You know the uncomfortable feeling when you’re hungry. It’s a primordial instinct that kicks in and battles against all the social trappings we call decorum. When you’re hungry away from home, it can be a different matter. On a limited budget, your wallet makes your choice for you. When you’re hungry on a Sunday afternoon, God help you.
That was the situation one hot Kumasi afternoon. The only place of respite was Acuzzi, where the legend of fufu that burned hunger away like a flame came from. You may call it the pride of Tech, many will agree. I left my off-campus hostel and trekked to Ayeduase, where Acuzzi lay like a fat woman waiting to please any who entered her. I entered, and no possible grimace could turn me away from this obvious fact: I had to stand in line.
Being hungry in school is bad enough, and on a Sunday afternoon, when every God-loving seller is recuperating from church services, it can be a painful affair. Now, to stand in a fifteen-man-long line in a chop bar, as earlier birds are licking fingers and cracking bones, all the while nearly running on empty is a frustratingly unpleasant thing. Only if there was something to keep my mind of internal issues…I lift my eyes, and cue Isha’s entrance.
I’ll spare you a lengthy history and go straight to the point on this one: she was my first year crush. Two years down the line, and she still is, even when I denied it in front of her. The memories were embarassing, but here she had come to aid me in my plight. With Isha around, what did food mean?
That was what I thought while I awkwardly slided into conversation with her. It was all quite delightful, with nervous giggles from me when she tried a lame joke, punctuated with the occasional gasp when someone passed by with a bowl sporting 5 cedis worth of fufu, with a maid following with a basin of goat soup. People eat a lot on Sundays; their stomachs work overtime on the Sabbath.
My conversation had done its work, and with two hungry heads to go before mine, Isha asked a favour she knew I couldn’t deny: “Kojo, could you buy us something to eat?”
Her stress on the “us” was as obvious as the displeasure that found my face. She won’t back down. I had nowhere to turn. Her eyes were fixed on me. One more person to my turn. I swallowed air on a dry throat.
“O why not?” I shrugged, pretending to take it cooly. I had left my hostel on a tight budget. At the middle of the month, with no relief in sight for another two weeks, I planned my daily ration to be two cedis on lunch. One cedi for the fufu, and the other for meat. This was not good. Now I had to rely on emergency plans.
She smiled at me when the last guy had left, satisfied. He had 3 lumps of pulverized cassava, six odd ends of chevon (for the uninitiated, that’s goat meat) swimming in oil.
“It looks tasty,” Isha whispered to her self, and deliberately loud enough to my hearing. The cook at the counter thumped her fist harder to get my attention, “Yes…?”
I smiled, hesitated, and stammered out, “fufu 4 cedis, goat, 3.”
“Eish, can we eat all that?” Isha asked, jokingly. I called her a foolish girl in my head.
I bit my teeth as the hunger pangs brought me to reality. The cook passed the bowl to the woman who fetched soup. Then she stretched out her palm, “Yes…?”
“O, the money!” I said, a tad taken by surprise and sporting a stupid smile. I dipped my left hand into my jeans pocket. Then my right hand. I jabbed at the back pockets, and then my heart sunk.