The Missing Cook Book
He searched everywhere but he could not find it.
He has been searching for it for the past two hours. He had first ransacked the kitchen—its natural habitat—and when he could not find it there, he stormed into the three bedrooms in the flat and turned everything in them upside down. But he still could not find it.
Fuming with anger, he invaded the stuffy store, where he frightened the living daylights out of an old rat that was scavenging for grub. Seeking a target to vent his spleen on, he hurled a broom at the rodent. But he missed his target, which scurried away. He went back to the living room.
He cursed silently under his breath.
After another futile search in the living room, where he created more chaos, he sank on the sofa dejectedly. This was exactly the third time that he would perform the act. Hunger tore at his entrails savagely.
He reserved his bile for the firm where his wife works, for sending her to London on a certification course, which she had assured him, would enhance her profile in the office.
Profile his foot!
He has been forced to look after his restless 10-month old son, because the nanny, who lives far away, could not come today due to a nationwide strike. Banks, schools and offices have remained closed since the strike, which has virtually paralysed economic activities in the country, started yesterday. The media had dubbed the strike, the ‘Mother of all Strikes.’ For once, he believed what the press said.
He has never felt so helpless all his life.
He gazed once more at the wall clock, which chimed on oblivious of his plight. The old transistor radio assured him, as it has been doing before the strike eventually started, that negotiations between both parties are still ongoing.
He inspected the refrigerator to see if there is anything he could bite to help him think straight. But the refrigerator did not offer much solace. He checked the cupboards for provisions and found nothing that could assuage his mighty hunger.
Reluctantly, he went into the kitchen as a last resort. The last time he cooked was during their honeymoon—a little over a year ago. Feeling quite romantic, he had fried some eggs and made toast bread for his wife for breakfast.
He measured two cups of rice. He sliced tomatoes, pepper and onions that he found in the pantry and poured some groundnut oil in a medium-sized pot half filled with water. He sprinkled thyme and curry on the mixture gingerly. After several attempts, he managed to get the gas cooker working. He put the pot on the cooker and began to boil the rice.
That was when the baby woke up.
He abandoned what he was doing in the kitchen and hurried to the living room to attend to the baby’s cries. The baby stopped crying momentarily upon seeing a familiar face. Then it started all over again. He dashed back to the kitchen. He washed his hands with soap and water and dried them before he went back to the parlour.
Frowning as he made food for the baby, his mind again went to his wife. He gritted his rage with rage. While the baby was sucking at the feeding bottle, he listened to ‘News on the Hour.’ The female newscaster said the situation was still a stalemate. Analysts painted a bleak picture of what would happen to the economy, which was already bleeding, should the two-day old strike drag on a day longer.
He got so carried away with the report that he did not know when the pot dried up. His sensitive nostrils picked up the smell. He was a little too late. The food got burnt. Consternation was written on his face. He was trying to get a smaller pot, encumbered with the baby safely strapped on his back, when the breaking news came.
“The strike action has been suspended…”
That was all he wanted to hear. But something else made him to stare at the radio curiously. He noticed that the radio was sitting on a book. He walked over briskly to confirm his suspicions. It was the missing cook book.
He shook his head with incredulity.
Tags: african husband, african literature, african short stories, african story, author of the senator's car, award winning story, babysitter, commonwealth short story award, dad cooking, drama in the kitchen, Fred Mordi, Frederick Mordi, husbands, kitchen, lagos, lagos husbands, lagos short stories, missing cook book, mordi, nanny, nation-wide strike, Nigeria, nigerian husbands, Nigerian short story, stay-home dad, transistor radio
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