Her laughter. That was the first thing I heard as I climbed up the tiny stairs that lead to my father’s front door. Whenever my mother laughed heartily like this, just know that she’s truly happy, and two things make her truly happy: Food and her children.
It’s already two years, but it seemed like yesterday. She was travelling back from her three months ‘Omugwo’ stay with big sister when she had a nasty accident that cost her the use of both legs. Everyone was sad but also grateful for her life that was spared. I could not come home to take care of her because I was just starting my medical examination in another country, another continent. Every day after then, I got updated about her health, but I still longed to come home and take care of her personally. Her recovery was fast and Father made sure she was emotionally stable too. They are a perfect fit; they have been for over 40 years. My parents broke every odd and barrier to be together and subsequently became the perfect couple.
Father is from the eastern part of the country and my mother is western. Literal opposites of each other. Their parents were not supportive of them getting married. But after the marriage scaled 5 years of major extended family drama, everyone came around.
The smell of Moin Moin Elewe Elemi Meje whiffed past my nose as I got to the door, and realized that, yes, I am home. Moin Moin Elewe is my mother’s cure for all life’s worries. And it works! Whatever you are going through, you only need a bite of mother’s moin moin to help you get through it. It’s soft and filling. The hint of crayfish and coconut water your nose picks just as the spoonful draws close to your mouth is enough to get your stomach in a hungry fit! The after feeling is the best. This moin moin makes you see things in a different light. It puts some things into perspective for you. It’s like a different kind of food high. You are not only satisfied in your stomach but also in your soul. It takes you to a state of mind where you just allow things sort themselves out. No worries, no sweat! Yes, only mother’s moin moin elewe does that.
Then there’s the special fried rice. There are too many variations of fried rice everywhere. Some even make you question the state of your taste buds because of their bland taste. Mother’s special recipe for fried rice is what a popular restaurant paid for some years back, and till date, it’s always a sold-out sensation. The only time these two recipes come together to give a memorable experience is on Christmas day! For me, it’s been two years of missing out on these recipes, and I plan on eating so much till I get literally dragged away from the dining table.
My house has always been full and diverse for as long as I could remember. Just at the door, I paused to hear the hearty chatting from inside. I could make out Aunty Dayo and her Lebanese husband arguing over a board game. Those two are weird but in a very sweet way. My little niece and nephew are running around the house, my sister will throw a fit when she sees how skinny I’ve now become. “Foreign food can never be compared to ‘tiwa n tiwa,” I can’t wait to hear her say. Extended family members from our two different tribes can be heard chatting away too.
I smiled and opened the door. Different cheers of ‘Welcome!’ ‘She’s here!’ rang out and there she was, right on the other side of the room, setting the meals on the dining table, even in her wheelchair. With a big broad smile on my face, I counted the short steps it took after two years to get into the arms of my mother. As we held each other tight, I could see father standing by her – where he has always been these past years. He moved closer and joined in the hug. Then came the waterworks!
I pulled back and stared in her now teary eyes. This is my mother, the fighter, the superwoman. I looked across the room, to behold my happy diverse family members. Then, of course, my eyes fell on the long dining table filled with yummy goodness. Christmas is perfect now!