So we walked past the empty house, a woman and her husband had lived there once but they’re dead now, both of them. I told my mother about the woman and her soursop tree and her promise to send some to my brothers and I, when they ripened.
“Don’t you know your grandmother has soursop?”
I shook my head but I wasn’t surprised, Mama has plenty trees.
We got to the house, and were waiting for my aunty to gather her things before going back to my father’s village. My aunty got a big paper carrier bag and put a huge unripe pawpaw in it, and several soursop fruits.
“Mama’s soursop?” I asked and Mummy nodded
My grandmother asked what that was about and my mother told her about the woman I had talked about before getting there and her soursop.
“I have soursop here, you like soursop? you can take from your aunty’s own” She said as she gestured to the bag and swung her arms as she stood. Even at ninety, my grandmother has plenty energy.
My mother asked about udara and if they had finished all the udara on the tree.
“Mama, I’d forgotten that you had udara too. I usually remember Bako’s own but not yours.” I quipped.
“Adaezenwa Nwa Mama, your grandmother has everything.” she replied with a smile that could almost be described as mischievous, if she wasn’t ninety years old. I giggled as I always did each time she called me that name. For many years, I thought that was my full name.
We continued to discuss her udara tree and how it’s always the first udara tree to be plucked clean in the whole town because the fruits are extra sweet and do not slap anyone.
“Ehen mma, when will you come and do that thing to our own udara so it can produce sweet fruits.” My mother asked.
“When it gets to a certain height,” Mama replied, gesturing to a height slightly above her head.
“Mama it’s already taller than that now, it’s even taller than me.” I said.
My maternal grandmother had transplanted the udara seedling in my paternal home and it is flourishing into a healthy teenage tree that will sprout fruits in a few years. It is actually the norm for a mother to gift her child with seedlings and cuttings of important plants from her house. My great-grandmother had lovingly planted Okazi in her daughter’s house, the same Okazi continues to thrive forty years later. Her daughter, my paternal grandma of blessed memory visited my aunt in Abuja with ugu cuttings and made an ugu garden that has made my aunt shun the ugu sellers in karu.
“That means it’s ready for it. When you go back, I’ll tell Ebenezer to pick me up so I can go and do it.” Mama replied.
“Mma what exactly are you going to do to it?” Mummy asked.
Mama smiled and even in the soft light of the muted bulbs in the parlour, I recognized that smile. My mother had an identical smile and it only came out when you asked her a question that she wasn’t going to answer. Haters say I have the same smile when I want to be evasive, but I am never evasive. Anyway, that is why they are haters, they lie.
“Mama Nkem, ngwa tell me how you will make our udara sweet.” I reached across the space between us and snaked my arm around her waist.
Because a mother can refuse her child’s request but never her grandchild’s, she explained the process to us. No, I will not tell you. It’s a secret. We soon began to talk about other things and minutes sped past until it was time to head back to my father’s house.
We walked out of the parlour into the verandah, my arm around her waist and we were whispering as we always do, when she asked me again about getting her a grand son-in-law and new great-grandbabies. I groaned in my head and decided to change the subject quickly.
“Mama” I whispered, “How did you know that how to make udara sweet using this method.”
“Adaezenwa nwam,” she said, looking up to see my face and smiling at my ignorance.
“Your grandmother knows everything.”