A Pinch of Salt
A pinch of salt, please mother said as she stirred the Ogbono soup which she was cooking. I rushed to the cupboard and taking the tea spoon I added it to the soup. “You have to be careful Ivie, that the salt is not too much, if it is the soup will not taste as good as it should.
Mama Elo, as she was called walked into our house, seeing mother in the kitchen she walked right to her. “Mama Ivie, good afternoon oh,’’ she greeted mother. “ Good afternoon Mama Elo, how are you”?. Mother asked stepping away from the soup that she was stirring.
“I am fine, I came to ask you about the workshop for women that you told me about, I want to attend so I need the details and how I can register for it. Mother turned to me “Ask Ivie oh, she was the one that helped me register online, she even created a profile and uploaded my photograph on the website”. I looked at mother and knew what was coming next, I would end up helping all the women that lived on our street with their registration online. The state government had organised a training workshop for women, but it had to be done online. “Ivie special, when will you be free so I can come and do my registration”?
Mama Elo asked me. I managed to mutter a “any time you are ready,”. Mama Elo then proceeded to her usual “neighborhood gossip” of who had done what, when I heard my mother interrupt Mama Elo. “
That is not true, oh ah ah I heard the same thing, but the fact remains that none of us were there when it happened. Mama Elo tried to continue, but mother did not let her speak further and she left. When mother muttered a pinch of salt, I ran to the cupboard again and to get the salt, but mother raised her hand indicating that she was not talking about the soup. She looked at me and said “Ivie, you always take what people say with a pinch of salt, especially when they come to tell you tales about another person”. I nodded in agreement with mother.
After my National Youth Service Corps program (NYSC) , I went home and discovered that the government had planned to repair the roads close to our house. Father was excited, he would talk excitedly about how this government was different from the last one, and mother would sigh, and remind him to take everything the government said with a pinch of salt. Three years after when the floods came for our house, mother reminded father, that it was three years after and still the roads had become even worse.
Mother’s mantra was always with me, somewhere in my head. It stayed with me, and whenever I was in the company of people who would attack another person, or tell a lie, or spin a story so profound, mother’s voice would whisper in my ear reminding me that I needed a pinch of salt.
I soon learnt that what mother meant was that I had to decide for myself what was true or not. That I could never estimate the ability of a human who was hell bent on spinning a story. They somewhat come to the conclusion that they are telling the truth. So in other to defeat the lies, I had to rely on mother’s measurement and once I had added a pinch of salt, I was able to unravel the lies and deceit, and somewhat find the truth.
Father turned eighty five, and a new government had come, with pomp and pageantry, lots of fine empty speeches, prominent officials lined up at our street. They took pictures, with our neighbors, I even saw Mama Elo, she had a wrapper that bore the logo of the party of the new government. She had come to our house the night before, telling mother how the new government planned to fix all the bad roads. This time father looked up from his newspaper and said to me “just a pinch of salt Ivie, just a pinch of salt.