Each of us wore a frown on our faces. Each of us had legitimate reasons to be angry. But her frown was different. It had more wrinkles and it formed a more visible web on her brow. But, yes, each of us had legitimate reasons to be angry.
I had been nearing Stage Five of Tetris on my hand me down Nokia when she barged into my room in her work clothes, barking about me just lazing about and doing nothing all-day while the chickens ate up the beans she had left outside to dry in the sun. We had also run out of gas, and if only I had tried to boil the Kontomire like she had told me to, I would have realised this. She yelled out my charges for ten minutes straight; a new recent record. I held my tongue for ten minutes straight but there was nothing impressive about that. She had raised me well enough to be capable of shutting up for twenty-four hours, in the presence of a scolding adult. When the yelling was over for a while and she had loudly clanged pots and utensils together for some time, she called out for me from the kitchen.
I swung the papa ferociously till the effusing smoke from the Coal Pot left us in a coughing fit. We soon recovered and resumed our frowning. Finally, the pieces of charcoal reddened and a long streak of flames replaced the smoke. I dragged the Coal Pot closer to me so I could effectively fan the flames but she charged for the iron handles and pulled it back to her. The knotted web on her forehead tightened. I sighed and kept on fanning.
When the heat had finally built up to cooking temperature, she placed the pot full of Cocoyams, Vegetables and Salmons on the Coal Pot and began stirring with a wooden ladle. In no time, the Mportormportor began to boil. I dropped the papa, and stood to leave.
“Where do you think you’re going?” she snapped.
“I-” I began, gave up, and returned to my stool.
I picked up the rhombus-shaped weaved raffia by its pointed handle and began to fan more heat into the Charcoal.
“Stop it,” She said flatly.
I dropped the papa, and began counting my fingernails.
“When are you going back to school?” She asked, after we had sat for about thirty minutes in silence and I had counted my fingernails long enough to master Algebra.
“Monday,” I replied, ignoring the fact that I had told her twice already in the same week.
“Have you told your father?”
“I gave him my report, so I am sure he knows”
“So you have not told him?”
“No… I have not told him. If he asks me I will tell him.”
The silence returned and she resumed her stirring for a while longer. The aroma from the pot screamed invitations at me. Had the ambience in the kitchen been cordial enough, I would have grabbed the ladle and stolen a taste.
“Bring your bowl,” she ordered finally.
I contemplated for a second and replied in adolescent brinkmanship, “I am not hungry.”
“I didn’t ask if you were hungry,” came the defiant retort, “I said bring your bowl.”
There was no use protesting. I had put up a good show of anger. She had gotten the point, but she was still in control here. However, I hadn’t planned on giving up that easily. I gave it one more shot. I brought out a smaller bowl than I usually would use. When I presented it to her, she eyeballed me menacingly.
I could almost feel her smirk warming my back as I turned around and drew out my favourite bowl. Straight-faced and betraying no emotions, she filled my bowl to the brim and almost shoved it at me. Playing along, I received it and said a drab thank you. There was no reply.