Peppery Snail Soup

This is what I remember:

running into your sitting room

holding up an offering of snails

and pepper ''from the bush''

and announcing to the gathered guests that we would have,

for dinner, peppery snail soup.

I remember my incomprehension at the sudden laughter

that burst out like it was planned, my heartbeat quickening, faster now,

I remember I wanted to cry.

You called me, Grandma,

you were laughing too,

only not at me but with me, at them

I remember your beautiful smell: something fragile and something good

as holding me close you said

''Of course we'd have the soup''

It was some time before I found out,

my pepper ''bush'' was your pepper farm,

that those snails were the tiny ejula

the ones that aren't eaten.

This memory:

of a girl barely seven, holding her silver- haired Grandma,

as the laughter died,

is what this girl has cooked and stirred, kept, stored up

when everything else seemed bleak,

because you taught me it doesn't matter how many mistakes I make

It matters that I seek.

Nneoma Ike-Njoku's picture

I have won the international Writing for Peace Prize (second place), highest honours in English Literature at Loyola Jesuit College, first place at the Lufthansa Educational Talent Award, and have been shortlisted for the Farafina Writing Workshop and longlisted for the 2013 Golden Baobab Picture Book Prize.

Last updated July 14, 2015