Itchy Feet

 

Her head is the soup, her body the melting pot into which all the fusions are stored. And we mix and we whirl and we stir and we decipher and distil… Front to back, back to front.

Egusi soup trails, Ingra fish theories, traces of Nigeria, tongue sprinkled with flavours of lost language. This is where we started, by birth alone: suya sticks, roasted peanuts, fresh mango, salted avocado, pepper soup and yam. The chilli is hot hot and good. Dancing, song, vibrancy, colours, chaos. Mix two years in Bombay— a young taste for coriander, goat curry, lamb and cumin, beef, tikka, dhal, roti, naan, spice chai spice chai and the sweets melting in your mouth. Learning to count in Hindi, brightness, festivals, rickshaw. One and a half years of Malta later— nuns and mass, boarding school, thick slices of bread with tuna, olives, tomato paste, pizzas with sliced egg ciao ciao bambina the sunny sea side where men play soccer and the walls are terracotta. And we dance and we swirl and we’re somewhere else now: London with the share town-houses, cobbled streets, tube trains, black cabs. Aberdeen which seems so much wider and greener and Story-book Glen, country side stomps finding mushrooms, sheep in paddocks, first snow, castles as common as houses. And we dance and we swirl and we’re somewhere else now: a large and dry island, but I still taste the world on my tongue.

My head is the soup, my body is the melting pot into which all the fusions are stored. And I’m gasping to taste more. Itchy feet: staying stationary is only temporary. So it’s South East Asia, and East Coast Australia. It’s Europe and North America. Front to back, back to front. Southern comfort food: ribs, and steak, and chicken wings, collard greens and the best apple pie to date. Borscht soup, dumplings, escargot, pomme frittes and so many ways to have meat, and vegetables and fish but food, food— it brings us together, it takes us back. It makes us cry, “This is it. This is home.” One of each, one of many, all of none.

My head is the soup, my body is the melting pot into which all the fusions are stored. Front to back, back to front. North to south, east to west… makes me two parts Motown and soul, two parts jazz, hip-hop, gospel, funk, reggae, Greenday, Silverchair (not even almost there), post rock, indie, garage, two-step, chill-wave, electronic dance, and just about everything else…. bar trance. Maybe.

An old soul, deep thinker, over analyser… with sprinkles of humour. A dreamer, who moves by fire. One part sassy whip-sharp tongue, only in the right condition. Hiding behind walls for safety, but when the forest’s ablaze there’s no stopping this quest to be free. And I’m not sure what this measures up to now, but I guess I’m no longer counting. No box to contain me, no stereotype detains me. See, we are all parts of so many. Picking and plucking from the life-giving tree. Mixing and stirring. Discarding, reinventing. A gracious, delicious, ceremony.

And my head is the soup, and my body the melting pot. The world on my tongue— still writing my recipe.

 

Illustrations by Derek Bassey | @derekbassey