A TALE OF SPICES
In the City of Spices, the air tingled with scents. It was a haven for all kind of spices both known and imagined. People traveled from near towns and far across the oceans to breathe in the beauty of nature’s delight. It became a nest for the curious, investors and lovers of all things beautiful. The people of City of Spices had anticipated the interest of wealthy individuals to buy their lands, and they were right. Most of the tourists had indicated interest in doing so, but the people knew that their lands weren’t for sale. The City of Spices had become home and they couldn’t give that away.
It wasn’t always like that, once the City of Spices was known as Dump Town. Human dirt had taken over streets and houses. The few plants that weren’t suffocated by the dirt were limp and didn’t have much value. Dumper an old man who was the first settler in the town had lived long enough to experience living in a clean deserted land, to living in dirt that came from his neighbours and people from towns several miles away. He was often seen shouting at truck drivers to quit dumping dirt, much to the people’s amusement. On one of such days, he shouted for long that he slumped and lost consciousness for two days! When he woke up, he had lost his voice but something extraordinary had happened to him.
Dumper called for a meeting but the turn up was poor. The people had thought it had something to do with the shouting protest he had initiated to stop the dumpers, so they stayed back in their homes – after all they were used to the smell. Some days the town smelled like dog fart, which wasn’t horrible compared to what they have had to endure. Dumper’s last son Myom, headed the meeting, becoming his father’s spokesman. The meeting consisted of old men and women who had refused giving up on the place. The young men and women had left refusing to compromise their health or live in a place that had heaps and pools of dirt flowing from one end to the other. What with the flies and diseases lurking in the environment, they had everything to lose; they had their dreams ahead of them. The people sat in the cramped living room and waited. Dumper wrote on a notepad, which he tore and passed to Myom.
‘I lost my voice, but that’s alright.’ Myom read from the note. The expression on the people’s faces changed to horror as he finished reading.
‘How did that happen?’Sefa asked. The thin woman had recently moved into the neighborhood because of an unfortunate turn of events that left her finances lean. A man beside her whispered something into her ears and understanding settled on her face. Of course, they knew of his health condition but they hadn’t realized it had deteriorated. When the horror of Dumper’s health had settled, they sat back in their chairs and waited.
Dumper passed three more papers torn from the notepad to Myom. It read:
‘I have an idea that can change our lives.’
‘We grow sick spices but that can change.’
‘Let’s grow spices that reveal the depth of who we are. If the ones we have aren’t enough, we can stretch ourselves to make new ones until we find the right one.’
The people murmured within themselves.
‘How can we even do that with all this dirt?’ Yesu asked as he raised his hands in the air to convey his emotions.
‘What do you mean by spices that reveal us? You’re not making sense.’ Andrew a pudgy old man said. He was known for his cynicism.
‘I ain’t got time for this. You brought us here to crack jokes?’ She said clapping her hands. ‘I ain’t laughing. I’m leaving man.’ They waited for her to leave but she didn’t budge. Titi, a legendry fake accented woman known for having the fiercest temper in town. She was an object of ridicule for children who whispered behind her back saying; her temper could douse the flaming tongue of a dragon!
‘Why can’t we just grow what we want? My bones are weary son.’ Idoko said in a watery voice that spoke of a life time of age. He was the town’s gossip. He always complained about tired bones but walked around to spread fresh gossip. Confiding in him was equivalent to talking into a microphone on the street.
Dumper passed two more papers to Myom.
‘When you understand the beauty of the heart only then can you appreciate what lurks there. Only the light that shines from the heart can linger long enough. And this will make you know yourselves better. When you grow spices bearing this in mind, you will never get tired.’
‘Plants will be cross grafted to produce spices we don’t already have. Do not limit yourselves.’
‘I don’t even know who I am, how do I begin?’ This idea is impossible it won’t work! Hohohoho.’ Andrew the pudgy cynical old fellow stood up this time to emphasize his point.
‘We all know how negative and foul mouthed you are, make sure you grow the locust tree! Locust beans smell bad but tastes nice!’ Myom said making Andrew feel ashamed.
Everyone burst out laughing. When the laughter subsided, he continued.
‘One mile away from here we’ll set nails to rupture the tires of the trucks. If we do that long enough, they will get the message. Then for the spices, we’ll grow what we already have from ginger, parsley, turmeric, garlic, whatever we can find. We’ll get rid of the dirt by using machines.’
Hands shot up to the air as an indication to be allowed to ask questions. But Myom dismissed them.
‘Get to work all of you.’
Years passed and revelations were made. Great truths were unearthed that changed a lot of lives forever.
The fake accented fiery tempered woman grew nothing in her backward or garden.
‘I ain’t got time to fool around planting silly things I rather sit in my wicker chair and paint my nails.’ |Titi was always heard to say whenever the question of her empty garden was asked. But day and nights she looked longingly through her window craving to have what they had.
Andrew the pudgy cynical old fellow spent season after season changing plants. He grew chili pepper then savory, turmeric, mustard, tamarind, paprika, parsley and then onions. The last time he grew tamarind he was asked by a concerned neighbor:
‘Still changing spices?’
‘Yes I am. I will until I find the perfect one!’ On and on he went, until eventually he found himself. He grew a delicate spice of garlic cross grafted with onions. The spicy roots of garlic were great, he relished it. Put that together with onions, one would have a lingering smell and a tinge presence. This he felt best described him as a person. He was impressionable. Of course, they expected him to settle for anything foul like the locust tree, anything other than impressionable.
Myom grew a farm of bitter plants, the largest the town ever had. He didn’t wait to be asked why he chose such a spice, he whistled the answer whenever he was in the farm. People only take a pinch of me when they need me, whenever they need me. A pinch of me only when they need me. He had become contented enjoying the little offerings of love and attention from people and life.
The town’s gossip Idoko didn’t have to plant spices to understand where his beauty lay; he was already living his life. If information needed to be passed fast, Idoko was the man, he could do it with his mouth in seconds. But for the heck of it he planted curry in small quantity at his backyard. He perceived himself that just like the spice, he added beauty and colour to life. If the people disapproved of his choice, they never said so until death stole him away one fine morning.
Sometimes our eyes limit what we can see.
When the scents of happy people fill the air, birds chirping, a huge yellow sun – shining, plants blossoming in colours and smells, he felt every vibe and emotion strongly as he lay in bed too old, and sick to see everything he had started. But he was grateful, he could see with his mind.