“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”
Proverbs 31:29 NLT
Thump! Thump! Thump!
In case you are wondering, that’s my heart making its own music.
It would beat Dr Dre hands down and give David Guetta a run for his money any day anytime.
That is beside the point. I would be meeting my boyfriend’s parents for the first time. And, although he has not popped the question, I am very positive that the feedback from today is a major determinant as to whether the question will be subsequently popped.
So here I am in le boo’s car wondering if it would not have been safer to have claimed it is that time of the month and stayed back.
We are here. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. Please. I need your help. You have to help me. Oh God.
Le boo turns to me and kisses me on the cheek. ‘You are charming. You will have them eating out of your hand in no time.’ I nod. He brings my knuckles to his lips. My eyes are beginning to water. ‘Sshhh… look at me … look’ I can’t take it anymore. I am sobbing profusely. He wraps his arm around me. I speak into his clavicle.
‘W-hat i-i-i-f …’
‘No. No.’ He holds me away from him. ‘Listen to me. You are the most amazing person I have met. And guess what?’
‘I knew from the first day I met you. Trust me. You will blow everyone away.’
I nod my head.
Le boo is a muslim. Today is sallah. Two plus two. Do the math. It is a full house. I like meeting new people. So the introduction to the aunties and uncles and cousins and their wives and nephews and nieces and his parents is a piece of cake. I feel the genuineness in my smile. I catch le boo wink at me. Thank You, God.
Le boo’s mother comes to meet me.
‘The women are out at the back cooking. Come join us.’
Le boo nods at me. His mother turns to me. ‘Nice dress. You may want to change into something more smoke friendly. We are using firewood.’
A young woman, le boo’s closest cousin’s wife, leads me into one of the rooms and gives me a loose-fitting dress and a wrapper. Her name is Maria
‘Dapo really went with his eyes to the market.’ Dapo is le boo. I smile at her. ‘I am glad I was in the market when he came looking.’ Maria continues, ‘The cooking is a tradition. The women in the family think it is an opportunity to bond and connect. I look forward to it every year.’ I nod. I am not even a part of the family yet.
We go to the back to join the others. At first, I just watch, and observe, I listen to the easy conversation. I watch dapo’s mother. She wears authority like a second skin. The fruit doesn’t fall too far from the tree. My thoughts wander…
‘… maybe she should do it.’ I return back to the present. Maria is waving some rags at me. I am confused. ‘Welcome back. Check if the water is boiling so they can wash the rice into the pot.’
You know those big iron pots that the ‘Olopos’ use to cook and their heavy covers? I had seen the women lift the cover once or twice to check the water. So, I am thinking, if it is for the newbie, it can’t be rocket science. So I take the rag and move towards the pot with the fiery heat of the firewood fire and the nearly blinding smoke. But somehow I don’t hold the rag properly. By the time I lift the cover, three things happen simultaneously – the cover is hot and scalding, the steam of the pot hits me with full blast, and I misjudged the real weight of the cover. It is very heavy. So with the unexpected weight and burn, I lose my grip. The cover of the pot hits the pot tilting it slightly to the side, and its content slosh.
I narrowly escape putting my foot into the fire in order to avoid the boiling water. It felt like I was doing the Atilogwu dance. It is suddenly very quiet. I am about to start crying until I see the women exchanging amused looks. Dapo’s first brother’s wife begins to laugh. Everybody joins in. The women quickly swing into action, adjusting the pot etc. Le boo’s mother winks at me. Maria comes and leads me back to my seat.
‘You see, every woman here has her story about the cover of that pot…’
And I am just there with tears streaming down my face. It is just too good to be true.
P.S An Olopo is the Yoruba term for a caterer. Usually, the women are paid to cook. They use firewood and these iron pots, and spoon.