GRATEFUL #1

I am hungry. Terribly.
Food is the only thing I can think of right now. I greet people as I walk, shake hands, bump shoulders and pat backs, but I do not really see them. I am very hungry. I trudge home with hope. I smile as I remember my friend, Sola’s words, “No matter how hungry or tired you say you are, you still muster the strength to walk home.’ I must get home.

When I get to my room, I hurriedly drop my bag on my bed and turn to the part of my room that is designated as the kitchen. All the plastic containers in which I store food to keep away rats are empty. I check and recheck them, as if refusing to believe they are really empty. Dejected, I go to my bed and sit down. My stomach rumbles, and I get up again. I open all the containers again but they are still empty. No magic has happened. I sit down on the floor and begin to bite my nails. I look up at the ceiling, as if at God, and scratch my head. As I lower my eyes, I see the polythene bag hanging on the wall. My bag of noodles! I hurriedly get up and snatch it off the wall. It feels very light, and, when I look into it, I find only one pack of noodles. My heart leaps in joy. I could cook that. I tear open the nylon wrap, break off a bit and munch, then empty the rest into a pot and add water. I light the stove and set the pot on it, then I sit in front of it and rub my hands in anticipation.

After staring at the pot for a while, I get bored, and decide to open it and check the noodles. The pot cover is cold, not warm, and the noodles is just sitting in water. The water, when I touch it, feels lukewarm. Panic rises to my heart as I take the pot off the stove and check the stove tank. It is dry, and even though the wicks are burning, the fire is very low, and is starting to burn out.
The noodles has sat too long in water to be eaten like crackers, and there is no kerosene to cook it. My only hope of lunch has been dashed! If only I had checked the stove before lighting it! Tears rise to my eyes and I sit on the floor and rest my head in my hands. I am tired.

I decide to call my mum. I am too broke to even consider eating out, so my mum is my last hope. I get up and take my phone out of my bag. As I put the phone to my ear, and think of the best way to start my lamentation, I am jostled out of my thoughts by the words, “You currently do not have sufficient airtime to make calls.” I check my balance and discover that I still owe my service providers hundred naira. I throw my phone on the bed in anger.

I go back to my ‘kitchen’, and take the noodles out of water, and set it on a dry plate. Perhaps it will dry up soon and I will be able to eat it like crackers. I return to my bed and begin to rifle through all the purses in it, in the hopes of finding some forgotten money. No such luck. Tears rise to my eyes again as it dawns on me that I am without hope. My stomach rumbles again and I get up to drink some water. I change into some old, faded shorts, lie on my bed and stare at the ceiling, hoping to fall asleep.

I put my hands in my pockets and feel something smooth in the right pocket. I pull it out and whoop when I see that it is a fifty naira note. Sweet Jesus! Money! I jump up, and rush out to Mama Sade’s shop.
“Give me garri,” I say without even remembering to greet her.
“How much?” She asks.
“Two cups.” After she measures it into a small nylon bag and hands it to me, I hand her the money and turn to go.
“Ahn Ahn, brother Tunde, your money is not complete o.”
“Eh? It’s not complete ke? How much is the garri?”
“Sixty naira for two cups.”
“Ah! No be twenty five naira for one cup?”
“No o! Since when? Don’t you know the language our economy is speaking? Please give me the remaining ten naira o.”
“Look, I don’t have ten naira. Okay, remove one cup, and give me groundnuts from the change.” I hand her the garri and she removes one cup and adds two groundnuts.


When I get back to my room, I settle down to drink my garri with groundnuts. As I swallow spoon after spoon of stone-speckled garri, I think of Paul the Apostle’s words, “I know how to be in need…” I wonder about hungry people elsewhere, who might not have a ‘forgotten’ fifty naira to fall back on; who might have to soothe their rumbling bellies with water; or who might have to sleep on empty stomachs, and I thank God for my garri.

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