Monday 15 October 2018

'Bukas' and Me

One thing that I am clearly ashamed of, is buying food from bukas and road-side traders. Slap me in the face but I’m one of those that glance awkwardly at women that prefer outside meals to homemade ones.

I do not just think that buying food from a restaurant is not cost-friendly; I also believe that it is unsafe and healthy. Seen those movies where a scene portrays a restaurant re-selling the leftovers of their customers? Yeah, it’s really revolting. Imagine eating someone else’s leftover!

The fact is, no matter how well you try to imbibe the culture of eating only your homemade meals, there are times that you would just need a change of taste because you’re too accustomed to your own meal.


What happens when you have that feeling? How would you go to the same place you have dreaded visiting? How do you face the passersby without being shy?

I remember vividly when I was still at the university. I always had no reason to buy food outside; I would create time to visit the market and buy foodstuff. I had to visit a canteen for the first few days of resumption because, at that time, there would be no foodstuff to use in cooking. Believe me, I always felt like the earth should open and swallow me. For every spoon I put in my mouth, I imagined the thousands of eyes peering at me.

Then my service year, when I had felt like eating a buka fufu and ewedu: I was so ashamed to approach the woman; imagining people I know would see me. I walked round panseke for close to an hour, deliberating on how to buy the food. Finally, I saw another place, which is still in the open but I was determined to face my fear. I wore dark sunglasses and faced a particular direction until I bought the food.

When I started working, I was introduced to an aboki that sells fried yam and potatoes. People flocked his stall every period of the day to buy from him; especially in the afternoon.

Whenever this colleague of mine enters the office with fried yam and sauce, the aroma would waft the office’s atmosphere and make me go hungry. This is the same colleague that had called me ‘a primary school student’ because I make my lunch from home.

So I decided to try the place one day (I’m a certified lover of fried yam). I was so shy that I could hardly say what I wanted. People flooded the place as usual and I scurried amongst them to buy hastily and leave for my office. Several thoughts clouded my mind (How would people see me…what if I see someone that I know…what if someone that I know sees me…why would I buy this from outside when I can make it at home…). Finally, I bought it and returned to the office, then narrating the ordeal at the aboki’s place.

 RELATED ARTICLE: The Buka Experience.

“Who cares? When you have those thoughts, remember the fact that you’re the one paying for the food, no one is paying for you. This makes it your own business and not others,” my colleague said.

That made me feel better: Yes, wherever I go, I’ll always keep the notion that I’m the one paying for my food. I shouldn’t care about what anyone says or think about me.

Fast forward to months after, when I still cooked and packaged my lunch from home, and still buy food once in a blue moon. On a particular Friday when it rained so heavily that we thought the cloud would be rendered apart, I couldn’t make any meal from home because I was tired of eating the same ‘rice and spaghetti’ delicacy. I waited till past one but I knew that I had to eat; I had not taken breakfast nor lunch and my legs were wobbly and eyes dizzy. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t read. I needed to fill my belly with something reasonable.

I met with my sister during lunch time and narrated how hungry I was. “Would you eat rice?”

“No, I can’t. Isn’t that the reason why I didn’t make rice this morning?” I grumbled.

“Okay, how about ‘solid’?”

“I do not like the Yoruba soups,” I replied.

“Let’s try it na. Like ewedu for a change,” she encouraged.

True. I’d not taken ewedu in what felt like ages.

“Okay, let’s try it…but you’ll be the one to do all the talking oo.” I warned.

“Fine, no problem,” she replied.

We entered the buka and sister ordered the meal. We wanted amala but since it wasn’t available, I decided that we choose iyan.

 “We’ll need an extra wrap of poundo yam,” I said.

“Let’s take that later.” She waved her hand.

We entered the restaurant and started to eat. I ate like I was in my home, knowing fully well that I had company.

“If I was alone, I wouldn’t have been able to eat this way,” I said.

Sister laughed. “How do you eat when you go on dates?”

“That case is different…I am with someone. I am not alone,” I persisted.

“Well…you understand yourself.”

It was not long after then that the jumu’ah prayer started. Sister had to gobble down her food hastily and wash her hands.

“So you’re leaving now?” I asked, rhetorically.

“Yes, I am. Have a nice day. See ya at home,” she said, standing up.

I gave her an unbelievable look. “Can you please request for the extra poundo yam before leaving?” I pouted in anxiety.

“I’m late. Bye.” She waved at me and walked out of the building.

There I was! Hands stained with ewedu and stew, mouth chewing on a beef and eyes darting at the women that sold to customers.

‘You can do this…don’t be shy…why do you have to care about others?’ I mumbled, washing my hands and walking to the women.

I swung my hands for a few seconds and stuttered, requesting for the iyan. I received it and continued my meal.

I decided. ‘You shouldn’t be shy again. It’s your money.’ I licked my fingers and cleared my plate. I paid for the meal and walked out of the restaurant, feeling satisfied that I had faced a great fear; the fear of eating outside.



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