I enjoy a very warm friendship with Mommy J. It was all politics. Politics of using my bump last year to skip the pretty long queue of everyone who wanted her roasted corn. Politics that teaches you that when it comes to buying these things; roasted corn and pear, boli,etc, you dont buy it with bigmanism.
If you want to annoy yourself, park your big car and honk, your fada! Nobody will bring that corn to you o, at least not Mommy J.
You know you are trying, when you refer to her roadside kiosk as a ‘corn roasting outfit’.
This means looking at Mommy J. like she runs something really bigger than that semi oven for corn. Buy little J. a birthday present, smile when she says he will marry 100watts, all these things go a long way.
I noticed the bad belle looks I get when I land and she says
“Aaah, oya, corn no dey again”
and proceeds to wrap it all for me.
Errmm, it’s not like I mind o, but I feel a tad guilty. So I decided to come and sit with her and roast my corn myself, all twelve cobs.
And that people, is why we are here today. I picked a cob and tried to unravel, the ears refused to budge.
“This Oyibo wants to wound herself for nothing” sniggered one corn customer in yoruba.
I heard her. I have warned people that vernacular these days are not gossip proof. I hissed in my head, called her a small rat in my head, then kicked her out of my head.
Another gentleman spoke next in concern
“My dear, these things are things you need to get used to first in Nigeria. You can’t just come and start peeling corn cobs”
Oh my! I finally got it, lightskin equals americanah/I-just-got-back/ajebutter. I didn’t want to leave this one, I felt the need to address the man.
I have roasted yam, corn, plantain, in the village, in lagos. I have fetched water from taps, well, streams. I have probably visited more villages and across various tribes than these people, yet they feel the need to sterotype me.
“Okay madam, no vex, peel the corn”
It must have been about five minutes, and the corn ears weren’t budging.
Mommy J. bursts into laughter
“Oyibo mi, don’t mind them. See I have peeled six and you are still holding that one, drop it lemme help you”.
I narrowed my eyes, whatever her intention, all I heard was that she had peeled cobs and I hadn’t even done one.
I don’t give up, I kept at it till I freed the offending cob. These naughty individuals clapped for me o.
But I joined the laughter.
On my way home, I wondered why the cob had proved stubborn. My mom was hygiene centred to a fault, she never bought these things outside. She would buy them fresh and process at home. These included corn cobs, which my sisters and I would compete to unravel. What went wrong? I used to do that in mini seconds.
Nothing went wrong.
I realise that we take a lot of things for granted. We learn things and think we would readily recall them forever without constant practice. Whatever it is, office work, study, cooking recipes, whatever it is, we are prone to forget.
You find out as well, that it isn’t everytime you get to refresh in a private experience. Sometimes you are put on the spot, expected to show what you are supposed to know, or prove what you think you do.
This was yesterday.
Today I respected myself and had her peel the cobs while I roasted. And I gloried in telling customers who approached myself
“Dey don buy everything”
And if you asked nice enough, I could sell one to you as she was busier with Little J. who is a bit under the weather.
I remembered how to roast them anyway. It’s an art o. You need to understand the coals, I tell you. You need to know how to have that orange balance between making sure they are not uncooked or burnt.
And it’s therapy for me. I am lost in thoughts and strategies while i’m turning my cobs.
She really thinks i’m being nice doing the thing myself. Between me and you, it is because I used to cringe in the past when fingers stray to my cob and ask
“Dey don buy this wan?”
Don’t touch! Where have those hands been? I tried not to think. So now I control my corn.
I’d be upset as usual when corn and pear season is over. In the meantime, this thing I was sha trying to say in this post, that you knew something before doesn’t guarantee you always will.