Recently, I came across a peculiar term in psychology called synaesthesia. Mostly it is defined as a neurological or psychological phenomenon whereby a particular sensory stimuls triggers a second kind of sensation. Interesting? The fact that such an idea could be named didn’t just blow my mind but also got me curious.
Reading along, there wss an undefined thought (a claim still under study) in synaesthesia that whenever you eat something, (and you liked it), the taste lingers in your head. And it might stay there for as long as you’ll cherish the thought of eating that food/thing again. Such that in future instances, the smell of such foods brings about the particular flavours in your head.
Isn’t this how we remember how certain fruits tasted better when we were young? Or when you see soap, nails or steel, would feel their tastes in your mouth? Perhaps also, by extension, could it also explain why when you saw commercial ads you’d get a craving for the displayed items? For example when you’d a spot a ad on fries you spontaneously start feeling hungry.
Frankly, I can taste objects themselves when I see them. I can taste the smell of moist soil when it rains, fabrics, metals, walls, wood, you name it. It seems as if childhood experiences/relations have influenced the way I taste the world.
Still I wonder how such triggers may make you to even remember about the people you were with during such ‘tasty moments’. The games you played, the songs you danced and even about a lot of other fancy details.
The closest I’ve heard from other people is that they’ll say the food “looks so good I can almost taste it,” or something like that. Also this would be commonly said about food that smells very good because taste and smell are linked. Yet other times I wonder why someone would say her name looks yellow and another person’s name would taste like pineapples. Or certain words would have a taste in them? Like gruesome, sweet, bitter…. And why you would give someone a cheesy nickname because she makes you feel so mushy. What of the moments when you could “see sounds?” Could these all fall under the category of synaesthesia (or is there a more mundane explanation).
On my part whenever I see mangoes, besides thinking about old fond tastes, I also think about my grandmother. Well there were the mangoes then there was her tirelessly ensuring we didn’t go near her mango trees. So in the occasions when some cousins and I visited – around September; when the mangoes, just beginning to plume, were still green and bitter – she would say that those were for her grandchildren, and we should wait till when they came home in December. Then we’d argue that we were the same grandchildren who would still eat them in Dec, and there was no fault in eating them then. All the while desperately promising not to disturb her come December. But the mangoes aren’t ripe yet? No, we’ll eat with salt, we’d beg. And with that we were sure to have cornered her, and then she would calmly say that we did not total for all of her grandchildren. So, the answer was no, because the mangoes was for all of her grandchildren. Then we would slowly fold our tails. Because we knew granny was softly serious.
Our relationship was close to and awe. Because rarely cained us, besides being the chief disciplinarian, we loved her company. There was no mistake in being called Headgirl. She was kind and stern. What explains why we feared her scoldings, which were often yelled out. Most of the time she reasoned out with us like adults. She would pet boys as gentlemen and girls as ladies. Then her teachings would be based on those ideologies. Majorly, her countless teachings would focus on cleanliness, tidiness, modesty and self respect. Then she would constantly remind us that gentlemen didn’t have to say a lot but only focus on what was important. And fine ladies never blew ther noses carelessly but used handkerchiefs.
But heck, the lady could yell! It happened occasionally after a series of soft answers. When you nagged her too much. She would yell you off. Again, when you were too far away and she had to call your name. She would yell it out. And we never liked these kinds of yelling one bit. The fact that we didn’t like them meant that her teachings had hit base. One of the reasons that stood out among us was that yelling meant that we were just was giving the old lady a hard time. We all saw this and tried to be close to her as much as possible. Also because the neighbouring children sometimes teased us by yelling out our names at plays. But the worst fear was when our parents would come to pick us up, granny would narrate all of our escapades to them. Then after that by any chance you did something permitting stroking, the degree of caining would increase.
But we always got the mangoes, in our own ways. And those hustles are fondly memorable. We used to send at least one of us then the rest offered coverage. Sometimes, the messengers would climb to retrieve them then get attacked with ants while still on top of the trees. Other times when trying to reach some distant mangoes, they would crush to the ground because the topmost branches could not support their weight. These falls were never mentioned and the injures were bared in silent pains. After so many falls we would resort to pelting the mangoes with sticks and stones. This did not make the gathering any easier as you had to do it as silently as possible, without disturbing the leaves, lest she hears you.
I think mangoes were sacred to my grandmother. In fact, all fruits were. She cared for papaws, avocados, mangoes, loquats, pomegranates, guavas, strawberries, tamarinds, oranges and lemons in the rocky and dry soils of Nyakach. Managing the trees in such hot and harsh climate kind of explains her passion and determination. And off all fruits, in her garden we enjoyed mangoes and guavas best. The pinky red guavas were not as sugary. It was the others that had this this milky white color that we mostly enjoyed.
Generally, grandma fruits had this distinctive taste from the ones in the market; other times we thought them to be juicier and fleshier. So much that we found it hard to buy fruits while in the market even if when we were far from home. And come December, everyone would enjoy a feast of all sort of fruits. Which brings me to think that besides caring for her fruits to mature she also cared about sharing. And unknown to us at that time, this was the underlying lesson she was passing across. The need to for a communal responsibility to care for the needs of everyone even if they were far away. And the virtue of sharing whatever is available with everyone.
Well, being far away from home this December, am nostalgic of all the good things that came along for us during this month. Also, it stems from the unfulfilled plans to pay the sweet old lady a visit. Hope you get to enjoy your time with family and loved ones. Happy festivities.
After reading this, one would ask of what happens about when you ate something that you did not like? Does this trigger the same memory response? I’d bet that it depends on how remember it? Wait, do we even have a choice over that? Anyway, what if you tell me about it? Because the last time I remembered eating something bad, my appetite got ruined and I barely touched my food. Well if this experience sounds the same then you’ll probably enjoy Budalangi, chaos in the Kitchen, a story I once wrote in memory of a badly cooked meal.
But do tell me more of something you once ate/heard such that it occasionally reminds you of a place/person maybe.
The Featured Image is from Barbee Anne on Pixabay