Poetic Fictions

The Mother Of Hunger

“Wayyo Allah” I screamed loudly with fear gripping me. It is coming nearer and closer . . . I have the desire to meet it but now I am afraid of the friendship. I anticipate that it would eat me raw. Like a child whose eyes recognize the syringe brought forth by the nurse to perforate his tender flesh, I cried for cover.

“Somebody, please come to my rescue! Help me!”

Nobody cares to listen; nobody wants to give me succour. Everybody was ready to be arrested. But me! I was a coward . . . I didn’t want to jump into the bandwagon . . . a spiritual goal.

“Help!” I yell and cry till my voice cracked. Into one-month detention I find myself. An injunction is given that states that I should neither drink nor eat, not to even chat with the charming Juliet in my neighborhood. Why?

Friends in detention gaze into my face and say I look more of a skeleton, so pale and emaciated. Scared, I glare at myself in the mirror and see that not only do I look like rake, a thin northern sugarcane, but my neck is now lanky like that of a giraffe. I felt more scared and stunned.

The sun is never a friend. Wherever it peeps out and smiles at me, I wouldn’t return the smile, because then, my stomach pinches and kicks furiously and my saliva dries from my tongue. I find it hard to converse with every Tom, Dick, Jack or Harry.

Ten days to go from the purification, I am about to jubilate for freedom when I am held back. The remaining nights are for more supplication, sacrifice and remembrance of the Highest and the Almighty, I am reminded.

If I’m freed from this detention, I would eat and drink, drink and eat. Not Guilder or Stout (God forbid) But c-o-l-d water, Fanta, Seven-Up, Brahma and Kunu. I would sip at them hurriedly as a revenge of 30 days of confinement. I would not spare a second glance at Tuwo, Amala, Waina, Eba, Ogwuna and Danwake, as I would wolf them down. If Chicken George opens for the day, I would buy all the splendid meals on the table. I would not, however, taste them. This show is to exhibit my happiness and joy.

I would visit my companions and invite well-wishers to dine and wine with me on the glamorous occasion, I would frolic and shout cheerfully with that remarkable greeting, Barka da Sallah. Then I would beam a smile to all. I would be proud I am a warrior, a brave returning soldier, not a coward or sissy, from a 30-day `Mother of all hungers.

(Dedicated to Muslims who observe the Ramadan Fasting)

This literary fiction by Yushau A. Shuaib was originally published in Sunday Triumph 1990

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About the author

Yushau Shuaib