If you attended a boarding school—particularly a rugged one like my very own alma mater—you probably know its own version of what we at LASMOCK liked to call food ninjas. To be a food ninja was no small matter. You had to have serious mind and adhere strictly to the food ninja code of honour. But the good thing was once a food ninja, always a food ninja. You could never live it down. The food ninjas—and I mean the proud and proper ones, not the ones in denial—lived a life of utter liberation. They had no social obligations (re: levels) to live up to. They roamed the halls and classrooms of the school, free in their wild, uninhibited love for food, even good old LASMOCK food.
I cannot even begin to tell you all the things that a food ninja is, but I can tell you 22 ways to be one.
1. Do admit you can find your way to the dining hall without the aid of GPS.
2. Do not ever be found without your ninja tools (cutlery of any form) on your person. Take the motto of the scouts to heart.
3. Do recite the food timetable with 100% accuracy whenever called upon, even if woken from the velvety depths of sleep at 2 a.m.
4. Do not hesitate to say stuff like ‘why shouldn’t I go for food? After all my parents paid for it!’ with a straight face.
5. When forced by teachers—who suddenly realize they have nothing better to do with their time—to go to the dining hall and ‘eat your parents’ money’, do not shuffle with pained reluctance to the dining hall, your face clearly showing how much you detest such degrading treatment.
6. Do not miss making an appearance in the dining hall every day, including resumption, visiting and vacation days.
7. Do proudly display your ‘food badges’ (food stains on your clothes) as battle scars.
8. Do not forget to boast about your *mazzing exploits in the dining hall.
9. Do your damndest to get appointed a food prefect or, if you find that too ambitious or unattainable, a table captain.
10. Do be a junior student. All juniors get automatic food ninja status.
11. Do not bother to hide the sheer joy that fills your heart at the sound of every siren signalling meal times.
12. Do be found in the vicinity of the dining hall at every meal time.
13. Do finish your food in time for the end of meal prayers every time.
14. Do respond to dining hall prayers every time. Anything louder than a barely audible whisper would suffice.
15. Do not be afraid to admit that Friday is your favourite day of the week only because they serve rice and turkey.
16. Do not try to mask Thursday’s fufu and fish fragrance with perfume or body spray when it clings to your clothes after the meal.
17. Do line up in front of the dining hall for eba, eko, beans, or pap and akara—the undesirables—with your ninja tools raised sky high cos you just don’t care.
18. Do not be slow to defend any suspected or confirmed food ninjas from yabis.
19. Do bone up and form not sending when members of the opposite sex from your class see you going into the dining hall (note: this only applies to senior students).
20. Do ensure that the entire kitchen staff knows you by name.
21. Do eat school meals without finding anything to complain about.
22. Do agree with the school authorities, and say so at every conceivable opportunity, that attendance at the dining hall should be mandatory for all students.
*‘Mazz’ is short for massacre and it means to rush for food, usually spilling a lot in the process.