One of my favourite meals as a young girl in Ogidi of the 80s was nni oka na Ofe ogbono. This is not the typical cornmeal but Nni oka is made from freshly prepared akamu, you stir on medium heat till it’s done and you pour it out in a spacious tray till it is ready to eat which is often best overnight or hours later. The Ogbono soup shouldn’t be too thick or even thick at all.
You add little Ogbono and cut the Okro in circles and the Ugu finely sliced. The Okpei quality matters a lot. This soup must have shaki and dried and stockfish among other meat types. Of course, enough pepper for it to go down well. I used to cook this meal a lot for my husband, he used to tease me about Ogidi na nni oka.
Since he died I shy away from preparing it because it hits a chord but as part of my healing process I have chosen to prepare it today and I don’t feel hit on any chord anymore!!! Grieving is a process and you don’t advise someone or order the person on how to grieve. It comes and goes in stages and the person goes THROUGH each phase and comes out stronger. I have read posts and comments urging people to ‘move on’, I don’t understand what that means but the soul and mind moves on when it is ready and had healed from a phase!!!
If someone had asked me to VOLUNTARILY prepare this meal I would have been reluctant but by my own accord, I chose to do so. We often hurt people who are mourning by instructing them on how to mourn, we owe them prayer and comfort, we owe them, love, we don’t have to judge how they chose to mourn, it’s their decision to make!!
If you’re freshly bereaved and anybody is trying to tell you what to do or what not to do, ignore them except you want to consider their advise. They will not understand your journey because they are not on it with you!!
While waiting for Chisom to return from shopping for fresh items for the soup, I dedicate this piece to all my widowed friends, especially the newly widowed who are still struggling to come to terms with what hit them!!! I was there, I am here, trust me, you will get here one day soon!!! Do I post the photos of the soup and nni oka?????