Although my mother is a food vendour, I’m the most famished child in my neighbourhood. Everyday is Ramadan, and I break my fast after school.
My friends had always complain that like Usain Bolt, I run out of school even before the time keeper finishes ringing the bell, but I wouldn’t mind them for one second, after all, they don’t know how flagellating hunger is.
Most of my friends are pot-bellied, and they endeavour to turn the school upsidedown and rip it apart at every lunch break, but I wouldn’t join them. I had no fuel in my belly as they did, and they resented me for it. I didn’t tell them my limitation, because they wouldn’t understand.
When I got back from school, I ate my tiny victuals, as usual, rice and stew, with no meat or fish or egg. I can’t recall the taste of meat or fish; I had been prohibited from consuming them, not because I’m a strict vegetarian, but because eating meat and fish to my mother is like eating gold or a cloth made of silk.
“Meat or school, choose one!” she bawls whenever I remonstrated.
I don’t ever get to eat meat, not even on my birthday. I get only cow bones. She goes into market to beg for cow bones from those smelly butchers in abattoir. Some would curse her, some would send her off like a tick-infested dog, some would abuse her and others would pity her.
She comes home with plenty of cow bones, she cooks them, and I lick the bones because my teeth were not strong enough to break them, and I suck out the marrows in the bones.
After eating, I did my homework; I counted with my ribs whenever the arithmetic is beyond what my fingers and toes could count. Mother always cross-checked and confirmed my answers.
Then, I hawked mother’s food, rice warped in cocoa-leaves, spaghetti in lucid plastic bags, stew and meats in a covered plastic bowl.
I got to one of my friend’s house, he told me to eat mother’s food that she wouldn’t find out, and together we ate three wraps of rice, three plastic bags of spaghetti and six meats. The meats were big and delicious; they filled me with elation as I tore them in pieces, chewed and swallowed.
When I got home, the breeze blew and the anus of my hen was revealed. My mother beat me, first with her hands, then with her hard-soled slippers, and then with a fat cane that made red marks all over my body.
I almost died, but one of my neighbours saved me from her unrepentant wrath. I fell sick with high fever, and I was seen in school no more.