Sarah stooped to check what was baking in her oven. She’d popped in a full chicken on vegetables and beef loaf. The aroma was heavenly. She straightened up and went to check on the Jollof on fire. Also cooking nicely.
This was one of the days she liked to prepare food as she preferred it. She was a miner and had been underground for 9 days. She was glad to finally be above ground and in her own room.
A sudden trumpet startled her. She turned towards the TV and they were showing a TV ad. She sighed.
She’d been watching “What Life Took from me” on UTV and had gotten during commercials.
She picked a large spoon and carefully stirred the Jollof. She sprinkled on some water and lowered the fire. She then returned to the living room. The telenovela was still on but because she’d missed some minutes of it, she decided to change channels. She would watch the omnibus during the weekend. Because of the quarantine, she had nowhere to go anywhere.
Within 15 minutes, she had surfed through the over 130 TV Channels and couldn’t find anything better to watch so she grabbed a book from the center table, set a 10-minute alarm on her smartwatch and started reading.
She’d selected one of her favorite genres, Romance, and was soon engrossed in a story about a girl who left her boyfriend in their village and had to return to seek his help in retaining her family home.
At 7:50 pm she heard a loud, “oh!” from outside.
Because she stayed near a thoroughfare, her initial thought was that somebody had been hit by a car. She went to look out through the window and realized the lights of all the houses on the other side of the street had gone off.
Thank God nobody had been hit by a car.
But ECG was at it again. She shook her head, unable to sympathize with her neighbors because it was a matter of hours before those on her side of the street also suffered the same fate.
She heard the beep-beep of the alarm and went to the kitchen to check on the rice. It was nearly done so she decided to leave it for some five minutes.
The chicken was roasted to golden perfection and she inhaled the aroma again when she took it from the oven. She couldn’t resist taking a bite of a piping hot potato wedge and regretted doing that immediately. It was hot. She fanned the hot vegetable in her mouth her hands till it was slightly cool enough to chew and swallow. She’d grabbed a fork to take a piece of the chicken when she heard a knock.
She opened it and there was her friend, Deede from opposite the street.
“They’ve given us blackout again,” she said. “Can we come and watch the rest of the telenovela here?”
“Why not?” Sarah replied. She opened the door wider and her eyebrow shot into her bangs. She’d thought Deede came alone but she hadn’t. Behind her were her husband, Lartey, their two kids, nephew, Nii, and another neighbor Sarah had seen around but had never bothered to find out the woman’s name. “Kindly, make yourselves comfortable on the sofa. Would you want some water?” Deede shook her head with a smile. “Will canned malt do?” All her guests nodded
She went to the fridge and grabbing one of the trays she’d stacked on top of it, loaded it with 6 pieces of canned malt and Chocolate digestive for the kids. After serving them, she went back to the kitchen to check on her rice.
Then she heard, “ma, ekom di me bio,” (I’m hungry again)
She could hear Deede hushing her daughter but the girl refused to do so, saying loudly that she was hungry.
Without another thought, Sarah grabbed a plate, spooned some Jollof onto it, added a piece of chicken, and tossed on it some greens she’d stored in the fridge. When she went to serve the child, Deede looked a bit embarrassed at what her daughter had compelled her to do but she assured her that it was no trouble.
That was her undoing.
Deede’s nephew ate some of the rice and said it was quite tasty. Sarh thanked him nicely and turned her attention to the TV. The TV station had switched from commercials to the telenovela. Sarah went back to check if the chicken had cooled enough to pop it into the fridge. Her plan had been to relax with some wine and food and take a long shower. With her guests, drinking wine in the buff like she’d planned would certainly have to wait till after they’d gone.
The chicken was cooler so she grabbed a bowl and after cutting it into pieces, stored them in it. That was when Nii ented to ask if he could get more rice because what she gave to them had finished.
“Gave to them?” she wondered silently because it was the little girl who asked for it. By the time, the telenovela ended, most of the rice had been served to her guests.
She was left with the underside or kanzo in the local parlance. She didn’t know if she should cry or laugh because there was no other food to eat. Even the chicken was left with a little. She had vegetables and could prepare a salad with it but that wasn’t what she had wanted to eat that evening.
She was caught in her musings that she didn’t see Deede enter. Her neighbor told her how badly she felt over the food so she had sent Nii to bring some rice from the house (she had a store which she closed whenever there was a blackout for fear of being robbed).
Sarah graciously accepted the offer and followed her into the hall to watch a movie. Nii soon brought the rice. Sarah looked at the time. It was half-past 8 and it was too late to eat any heavy meal but she washed the rice, poured it into the rice cooker, covered it with enough water, and added salt to taste.
Then she went back to the room to watch the movie. 10 minutes later, everyone seated in the room shouted “oh.”
ECG had struck Sarah’s side of the road too. But her ‘oh’ was louder because of the rice in the cooker. They all waited for 5 minutes and then started saying their goodnights and goodbyes. Deede drew her aside and apologized again for falling on her food for their dinner. Sarah couldn’t graciously reply this time. She gave a curt nod and closed her door. She hoped she didn’t hear the huge sigh she gave though.
She groaned. She groped her way in the dark into the kitchen. She’d reached the island when the lights came on again. She smiled. There was no way Deede could return with her brood. She could finally have some alone time.