Food. It was the only thing that brought the Simon’s together. My family was a huge one, and there was bound to be misunderstandings. The dinning table was the one place we could settle peacefully or at least set it aside just to eat. This was for one reason. Mama Simon was the greatest cook in the world and she had one rule
“When there’s a fight, there’s no dinner for the night”
It was a rule everyone respected, her children, her grandchildren even her old husband respected it. So today’s dinner stared out like any other, except it had a surprising ending for my family.
Everyone was helping set up the dinner table, those who held grudges simply avoided doing any work together. Ene, Mamas first born, and her husband were not on speaking terms again, so while he helped in the kitchen, she joined in setting up the table. The grandchildren didn’t seem to have any unusual dispute except for the usual banter over who had done more work and who deserved an extra portion of food.
We finally settled down to eat and Baba Simon blessed the food. Soon everyone was eating and those who were talking tried to be as quite as possible, because Mama absolutely hated noise on the dinning table. Only if she was the one talking, and there was a time for that too, we called it “open book”. It was the time before dessert when Mama would ask us questions about our lives which we had to answer truthfully, of course we could lie, but Mama always knew and that would mean no dessert. You had to answer or refrain from answering.
Today’s open book session was going well, and it was just about to end when Mama asked Enes husband a seemingly harmless question
“Greg, I heard you hired a new secretary. Why?”
Ene immediately sat up, I knew my sister and from the looks on her face, I was certain I wouldn’t be eating the chocolate cake anytime soon
“Yes Greg, why don’t you tell us why you hired a new secretary” Ene asked scornfully.
“Ene…” There was an all too familiar warning in Mama’s voice, one the grandchildren understood and excused themselves from the table immediately
“Greg, answer the question” Mama said, turning her attention to him
“Mama, the last secretary was…was a distraction”
“And this new secretary, is it a he or a she?”
“Why does tha—“
“Answer the question Greg, not ask one”
Greg rolled his eyes. I personally, had always hated the guy. He was a terrible person. He would beat his wife, cheat on her, disrespect her, and was always so unremorseful about it. No matter how many times my siblings and I had told Mama to let them get a divorce, she would always say “till death do us part” and give them a lecture about how marriage is sacrifice.
“It’s a woman Mama, but this is going to be different. I swear”
It was obvious from our faces that no one believed him. I was just about to tell Ene to calm down but I was too late
“Shut up your mouth you lying piece of shit. You’re already sleeping with her and you’re opening your dirty mouth to say this time would be different. Do you take me for a fool?”
“Ene!” Mama’s powerful voice boomed through the room “I’ve told you to always respect your husband, no matter what” and as expected, she jumped into her usual lecture and after about thirty minutes she ended “Oya Ehi, go and bring the dessert”
“I’ll do it Mama” Ene said getting up in a haste. “Let me please” and she disappeared into the kitchen. At that moment, I should have sensed something was up but I didn’t, nobody did. Ene returned with the cake and personally served her husband.
We were almost done eating when Greg started coughing out blood and fell to the floor. Somehow, we all instantly knew what was wrong as we all turned to Ene
“Ene, what have you done?” Mama asked
Tears danced down her cheeks as she replied “The two things you taught me Mama. Till death do us part, and food is the way to a man’s heart”