I was at a suya spot one evening this week. The seller and I have become familiar, because every other night, at least another 100 naira leaves my allowance and enters his money plate.
I had made my order and after expressing my disapproval at his not having the ‘breast’ of the animal, I stood back to avoid the smoke from the grill. As he cut one piece, I took it, rolled it in dry pepper and threw it into my mouth.
Only this time, I managed to throw the pepper first before the suya. My airway got choked.
And that was when drama started.
I started to cough. I removed the meat in my mouth, thought it was a cough I could get out of my chest in a couple of seconds and go on with the suya. No way. In the minutes that followed, I felt my self getting into heart attack mode, with that alakoba piece of meat still in my hand. I held on to it, hoping to conquer.
I could not breathe. Whenever I tried, all I did was struggle to take in very little air. I was wheezing. ‘Water’ i was saying in my mind, ‘water’. Suya men never sold water. They just stood behind their table and sold meat till it finished, so I didn’t blame him for not having water. I just wanted to tear all my clothes off my body and let the air work wonders.
I was dancing on the walkway, choking on pepper, but I knew I was blessed of God when the suya man asked me if I wanted water. I took a satchet from him, finished it, and kept clearing my throat to get the pepper out.
All this while, that suya was in my right hand.
I went to sit on the floor at the entrance of the faculty of science- we call it White House, because it’s white. Used to be white. When I felt like my breath was even enough, I put the suya in my mouth and savoured the fruit of my labour. Clearing my throat, I went to meet the seller.
I had a smile on my face. He smiled too and said how he was surprised that a little cough could become something big, and told me he would buy kuli-kuli pepper next time- that one wasn’t as hot as this.
I said all was well, paid for my meat and left, all the while feeling happy that I conquered the suya that wanted to run away.
Suya- grilled meat
Alakoba- something or someone that can put you in trouble
Kuli-kuli- a local snack