The beautiful sun quietly rose from the east and its ray penetrated the clouds, then through the blue curtains in my room and gently planted kisses on my sleepy face as I lay on the bed.
I had a beautiful dream of a tall man who asked me to ride with him on a beautiful horse and was full of smiles as we galloped along the dusty road of our town. Some people lined up the street clapping and waving at us. Suddenly, someone called my name and as I turned to see the caller, my leg hit the wall.
I could hear my mother calling me from the kitchen and was hesitant at first to answer her because of the rain that fell overnight. It was in the rainy season and the house was a bit cold. The comfort of my bed wouldn’t allow me to get up on time.
My mother called again and the speed with which I jumped out of the bed rang bell in my head. The last time I lingered in bed was the day my mother poured cold water on me. I was drenched inside my room with soul-piercing curses rained on me too.
I sometimes wondered if I was her biological daughter. She would curse me with the names of some gods and goddesses in our town. She often participated in the worship of a particular goddess linked to fertility. I remembered when my maternal grandmother narrated how she suffered before giving birth to my mother and how my mother in turn suffered and was ridiculed my our neighbours and relatives for ten years before I was born.
I have tried in vain to know why she preferred calling me Rebecca instead of my local name.
She called me again. Whenever she switched to my local name, I knew trouble loomed in the air. I was busy looking for the second pair of my slippers when she called again.
“Mummy! I’m looking for my slippers” I said with a disgruntled voice.
“If I come to your room now, I will pour werepe (Lacuna bean) on you.” was my mother’s early morning “beautiful” response.
I abandoned looking for the slippers and ran barefooted to the kitchen.
“Good morning Mummy!”
“What’s good this morning when your good-for-nothing father hasn’t returned from his business trip”
I watched her pouring the rice inside the boiling water on the stove.
“Give me that salt” she said holding the spoon.
I looked around trying to find it when she landed a knock on my head.
“Here’s the salt!” She pointed it at my face.
I was surprised to find out that the salt was just in front of her while I was some meters away. I remembered reading in my room one day when she called me to give her the TV remote control.
To my surprise, it was on a stool beside her. When I tried to question her, she said, “Our culture is the best. Obedience is a must. Is that clear?” I nodded in disagreement.
She gave me the bottle of salt and asked me to add it to the rice on the stove.
“Mum, how many spoons?” I asked politely.
“No need of spoon. Pour the whole bottle of salt into the pot, lazy girl”
The way she stood akimbo waiting for me to commit another mistake worthy of double slaps, I quickly remembered how my grandmother taught me a simple trick of adding salt unlike my mother who would be adding salt as if her ancestors were dictating the amount to be added.
I began to add bit by bit while tasting the water to be sure of the correct amount. One thing I liked about my mother was her willingness to teach me how to cook for she would always say, “Any woman who doesn’t know how to cook is a failure”
That saying has always been kept on my left hand and I took it upon myself to be taught in kind or otherwise. When I perceived the right amount has been added, I looked at her for her commendation. Instead, she took it from my hand and added a bit more without tasting it like I did and covered the pot.
“Rebecca, learn! The way to a man’s heart is through good food and other food” she said as she continued with the blending of the red pepper, tomatoes and onion.
I stood there thinking hard about the meaning of other food when she turned and looked at me surprisingly. I was scared to ask her for the meaning. The last time I asked for the meaning of a statement by one of our favourite actors in a movie landed me a slap.
“What a man can do, a woman can do better” the actress said to a man trying to shut her up.
Out of curiosity, I asked for the meaning but my mother took it other way. While rubbing my cheek, she burst into hot tears. She sometimes expressed her emotion anytime I asked her sensitive questions pertaining to men.
I didn’t bother to ask her but she held my hand looking straight into my eyes. I knew she was about to say something when we heard a loud…
To be continued in Episode 2.