Sallah meat is the most prized procession during the Eid-al-Adha celebration and you’ll be shocked at the lengths people go to juicy, deep-fried pieces of golden brown protein.
So the next time your Muslim friend says there’s no meat or gives you just one piece, you need to appreciate them because they most likely committed ‘armed robbery’ on your behalf.
We used to visit Abeokuta during sallah when my grandpa was alive. In 2014, we’d visited as usual and the house was full of relatives. My grandpa was always strict with the key to his room; that’s where he had his stash of drinks, provisions and all the goodies to last our stay. Of course, the room also houses the fried sallah meat. Because I was among the youngest, he trusted me with the key and didn’t pay as much attention when he wanted me to grab anything for him. With others, he’d either keep a fixed gaze on the room or just find a way to take whatever he needs himself.
With every trip to his room, I picked a piece of meat or two. I kept the meat inside my travelling bag and by the third day, I was satisfied with my stash. The joke was on me sha because I’d hidden it so deep in my bag that there wasn’t space for the meat to ‘breathe’. Even when the general sharing of sallah meat commenced, I didn’t put up a fuss because I knew my stash was more than whatever I’d get. Omo, when we got to Lagos, the meat was covered in mold and maggot. I didn’t throw them away sha.
My mum used to keep the meat on top of the fridge and I’d use an old newspaper and take as many as possible from the bowl. Every time I passed the by, I’d take some more. I’d wrap the meat inside newspapers first, nylon and then hide it in my wardrobe; usually under my clothes. When my mum is ready to share meat for everybody, I’ll still go and collect more. The pressure on Muslims to share meat is a lot. Too many people to give, not enough meat.
I’m the first grandchild of my maternal grandparents. We were never given ram meat; we only got from the cow. And any Muslim knows that ram meat is sweeter than cow meat. So, during one of the Eid celebrations, we took a trip to my mum’s town in Ikenne, Ijebu. I and my cousins were determined to get ram meat and our target was 10 pieces. While they were frying and everyone was preparing for the evening party, my granny packed the bulk of the meat into her room.
We begged the youngest to follow us so she could give us intel on where granny kept the meat. She returned and told us the meat was inside “eshasun” (a pot), but our granny had the keys to the room in a pouch that she didn’t let go of. Again, we got the youngest cousin to tell grandma that she wanted to sleep; and that was how we gained entry into the room. We took our agreed 10 pieces and even more to drink garri. I’ve been caught before but not on this particular mission.
I try not to steal meat during sallah but as I got older, I started having more friends who would ask for meat. So I started to take from the big bowls of meat that they’d leave in my mum’s room for safekeeping. I was always so scared of getting caught that I’d only take a little and leave her room. It wasn’t safe to keep in the freezer so I’d wrap them inside an old newspaper and put them in my wardrobe, hoping rats would not finish my clothes. Unlike my sister who takes as much as she wants, I used to steal meat with the fear of God. My mum now locks her room when there’s sallah meat there.
I’ve loved sallah meat since I was a child. I always follow the entire process from my elderly ones shopping for rams from abokis to engaging them in ram fights. I also watched the slaughtering and the process of cooking and frying.
However, as much as I wanted big pieces because of my efforts, I always ended up with tiny chunks of meat. As I got older, I took matters into my hands because it was just unfair to go through all that wahala only to end up with small pieces. Now, I join the women cooking, pretend as if I’m assisting and use the opportunity to steal when they’re not watching.
Now that I kill sallah ram myself, I still fight with my wife over it because I never let her and the people assisting her rest.
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