Kay flung his lab coat on his bed with a relieved sigh; in his tired and famished state the short distance from his departmental laboratory to his hostel had seemed like the distance between Egypt and the Promised Land but he had made it without collapsing. He looked around his room hopefully “O boy you get something person fit chop?” he asked one of his roommates called Buchi.
“Aww, you just missed” Buchi replied from his bunk “Sandra dropped a flask of rice, but you know the boys” he gestured to the empty food flask at the corner of the room. Sandra was Buchi’s girlfriend; she would have been a live-in girlfriend if it had been possible for her to live in the school’s male hostel with Buchi. As it was, she was always bringing food and dropping by to pick Buchi’s dirty clothes. Kay eyed the boy with envy wishing he had such a dedicated girlfriend or any girlfriend at all. He wondered what the girl saw in Buchi anyway, he wasn’t handsome or intelligent. In fact he was short and had an unattractive dark complexion, with a resigned sigh he viewed the sparse contents of his locker then pulled out a black nylon bag he found at the corner. On examination, he saw that it contained about five handfuls of beans. Although he felt too hungry to wait for the beans to get done he was dead broke and he had no other food stuff. He carried his kerosene stove to the kitchenette at the end of the hall, set the beans on fire then returned to his room to wait. After some minutes when he thought the beans would be soft enough he borrowed some salt and dry pepper from Buchi, took a spoon then left the room for the kitchenette. In the kitchenette, he lifted the lid of the pot then with the spoon selected a grain of beans to test the softness. He gave a puzzled frown then took another spoonful. The second spoonful confirmed his suspicions but he took yet another spoonful as though he could not believe what he tasted. He glanced around the kitchenette but it was empty and there was nothing that indicated that it had been visited by another student in his absence, nothing except the fact that the pot of beans that was supposed to be bland already contained pepper, salt and if he wasn’t mistaken, even maggi. He looked around the kitchenette again then out the window as though he expected to find someone crouched under it. He leaned against the wall for a while his eyes moving from the pot on the stove to the door but after about ten minutes when no one showed up he quickly returned to his room, grabbed a bottle of palm oil he had noticed underneath one of his roommates bunk then dashed back to the kitchenette. In his haste to open the pot he scalded his finger but the emerging blister on his finger was the least of his concern. He stared in disbelief at the red liquid floating on the surface of the beans then looked around the small kitchenette again. He covered the pot then stood at the doorway his arms folded across his chest, the look in his eyes daring anyone to approach the kitchenette. When he saw that the beans was cooked he turned the stove off. To his dismay he realized that in his rush to get the palm oil he had forgotten to get a napkin to carry the beans to his room. He would have carried it without the napkin had it not been for the fact that the handles of the pot were broken, which made carrying the hot pot without the aid of a napkin virtually impossible. He scanned the faces passing by hoping he would see a familiar face he could tell to help him get a napkin from his room but after some minutes he felt rather stupid standing beside a pot of food in his famished state and not eating it. He studied the corridor and kept throwing furtive glances over his shoulders as he ran back to his room to get the napkin. On entering the room he paused for a second then looked out suspiciously but he saw no one heading towards the kitchenette.
“Guy, hope no problem?” Akim, another of his roommate was looking at him strangely. Kay didn’t care; he grabbed the napkin and ran down the corridor cursing the school for giving him a room that was so far from the kitchenette. Although subconsciously he had suspected that the pot would be missing, he couldn’t hold back the stream of expletives that gushed from his mouth. With murder in his eyes he barged into the closest room to the kitchenette, his anger glazed eyes took in the scene that was before him. Four boys surrounded the hot pot of beans and were wolfing it down as though their tongues were insusceptible to the heat.
“How dare you?” Kay spluttered taking threatening footsteps forward.
With an unfazed look, one of the boys handed Kay a spoon and asked “You wan chop?”
Kay looked from the spoon that was extended to him to the beans that was rapidly diminishing then with a sigh he collected the spoon and joined the boys.