New Wife bants: The search for ‘Ponmo’
I have learnt in the past few months that for a newly-wed woman in Nigeria, feeding one’s husband is a matter of national importance. From the moment I said ‘I do’, conversations with all and sundry have been laced with this recurring question “Have you cooked for your husband?” Phone calls that begin as work-related switch to “You should go home and cook for Oga” faster than I can spell my new surname. These humans around me lack boundaries.
I thought my Mom was the only person unperturbed by all the husband-feeding hubbub, as she had never mentioned it. I should have known this was unusual. The other day she called, and after beating about the bush she asked “So, what’s for dinner?” Innocent question right? No. I could sense her tone of voice. That same tone my parents use when they want to subtly drop a hint. The tone they use when they want to ask,
without wanting to sound like they are putting you under pressure if you have started praying to God for a spouse. The same tone with which they asked me several years ago, if the friend I said I was coming home with after my graduation from University was a lady or a guy.
Nigerians are the founders of nosiness sha! You would think with our joint interest in what my husband eats they have plans to make a contribution or something. The next time I’m asked if I have cooked for my husband I will kuku call out the items on my market list, complete with prices and all. We might as well do a joint contribution and plan his meals together.
Anyway, I told my Mom what I was going to cook and she added, “with plenty fish and ponmo right?” Same tone.
That tone of voice that pushed me to market that afternoon in search of ponmo. You would think this is a simple task until you go to Utako market. One would think ponmo sellers would simply stay close to those selling meat, as common sense would have it. No, they rather hawk upandan making us look for them like pins in a haystack. I walked about till I could take it no more, got into the car and simply drove home. My dear mother wouldn’t be around to inspect the contents of my pot after all.
You see, I absolutely dislike going to the open market. I don’t know which irritates me more, the human traffic and consequent body contact that I have little control over, or all that randomness of market stalls. I think it’s the randomness. I can’t understand why a fishmonger’s stall is sandwiched between someone trading bathroom slippers and another person selling bleaching creams. Totally unrelated wares.
When I become President *clears throat*, the first thing my administration will do will be to arrange market stalls according to wares. Ponmo sellers will be given a choice location right at the entrance to make life easier for newly weds like myself. At least i will have a manifesto that i can deliver when you guys vote me into power. Nigeria 2035. Sai Iember.
But till then, if I find your nose in my business with regards to this husband-feeding business, I will
not so politely hand it back to you.