A laugh bubbled in her throat as my eyes widened, glued to the bowl she’d placed before me. We’d just returned from a stroll to the local bakery where we’d scooped fresh croissants, pain au chocolat, and baguettes, dutifully watching our waistlines by avoiding the display of sweeter pastries.
“We drink tea like this back home,” Mama said, sitting in a seat across from me. I tried to envision Madagascans and Comorians sipping on massive bowls of tea in the sweltering heat as palm trees swayed above, but the sight before me wouldn’t allow it. It wasn’t so much that she’d prepared and delivered my tea in what I considered to be a cereal bowl – I’m a Brit, and handling tea of any proportion isn’t a huge feat – it was the yellow label that clashed with the red ceramic on the side of the bowl. It was Lipton tea.
I smiled weakly. If forcing the corners of my mouth upwards and willing my eyes to sparkle could be considered a smile, that’s exactly what I did. My smile was shaky, but not as bad as my hands as they slowly approached the bowl. Her eyebrows rose a little, as she lifted her eyes from her own bowl of steaming tea.
“Is it okay?” Her voice chimed despite the flash of worry in her smile.
“Yes, it’s fine…” I managed. What more could I say? I could not divulge, during our very first breakfast together, that I absolutely abhor Lipton tea; I couldn’t tell her that I used to beg friends and family to bring me super size packs of PG Tips whenever they came over to Cairo several years ago; and I most certainly couldn’t tell her that I would much rather drink water from my washing machine than an entire bowl of the yellow label atrocity. So I gulped, flashed her my pearly whites, and downed the hot liquid as I held my breath, internally praying she didn’t take my haste for thirst, leading to another offering of tea.
‘Tomorrow, just accept the orange juice,’ I chided myself. ‘Even if it kills you.’
© LaYinka Sanni, February 2015.