The bright green, fresh and tender okra brought back memories of standing on a footstool and sharing a kitchen counter with my mother. As I rinsed my okra, I remembered instructions and warnings drilled into me—all specific to cooking okra in India.
1. Always buy twice as much as you need because half will definitely be rotten on the inside.
2. Never use okra whole or in large chunks because you might end up eating the rot that you can’t see. (Numbers 3 and 4 are obvious requirements resulting from numbers 1 and 2.)
3. Soak the okra in a mixture of bleach and water to exterminate e coli and its distant relatives. Then rinse and dry every single piece with a clean, dry towel.
4. Slit every okra lengthwise and carefully examine the innards for worms and weevil droppings.
Ones with even the tiniest hint of anything foreign resulted in the entire okra tossed in the trash. Saving the unaffected portion of the okra was not an option in my mother’s kitchen. And looking for worms and droppings was my job.
I was very good at it—probably out of fear that my negligence might poison the family! It wasn’t an easy task either. It wasn’t something I could multitask while listening to music or talking to a friend. The okra required my undivided attention. Okra worms are masters at camouflage. They curl and entwine themselves around the inner ribs and tunnels with their little heads looking just like the creamy white okra seeds. And you have to look really closely to identify the tiny grey dot of a mouth that differentiates the worm from the okra seed.
All this training came back to me as I prepared my okra. I really wanted to fry them whole, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that. So I did like I was six again. I began slitting each one lengthwise and carefully examining it for worms and droppings. One by one, over and over. About half way through and having found no worms, I objectively and rationally realized I needed to stop with the craziness.
But, I simply couldn’t. I continued, until I checked every single okra in the bunch.
The whole thing got me thinking. This is how I am in life. I have a major case of the okra syndrome. I remember the details of every time I’ve been burned, hurt, taken advantage of. And I go overboard with preemptive measures, making certain I never have a worm or weevil dropping in my life again.
In a way, I guess that’s a good thing. But in more ways, it’s not good at all. Paranoia has a way of sucking the fun out of life.You can find more devotions like this in the Alabaster Jars series. The first book has 53 readings and the second 99. Consider the books as a gift for yourself or someone else. Whether you buy the paperback or the Kindle version, you’ll be making a difference in a woman’s life–100% of the proceeds go towards teaching women how to read.