The Back Seat Again? I Don’t Think So!


So there I was, a five year old or thereabouts in the midst of other children from schools across the state. It was a presidential party for children who distinguished themselves academically that year. Not to blow my own trumpet but I could say that back then, I really mixed it up with the best academically. In all honesty, I thought to learn was fun till I got to the university; there, it was a different ball game altogether.

I recalled being taken to the state house by my elder brother; it was a rare opportunity for me to see the ‘other side’ of the city which was lovelier and more developed than my normal area of operation. The sight of the beaches and sea albeit from the window of a moving bus was always something to behold.

At the party, the food and drinks were in excess and the fun and amusement were great but I ended up crying home.

Towards the end of the party, the chief celebrant (Mr. President) made an appearance. I cannot recall if I have ever been lucky when it comes to sitting arrangements at social events. He started from the far end; and as he shook each child, he gave them a toy. Suddenly, there was a stampede as those sitting in the back seats forcefully migrated to the front in order to be attended to first. I figured it out late and ended up with a presidential handshake and no toy; the toys got finished before he got to me.

Though I am not much of a socialite, I lived in a city where it was almost impossible to avoid parties’ once-in-awhile. Apart from close relatives, one or more of your friends may extend an invite. I have been to a few where because of my shy nature and crave for a gentlemanly behavior I ended up going home hungry. It took two days of near starvation at the orientation camp of the youth service for me to do away with that shyness. Nobody wants to be labeled a glutton so I don’t normally head for the kitchen immediately the alarm goes off, but after two consecutive misses; I didn’t need a third mistake because once the food finishes and you are broke, it was always going be a long night.

Some time ago, an older friend of mine invited me and his neighbor to his church retreat. This friend had a young male apprentice with whom I was on good terms and we do get along.

The issue with retreats is that you pray and listen to sermons all-day long, the only time you have for yourself is during the feeding breaks or when you go back to the hostel to bath, sleep and prepare against the next day events. This particular campground was located in a remote village and is the first day, commercial activities were not yet in full swing.

It so happened that we arrived a little bit late and missed lunch. The church general overseer (the head of the church) was scheduled to preach the opening sermon later that evening. To say I was hungry is like putting it mildly and as we made our way towards the auditorium later, I pointed this out to my host who assured me that food would be in abundance; he was so sure that he suggested that we sit at the rows directly in front of the pulpit in order to be among the first to be served. As he sat down in the back chairs with his neighbor, I and the apprentice went and sat several rows behind them; I didn’t want to be in the preacher’s line of sight.

The hunger bites did not allow me to concentrate on what has been said on the pulpit and after what seemed like the eternity, the caterers started moving the foods to different sections of the auditorium. I expected some to be placed in front of our row but to my surprise and annoyance, they just kept zooming past without dropping any. I pointed this out to my friend and was reassured that we will get served as he continued his discussion with his neighbor. Twenty minutes later, I was still hungry and there was no food in sight.

I decided to take matters into my own hands.

‘Where are you going?’ the apprentice asked me.

‘Am going to get something to eat’ I replied. He stood up and followed.

I knew I will never get fed while sitting down and expecting to be served. I was just able to grab the last two plates of rice ahead of so many others who like my friend, were patiently waiting to be served while seating on the back seats; I gave one plate to the apprentice and we were just finishing off the last grains of rice from the plates when my friend and the neighbor approached and asked where we got the food from; they weren’t happy that we didn’t get for them so I had to explain that those were the last plates of food, for them that night, it was an unplanned emergency fasting.

Am not saying that it is proper to behave ungentlemanly; just that sometimes it pays to be the impatient dog that ate the ‘thin bone’ rather than the patient dog that ate ‘no bone’.

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