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Excerpt – The Kitchen Table

Mohammed and Badrieh by the kitchen table in Wetumka Oklahoma

Excerpt – The Kitchen Table

“I remember clearly the kitchen table in our Wetumka, Oklahoma house. It was oval with an Art Deco design, a speckled white Formica top, and a metal frame that held it together. It was bisected in the middle, along its short axis, allowing the table to be pulled apart and extended. However, I never saw it in its lengthened configuration. I’m not sure we even had the middle leaf. Knowing my father, I am quite sure he bought the table second-hand and “as is” at a local auction.

There were four simple metal-framed chairs with curved backs and padded seats upholstered in a plastic, garish floral print. It was the thick, cheap plastic that grandmothers used to cover sofas back in the day. The kind of plastic that crinkled and crunched when you sat on it. Never mind that we were a family of five, the four chairs were sufficient. This was because my father rarely, if ever, took his meals with Mom and my brothers. He preferred, perhaps expected or demanded is a better term, to have his meals served to him on the coffee table in the living room.

Other than the bedroom that I shared with my younger brother Sami, this kitchen table was where I think I spent most of my time while in the house. The table was for eating, sure, but I also did homework there or simply sat, legs dangling and kicking, bugging my mother by asking interminable questions while she worked. In summer shorts, the backs of my thighs stuck uncomfortably to the plastic seats making my usual squirming and fidgeting a difficult and somewhat uncomfortable affair.

The kitchen was the true heart and soul of the house where people entered and exited our home. It was not the “don’t-bother-your-father-room,” otherwise known as the living room. The kitchen was a safe haven, a place apart from all others. It seemed to breathe, expanding and contracting as people came and went through the day. It could be cool, almost chilly, early in the morning, then morph into a fevered and frenetic restaurant during mealtime.

I recall the rapid clicking and hissing of the pressure cooker on the stove, adding its distinctive sound to the symphony of conversations that took place around the table. The aromas of garlic and onions often accented with allspice, cinnamon, and cumin permeated the air as it was my mom’s favorite spice and flavor palate for the Middle Eastern dishes that defined my childhood…”

Wetumka, Oklahoma

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