My mother tricked us a lot as children growing up, whether it was to get us to do something for her when cajoling and coercing failed, or to take the money visitors and close family members ‘’dashed’’ us. She would tell us she would save the money or open an account for us, needless to say it never came to fruition, the few times we asked her for money from our supposed coffers for things like candies, biscuits and other confectionery she would say ; ‘’ your money is finished oh, I have been using it to cook for you people.‘’
One of the many times my mother scammed us growing up. This one was legendary because I was in my late teens and I thought she had given up on her shenanigans, but I was wrong, she didn’t even go on a break.
So one day my mother came back home with a huge bag of Indian rice, as soon as it hit the ground, our excitement was boundless, rice in any shade or fashion was our favourite meal, still is my favourite thing to eat. As children, nothing was more reassuring that we wouldn’t starve like a bag of rice seated at the corner of the kitchen store, we may run out of other food items and we won’t fret, but if the rice begins to diminish we have a panic attack. So understand how elated we were when saw the bag of rice.
Back then, the Caprice brand of rice from the stallion group was the the epitome of foreign rice, I know my father always insisted Caprice when he went to buy. But on this day, something was incongruous about this bag of rice, it cut our joyous mood short, it wasn’t Caprice it was something else… Something Indian.
I knew it because we watched Indian movies, Maad, Sunita etc and it had the bold inscription ”Premium Indian Rice” plastered across the bag. My mother, seeing the disappointment and disapproval registered on our faces went on a long lecture about how healthy and nutritious the rice was, how the taste was great and how filling it was. She eventually convinced us and we were actually looking forward to relishing all the magic this my mother’s new discovery promised. Truthfully, I thought to myself, that bag of rice was either cheap or a man who claimed to be a man of God lied about it and sold it to her.
The first day that rice was cooked was could have been the last day we ate it, but my mother insisted, in fact she coerced us to eating it after her attempt to cajoling failed. The smell of the rice was obnoxious to be polite, and when it was cooked, it was unusually long and slender, almost as long as a pinkie, and most of it stuck together like a band of thieves as the food got cold. The taste was even worse than the smell, it didn’t taste like rice, it was bland and soggy. What’s worse was, anytime we burped, the smell regurgitated.
We endured eating the rice the first, the second and third times, by the fourth time we were done. And we weren’t going back, her nutrition lectures, her pleas and coaxing, even her threats to starve us were futile and she gave up. Only my father ate the rice, maybe because he loved her or maybe because his taste buds were dead. Whatever his reasons were, we the children revolted. My mother finally gave up and actually moved the bad of rice outside the house or so we thought. She told us she had dashed it out.
Another bag of the popular Caprice was purchased by my father and revolting children gave up arms and surrendered, normalcy had been restored. We went back to being the Caprice loving family we were before the Indian rice tried to put asunder.
Some months passed and my mother showed up again with the biggest bag of semo I had ever seen, again our skepticism kicked in, but another lengthy lecture on the nutritional/health benefits of semo over garri/eba convinced us to give it a try. The whole time we ate the semo, it had this faint but familiar smell, but nothing registered.
On the day, as we ate the last of the remaining semo, my mother was noticeably excited, she was full of smiles. Made the very nice vegetable soup and she served us, we had just returned from school hungry so we dove in. As we ate, she occasionally gave us a mischievous look and tried in futility to suppress the laughter threatening to burst her open. As soon as the last ball of semo was swallowed, my mother burst into a long, manic laughter. We just sat there perplexed, looking at each other, oblivion and cluelessness splashed across our faces. Each time she tried to talk, the laughter went a notch higher. We waited it out, finally amidst bridled laughter she said :
Unu gim egwu egwu okwa ya? ( You guys are playing with me right?)
That rice you people have refused to eat, you people just finished it now as semo.
And she burst into another bout of laughter.
Amurum Unu, Unu choro e gosim amam inhe. ( I gave birth to you and you want to show me you are smart )
You want me to waste my money abi? Nonsense.
Me and my siblings just sat there looking at her, trying to process and discern the betrayal, I’m sure if it wasn’t because of the lush vegetable soup and the accompanying ‘’obstacles’’ some of us may have puked upon realization it was the dreaded Indian rice we just finished in disguise. My father got home and we narrated the story to him, in hopes he would offer a vitriolic reaction and probably berate my mother for her actions but no. He too reeled uncontrollably in another bout of manic laughter and he applauded my mother’s ingenuity.
We went to bed disappointed and beat, mama even though she scammed us, she had won this one. Mummy 110 : 0 for us.