Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 3



Obinna Chilekezi


Hunger as the Killer

For six weeks now, nothing seems to be working. Even the face of the sky speaks of same as for the past five weeks there had been no rain in a raining season like this. This is unbelievable. There has been complete locked down following the outbreak of coronavirus in Minge City, a small coastal city with much of social activities. Though in an Islamic country, you can differentiate the social lives with what you see in Europe. This is the reason why Minge City has been a haven for tourists from all over the globe.

Johnson Mensa works with one of the tourist companies in the city and had been asked to stay at home because of the outbreak of the virus in the city. Incidental Johnny as he is popularly called depended much on his monthly wage so as to sustain his family of three, of which the youngest is a daughter of six months.

“Johnny”, Isaa his wife of six years had called. “Huni is like baby is running temperature I will need some money to buy drugs for her”.

The husband was silent, lost in thought. For he was not having even a dalasi in his pocket.

Isaa continued “I’m suspecting that she is growing a new milk tooth. This girl will like to eat plenty of meats the way she is growing these teeth”.

Further silence.

“Why this coronavirus, why now”, Johnny far older than his age within this just period of time, was asking. Either himself or to nobody, “but why, why, why …”.

He looked up to heaven but it seems no answer could come from above.

Johnny had never faced a terrible situation such as this.

He looked downward, and again upwardly. He hissed, “it is not this coronavirus that is killing up but hunger”

Since the outbreak of the business his small tourist guide company had shut down asking workers to go and stay safe without paying them any money. Well you can’t blame the company as it was not making much as a result of the nation’s economic recession before this mega problem. Afterall, the owner will not steal to pay wages.

Worst still the government’s palliatives are small to go round everyone in the city, hence hunger now fester on people day in day out. And when the citizens decide to go out in town to hassle, the policemen will harass them for violating the order that they should stay at home.

As Johnny was thinking of his world, Musa came in with his own problem.

“My brother please can you find me 400 dalasi to buy food for my children”.

Johnny without looking at him shook his head twice.

“What a time to have children”, Johnny bemoaned. He looked at Musa with hot tears rolling down his checks.

“I need money to buy drugs for my sick daughter”.

Musa stood up and walked away knowing the person his person was, that if he had money he will not hesitate to give him.

Musa sighed and said to himself, “hmmm it is hunger that will kill before the World Health Organisation will know of it”.

The earlier they get vaccine for hunger the better.




May Allah Bless You

The morning was still very cold, just about the time the cock usually crow for the first time that Malik set out to go and see his friend Mustapha about his intention that his son, Suraju should travel oversea so that he could help the family from their sufferings. Suraju had a very good result at the last examination but there was not money to pay for his higher education.

Mustapha had had talked to Mr. Wilcox about the result of his friend’s son which had become the talk of the town in their neighborhood. With this Mr. Wilcox invited the duo to see him, hence this visit.

There had been a lot of hardship in the street than never before, even the donkeys in the streets could testify to this fact, as it is difficult for their owners to properly feed them. The faces of the children did not hide this fact. This is the time that Suraju passed his school certificate exams in flying colours.

Malik set out that cold morning in search of assistance. The morning was as cold as his mind but he was prayerful for a positive result.

He rode in his donkey quietly, silently praying.

“Aslam maleku”, he greeted at the entrance to his friend’s house.

Maleku salam”, Mustapha replied, adding that he should come right in.

Malik without wasting much time reminded his friend of his mission.

“Mustapha, please help me. I need your assistance. I don’t want this boy to follow his friends to be wasted in the sea after Libya on the basis of their going to catch gold in the whiteman’s land”.

“My friend, you know that it is only Allah that can help you. He is the one that shower his blessings to the faithful. How many times will I tell you that you should rely on him and not man”.

The friends later left to see Mr. Wilcox who was already waiting for them as he had told Mustapha that he had a meeting early that day.

Mr. Wilcox is a Swedish national who was coming to the country for the first time for holidays. He was disturbed by the level of poverty that he witnessed on the roads. And he was also moved by the story that one of the hotel staff, Mustapha had told him of his friend’s son.

Without much ado, Mr. Wilcox received Mustapha and his friend at one of the Gamster Hotel lobbies upstairs. He offered them soft drinks which they refused as it was their Ramadan, the fasting time for Muslims.

Mr. Wilcox took the result from the shaky hand of Malik. He read again and again, muttering to himself that this boy needs a lot of encouragement to further his education.

He dropped the result on the table, looking directly at Malik and said “your son is not leaving this country, he will remain here”.

Before he could finish his statement Malik was almost choking to death, a river flood of sweat was gushing out of him irrespective of the cold within the environment.

Then he heard, I felt he heard Mr. Wilcox saying “let him apply to the university here, I will pay for his school fees and up keep”.

“Sir what did you say”, Malik asked and Mr. Wilcox repeated what he had earlier said.

Malik fell on his kneels thanking.

“You are not like the other white people that come just to sleep with our boys and our girls”.

“May Allah bless you”, Malik prayed.



Obinna Chilekezi: "I am a Nigerian poet with background in library science and insurance. My collection of poems titled Songs of a Stranger at the Smiling Coast was recently released by Kraft Books Limited. My poems have appeared in journals and anthologies.”




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