Chinedu woke up from sleep at his mother’s urging. He was just a little boy who had gone to bed without food and not for the first time.
It was really late and the hunger that sleep had kept at bay came back in full force. Even as his stomach rumbled, his mother told him his food was ready as she led him to their once grand dining room.
His eyes were still tired and sleepy, he was guided to a chair and a hand guided his to the spoon placed on his plate. As he lifted the filled spoon to his mouth and took the first swallow, sharply, his brain came alive.
Oh no! Not again!
His eyes cleared and he looked at the food before him.
“It’s soggy, I don’t want to eat soggy noodles.” He cried.
“Chinedu,” His mother started, ignoring the evil look her daughter was shooting in her son’s direction.
“You have to manage it dear. There’s nothing else to eat and your sister has tried the best she can in making it eatable.” His mother explained.
That made him swallow his next words. Nothing else could be done. Still, he grumbled under his breath and managed to swallow, spoon after spoon.
The noodles were as if they’d been soaked in lukewarm water and its spices were dripping from it.
He couldn’t tell his mother that he hated soggy noodles, not after the explanation she’d given him.
He couldn’t tell her that soggy noodles reminded him that they didn’t have money to eat noodles like they once had- just as it looked on the sachet.
He really couldn’t tell her that soggy noodles never satisfied his hunger and everytime he ate it, he always vomitted afterwards which left him weak and empty, that would only make her sad and worry.
To him, soggy noodles represented no kerosene which equaled no money.
That night, after throwing up in his room, weakly he laid on the blanket spread on the floor- they’d sold all the beds in their house. Images of spicy noodles garnished with extra fresh pepper and other vegetables filled his head. He closed his eyes tightly to fight the images since they only served to make him hungrier and remind him of what his family couldn’t afford anymore.
He managed to get on his knees as he knew his mother would be on hers in the room she slept in with his father and he decided to say his own prayers.
He was little and since his mother told him God loved little children, he believed God would answer him in case God didn’t answer his mother.
As he began, he remembered the way his mother usually started her prayer.
“In Jesus’ name,
God I thank you for my family and I, today we drank garri and this night I was given soggy noodles. You know how I feel afterwards but I can’t tell mom, it’ll only make her sad. So please God, no more soggy noodles, I hate it so much and it makes my sister cranky towards me especially when I refuse to eat.
Please give my parents money so they can take care of me and my sister and they can stop being sad. We love you but you love us more so answer my prayer, okay?
Thank you for listening, good night!”
And little Chinedu went to sleep with the hope that there won’t be soggy noodles anywhere in his near future.