I Left her behind—and had to move on
Over a decade ago I spent my vacation in a bordering country. I enjoyed three weeks time I there, but I left with mixed emotions. Next door to where I was staying was an aged woman who lived in a cottage all by herself. In a conversation she told me that she had given birth to three children, two girls and a boy, who were all grown adults, but her two daughters were living abroad, and the her son loved to travel and was seldom at home. So I started to look out for her for as long as I was there. And for the first week she would come at her window and would stay on the veranda of the house I was staying and talked with her. What was admirable about her was that she was very chatty, full of humor and had a good memory. So during her conversations with me would laugh at times, look sad at times and at other times she would cry a little bit and so on, but for the most part she was happy.
The next week she looked forward to chatting with me, so she looked through her window to see if I was anywhere around, and when she did not see me she called out, “Hello stranger! Hello foreigner! Good Morning! But I did not hear her when she made the first call because I was way down at the back of the house. Fortunately, for her I was returning to the front of the house when I heard a strong voice saying, “Hello stranger! Hello foreigner! Good Morning. I recognized her voice and hastened to the front and opened the door to the veranda just in time to save her the third shout out. She stopped at “Hel” when she saw me, and started to laugh “till her belly almost burst.” I couldn’t help doing the say, for all I knew I was laughing because she was laughing heartily and I could not help but doing so. After a good minute of laughter, the so called “Medicine;” still giggling she said, “Wait man for a moment I thought you had gone back already,” and she laughed out a while longer, dried her tears, and was silent for a while, i.e. almost a minute. I keep looking at her from the veranda as I tried to figure out what she was really thinking about. I wanted to turn her attention away to something that would take her out of that gloomy mood. So I said, “It seems that today is going to be a lovely day.” Pointing to the sun I said, “Look there the sun is rising already.” Then she look around and said, “Oh, yes.”
I said: “Well I just feel like making my own Cook-up rice today for a change.”
She asked, “Can you cook?” with a broad smile.
I said, “You will tell me about that when I offer you some.”
She said, “Do you mean what you just said.”
I said, “Sure, and I am going to start the ball rolling right now.”
So I asked her for an excuse, went into the kitchen and started my preparation.
First I soaked three quarters of a pint of red pea before I started to prepare and seasoned up about one and a half pound of chicken. After an hour I lit the stove and fried the cut up seasoned chicken. Subsequently, I added the red peas and a pint of clean rice (which I washed thoroughly) to the fried chicken in the pressure pot. I fried them properly with added seasoning, for example, salt, garlic, onion, ginger, celery, thyme, pepper and chicken seasoning. Finally, I added coconut milk and adequate water and I closed the pot.
My final preparation was the fish. They were already cleaned so I did minimal cleaning, used a towel to dry out excessive water from them, season them up, and fry them until they got a brown color. And by- the-way, the cook-up was actually finished and I turned down the heat, added three big pieces of fried fish in it and left it to simmer for five minutes more. I did that because I wanted to leave just enough moisture in the food, instead of allowing it to dry down.
Lunch having finished, I told her and she asked me to take it over for her. So I decorated her food with two pieces of fried fish and salads plenty etc., and when she put the first spoon in her mouth, she nodded and smiled. I stood looking on. And after she ate the next spoon’s full, she asked, “Did you cook this? Yes, I replied. She said, “It tastes very good you know”. ‘Thank you,” I replied. Then I left and had a ball with mine. And, of course, I chased it down with a large glass of swank (natural lime drink). If you know Ms. Talkative well enough, she talked about the Cook-up all the time.
But my three weeks stay was coming to an end. I just had three more days to stay in her beautiful country, but that was not the problem. The real problem was how to leave her behind in the happy frame of mind she was in? Conscious of the fact that earlier when in the midst of her laughter she stopped, and slump into a melancholy frame of mind, I had to find a way (put it this way) to tell her up front that I had to go back to work in my country. So I started to tell her that truth a little bit at a time, for example, from my veranda I said, “I have to return to work in three days time, you know.” “O, yes” was her reply. The next day after we talked, talked, talked, and talked,—a long talk with no little laughter, I said to her, I am going to do some packing.
But the final day had come for me to leave, and I went over to pray with her, and no sooner had we prayed than she started to talk about the Cook-up. And she said something else that was very interesting, and that was, “I have two daughters, who live abroad, and a son, who lives here, but loves to travel and is never home. My daughters support me every month and I am thankful for that, but they are not here in person when I am sick. Sometimes when I cannot go to the grocery store, I would ask someone I know to buy a few items for me, but they do not always bring back my change.” Then in a bold but sad tone of voice she asked, “Are you going to come back?” I gave her a nod, since I couldn’t speak at that moment. And she said to me, “Maybe by the time you come back, I will have died.” And I said to her, “Don’t say so, God is in charge.