The Aroma of Mama

Temitope Idowu 14 January 2021

In the evenings we ate roasted plantain.

Split open the tough body and placed it face down on the rack, rife with charcoal and yet essential in the flavour it provided.

Once turned and doused in throat catching spice, it was ready to be the object of a fight between two siblings.

We negotiate over corn. Who would get the perfect cob; crunchy with a barbecued coat yet still weighty with its natural juice.

It was when the tide was high that we fought the most. Toughened lungs raw with the excitement of seeing our opponent humiliated. Filling the time while we waited for the aroma of Mama to come drifting on the back of the wind.

Waiting for it to sneak up on us, like those bandits she told us about.
Waiting for it to wrap its harsh, learned fingers around our wrists and pull us along to music school.

 

Mama always told me I should never take the easy route. Even if there’s no catch, even if it isn’t the wrong thing to do. Still she’d look me in the eye and insist.

“The road that is covered in bumps and piss. That is the road where hidden treasures lie, it may not be pretty, but it might just have the best okra you’ve ever seen.”
She’d smile and sigh, pulling at my tough coils. “It will teach you the most lessons. Ti o ba ṣubu ọmọ mi (If you fall down my child). Stand up, spit the dust out of your mouth and keep walking.”

I, being the distant minded daydreamer that I was, would hum in agreement rubbing my cheek against her wrinkled calf as she parted my hair.