Thursday, October 22, 2009

Portrait #96: Māe (other than you, Mom)

In celebration of having my Internet working at home and hence feeling a tad more connected to the ones I love, here is a portrait of the person who is tirelessly dedicated to making sure my home is truly home.

The first thing you must know about her is that she is a professional baker. She specialises in wedding cakes and other cakes for special occasions. She is very talented at what she does, producing enormous bits of sweet deliciousness in huge wood-burning and other traditional-style ovens (she has three ovens). Then she meticulously ices and decorates them to perfection.

This is not a bad quality to have in a landlady, not at all! In fact, she made my birthday cake for me. We ordered it from her but she refused to accept any money.
Besides being a baker, she is a mother of seven: 6 boys and a girl. But she is called "māe" - "mom" - by many more people than that. Several of her nieces who are from villages several hours away from the capital live with her so they can study and work here in the city. They help her cook and bake, and she looks out for them.

She also runs the "kiosk", a small shop which provides the basics for the houses in our community. We get our water and eggs at the kiosk, where she can often be seen sitting behind the counter or serving customers. At other hours she assigns one of her sons or nieces to the kiosk.

On top of this, her husband is a politician. Well, an old-school politician: he's the "xefe suco", which is roughly translated into English as "village chief". So at any hour of the day, random guests may show up at her house with a query or a request. She leaves the visitors to chat with her husband while making sure one of the girls serves them water or juice or biscuits.

Finally, even though she has never lived in my house, it is her glory. She picked out the dining room set, a beautiful but simple wooden table with six matching chairs. She chose the doors and the window frames of matching wood. These furnishings were not cheap, but she chose them because she loves them. She has been involved in every step of constructing our bathroom: choice of tiles, choice of shower stall... She lets me choose, but then she gently suggests if there is something she likes better. She told me she bought a very expensive hot water heater, because my shower had to be good.

The house is hers, it's her home, but I live in it.

When things have started to go wrong with the construction process of my parking area, or the bathroom, or the fence, she has stepped in and expressed her frustration and made things right.

I asked her one day how old she is. She's 44 years old, and has a career and a good family. She told me that she is happy: she simply smiled and nodded and said she's content.

1 comment:

worthyoflove said...

Wow she sounds like a modern-day Proverbs 31 wife, a jewel. How lovely that you get the privilege of fellowshipping with a lady such as this. Enjoy!! (and your birthday cake looks awesome!) xxxx

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