I smelt fear for the first time when mom died. Strangers, loud mouthed and boisterous, dragged us through dark alleys smelling of rotting red meat and wilting vegetables, yelling “I have what you want”, “Come, buy from me”. Dad always looked so confused, worry lines were proudly furrowed across his forehead. I feared that he would get wrong the Utazi for the Egusi soup or that the fresh fish would be sold to him for an outrageous price. The fear smelt damp, sour and of tomatoes rotting slowly under the fierce sun.

Dad hovered by the gas cooker, his gaze intent on the pan of eggs frying on top of it, he didn’t want to burn the eggs like the last time, he occasionally poked a fork at the sides. He chopped up fresh tomatoes and ugu hurriedly and swished into the pan. The beads of sweat began to trickle down to the front of his crisp white shirt. The kettle whistled atop the cooker, he quickly reached out for it and almost immediately let out a shriek. He had reached for the kettle, without a napkin and it burned his hands. He let the cold water from the sink rush over his hands. The eggs was burning.

Dad turned to face us, a plate of burnt eggs in his hand. I saw the color of fear in his eyes, the whites of his eyes was a fierce unnatural red like he had Apollo and made his eyes water. Dad blinked furiously, like he always did, when he was upset that the white rice had too much salt or the pasta turned out too sticky, disappointment curled down his lips.

We tasted fear unwillingly, in silence. The taste of fear was the breakfast of burnt eggs and  toast. It tasted raw yet familiar, the fear that we might have a breakfast like this again. It left an odd feeling in our mouths. It tasted like the yearning love of a father who was willing to keep trying everyday, just for us. We swallowed the fear and let it slide down our throats and into our hearts.

About The Author

Martha Obike is a creative writer who is obsessed with African literature and creative photography. She loves meeting new people, empowering women, and making a difference. She considers herself an African Feminist and tech enthusiast. She currently manages her own lifestyle blog.  www.dailykeishaz.com You can connect with her on Instagram with @keishajohnsonz