I always pronounced it as ‘hoo-moos’.
Try as I may, I could never get my Nigerian accent to get some words right; it always got in the way. Like when I was giving a presentation, all British and thing, and all of a sudden, that Mother Tongue Interference just popped out.
“The British Education System is experiencing a ‘deat’ of experienced teachers due to…” The ‘r’ and the‘t’ just completely disappeared or morphed into something Hyginus, our former driver, will have recognised instantly.
Call me snobbish, elitist, Posh African, Colonial Mentality…na you sabi. You want to fit in, you have to ‘sound in’.
Anyway, there I was, waiting for my main, while enjoying my humus with freshly baked bread out of a raffia bread basket, when he came up to me.
“Mind if I share with you?”
I looked around in puzzlement to see who he was talking to while standing in front of me.
“You”, he smiled, his front tooth half-crooked; the only flaw in an otherwise, perfect face. (There I go again, me and perfection sef!)
There must be some catch, I thought wonderingly, he must be looking for ‘dark meat’ to sample or he’s on a dare or something…he can’t just come up to me. Mba nu! I’m even wearing my full ‘African’, complete with ichafu!
“No, not at all”.
How that came out without a stutter, only God knows. Why it even came out… another mystery.
Still smiling the half-crooked smile, he sat down, put his iPad case on the table beside the yoghurt and mint dip, slicked his hair back and ran the same hand over his close-cropped beard.
Ifurọ ya, agwọ! snake! What’s left of him now is to flick his forked tongue out and lick the side of his lips, I thought viciously.
“No, I don’t have an ulterior motive. I like you and before you say, ‘But you don’t know me’, let me clarify – I’m drawn to you and I want to get to know you”.
I didn’t care if I sounded churlish, ill-mannered or bush. What would this handsome, Turkish man want with me?
“Why not”? he replied, the smile never slipping off his face. “Is there something wrong with me or you for that matter?”
“No, no, nothing…nothing at all”, I tried not to stammer out my reply, bog-standard as it sounded to my ears.
“Good. So what are you having”?
Great, I thought, Why did he have to ask that? Can’t he see what I’m having? How am I supposed to pronounce that bloody word!
“Hoo-moos”, I croaked over the slice of still-warm bread I threw into my mouth to mask that stupid mother tongue…
“Hoo-what”?, the smile grew wider.
I didn’t care that I was glaring with bread-stuffed cheeks. I gave him my best ogress look. It didn’t work. He burst out laughing.
“I do like you. You are cute when you make that face. I will get to know you and I want to hear how you say ‘Falafel’ ”