired to. He imagined his relatives still in Hawaii on the beach basking in the sun, but here he was looking four times his age and being forced into doing things below even the lowest of flip-flops in all flip-flopdom. To his greatest sorrow, he was fast turning into a pair of common Nigerian bathroom slippers. But flip was a survivor, he could not let that break him.

Sadly, he reached his limit when one day Mama Bose took him off her feet and used him to hit Uduak in the face after the poor girl spilled a few drops of water on the floor while carrying a bucket almost twice her size. Flip was not made for this, he could not live with himself any longer.

After that, Mama Bose used him on Uduak every, single, day! Her own children got a stern warning but Uduak got Flip. He had become the Madam’s disgruntled reluctant culprit. But this disgruntled pair of Nigerian flip-flops was not having it anymore. A plan was in motion.

His final decision scared him somewhat because in Nigeria, whenever slippers lost their grip they were either sentenced to death by burning, discarded with piles of oozing disgusting waste materials, or worse still, exiled to the darkness under a dusty bed. Flip preferred the death sentence. Desperate for his existence to mean something good, he resolved to fight for the abused Uduak regardless of the dire consequences.

That afternoon, his chance came when he felt the pressure from Mama Bose’s foot. As she stooped to grab him, he mustered all the strength he could and neutralized his grip on the floor. As expected the mighty did fall, and oh what a glorious fall it was.

The laughing customer advised Mama Bose to get a new pair of more presentable bathroom slippers to which Mama Bose replied

“New ke? After my sister bought this one for me from the abroad?”

If Flip had been Human, he would have heaved a sigh of relief, but flip-flops could not sigh so he just thanked God in the private confines of his mind. At least now he could live to fight for Uduak another day. Her silent “Thank you”

had given him all the motivation he would ever need.

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