My colleagues take their lunch break between noon and 1pm each day. I prefer to eat after 1pm, primarily because I’m not hungry by noon, but also because I enjoy the solitude of the office kitchen when everyone is through with their lunch and I don’t have to deal with small talk. It’s exhausting trying to explain to my non-Nigerian colleagues what my lunch of Moimoi and Garri is. No, there’s no English name for Moimoi. No, it’s not Beans Pudding. Pizza is Italian (some say Latin, some say Greek) and we’ve come to accept that, but I digress.
Today’s lunch is Semolina with Okra soup, complete with stock fish, crayfish and every smell that accompanies those two guys. I’m happy when I get to the kitchen and meet just 3 people finishing up their lunches. I can reheat my food without people scrunching their noses. I also have plans to do justice to those chicken bones, and would rather do so without an audience. I’m not given to waste.
I settle down to eat and the kitchen is empty, save for one guy who just walked in. There are about 20 empty seats anyway, he would definitely choose one far from me. Nope, this dude chooses the seat right across from me. I look up to see if it’s a familiar face. Never seen this dude before. Didn’t he see the other chairs? “Oh well, I’m used to the smell of stock fish. Bros you’re the one doing yourself,” I think to myself.
We eat in silence, bros munching on his mede-mede, Iember ‘cutting’ her Okra soup with all the decorum she can muster. There’s no incident till I get to the end of my meal. I’m done eating my chicken, bone untouched just like my husband eats. I think that’s wasteful, but again I digress.
I get up to leave but the chicken bone stares at me and I look back at it, as lovingly as I look at Gboko mangoes. It feels like we have unfinished business, I can’t just up and leave. I begin with the soft cartilage, it’s a noiseless process. Bros and I keep chewing in silence. I’m done with that part, but remember I told you I’m not given to waste right? I proceed to crack the bones. Wow, I’m not prepared for the loud sounds that follow. Bros looks up from his plate and clears his throat. I clear mine too, since we’re all clearing our throats around here. “Remember I told you that you’re doing yourself when you came to seat here abi?” I think to myself as I clear my plates.