Debola stood outside the door of his room with the cover of a pot in his hands like one in a trance. He looked at the pot of jollof rice still steaming on his stove with his mouth open. This was the second time this was happening and he was beginning to get angry.
Last week, someone had scooped out of the jollof rice he was cooking in the kitchen. He knew because whoever did had tried to spread the rice as if it had not been touched. But Debola knew how the face of the jollof looked when he left for his room.
He had recently moved into a room in the face to face apartments about three weeks ago and was just beginning to familiarize himself with his neighbours. When a portion of his food was stolen last week, he had decided to keep quiet about it. He refused to raise an alarm before his neighbours would ask him if he was calling them thieves.
When he longed for jollof rice this afternoon, he had carried his stove from the kitchen and put it by a corner outside his room. At least, he could monitor his food closely from his room as against when he had to walk all the way to the common kitchen he shared with his neighbours.
He was therefore in shock when he opened the almost cooked jollof rice and found out that the thief had not only taken a few spoons, he had scooped almost half of his food away. He became furious as he looked at the jollof rice. He took a spoon and scooped a little into his mouth. The jollof rice was fully cooked and he used a kitchen towel to carry the pot into his room.
One week later, Debola was about to cook jollof rice again. This time, he decided to cook it in the common kitchen. He pulled out a bottle of castor oil he had just bought and emptied it into the pot. He poured curry, thyme, ground ginger and pepper into it. He stirred the stew before pouring the raw rice into the pot. He came back about 45 minutes later to check on the food. It was almost cooked and half of the rice was gone. He switched off the light under the stove and went back to his room.
An hour later, someone banged furiously on Debola’s door. He stood up from his bed to check who the intruder was.
“Wetin you put for the jollof rice?” Chinwendu; one of his neighbours, asked him.
“I don’t understand what you are saying.” Debola said as he stared at Chinwendu who could barely stand upright.
Chinwendu began to shake his legs as he shouted. “I wan go shit again. I dey come.”
Debola looked at him as he ran towards the toilet stalls.
Chiwendu got to the stalls and they were all occupied. He started banging on the door of the stalls. “Abeg, make una come out. I wan shit.”
“Ahn….ahn…wetin Oga Chiwendu. No be say you jus comot for hia?” A woman shouted from one of the stalls.
“Come out oh. Come out. Chai, I don suffer today.” Chiwendu shouted as he banged on the three stalls but no one heeded his call.
When he could not hold himself again, he saw a potty belonging to one of the children in the compound. He dashed for it and sat on it as his stomach released its contents like a rushing tap.
The occupants in the toilet stalls began to come out one after the other and Chiwendu had to hide his face in shame. He was still seated on the potty and they all looked at him in amazement. Debola had also walked towards the toilet stalls and he looked at Chinwendu with pity.
“Wetin you chop Oga Chiwendu?” The woman who was previously in one of the stalls asked him.
Chiwendu refused to answer as he looked away from his neighbours.
“Answer nau Chiwendu. What did you eat?” Debola asked him.
Chiwendu glared at Debola. “Which kain stupid question u dey ask me?” He asked still sitting on the potty.
“Oh you still get mouth, abi? Next time, it is rat poison I will put inside the food.”
The neighbours looked from Chiwendu to Debola in a bid to understand what was going on.
“Oga Debola, he steal your food?” The woman asked Debola.
“Ask him.” Debola replied as he walked towards the kitchen and trashed the remaining contents of the pot into the bin in the presence of his confused neighbours.