by Sr. Martina McGlynn MMM (1929 – 1995) Ireland 13.12.2023
It is an established fact that Christmas time is a busy one for all. The Sisters’ house at Abakaliki, Nigeria, was no exception on December 23rd. All day long the house had been a beehive of activity, with gifts arriving and packages being mailed. Among the gifts received was a hamper containing a real, live, fat, healthy-looking turkey. This God-sent present was confided to the care of the cook, who put it in the hen run for safe keeping. As Sister Bernadette made her way to bed at an advanced hour that night, she silently thanked God that her worries about the main dish for the Christmas feast were over.
About midnight I was suddenly awakened by the shot of a gun, followed by two more in rapid succession. I roused myself up and tried to decide whether it was better to await developments or to investigate the matter. The decision was made for me when next I heard a hurried pair of feet approaching from behind the house. Then followed a loud thundering knock at the back door. In an instant I was up, dressed, and out on the veranda in time to join Sister Doctor who had also decided to investigate the noise.
Looking down over the balcony we could see the figure of Michael, our night watch, wildly gesticulating and saying “a thief man, I done shot him. He dey for bush.” There was no time to lose, so hurriedly we descended the stairs and out into the night, following Michael’s footsteps to find the wounded thief man. I, silently vowing vengeance on Michael’s stupidity for bringing trouble on our head; doctor absorbed in the thoughts as to the most efficient emergency measures to be taken in the case of gun shot wounds, while Michael chanted continuously “I done shot him.” What puzzled me was that he appeared quite happy about it. Suddenly Michael sprang forward and stooping down cried, “He dey here.”
We rushed to the spot t0 find, not a wounded thief, but a very frightened and bewildered turkey sitting in the long grass. This was surely an anti-climax. We opened our mouths to enquire “where is the thief?” when slowly the answer dawned on us. We exploded with laughter at our own stupidity. What had happened was this. A thief had entered the hen run, seized the turkey and was making off with it when Michael happened to turn the corner during his night round. He spied the thief and taking his gun, shot it off into the air to frighten the man. The shots had the desired effect. The thief dropped his precious burden in the grass and took to his heels towards the bush. Michael was so pleased with his achievement he had to get the Sisters out of bed to rejoice with him.
While we appreciated his qualities of ‘night watchmanship’ we gently hinted in future that it would be preferable to keep his victories to himself until morning.
First published by MMM in 1965