By Ogwiji Ehi-kowochio

‘Hello o’
‘Hello jare’
Jide was tilting his head in all possible directions.
‘Shey Airtel is not mad like this?’
He spewed his frustrations on his network provider and re-dialed the number.
‘I cannot come to this place and only swallow aroma just like that. Airtel, you better borrow sense!’

‘Sam’ he tugged at my shoulder.
‘… See the sun, so hot. I will now trek all the way from tech to this place and not get a single plate of rice. Airtel, ma ba mi sere o”

His phone rang and his frown fizzled out
‘Hello, Jumoke,’ he said with grin
‘ Jummy? Ni bo le wa? Soro soke na. Can you hear me?’
The call ended and he hissed in annoyance.

I stood beside him, as he scrolled through his phone for the next celebrant on his list. I knew about his high expectations, because last night we had together taken inventory of the plates of rice which today had for him.

‘Do you know the mumsy of my fellowship? Sister Damilola naa… That lady, o pupa ba eh’ the one who sang praise and worship the day I invited you to my fellowship.’
‘o…k..ay’ I pretended to remember. He knows I am not good with faces and it’s been at least six months since he invited me to his fellowship. How am I supposed to remember?

‘Another guy like this in social sciences,’ he went on.

‘what’s his name?’ I asked

Wo I can’t remember o but he was on our floor last year, im sef geh canopy. I dey go there.

On and on he went, till I interrupted him.

“Jide that is like ten plates of rice we are talking about o. Pity your stomach naa, ten different plates, with different flavors and spices. Guy, rice go grow for your head las las.

‘no bi only rice them dey serve naa. Pounded yam and efo, even amala and ewedu fit dey’

‘Na that one worse pass, you go chop rice, come top am with amala and drinks again. I go dey here when food go kill you. Ode!’

Luckily, he was able to put a call through to Damilola and several others. But after I had two plates of rice, I was but an escort, following Jide from tent to tent and canopy after canopy as he ate.

‘Sam, are you sure you are full?’ He whispered, as he took a bite of the chicken that had been perching on a heap of fried rice and salad.

‘Guy, this one make sense,’ he said with a grin.
‘Chop now o, so you no gats stress yourself cook dinner this night.’
I nodded my head. ‘Jide, I dey alright.

On Friday morning, Jide and I set out for lectures by 7:45am. From Indy Hall, topmost floor C block, we went down the staircase, taking two at a time. He suddenly paused, bent a bit and held unto his tummy and began to retreat slowly.

‘What’s this joke again?’ I hissed and reluctantly followed him upstairs.

Immediately, he sighted the door of his room, he ran into it and came out with a bucket of water and raced again towards the toilet.
I couldn’t hold in the laughter. I didn’t know Jide was a sprinter until that day.

One hour later when he returned, sweating profusely, I knew that the rice grains had summoned him.
‘Jide, how far naa? I looked up from my phone?
‘What kept you this long?’
He shrugged. ‘All the other toilets were messed up and for the manageable one, there was a queue.’
I laughed so hard.
‘This is a serious thing jor, I didn’t sleep last night.’
‘Ehyaa,’ I mocked
‘When you were eating as if it was last supper nko?’
But you suppose dey represent faculty for races, you sabi run wella. There must be a connection between running stomachs and running feet’ I joked.

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