Can you cook?

Written By Oke Ekpagha

“Do you know how to cook?”, he asks. I look at him a few seconds too long. “So, you don’t?”, he says. “Do you know how to cook”, I ask. “But I asked first. Besides, it’s not important for me to know how to cook”, he says. “Oh?”, I reply. “Yes. In three or five years, you’ll be married. Abi¹no be so²?”. I nod. “So, can you cook?”. I nod again. He smiles “Good thing you’re not like all those feminists that act like cooking is a bad thing”. I give a scarce smile. “What’s your favorite food?”, he asks. “Starch and Banga”, I say. “Oh. Delta people”, he says. I nod. “Do you know how to cook it?”, he asks. I shake my head.

“Ah. But it’s your best and you can’t cook it? What if it’s your husband’s favorite food?”, he asks. I shrug. But he persists “Abi you be ajebo³? I’m sure you can’t pound yam”, he says. I look at him and eye him, saying “I’ve only eaten pounded yam three times in my life”. “So, what if it is your husband’s favorite?”, he asks. I close my eyes and inhale. Can I wish someone away by blocking them from my sight? This is not the day for this bullshit. Shut up and leave me the hell alone. We are not getting married. You’re not what I’m looking for. “Then he will find where to eat it.” I say. “Ah. You want to chase your husband away. Anyway, you don’t look like a girl that has been in a relationship before. When you enter, you will know. Do you think husbands are easy to get or keep?”, he says.

I don’t reply. “I asked a question.”, he says. “So?”, I reply. He looks at me. I stare back. Silly idiot. “You’re very rude.”, he says. I feel my head will implode. Already my eyes are turning grey, my heart is tripling its beats and my head slightly hurts. I look away. Ignore the idiot. They’re many. Words won’t change them. You’ll only be irritated with yourself later if you lose it here and try to impose your views on their archaic selves. They can’t handle it. They’re stuck in their filth. It’s fine. Face your front.

“I don’t know whether it’s because you think you’re fine or better, but you’re just displaying your lack of home training”, he says. My hands start to shake. My breathing is getting shallow. Were my eyes turning grey before? I feel the red creeping in. If I speak now, he will hear the tremble in my voice and mistake it for fear. He will think the anger is only at his insult. He will not understand that his entire existence is an insult to my person and intellect. My words will fail to paint the picture of his idiocy and show him his true self. I feel I must speak. But if I wanted to, it should have been before anger stole my words. I simply pack my things and walk out.

1. Abi: Or

2. No be so: Isn’t that right?

3. Ajebo: Short for ajebutter. Usually used to refer to a person who thinks they are posh and is not smart or rough enough to survive in Nigeria.

Originally posted to the Kalahari Review