Ness entered the dormitory room with a big grin.
He shut the door behind himself very loudly and dived on the bed. He retrieved his wallet from his back pocket and took out all the notes in it. He then checked his pockets too and withdrew some rumpled currencies. Ness counted excitedly, after stretching the notes.
“Ten K!” He yelled quietly, and folded the notes back into his wallet. Something told him he hadn’t counted the money properly, he felt tempted to count again, but when his hands crawled towards his back pocket again to fetch his wallet, the room door suddenly swung open and three boys emerged. Ness brushed his buttocks instead, as if that had been his initial plan. He was glad that he had dumped the wallet safely in the pocket before his roommates entered.
“Goodness. Whadop?” Dele greeted.
“Baba. I just dey o” He responded smiling.
“Dele, did you cook? Guys are very hungry!” Charles exclaimed as he lifted pots in the room to see if they were heavy, but the only contents of the pots that weren’t empty, were rotting scraps of food.
“Nothing” Dele replied, he shot a glance at Ness, “Goodness, how far? Did you cook?”
Ness had already clutched his stomach with both hands because he knew what Dele was going to ask; “Dele, everybody is hungry!” Ness exclaimed, “I have not eaten since morning and the worst thing is that I don’t even have anything on me. I am completely famished.”
“Ha ha coururu fagushed!” Bayo mocked Ness, “You are always hungry! There is never a time when you volunteer to give anybody anything in this hostel, you are too stingy! We just got back from lectures and you’ve been around since and couldn’t even cook for yourself.”
“Bayo please mind your own business.” Ness stood angrily from his bed, “You know that if I have money, I would have cooked.”
“Yes,” Bayo admitted, “I know, but the problem is that you never have money!”
Ness winced, “Truth to God! If I have money, I swear, I would cook for everyone in this room.”
Bayo and the other boys laughed; “That is what you always say.”
Dele was always the good Samaritan in the room, he could go any extent in sharing his things, this was to the full advantage of Ness who never bothered contributing anything in return to this generosity, he chose rather to be a parasite – always claiming not to have and painting a picture that his own parents weren’t as rich as his roommates.
“But guys, on a very serious note. I am very hungry and my food stuff is finished!” Bayo said now holding his stomach too, he stood up suddenly, remembering that he still had a corn flakes in his wardrobe, but when he retrieved the pack, there was nothing left of it.
“Dele, I’m sorry.” Ness remarked, “I ate it this morning, I am completely hungry and I don’t have any cash on me.”
Dele whistled out his disappointment, there was no crime in eating his stuffs when someone was dying of hunger, but it was hard when he was hungry too. “No problem then.”
Ness smiled, “Thanks Dele, you are an angel.” The boys laughed. “But guys, seriously please, who has money, I’ve searched everybody’s lockers, no one has any food stuff left. I am very hungry and I can see that we all are.”
“Ness!” Charles was not going to buy the drama from Ness. “You never have!”
“Okay guys, here is the deal.” Dele said, ignoring Charles, “I have two hundred naira, who else has something to join and let’s find something to cook.”
“Nothing.” Ness submitted sincerely.
The boys gathered everything they could, except Ness – as usual. And since he couldn’t give anything, he volunteered to buy what the boys would eat.
Ness contemplated taking his wallet out of the room, but he knew that if the boys noticed his bulged back pocket, they might suspect that something was there. He therefore decided to change his trousers, so in the process, he kept his wallet in his trouser safely in the cupboard.
Some few moments after Ness was gone, Charles was going to hang his shirt when he mistakenly drew out some hangers and the trouser Ness had kept carefully sprawled on the floor. He picked it up and observed the pockets and when he realised that there was cash in it, he didn’t leave a penny in the wallet.
“Guys, I bought everything we planned, so we’d be cooking Concoction rice.” Ness said when he got back. Concoction rice was a common food in Nigerian campuses – it was of course, a food that saved moments when there was no money to cook rice properly. All one needed to do was to boil rice and add all the ingredients while it is still boiling.
“I am not sure I can eat concoction rice today” Charles confessed. “I have not eaten good food since last week.”
“We don’t have a choice” Ness reminded.
“Actually, I have cash on me…”
“Really?!” All the boys exclaimed. Ness eyes widened.
“Yes, but it is for my brother’s school fees.”
“Wow! That’s great, why not let us eat with it now, you know that hunger is not something to be endured. I believe that God will provide some money for you before his school fees is due.”
Charles frowned; “I doubt any chance of having any money before then, he ought to have paid the fees.”
Dele looked at his roommates hungrily, “Charles, if the money is almost due, I would advise that we should not spend it, where shall we get money to pay back?”
“Dele, stop being unnecessarily sympathetic!” Ness yelled, “Boys are here dying of hunger, and you are talking about school fees. Please Charles, for God’s sake, let’s eat first and I believe that God will provide.”
Bayo had been observing the scene earlier, he felt a need to talk now; “Ness. If it was you in Charles’ shoe, would you drop the money for boys to eat?”
“Truth to God!” Ness touched his tongue with his index finger and touched the floor with it too, then he pointed upwards to show that God was indeed his witness. “If the school fees was for my brother, I would spend it on food first.”
Charles laughed. “You don’t need all these demonstrations. Quickly write a list of what we can buy with 5,000 Naira.”
Ness gave a big smile and started scribbling immediately, when he was done, he offered the list to Charles; “See.”
Charles was surprised, Ness was going to cook a meal with the whole 5,000. In his list were ingredients he had never heard about, but he knew that Ness was only desperate to ensure that the money was spent once and for all.
In an hour, hot sweetly scented spaghetti was ready on the boys’ plates. It had all the necessary and unnecessary stocks. With the stocks in the spag, it looked like those ones used in advertisements. Ness knew how to cook, but it was definitely not out of expectations to have such a delicious food after so much had been spent on it. The boys enjoyed the meal and ate to their fill. Cokes were shared too. They laid on their beds heaving slowly after taking series of huge gulps.
“I still have five thousand naira left.” Charles managed to say.
“Really!!! Lets share it!” Ness suggested, “There is love in sharing.”
“Okay then.” Charles offered each of the boys a thousand naira each and kept two to himself.
The boys were very happy that God had miraculously provided. They were happier when Charles suggested that the remaining foodstuffs be kept for general use by the room.
Ness crept into the cupboard that night, with his trademark mischievous smirk, he hadn’t thought anyone would see his money. When he discovered that it was the miraculous provision of Charles, he almost collapsed! But there was no way he could tell anyone about his grief. He kept a stiff face and cried in secret throughout that month!
Truth to God, Lie to Satan is a common saying amongst Nigerian toddlers, teenagers and youths. It is usually accompanied with different demonstrations such as licking a finger, touching the floor with it and raising the finger up to show God as a witness. This practice is usually done to depict sincere truths despite doubts.
But as many other actions, its use has become widely abused.