“I wonders why he goes for something like this” John the priests servant murmured as he sets the table for morning meal.
He had been living with the priest for three years now and since then, he had never seen him take any other type of tea but Lipton. He has tasted it on Many occasions the priest could not finish the one made for him and the taste had been awful.
Tea spoon on the teacup facing downwards, sugar on the left side, bread at the center, butter by the left, hot water in the flasks and another green one containing already mixed tea. Not forgetting a plate housing two eggs and powdered milk by the right.
Why he want them to prepare the tea for him and yet still request for hot water to do it himself if the one prepared wasn’t to his taste surprises John. Why not do it yourself then.
To think that the man has not seen it fit to add morning tea to their menu is puzzling to John and other two boys serving the priest too. If the cook has any complain on that, she has not shown any sign.
Not actually that they like that Lipton of his, but at least, he should have thought it fit morally and sanely to add whatever goes into his mouth each morning to the menu of the people living with him.
“some men of God, I am surprise how they came to bear that name. Some like this fellow should bear the phrase; man of Satan. Why add God to anything concerning this fellow?” he shaked his head in anger mixed in resignation. He is of the opinion that people living with priest should have the benefits like opportunity to overcome African diet woes of carbohydrates daily. Yet, that had been their fate Even having good fortune of living with a priest that managers three towns alone.
John’s parents are relatively well off financially to compare to the other two boys. His siblings in his father’s house has never ogle any type of food except maybe salad. Not that the family can’t afford it weekly, but due to unnecessary respect given to that mixture in Africa. It is viewed as something special that should be eaten on special occasions. John can swear on the grave of his ancestors that some African presidents has that mentality for the food too.
Special food for special occasions. Easter, birthdays, Christmas etc. Imagine the nonsense. Some rich people even viewed it as being wasteful when you place your own family on balance diet that has salad in it.
Try to have misfortune financially, then you would hear tales of salad being behind the misfortune even from educated and the rich.
He juggled himself back to the present. For the priest to have separate menu time table is a big sign to John that all is not well with the man psychologically. John wonders as he rings the Bell to summon the priest for breakfast if the man has been abroad before. He actually don’t know the full story of the priest outside where he came from, his name and the year he was ordained. Even the other guys don’t know too.
Where he picked up some ideas he introduced there is indicators that he might have been living abroad. White man is full of ideas like what he is witnessing since living there. Where he picked up the idea of assigning each person living with him including the cook number of jingles of table bell to represent each person must have been Western culture.
Gring, gring, gring chimes represent John, two ‘grings’ for Anselm while one for Paul. Five low chimes for the cook while anything from six in high key represents the priest.
John always drives pleasure in ringing that bell each meal he is in charge. It is like summoning a dog. He always made sure he hears the man footsteps on the stairs before quietly placing the Bell and creeps away.
“who like going up there to knock on the man door. this is the best thing the man introduced that includes himself. Why wouldn’t meal follow the same routine” he murmured as he sat on the kitchen desk waiting for the priests own jingle of whoever he wants to wait the table.
To his consternation, it was three chimes. He signed loudly knowing fully well that the priest wouldn’t hear as he went to observe Lipton rituals he has witnessed for three years now.
“ can’t he even cut bread that goes into his own mouth for Christ sake” John wonders as he was signal to do the cutting. He watched as the man pours already prepared tea and made a show of tasting it. Without even looking at john, he proceeded to eat the bread that in John’s judgement is enough for two people and then as usual use tea that is for five year old to wash it down along with two eggs. Another signal came for water to be poured on the now empty tea cup.
“ did he even like the Lipton he uses every morning. The amount of water seems to be higher than the tea each morning” John queries himself. Why Lipton then? The man can’t be said to be fat if truly Lipton is sliming agent like other guys suggested.
At times, the man would leave one egg behind intentionally knowing fully well that who ever waits the table would corner it immediately he is out of sight. That gesture is always enough to wash away the man iniquity for that morning.
This morning, nothing except bread that usually goes back to where it came from waiting for another journey the next day and packet of Lipton no one wants remained on the table after the man retreated.
John eyed him as he quietly left and when he was sure he is out of sound and sight, he sat on the man chair, sliced a bread and poured himself hot water which he overloaded with powdered milk took his time with both before clearing the table.
“ If it is a sin, it should be on the man head” he murmured.
In his village, poor of the poor at times when they can afford milk even goes for traditional Dongonyaro tea. The tree was everywhere and used as herbal medicine when drank alone. If you add milk to it, it does two functions. It cures fever and serve as tea too. He couldn’t believe he can’t even enjoy Dongonyaro tea because he is living with a man that views tea as special thing and Dongonyaro being beneath his compound.
Living with a man that sends three goats and chickens every six months to his parents, he couldn’t even drink common tea that his siblings waste in his parent’s house is too annoying.
Two weeks later as luck might have it, his mother paid a visit to the parish from the city. He didn’t waste time in letting her know about his tea dreams. Luckily, the priest wasn’t around and the mother went to the town market to buy two tins of Bournvita, a carton of peak milk, carton of cabin biscuits and two loaves of bread.
When the priest returned in the evening, he was shown what John’s mother bought for him. He asked the boys to take them upstairs to the store room. He told John he would be given him quantity to drink every two days.
Three days later, when he was summoned for breakfast, he came down with John’s Bournvita and a tin of peak milk. His own summon was ‘gring' Paul went to wait the table. When the meal was over, he rejoined others with a frown on his face and narrated how the priest meal has turned into Bournvita and half tin of peak milk with half loaf of bread.
Meeting was held by the three boys in their quarters and decision was arrived at. They decided to abandon the whole thing for the man with excuse that it causes them fever.
The man laughed out loud when he heard it.
“ Local boys, that is reason I bought a bag of garri for you guys. I knew it is the one your system is used to”
Two days later, the priest still at the Bournvita having ditched Lipton told Anselm to forward his breakfast to his room for he wasn’t feeling well. Within a week, the man lost body fluid faster than broken bottle losses water and was finding it difficult to leave his room. He was having running stomach.
He still clanged to peak milk and Bournvita believing them to be replenishment to the lost fluids.
“ I don’t know what is happening, I have been taken tablets for the running stomach and yet, there is no improvement” he said to the cook one morning.
“ Maybe, some food don’t agree with your system. You seems to have changed morning diet. Your system is still getting used to it. It would be okay”
A week later, he was still at Bournvita and peak milk and running stomach was still with him. He had missed one Sunday service that made parishioners to become concern and that led to his fear of bishop gotten wind of the sickness and sending another priest to second him. That is the idea he doesn’t want to entertain. He turned to instant noodles for two days and his condition improved. He rushed back to the Bournvita and peak milk and running stomach rushed back to him.
He called the boys reluctantly and asked them to take the whole John’s tea items to the kitchen store and gave the cook orders on how to measure it out to the he boys.
The boys and the cook descended on the tea and within one week, it went down sixty percent and they were hell bent on finishing it before the man recovers fully now he no longer sleeps with mattress near the toilet door.