When I was much younger, I grew up in a neighbourhood where one had to be rich. What is usually known as a rich neighbourhood, or as is known in Nigeria, the G.R.As. There was no room for lack. No room for poverty. We all had to live up to certain expectations. Where you were found lacking, you had better have a good reason or else... there is no saying or knowing what would happen to you. Of course no one would injure you physically if you lacked, but the injury that follows lack is what was most feared. The emotional injury; the stigmatisation, the giggles and jeers were enough to tear one apart.
Some nights I would sit with my dad and there would be nothing to eat. I would look in his eyes and see the failure of a father to provide for his child. I would see the shame in his eyes and the pain never ceased. Up I would go to the neighbour’s house and linger. The kind neighbour would look at me with somewhat knowing eyes (for I didn’t have to tell her I had only one masa as breakfast and have lost count of how much water I had to drink all through the day) and give me some food. At first I would refuse and hope deep down she would insist and will not take no for an answer. Most often than not, she insisted (thankfully). At home dad would be grateful I didn’t have to go to bed hungry and neither would he, for I always brought some back home for him to eat...
Now, I am much older and enjoying the fine things of life and when my dear friend comes to me crying and complaining about how things are really slow in her family, I look at her smile and say “dear friend, it’s a phase; even you too will soon overcome. Soon enough, you will be the one consoling someone else. Just hang in there”. This I say and hand her a few naira. Money is never enough.
This is dedicated to those in need, those hungry who always feel as though their lives would end in the night and they will never see the morning sun again.
As for those who have never experienced hunger, I say “kudos to you! You sure have something to thank God for. And may you never experience hunger in your lives.”
©Sherifatu Bagudu 2010