Do you know meishai? In Uniben it refers to the indomie and fried eggs or bread and fried eggs combination that is sold in little kiosks. Meishai was sold everywhere, in school, the off campus towns like Osasogie, Ekosodin and BDPA.
I lived in Ekosodin for almost six years and Ekosodin had the best meishai. Ekosodin had the best of everything, the best hostels, the best supermarkets, the best restaurants, the best shops, the best robbers- the terrible ninja man who shot people in the butt started his operations in Ekosodin, he also died in Ekosodin. Ekosodin also had the best cultists- the strongholds of all the cults were located in Ekosodin, it had the best of Odionweres (the traditional head of the town)- the one I met was a lecherous old man who’d ask you to come close like he was about to give you advice then he’d grab your left or right breast depending on your position. You’d be shocked at that deft move, the old man looked like he had one foot in the grave and the other hovering on its threshold.
Ekosodin had the best meishai- John Bosco’s meishai. I remember when he opened his first shop, a tiny white shack in Major’s compound. It was a strategic site, just after the small hill that had been formed by erosion on the border between Major’s compound and the main road. Most of the inhabitants of Ekosodin who lived in the Newton’s side of Ekosodin passed through Major’s compound on their way to campus and on their way back.
Uniben has a reputation for being a tough school, it is well earned. Most students shuttled from lectures to their rooms to sleep a little and from their rooms to lecture halls to spend the night reading and pretending to read, cooking was not in the lexicon of most of them.
From 3pm his kiosk would open for business, the girl who ran it would start chopping the onions and peppers, tomatoes were not used. The first girl was very pretty and she smiled a lot but I knew she wouldn’t last very long at the job. She smiled too much at boys and her prices were usually inflated.
Another girl replaced her in less than two months, this one smiled little and her prices were constant. John Bosco prospered in Ekosodin, at a time he had three shops, had bought himself a bike and some new clothes. He left the kiosk at Major’s compound after a year, the man quadrupled the rent and John Bosco quietly packed his things and concentrated his strengths on the remaining kiosks.
When I went to any of John Bosco’s kiosks, I didn’t need to tell them not to awaken my ulcer with pepper. His meishai saw me through many exams, the bread meishai and Coca cola were my staples when cooking was no longer an option. The only times I’d had noodles meishai were when I went with my brother, he was a premium customer, he could make his orders over the phone and beat the long queues at John Bosco’s Edo street kiosk. Only John Bosco made my brother’s meishai, his assistants were not trusted to make his indomie.
On the bus ride home after yesterday’s evening service, all I could think of was food. I’d only had breakfast and I’d been one of the ushers at the service. Empty pots greeted me when I got home and I wasn’t in the mood or frame of mind to “whip something up“, I grabbed my wallet and left the house in search of food.
Less than two hundred meters from my house, I saw a woman frying eggs in a portable kiosk. She must open really late because this was the first time I was noticing her, it was a few minutes before 10pm. Or maybe it was a case of hunger sharpening my eyesight, I’d once worked in a pharmacy that closed at 10pm and I’d get home by 10:30 if I was lucky.
Unlike John Bosco, she’s not responsible for the bread. There’s a woman with Agege bread on a wooden tray next to her. I bought a loaf of seventy naira bread which she split in halves and asked for two eggs, there were two options- sandwich or side dish. John Bosco’s meishai was always a sandwich.
In less than five minutes, she’s giving me my bread. She placed the eggs in the middle of the loaf, puts it in the nylon bag and hands it to me. I am too shocked to react. She didn’t even toast the bread, did I tell her we didn’t have eggs at home? Didn’t she know that the ironing of the bread with a wooden block on the hot frying pan just after the frying of the eggs was the secret to excellent meishai? Was she even certified by the meishai board of Nigeria?
I took my bread home and ate it, I no longer live in Ekosodin.