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

About the author

Yushau Shuaib

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