LITTLE LITTLE BEGINNINGS

The place Ayo took the boys to eat was a zinc restaurant. The restaurant (if one must call it that) was airless and hot, had two benches that sat four persons each at a time, a shelf faced each bench, held by tired nails, covered by torn carpets served as table. The floor was black earth in the middle of cemented floor, and one could see giant ants farrowing about.

‘How did you find this place?’ Chuks sneered at Ayo as they squeezed on the bench. The bench was actually made to sit three men, he discovered, or four skinny boys.

‘This place has been since the time of Noah,’ Peter said.

Ayo called the seller. She dropped her wailing child on the mat outside and hurried in, tying and retying her wrapper which served as skirt under whitewashed oversized Chelsea jersey.

‘Rice and stew,’ Ayo told her.

‘How many plates?’ she asked.

‘There are four of us here!’ Chuks was amazed.

Ben tapped him on the shoulder and pointed at the two occupants behind them who were eating from one plate.

‘Fish or meat?’ the woman asked.

‘Anything,’ Ben said.

‘Fish,’ Ayo said. The woman left. ‘Their meat is tough.’

‘If you put the meat in your mouth you will chew it for two weeks,’ Peter said. ‘You will get tired and throw it away.’

Ben laughed.

‘Why did Ayo bring us here?’ Chuks couldn’t remove the disgust in his voice.

‘He is a moron,’ Ben said.

‘What did you say?’

‘Nothing.’

‘Be careful,’ Ayo warned.

‘Yes sir.’

The baby was crying. ‘Can’t someone make the baby stop crying?’

‘That is not a problem,’ Peter said, ‘look at the smoke.’

The kitchen area of the eating-shop was a firewood affair on the other side of the zinc. From there, the smoke came hovering into the restaurant (you are still calling it a restaurant?) like a lazy vulture.

‘We are in for it?’ Chuks muttered.

The woman entered with a tray steaming with three plates of white rice spread with liberal dark red stew with a token of fried fish on top of each like a black crown. As there were three plates, everyone got a plate except Ben who sat the farthest from the door.

‘Bring one more plate.’

‘Bring water.’

‘Make that child stop yelling.’

‘Stop the damned smoke!’

‘Take it easy, Chuks.’

‘Sharrap!’

‘You sound as if you eat in Hilton every day.’

‘Ayo… go to hell.’

As if to scold them for challenging it a cloud of smoke invaded the room. Chuks shut his eyes, clenching his teeth.

Someone stifled a laugh.

Chuks opened one eye. The room was white with smoke.

Ben was coughing.

‘Ayo,’ Chuks said.

‘Yeah.’

‘Thunder fire thee.’

‘Hmmmm.’

Chuks fetched a spoonful and dished it into his mouth. Pepper cut his tongue.

‘Arrhhh!’ 

‘What’s the matter?’ Ayo asked.

‘What crime did I commit by knowing you?’ Chuks wiped his nose with the back of his hand.

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Peter was eating profusely and crying. Ben sat on his corner, hands folded across angry chest. Outside the woman was breastfeeding her baby.

‘Woman,’ Ben called. ‘Get me my food now. I offend you? Do you know me before? Which kind wahala be this?’

The woman dropped the baby on the mat and hurried away as it released a tight yelp.

‘Water,’ Chuks called. ‘And for God sake, stop this tear gas!’

Peter laughed through his tears.

Chuks’ teeth cracked on a little stone. He grabbed his cheek. ‘Hmmm.’

‘What’s the matter?’ Ayo asked then his teeth bit into a rock. He squeezed his face with mild disapproval. Peter who saw it all laughed. ‘The pains of poverty,’ he said.

‘I am not poor,’ Ayo corrected, ‘I am just not where I am destined to be.’

‘If you continue to come here, you will never get there,’ Chuks said.

‘Don’t despise the days of little beginning,’ Ayo said.

‘You have been earning less than the minimum wage for two years now and you still talk about little beginnings,’ Peter said.

‘Someone didn’t earn anything for a decade,’ Ayo said.

Three sets of teeth laughed and Chuks knew that the joke was on him. He ate on silently. ‘Forget it,’ Ayo patted his back.

Peter crashed his teeth on a stone.

‘What’s the matter, biscuit bone?’ Ayo winked.

Peter shook his head. ‘Zuma Rock.’

The woman entered with a tray, carrying Ben’s food, a jug of water and four plastic cups. She handed Ben his food.

‘Don’t you have pure water?’ Chuks said.

‘No, but I can buy for you if you give me money.’

‘What about the boy who helps you here?’ Ayo said.

‘He is not well.’

Chuks glanced at the whimpering baby outside. ‘Never mind,’ he said. He returned to his food and saw a fly rinsing its hands on it. He dropped his spoon and rose to his feet.

‘You done?’ Ayo said.

Ben drew Chuks plate towards himself.

‘Hey, eat your fish at least,’ Ayo called. Chuks went out without a word.

‘You won’t eat that food alone,’ Peter told Ben.

‘Try me.’

Outside, Chuks brought out his handkerchief and wiped his eyes.

Tweets to @Oke4chukwu

TEN SIGNS YOU ARE A SADIST

I published this on Mymindsnaps.com a couple of weeks ago. A handful of my readers are from Walter’s blog and must have read this; two handfuls of my readers aren’t and haven’t. Let’s go.
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In my Instagram bio, I described myself as ‘writer, blogger, sadist’. Proudly sadist. I have not always been proud of being a sadist. In 2012 I was horrified when someone called me a sadist. In 2013 I argued fervently against it. In 2014 I was indifferent. Since the turn of this year I have embraced it, and have been wearing it like an armour, punctuating most of my sentences with ‘We sadists don’t, we sadists do this, do that etc’. Although someone once asked me in a viewing centre how much being a sadist had put in my account. People laughed at me for 90 minutes but I’m not discouraged.

My rise to the zenith of sadism had, in no mean way, given me undiluted joy, and amazed me fearfully. So I began to study the art of sadism. I studied great sadists like Kafka, Woolf and Okadigbo. I studied ordinary sadists as well. Mercy Johnson rides with ordinary people, I study ordinary sadists.

Here I have drawn out ten items that are set to convict you in the Sadist Prohibition Protection Act of 1992 as Amended (when!). Here we go. You are your own judge.

1. If You Chew Chewing Stick.
I am not saying that everyone who brushes with chewing stick is a sadist, no. My father chews stick, occasionally, he’s no sadist. My grandma chews stick every blessed day, she’s no sadist. But my father was born in 1940 something and my grandmother was fished out of the 1920s. You get the picture? Why should you, born in this era brush your teeth with timber?

Toothpaste kills the gum, toothpaste causes… Sharrap! No excuse for you. The only wood allowed to enter your mouth is toothpick, sugarcane and cucumber. If you chew stick, you are a terrible somebody.

2. If You Don’t Dance in Church.
This is the height of sadistic-ness, going before God with a long face. It is even worse if you dance in clubs on Friday nights but never in the house of God. One of my guys would complain, ‘Their sound system no good. If to say here na Uniport….’ This guy is a regional sadist. Some claim they are shy, but they dance in their rooms to Wizkid and Flavour.

Faithless sadists! Didn’t the word of God (citation needed) say in all your getting get boldness? Some still, only dance with their heads as though their coconut is the only apparatus they are grateful for. Semi-sadists.

Me, I dance in church. I sit in the back so it helps.

3. If You Switch off Your Phone at Night. You came home from work terribly tired. You managed to pour garri in hot water and turned with a spoon and ate with your one-week old soup. Then you belched and went to bed. But before you drew the sheet, you picked up your phone and switched it off. You don’t wish to be disturbed, you have been out all day saving humanity from alien invasion and must now enjoy your rest to the fullest.

You know what, you are evil, selfish and dangerous. Hasn’t it occurred to you that there could be an emergency, somewhere, and your presence or word could make a world of difference, even save a life? Is your sleep more important than that woman in labour whose husband needs your keke napep to the hospital? This is no 2008, people rarely do free night calls without prior warning. Wrong numbers are a possibility of one in a million.

You must switch off your phone, you insist, because you are no doctor, midwife, pastor, parent or politician; you don’t even own a bicycle tyre. Now I get it. You are no sadist, you are irrelevant. Apologies for the botheration. Please switch off your rubber-bound Nokia 1100 and enjoy your slumber, wake up tomorrow, drink your soaked garri and go to your workplace at the construction site where you carry concrete on bald head up the fourth floor. Sadist!

Related: Seven Signs You Have Poverty Mentality

4. If you look at the mirror and your reflection looks away.

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5. If You Kick Animals.
Every normal person should hate snakes and other animals with dangerous swag and plot against their wellness. But kicking innocent animals at every opportunity you get, not so fair. I know Nollywood makes village witches out of cats; some dogs are ill-tempered and most goats are thieves. But most of the ones you get close enough to hit are really harmless (if not cute). You mustn’t like them, but you can live and let’s live.

I used to live in a compound where I terrorise a neighbour’s dog. Whenever I returned home in the afternoon and saw the poor thing resting under the shed on our veranda I usually kicked it into the blinding sun. Why should human beings be sweating out in the sun and a dog (an ordinary beast) be in the cool? Taa. Kick. Get out. Kick!

Perhaps, you don’t kick animals, but you beam with a vulpine grin when people like me are on the prowl. Same thing, you sadist.

6. If You Don’t Watch Nollywood. I believe this is self-explanatory.

7. No Item seven. This is no naming ceremony or a funeral. Were you actually thinking of having your afternoon food here? Sorry to disappoint, this is a blog!

8. If You Don’t Play With Kids. I am not saying you hate children. No, no, no, no, no. It’s just that you are very busy, so so busy. You import oil (palm oil, what else?) from Ikot Ekpene to Mariri. You are never at home. When you are not in your warehouse loading your capital oil you are in Dangote Cement where you work eighteen hours a day.

You usually come home tired and duly cemented. Or, you are a student, writing your project (actually copying, modifying, pasting and turning people’s projects into yours); you don’t want distractions. You are damn busy, mehn. More so, the kids in your neighbourhood are dirty (plus rude) etc. Does that make you a sadist? Er… Let’s say you are a hard working sadist or/and a hygiene-conscientious sadist.

You are still a sadist.

Related: Ten Signs You Are Unready For Marriage

9. If You Hate Being Tagged on Facebook. Nothing drives some folks crazy like being tagged on Facebook. They have come out to post federal rants. Hey, fellas, don’t tag me otherwise I will block the hell out of you (who cares?) bla bla bla. I can understand with them. Some people are heartless. They tag you so relentlessly, as though you guys are running a joint Facebook account, most of the time on useless posts. Twitter mention can be trying but it is paradise to compare with Facebook tag where you receive notifications when dim-witted teenagers begin a conversation about post UTME on the tagged post!

Sigh. It is terrible, terrible. But it’s bearable, it’s it? It’s social media and what is social media without a little shit? But you just CAN’T allow it. Of course dear, you are a sadist.

10. If You Never Comment on Blog Posts.  Nigerians have killed a million careers in writing. A bright boy would come out, bubbling with creativity, and publish a great post. Three days later, you see a heartless LEAVE A COMMENT, succeeded by a heartbreaking NO COMMENT.

Sigh. The blogosphere is full of abandoned blogs and unfinished blogging, and sadists are solely responsible for this. Why will you read a brilliant, awesome, funny, educating post and not say anything in the comment section? Why, WHY!

No time bro. Commenting is not just my thing. Your blog is not comment-friendly. The network is bad. Etc. Fifty shades of sadists. And creativity balloons are punctured, hundreds of them per second.

Oga, please temper sadness with comments.

@Oke4chukwu

Image source, Opinionatedmale.com