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Fiction | Flash

Love, in a mortar...

I don’t believe in marriage. Not really. I like my space, so having one special person for the rest of my life is scary and too close for comfort.

My sister, Hadiza, got married two years ago. I enjoyed watching the women dress her up. The dark purple indigo marks on her palms and feet, the gold bangles and ankle chains, she even got a new nose ring! She looked good, even though I didn’t want her to be married. I guess she was just that sort of person, always running after me to give me a hug. I’m her only brother and she loves me to bits.

I have just returned from a grueling semester in my first year in school, and I’m at Hadiza’s for the weekend. Pounded yam is for dinner, and I’m watching the who-gets-to-pound-the-yam drama unfold before my eyes.

A blend of modern and conservative, Hadiza loves to pound yam and cook assorted soups for dinner, even after a long day at the hospital. Today, she has a different idea.

“Ahmed dear, today I’m delegating responsibility.” she says to her husband, a twinkle in her eyes. She grabs his hand and pulls him off the sofa.

“Delegating? I don’t get it.” he steadies himself, almost knocking over the bowl of kola nuts on the glass table.

“You pound the yam and I cook the soup.” She says, pointing a cute little manicured finger at him.

Ahmed almost bursts into laughter, but catches himself just  in time.

“You’re serious?”

“Yep! This way please.” she sashays into the kitchen. Ahmed follows closely behind, like a sheep to the slaughter.

I follow too, greatly amused.

The well fitted kitchen is spick and span, as Hadiza likes it. I look over his shoulders; the ingredients for the soup are laid out on the kitchen table, the yam cooking on the stove.

He scratches his head, “Huh, we could use a pounding machine, babes, don’t you think?” his voice is weak.

She strikes a masculine pose and says in a near bass voice, “If I have to eat it, it has to be right, mama’s way!”

“Oh! C’mon, forget what I said sweetie, don’t make me, please.” Ahmed looks like he would cry. I stifle the laughter that threatens to bubble up from my throat, so much for being ‘the man’.

Hadiza reaches into the kitchen store and brings out the traditional mortar and pestle. I can’t believe my eyes. Will he do it? I wouldn’t if I were him; I’d find a way around it.

She smiles into his face, such sweet wickedness.

She sets up the contraption and I watch my macho brother-in-law slug it out in the backyard with a mortar and pestle. The yam has to be pounded hot, but he complains so much, the whole thing is near frozen before he starts to hit it hard.

“Oh Ahmed, you don’t have to worry. We’ll it eat it anyway, bad or not.” she is being so overtly dramatic, it’s fun to watch.

The soup is ready in no time and we settle down to eat. Gosh! I have never had a pounded yam meal so horrible, the mound is hard as a rock, and I could actually build a mud house with it! Hadiza eats it all up. Ahmed looks so embarrassed, I’m hurt.

I hear them giggling and laughing into the night as I lay on my bed.  Maybe it isn’t so bad after all, this marriage thing.

My tummy, already assaulted by such a ghastly meal, does a triple summersault as the thought settles in my mind.

I make a mental note to decide for or against it as I hurry to the loo!

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