Today I’m boiling maize cobs. The smell coming from the pot reminds me of home.
I remember the smoke from the cabin where we cooked our sadza (cooked cornmeal). My mother always told me that sadza cooked on the fire tasted better than that from the electric stove. I never tasted the difference, but now I miss her sadza.
I remember sitting on top of the white cupboard in the cabin, my father chasing me off saying I should sit on the floor, legs crossed. We used to run to the shops to buy bulbs; you had to buy a 100watt one because anything else would burn out a little too soon. I remember the dusty streets where we used to play raka raka or hwishu or maflawu. I always lost. I did not have any tactics, but I remember Fulani. She was a goddess; she had all the tricks. Most of the time I would give up playing because of her.
There was that year when we bought new sofas; we were not allowed to sit on them before passing through the bathroom. I say passing through because half of the time we would wet an old cloth and wipe off the dust, not wash it off.
Then, how could I forget? On Saturdays we used to watch the Mai Chisamba Show, our very own version of The Oprah Winfery Show, and an African movie afterwards. They were Nigerian movies, but we always called them African movies.
I remember in my late teens, plaiting ponytail braids, applying Ambi on my face, then Elegance vanishing cream years later. I loved the lemon cream scent, which was lime in colour. All of these things and more remind me of home,
I call my parents every day to get updates on what is happening. I send them groceries or money for groceries every month, but I miss them. I miss home.
I want to go back home, but I hate being asked, ‘When are you getting married; you are now 34? Fulani now has three kids, when are you going to have your own? When is the big day?’ For years I have crafted dozens of responses in my head, but they are not good. I could respond to them but I don’t wish to shame my mother. She would never be able to attend church or burial society meetings with them. So because of this, I would rather not go home, but I badly miss home.
Dear Single Woman, it’s normal for you to be single at any age. You should marry when and whom you choose to. Don’t let anyone pressure you into marriage with someone you do not love. Marriage is sweet but only sweeter if you are with the one you love. Yes, all your age mates are married and already have kids but guess what? You have also achieved a lot of things they are still yet to. Life is not a competition and you do not have to feel like you are being left behind because of marriage.
You are scared of going back home and enjoying quality time with your parents because of what people will say? Why not just tell them that you will get married and when the time is right for you? I do not think there is anything rude about that statement; you should actually be respected after saying what’s in your heart.
Go home, sit in your mother’s cabin – if it’s still there – and enjoy the fire-cooked sadza, and maybe have a catch-up moment with Fulani, your old friend.
Phoebie Shamiso Chigonde is a journalist passionate about gender equality, social development programmes and grassroots-based solution seeking initiatives. She has a passion for women and community development. Phoebie is also a radio personality at a regional commercial radio station, a platform that enables her to network with like-minded women, journalists and activists as she continues to document and tell the story of the ordinary woman from the lens of that very ordinary woman.