Ojo’s little brown feet pattered over the packed hard red earth, weaving his way over the millions of potholes that were the remains of the road. The Nigerian rains were almost over and this was the way his street looked. Two more houses with eight stalls of busy traders in front to go and he would be at the gate to his fathers’ compound.
They lived in the city of seven hills – Ibadan. He had just learned in school that they were also called “the tin roofed city of the world”. How exciting! It made him more proud of where he lived. To be living in a city known all over the world.
Seven more pot holes and was home. He grabbed the cold iron gate and strained against its weight until it gave way. There was enough room for him to squeeze through and he did. Then he used all the might his little thin arms could muster and pushed the gate closed. Just as it clanged shut, he heard his mother, “Ojo!” she yelled in her deep voice.
“Mama” he answered.
“Hurry with those Maggi™ cubes.”
Mama made that delicious soup for his rice extra delicious with Maggi™ cubes. She would drop it in the soup and its salty flavouredness would get down in the food.
“Where is it, little man” Mama reached out her hand without looking, her back to him.
Ojo opened his little hand and saw he had squished some of the cubes and the foil wrapper was off in some places. Mama took it anyway and quickly took off the foil of each of the three, with one hand while stirring the soup with the other.
The Maggi™ cube grains left on Ojo’s hands were enough. He was excited. He eagerly found a quiet spot in the courtyard and squat down on the cement ledge. With eyes bright, he bent over this hand that had the reddish smudge from the Maggi cube. He licked his had tiny spots at a time so that the joy of the taste would last.
“Enjoying it?” his mother interrupted. She had stood up from her low stool in front of the cooking pot on the hot firewood, across the courtyard.
“Mm” Ojo nodded.
Mama smiled. “You know that’s just like us Christians. We are the salt of the Earth. We give the Earth its flavor”
“What does that mean Mama?” He knew how to make the Maggi™ cube salt last through any of her stories. So he settled back to hear her tale.
“Well, Jesus said we Christians are the salt of the Earth. How would you like me to cook some soup to go over your rice, that didn’t have Maggi™ cube in it?”
“I wouldn’t like it I guess.”
“I almost did. That’s why you had to run quick and buy some from Auntie Shola. If I hadn’t put it in, it wouldn’t have tasted the same.”
“O.K.” Ojo licked his hand unimpressed. Mama came over and sat on the cement slab next to him.
“Stop licking that hand with the Maggi™ on it for a minute.”
“Swallow the last bits of the taste in your mouth.”
She waited. He swallowed and smacked his lips. They smiled at each other.
“O.K. now lick your other hand” Mama said.
“How did you enjoy that?”
“Not as much as the other hand with the Maggi™ cube in it.”
“Exactly. Jesus says without us Christians the Earth wouldn’t be as nice.”
“Mm” Ojo looked at his mom and thoughtfully licked the salt less hand again, “that would not be good. But what do we do to make the Earth ‘taste’ better?”
Mama pulled her once bright orange tiny New Testament out from under her wrapper, “Let’s see what Jesus says” as her fingers riffled through the thin brown familiar pages. “In Matthew 5:13, Jesus said” as she found and read haltingly, pointing to the words as Ojo leaned over to look, “You are the salt of the earth, if you loose your taste how will the Earth taste good (if you loose your taste what can we use to make you taste good. Then the Earth won’t taste good). [You are the salt of the earth. If the salt looses its flavor wherewith will we flavor it].
Because Christians are in the world, the world can feel what love feels like, they can see peace and they can know joy. They see that through the way we live.”
Ojo kept licking his Maggi™ cube crumbs thoughtfully. “So when children are acting mean at school to me and I invite them to the Sunday school picnic, they can see true love through me.”
“Exactly. You’ve got it!” Mama said as she got up and went to stir the pot. “Go tell your sisters to set the table. This soup/sauce is ready.”
Ojo licked the last bit of Maggi™ cube off of his hand and leapt up in joy. “Yipee! Lunch time” he announced yelling all the way into the house. “Lunch time. Rice an stew very plenty, with Maggi™ cubes to make it tasty! Lunch time!”
A hearty lunch was had by all as Ojo remembered the ‘salt’/Maggi™ cube, he would have to be to the world.
Copyright © 2008 Carroll Ayo Durodola
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