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Why Can’t You Be More Tolerant?

When he made the reservation at COSMO, Ikenna knew he was going to have a good time. He had heard so many things about the place – mostly compliments. So, he was fairly certain that he would leave, satisfied.



Yet, he couldn’t see anything right now, that interested him. In fact, the more he looked, the more incredulous he became. His disappointment was starting to give way to irritation.
Where was the food he had been promised?
These people wanted to embarrass him in the presence of his mother, girlfriend, brother and sister-in-law. They didn’t seem to mind, but he did. This was his treat and nobody would spoil it. His sister-in-law had already started on a slice of pizza and his brother was on (what would be) his first plate of Chinese fried rice. Was that what his brother had become used to?

And the waitress did not appear to understand what he was saying. That, or she did not appreciate the gravity of the situation.
How could she say that this restaurant did not serve akpu, ofe nsala, ofe Owerri and ofe oha? What was the point of the buffet-style service, if these foods were absent? Did they really think noodles, fried rice, fish, chips and all these other things counted as food? OK, so maybe they were … for others, but this was not for him.

“Hello,” he yelled at a passing waiter. It was probably best to deal with a man; he would understand. All these girls …
“Yes?” replied the waiter, ready with a smile.
“I don’t understand what is going on,” Ikenna began.
“”What is the problem, sir?”
“What is your name? You have no food!”
“Sorry?” blinked the waiter, whose name-tag introduced him as John. The thing about working long shifts, was that one could hallucinate.
“I said you have no food!”
Or one could encounter hallucinating diners.
“Sir, we do have food. It’s … everywhere. The system here, is buffet.”
“I am aware of what the system is,” Ikenna snapped, rudely. “I do not understand why she cannot provide what I asked for.”
“What did you ask for, sir?” John wanted to know.
At last! He knew that a man would understand.
“I want fufu and ofe oha. With stockfish and dried fish. Plenty of it.”
John blinked and his colleague took off. Towards the bouncers.
“Where is she going?” Ikenna asked. “Is she going to cook it?”
“Cook what, sir?” John replied.
Ikenna was amazed. “You mean, she is just walking away?”

John loved this job; he really did. But certain customers were too much hassle to deal with. Did this … gentleman not read their menu, before he made a reservation? Never mind that he sounded like he was in the throes of a seizure, when he mentioned those foods with unpronounceable names – was he for real? Was it too much to expect that a prospective diner would have done their research, before choosing to dine here?

“I knew it! Racists!” Ikenna exclaimed, nearly triumphant.
Of course. Here it was.
“You are a racist! You are all racists,” he yelled, as other diners stopped pretending that they hadn’t been looking at him.
“Sir, you are …”
“Is there a problem?” a black, burly, uniformed man, who seemingly appeared out of nowhere, asked.
“My brother,” Ikenna began, pitiably, “These people are racists.”
“Sir, that kind of language …”
“Oh, my brother … you are black like me. And you are very big, so it means you are eating well. They have refused to serve me … and I have already paid. They will not get me the food I ordered. But they said they do a-la-carte. If I had ordered some rumpled vegetables and salad cream … like that onye oyibo there, they would have brought it.”
“Ikenna, what is going on?” his mortified girlfriend, who had just returned from her second food trip, asked. His brother and the wife, were in another part of the vast restaurant; too far to actually hear this commotion. She looked around, wishing the ground would open and swallow her. This man was good for a lot of things; embarrassing her, was one of them.

“Sir, if you don’t keep it down, I will be forced to remove you,” Mr. Black-and-Burly-Security-Guy said.
“What for? For what?” an obviously confused Ikenna railed. “I have paid. I have told you what I want! I have rights. I have a right to eat what I want. You have no right to tell me, nonsense! You are also a racist. I pity you. You are a black racist; a black slave. You are just a gate-man. For an oyibo man. Not even a proper oyibo. Instead of relocating to Africa, where you can go to the farm! You are here, doing gate-man. Who knows whether it is not drugs that has made you so fat? Nobody who eats akpu can be so stupid. Small position you have and you use it to enslave your fellow black men. Because of food?”

When Ikenna and the other members of his party were physically ejected from the premises, he still did not understand why. Even worse, he did not understand why his brother, sister-in-law and his very stupid girlfriend seemed to be on the side of the restaurant staff. There was nothing he could do about his brother and the wife, but the girlfriend had to go. How dare she not stand up for him? This was what too much civilisation caused; not only did she not know her place, she obviously lacked common sense! He should have known from the start, that she wasn’t the one for him.

What did it matter, if the restaurant said they only served cuisine from certain parts of the world? He was a paying customer, so had every right to do and get what he wanted. And the intolerant, proud, shameless racists had the nerve to talk to him about the rules in their space … just who did they think they were? Oh, just wait till he left them the worst stinker of a review they had ever seen, online …

All Rights Reserved, Chioma Nnani

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