I am one of those people who would gladly spend the million dollars I won on a televised singing competition on boiled maize. Matter of fact; if boiled maize had a concert at Kyadondo, I’d gladly purchase a VIP ticket just to be abreast with her alluring performance as it unfolded. I wouldn’t even blink.
One of my favourite parts is sucking the ‘supu’ (as a friend aptly baptised it) from a succulent cob post-mortem.
This is why purchasing boiled maize is such a bitter-sweet experience for me. Every single time I halt a lady hawking these enchanted missiles packed with oral seduction, it is the emotional equivalent of a seasoned preacher entering a casino with a half-cooked chunk of boneless meat in his grasp – there is a lot at stake!
“Njagala agoonda, nyabo”. Making my fantasy clear is a big deal because, apparently, some people prefer it hard – much like self-deluded teachers setting a final exam.
Then follows the most interesting part – watching her poke at the maize in ‘search’ of the perfect one. I often wonder if her fingers know something mine don’t. They never peel or even partially expose the maize to confirm it is soft or succulent, they always poke it with a thumb that speaks what I shall now baptise maizeese (universal language through which maize communicates).
As she thoughtfully pokes away at the individual ‘contestants’ like a retired morse code expert, my heart always whispers a prayer to the heavens for success. If you have ever texted a lady that you love her, this type of maize selection is the emotional equivalent of awaiting the fair lady’s reply.
Just as your phone lights up signalling you to open and read her response, the maize lady finally selects one winner from the finalists and packages it – in a transparent polythene bag. I think this is the societal equivalent of a sugar-daddy subtly parading his new catch around in an eye-catching, dust-free, UAX-numbered lustmobile.
“Akaveera olina aka bulaaka?”
“Okay. Neeyanzizza, nyabo.”
I walk off, heart playing the giddy goat and expression locked to poker-face because normal people shouldn’t be as excited as I am about boiled maize.
The experience of unwrapping my spoils is always a dimly-lit one-way street that ends up in one of two shadowy boulevards, with my only other choice in the matter being whether I should pay with my animal-embellished, near-valueless Shilling coins or my inflation-wrecked, wrinkle-riddled bank notes.
On the good days, I succeed! It’s a pristine cob of maize; supu wetting my excited fingers as they fish out the remaining buviiri after removing its sheath. The grains are neatly lined up like askaris at a morning parade; ready to serve. On these days, I purposefully take it slow; hair after hair until all that is left is the beautiful nakedness of the meal to devour. It is, perhaps, metaphorically similar to that honeymoon night when the newly-weds decide to consummate. The first bite is angelic, and yet every bite after that is tastier than the last. The end of the grain-chewing ushers in a secret new round of festivities. After gently swallowing what was left of these celestial cysts from the colossal cob, I pout my lips, heave my clueless lungs, and muster the initial vacuum necessary to suck the oddly-sensational supu from my now-bare, supu-laden, super-size maize cob. I ‘sip’, ‘sip’, and ‘sip’ some more, taking pauses in between to praise the Lord for his creation, look around for judgemental eyes, and gather more suction energy. It is messy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. As the supu slowly reduces in amount, I slowly start to return to earth, and with one final decisive sip, I surrender the cob to a nearby bin and switch my mind to locating a water source for washing hands or a fabric (preferably not mine) that I can wipe them off of.
On the bad days, it’s a fail-train and I’m in the Captain’s seat. The maize sheath goes off with ease, only to reveal a sad state of affairs, much like Uganda’s politics.
• Sometimes, it’s a battered bunch of pulseless pellets. The grain is shrivelled up, and has a top-side depression like a lady’s dorsal view. This is maize that should have been eaten by WWII veterans, but they’d died at war, so it just struggled through the centuries – doing odd-jobs for tonto money – till a random Ugandan purchased it one day.
• Some other times, I unwrap the gift only to find a primary school class at break-time. The grains are out of line like that pretentious narcissistic old lady trying to skip the bank queue. Some of them are so buff and squeezed together, I’m tempted to look around the cob for the gym they were hitting.
• On other occasions of misfortune I have had the sad chance of encountering, the maize is pristine – at first. It is so good-looking in fact, that I think to myself “Eh! What if someone had gotten to you before me?” and true to my thoughts, it is not long before what looked like dark smudges now take form and start to crawl around. It turns out the maggots got here first, but since I see no planted flags of possession, it’s usually a simple case of remove them and pretend they were never there to begin with.
I’ll end this with two maize puns since I want to fry it covered.