Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Life as I Knew It

Mr. Paul

Mr. Paul was a talking parrot that hung in a cage on our front porch in Ogbomosho. He was a gift from some other missionaries who were leaving the country. Mr. Paul was loads of fun! He was quite good at talking and had a very large vocabulary. I have so many funny stories from our time with him!

There was the day two Nigerian seminary students came to visit with my dad. Daddy was busy finishing a letter in the breezeway adjacent to the living room. He greeted the men at the front door, invited them in asking them to sit on the couch and wait for a few minutes while he finished typing the letter. My father could see the living room and the two men from his desk in the breezeway through a screened window that served as a partition between the two. But the two men were not aware of my father’s whereabouts as they sat quietly waiting. The room was silent until suddenly Mr. Paul whose cage was just on the other side of the screened living room window, said in a loud, deep voice that sounded like my father, “Let us pray!” The two men stood to attention immediately first bowing their heads and then slowly looking around.

And many, many times, Mr. Paul caused someone to make an unnecessary trip to the front door. He knew how to make the sound of a person’s feet walking, then scuffing on the mat as if they were being wiped, then the sound of someone knocking on the door, finished by the word, “Ago?” This was the Yoruba word for “Is anyone home?”  It was the customary call we made when approaching a door. Back in those days, we did not have doorbells and no one kept their homes locked so we simply yelled our inquiry as we approached the door in order to let someone know they had a visitor. Day after day after day, some member of my family went to our front door to find no one there. Often it was me who made this useless trip.

But the opposite of this happened when Mr. Paul called our gardener in what sounded like my mother’s voice. Many times, “Baba” stopped his work to come ask my mother what she needed. For a while my mother was very confused by this development but then finally, it dawned on her; Baba was not going crazy and neither was she – it was the parrot.

One of the phrases we taught Mr. Paul was, “Read your Bible, Mr. Paul” along with the usual, “Hello” “How are you?”, “I’m fine, thank you”, and others. My dad tried to teach Mr. Paul to say “Super cala fragi listic expe alla docious” But all he managed to learn was “Superca” - which he said often.

“Superca! Read your Bible Mr. Paul, superca!”

Our windows were usually open with only a screen between him & us. We could hear his constant talk all over the house… If I close my eyes, I can still hear him talking!

When we came back to the states we left Mr. Paul safely in the hands of another missionary family who kept him for many years. A few years ago I saw one of the members of that family and he told me that they had brought Mr. Paul back to the states with them when they returned. Mr. Paul lived for about 30 more years with this family. But he also told me a little secret about Mr. Paul. At one point in his life…he laid an egg.  So I guess he was not MR Paul after all!  I suppose MS Paul would have been more appropriate.

 “And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind…and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:25

1 comment:

  1. Hi Harriet,

    Thank you for your article on devotions in the Write Life Newsletter. I could not find any other way to contact you, so I guess this will do.
    I write articles for magazines and anthologies and have written for The Upper Room. I have a question about writing devotions. You can contact me through my Web site at Thank you again for the helpful information. The Lord continue to bless you and your writing. ~ Kathleen