Can’t Take No for an Answer

by Karen Topakian

Nana

Nana

My sister and I had just come home from high school one day in the late 60’s, when the wall phone in my parent’s den rang. My mother, sister and I stared at it. Even though, we weren’t sure who was calling, we had a pretty good idea – Nana. Nobody reached for it. We all knew what she wanted – to give us her home made Armenian food.

My sister reluctantly picked up the receiver.

“I thought you weren’t home. The phone rang a few times,” stated Nana, exasperated.

“Hi, Nana.”

My mother and I nodded knowingly.

“Gail, tell your mother I made some bonjadabood for Armen (a soupy mix of spinach and barley),” explained Nana.

Gail put her hand over the mouthpiece. Before she could repeat Nana’s offer, my mother shook her head emphatically no.

“No, Nana. Mom said no.”

“It’s still hot. I just made it.”

“Mom said no.”

My mother continued to shake her head, without knowing what she was offered, because the contents didn’t matter. My mother saw these frequent Armenian food offerings as an interruption in her menu, which she didn’t appreciate.

Gail repeated her negative response.

“Let me talk to your mother.”

Gail stretched out the long curly phone cord and handed the receiver to my mother.

“Hi mom,” said my mother. “How are you?’

“Alice, I don’t know why you don’t want some bonjadabood. You know Armen likes it.”

“It doesn’t go with what I’m making for dinner,” explained my mother making a sour face at the thought of this dish’s gloppy texture.

“Then serve it tomorrow night.”

“You and dad enjoy it.”

“I made plenty.”

“I don’t need it this time.”

“Alice, why are you so stubborn. Send the girls over,” insisted my Nana. “It’s all packaged up.”

“They have homework to do,” declared my mother through clenched teeth.

“What about Armen? He can pick it up on his way home. If you call him now, you can reach him.”

“Mom, thank you anyway,” said my mother hanging up the phone.

An hour later, there was a knock on the kitchen door.

My mother opened it only to see my grandfather holding a big round metal pan covered with aluminum foil. “This is for Armen,” he said handing it to her.

“You didn’t need to bother to bring it,“ responded my mother frustrated.

He muttered in Armenian, shrugged and left.

My mother announced to the pan, “Why can’t she ever take no for an answer.”

I offer this post in memory of my grandfather who was born on Jan 17, 1895.

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