Nk'iru.Njoku's post about stinking up the whole of London with delicious Ogiri reminded me of my last trip to London with my grannie.
A night before the trip in my Uncle's house when they were wrapping yam in newspaper and cellotape, packing gari with labels for each family member in the UK, Elubo, ewedu, okro, dried fish, fried goat meat, egusi, bitter leaf, frozen palm oil etc. I just looked on in stupendous wonderment.
They had already asked me if I had extra space and I had vehemently declined. No matter how much I had witnessed it, I could not understand this family ritual of packing half of Obalende market in two overloaded 24kg boxes. For the 15th time I was like, "But we can buy all these things in Peckham or Dalston" My grannie eyed me up and down and kissed her teeth, "Ti won ba se tan. Iwo lo ma koko de be!" When they finish cooking it, you are always the first to reach there. So I held my peace. I didnt want insult because of common Amala and Ewedu.
The first hassle was Nigerian customs searching us and finding out we were shipping a mini farmer's market. My gran played the I'm old and visiting my grand children card while I stood stone faced and tight lipped behind her. After they wasted our time and we finally got to check in.
Bag was overweight of cos we knew this but my grandmother thought she could break protocol. Not this time. After arranging and rearranging, I was given a dodgy looking bag with a suspicious smell. I tried to sniff it to determine it's contents and Mama pushed my arm. "Fi pa mo ! Fi pa mo ! " Hide it ! Hide it ! So I hurriedly put it in my carry on luggage.
I discovered to my utmost pleasure I would be sitting beside a Tom Cruise looking tall fella. I smiled at him. He smiled back. My annoyance at the customs hassle dissipated. It was going to be a good flight after all. He pointed at the Dan Brown novel, Inferno, I was reading and asked If I had read Angels & Demons and Davinci Code, I said yes. We started talking novels, then movies, then travel. I ignored my grannie giving me killer side eyes. 6 hours has never gone so fast. We talked about everything. I felt a mad connection. I rested my hand lightly on his thigh, and leaned into him. His hand covered mine on his thigh and he leaned into me. I looked into his deep grey eyes and imagined dark skinned, grey eyed children with unruly brown curls running around my mother's backyard.
The plane landed and it was time to leave. I opened the overhead cabin and the most unholy unearthly horrible smell wafted out. It was the "Iru pete" Mashed locust beans my nan made me put in my bag. The smell soon took over the whole plane and everyone was looking at us like we had shit on our foreheads. My nan spoke loudly, "Oya gbe bagi kia" Chai !!! The shame ! The earth swallowing, Spirit crushing shame !!!
I could see the look of disgust from Tom Cruise from the corner of my eye. I just jejely carried my bag with head held high and walked out.
Now when Mama disturbs me about bringing someone home I need to remind her. I found love. The scent of your Iru killed it before it had a chance to blossom.
Photo credit: ave_mario