SUFFER-HEAD: IS THAT THE FRAGRANCE OF AN AFRICAN WOMAN?

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I remember tagging along behind my mum as we went shopping every last Saturday of the month. I drew one heavy step after another because this was my least favourite chore – grocery shopping. The market was always messy and when we passed the butchers’, oh, that stench! And I always wondered if it was the same piece of meat exposed on wooden tables, which also had flies hovering over it that we were going to put into our pot of stew!

Sometimes we would buy so much and have to carry so many bags. When we had to stop to buy another item, I would drop the bags to rest my hands and sometimes, forget that I kept the nylon with the pack of Maggi cubes on the okro seller’s table! We would get home and begin to look for Maggi and I would remember the okro seller’s stand, miles away. My ears would then remain sore for days from pulling and twitching.

As much as I hated going to the market, I still went with mum on every trip. I had to help. It was the least I could do considering that she was going to grind the pepper with a grinding stone (yes, grinding stone! My dad claims the taste of blender-stew is different!) and “wash” beans for moi-moi with a protruding belly.

It became more difficult when I first left for boarding school. Mum was in her third trimester and she had to do the market trips alone. She was always easily exhausted as she dragged the heavy bags home. She couldn’t bargain as well as she used to. She had to sit to rest at every stall she bought an item. When asked why she did all of that, she’d say ‘such is the fragrance of motherhood, the pact of every African woman’.

Thirteen years later, when asked about my mum’s household care pattern, I say that method is called ‘suffer-head theory’. Yes, I do not believe the fragrance of motherhood is to overwork oneself. Grind pepper with stones? If you don’t like the taste of blender-stew, please add more curry!

My life is much easier. I do not do market trips anymore. My family eats very healthy too. The secret? I buy my groceries online! I draw up a list of the items I need and log on to any one of the grocery sites. My favourite being jaramall.com. I buy all I need and have them delivered to my home. When no one is available to receive the groceries at home, I request for them to be brought to my office and I take them home. And my groceries are always fresh and well-packaged – no flies or stench!

I am a 21st century woman and even at that, my family stays healthy! So, whose household care pattern do you dig? Mine or my mum’s?

 Written by Tosin Akingbulu

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