A Pinch of Saffron: by Ally A. Baharoon

Her smile was wider and brighter on Thursdays. Yasmeen looked on as the children of Gerezani and neighbouring districts came around to knock on her doors. Some were mannered, others less so, but they all arrived with one purpose – receiving their weekly kashata, coconut candy, given out by the lady on Lumumba street. They seemed to like it and that made her happy. Maybe because they were free treats; she liked to believe it was the pinch of saffron in them. She started giving out kashata when she first heard of Musa’s death via the Gerezani grapevine many Thursdays ago. Her previously avowed husband-to-be was no more.

When she first encountered Musa, he was one of the growing number of Arab entrepreneurs in Dar es Salaam. Musa fell in love the moment he saw her walking in the busy streets of Kariakoo and boldly approached her like a hopeful venture capitalist looking for opportunities.

He was the man who was going to marry her except that his mother declared that she would recuse herself from the wedding preparations and subsequently disown him if he followed through. His mother threatened to withhold her blessings, albeit with no explicit reasons. She promised to find him a ‘nice Arab girl’ but it had been seven years now and there was no sign of this mirage.

Yasmeen had been the love of his life but Musa’s naïve business acumen blinded him from seeing that his mother was not a fan of those with too much melanin. His mother hid her prejudice behind practicality, citing that it would be easier for everyone involved if he married a fellow Arab.

When he was finally introduced to the nice Arab girl, Musa abided by his mother’s wishes and wedded her within weeks. On his anniversary, he passed away under mysterious circumstances. His mother followed suit a week later. The nice Arab girl was now a wealthy Arab girl after absconding with the family riches.

News goes around fast in Gerezani and the pace at which these incredulous events occurred amazed even the most stoic.

Now, the lady on Lumumba Street laughed every time she remembered Musa’s incessant questioning. ‘Are you a virgin, Yasmeen? I must know,’ he would inquire every so often. That had been his burning question. His explorative spirit followed him in romance as it did in business. He wanted to be the first. She would smile and nod a deceitful yes, thinking it would be best for him to discover an ordinary truth when they consummated their marriage.

Today, as she handed out the kashata, half a dozen wrapped in each plastic bag, she realised that it had been twelve years now and time had done its work.

The smiles of the children refrained her from telling them that she would not be doing this anymore. Maybe they would find out for themselves next week by the silence in the house.


Ally A. Baharoon (@venturally) was born and raised in Tanzania. He is a recent English grad and a full-time intergalactic journalist who keeps writing and living for cleansing moments of joy.

Related country: Tanzania

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