Opening the front door, I was welcomed by the distinctly sweet smell of honey boiling on the cooktop. “Mum must be having a good day”, I thought grateful for the delicious aroma caressing my senses. It sure beat the bitter stench of burnt custard which assaulted me when I opened the door yesterday.
Turning the corner into the kitchen, I lightly glided my hand over the etches and stains on the white marble benchtop, thinking of the countless hours watching yiayia prepare food on this surface – cutting home made pasta, rolling out pastry for pies and kneading the daily bread for the family. I took the wooden spoon resting next to the cooktop and stirred the honey simmering away in a saucepan. It had become thick enough to smother the walnut biscuits sitting on the cooling rack. Turning the gas off, I could clearly remember yiayia making these traditional biscuits, “Amelia baby” she would say, “These will be perfect only if you’re happy when you make them”. Smiling as I felt her spirit surrounding me, talking to me, warming my soul, “If food is not cooked with love and respect, it won’t taste right and it’s time completely wasted”.
Lost in my thoughts, I barely heard the words, “Did you make the earlier bus today Amelia? I wanted to have the biscuits ready for you by the time you got home”. Feeling the temperature drop as yiayia’s spirit was replaced by the physical presence of my mother, I turned around and saw her spinning around to show me her new dress.
“Do you like it?” she asked, “Do you think Antonio will like it?”
“You look beautiful mum. Did he finally call?” I tentatively asked.
As she smiled and nodded, I felt both relief and sorrow. Relief that mum’s on again off again boyfriend had finally called and that her faith in love had been restored. The sorrow came from a deeper place within my soul, one where I felt pity for a woman who only valued her worth based on the actions of a man. I will never be like her. I will be the judge of what I am worth and who is worthy of my love.
The phone started ringing interrupting my thoughts, “Hello?”
“Amelia, it’s Antonio. Is Isabella there?”
My mother took the phone from me and soon I could hear her voice becoming more strained and desperate with each sentence. “Please don’t do this, not so soon, not with her. How can you choose her over me again!” I turned to see her abruptly drop the phone and her body begin to heave with uncontrollable sobs. Running across the kitchen her hand swiped across the bench, clipping the rack filled with the biscuits.
Watching them fall to the ground I could not help but be filled with sadness and a sense of loss. Grabbing the dustpan and brush I reflected how easily the kitchen had once again become just a place to satisfy the need to prepare and consume food.