As the door closed behind him, he slid to the floor, resting his head on the wall.
It was his third day on this fast.
No, he wasn’t religious, he just didn’t have anything to eat. Last week, he’d used an egg and a sachet of water to make soup for 5 of 7 days, unable to pay for this and a few added things he needed, he couldn’t borrow anymore.
The 600,000NGN debt, rent overdue by 3 months, and his mother’s impending death due to their inability to start chemotherapy were some of the things that plagued his mind as he sat.
Deciding on a quick way to end it, he planned to jump over the cliff where refuse was dumped in his neighborhood. Sniper was too expensive an option. Dressed in loose clothing, he stepped out and bumped into Iya Hassan.
She owned the kiosk he bought things from. Trying to duck but failing miserably, he managed a smile as he cooked up another lie to cover his debt.
“Mek you no dey lie gif me, Ubong. You no get money. You no fit pay me. I say mek I sheck how you dey. You don chop?”
Glancing through the contents of the cellophane bag she handed to him, her kind eyes made him look away as the tears threatened to fall.
“I no get money to pay you oh.” “I ask you money?” she quizzed gently. “No dey do pass yourself, my pikin. E go beta.” Gently nudging, she pushed him in the direction of her kiosk “Mek we go shop. I go find you small something when we close.”
Iya Hassan had become a mother to him. Job hunting made him ask to work at her shop. She’d agreed but she made so little sales that she couldn’t pay him more than what could take a meal. In the times he spent helping her at the shop, he had shared his problems.
His phone buzzed in his pocket. He knew who it was already. His elder sister. She called everyday to check on him, but he had never been truthful.
Today, he decided to be honest for a change. Excusing himself from the kiosk he accepted the call, and when she asked “how are you?” he spilled.
Together, they worked out a plan. Though he still had no money, now he had hope. And with that hope he returned to the kiosk, as his mind whispered to the grim reaper, “Not today.”