Over the years, the superhuman nature of the Nigerian woman has been extolled by both males and females alike. My predominantly male household got into a conversation one day and the topic of their mothers’ superhuman kitchen activities came up. They discused how tough their mothers’ hands felt and how they could just pick up a boiling pot from the stove with their bare hands as if it was nothing. I looked at my own hands and what a shocker! It was soft and not heavily callused. I felt pain when I pinched. For the next 2 weeks after I overheard that conversation, I unconsciously tried to live up to my perceived notion of a Great Nigerian Woman. I still have the tiny burn scars to show for this. It wasn’t until after a bad ‘oven burn’ that I gave myself pause and had a rethink. This letter is to all the women out there who barely give a second thought to their own physical well being, almost as if there is an unconscious death wish.
Dear Great Nigerian Woman,
I call you ‘great’ because you are already wesome in my books for being a woman. How is your life long home-making training going? I know you might be tired from the home making, people management and every other thing you do. You are doing great. Don’t let anyone tell you anything different. As a fellow comrade,i am writing you concerning those numerous kitchen scars on your hands and arm.
You do NOT have to pick up that very hot handless aluminium pot of yours with your bare hands. Your stew is already burning, a few more seconds of picking up a piece of cloth will not ruin lunch.
You do NOT have to chase that cooking spoon into the boiling pot of ogbono with your fingers as it slides in. Pause. Think. Find another way. Only you knows what happens in the kitchen. No one will ever know the spoon fell all the way in. What’s more, it won’t make anyone sick either.
When you are frying that fish, do NOT drop the pieces into the hot oil with your hands and then do the little run after the oil has splashed all over your arms and face. That fish is going to make a splash as it goes in. It always has. Use a long frying spoon.
When you are taking out those fried plantains from the pot and one falls to the floor, do NOT pick it up Immediately! 1.its hot. 2. Your face could get caught on the pan handle as you bend down and the oil will come tumbling down.
You do NOT have to cook with a metallic spoon, because let’s face it, you will always place the spoon just atop the metal handle of your pot and the heat from the stove will make the spoon even hotter. And we all know you will always pick up your cooking spoon with your bare hands. Wooden spoons or non stick spoons are the answer.
Do NOT try to ‘feel’ the aluminium kettle that is on the stove to see if its hot. It is hot and it will burn.
Do NOT try to flip the fish on the grill with your bare hands. It’s hot and it’s greasy. It will stick and burn. Save yourself that trip to the kitchen sink and the finger sucking.
Most importantly, there are no hidden cameras tallying up your feminine kitchen burn points. There will be NO award if your intimate relationship with the kitchen fires lands you in the hospital. There is definitely no shame in having soft hands. Someday, your kids are going to tell the tales of your greatness as a Nigerian woman, self inflicted injuries doesn’t have to be part of that tale.
Take special care of yourself.