It is mid-day and time for lunch. My grandmother plates out my grandfather’s food first. He eats first and alone. I do not agree with this methodology. But I eat after him, so I don’t have to wait too long. My grandfather eats in silence and alone, as he carefully and meticulously uses his knife and fork to gently push the food onto the fork-his fork. You see, my grandfather has a designated fork, knife and plate in which he alone eats from. I am starting to feel hungry-my incessant complaining makes me hungry. Of course it does. My grandfather eats every morsel of food on his plate. My grandmother cooks fresh food for him every day. There is no such thing as ‘leftovers’ and besides, my grandfather would simply not tolerate it. Instead, any leftovers are left over to ‘Killer’ and ‘Sunshine’ who are grateful for any food coming their way.
My turn to eat. Finally. My grandmother has prepared mince beef with bora (similar to a green bean). It is seasoned with onions, garlic and flat-leaf thyme. There is rice too. Earlier, my grandmother picked the rice with her industrious hands-this means, that she sat in her hot kitchen and picked out the bad bits or discouloured grains of rice, then she cooked the rice to perfect perfection. Everything is delicious. I drink some cream soda which is in a glass bottle. I want to drink out of the bottle but my grandmother’s non-verbal cue of that of her raised eyebrow, indicates that I should use the glass she has provided. I find this annoying, but say nothing. I keep quiet…for now, anyway. All done eating and I carry my plate into the kitchen so my grandmother can wash it. “Alrite Miss?’ I reply with a crooked smile-it is now my turn to use non-verbal cues. My grandmother nods her appreciation.
It is now time for my grandmother to eat. She eats last. As she is dishing out her food, I watch her with mild interest and I want to tell her how we should eat together as a family. I want to tell her about women’s rights-about equal rights. I want to tell her that her serving my grandfather is terribly old-fashioned. In short, I want to educate my grandmother. But my grandfather says I must pick my battles and believe you me, I do not want to battle with my grandmother over this. This is not a terribly good idea. Instead I say ‘any ripe mangoes, Grandma?’ She replies ‘yes’ and gently reminds me to use a plate, along with a knife. I smile and bite down hard on my back teeth. Why can’t I eat it with my hands and let the juice run down my chin? I don’t understand why she wont let me. This is another battle I choose not to have with my grandmother.
Everyone has eaten now, albeit separately. I wander into the veranda where the tiles are cool on the bottom of my feet. My grandparents have both fallen asleep in their favourite chairs. I sit on the veranda and enjoy the nice breeze. It still feels pretty hot to me. I can hear a cockerel as well as a cow baying in the distance. Down below in the trench, there is a belching crapppo. A crappo is a large, tropical toad. He is not belching of course, but it sounds like he is. Long ago, crappos were used in the sugar cane fields as a form of pest control. I think they are pretty disgusting, especially when they ‘belch.’ It is way too hot to be thinking about tropical toads. I lean back in my chair in the veranda and fall asleep, as I dream about cooler climes.