Of home remedies and Red hot peppers

This is the second in the series of articles in memory of my mother..

My mother suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and a number of little ailments that never slowed her down but frequently served as irritants. You see, my Mom was the typical hard working African woman and she hated anything that attempted to slow her pace. As a result she had a million and one home remedies for everything.

Mommy was a true African, a child of the sun so to speak. She could not have been born anywhere else. She believed so much in heat therapy she was sure that if the right amount of heat was applied to any ailment it was sure to go! I truly think that if my mother had studied medicine she would have developed a whole range of treatments using heat in any form. Long before infra red lights were invented/ discovered, my Mom knew that you could direct heat to heal internal ailments.
Or how else can one explain her obsession with ‘ sending hot things’ into her stomach as medicine? Her favorite chocolate drink was Ovaltine. Mama loved nothing more than a boiling hot cup of Ovaltine early in the morning. She would down it steaming hot in a few gulps while we watched in wonder that her throat was not scalded! She would say in her usual humorous way that God should have put a zip below the rib cage, running down to the navel. That way you could unzip the tummy and pour in a cup of hot beverage and then quickly zip it up again! She said the the long distance from the mouth to the stomach cooled the beverage and often reduced its healing powers!
Oh Mama!

Then came this day that she took her heat treatments to a whole new level. Her love for heat therapy meant that she had every type of hot balm that was available to be had: mentholatum, Robb, and all sorts. She had a brand called Zorro, the colour was a hot fiery red and was enough to frighten any demons of sickness away; Mama had them all and applied them to various body parts depending on the severity of the pain.
On the day in question she took experimental medicine to the level of extreme danger. She had often remarked that the African red peppers had curative powers. My father would look at her with his indulgent half smile, half frown and walk away. That day she decided to put the red hot peppers to the test.

For months she had grappled with waist pain that defied all medications, orthodox and otherwise. So she took a handful of fresh red hot African peppers, crushed them in her hand and rubbed them generously on the painful spot. A while later, the peppers started sending a message to every part of her body. Mama started to feel uncomfortable, then she moved from uncomfortable to big trouble. Mama had found heat she could not handle, her heart was literally on fire! She called out to Papa that she was in pain, didn’t understand how she was feeling. At first he told her to deal with her monster, until he realized she was in real agony; then the panic started. I don’t know exactly what was applied to bring down the pain but I know the pepper took its time to demonstrate its full powers to my Mom.

That was the end of experimental medicine for the strong beautiful lady we fondly nicknamed Mama GT. And incidentally, it was also the end of the waist/ back pain…

Rest in Peace Mama GT, you were a class act indeed!

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