There is a horror story in the Bible, about a period of famine, when two mothers planned on eating their babies. First woman offered her child as shared communion but when it got to the turn of second mother, she grew cold feet and hid her child. Their agenda was brought to light when the scorned mother took the matter to the king who tore his clothes for shame at what hunger had reduced his people to.
I know cannibalism is still rumored practise in some dark places of the earth but I am certain that the hunger of those ancient times has arrived our shores again.
In a rural town few hours from where I live now, a story has been making rounds of a woman who had prepared a pot of local beans for her and her household. When food was ready and her clan submitted their plates on the floor beside the piping hot dinner, in the blink of an eye, armed hoodlums scaled her fence and ordered them to stay mum. She had no trinkets to offer, nothing of high value that could have made her easy target for the thieves. But her unwelcomed visitors were not after her treasures. One threw a blanket over her pot of beans and dinner became fleeting memory for that household.
Food is forever precious, but today when you drive by your local food monger carting her commodity in her wheelbarrow, pay her the silent honour you would give somebody in possession of something dear. For hunger in this land is real. Real as the increased value of dollar and other foreign currencies, real as the increment in fuel price, real as the unpaid salary of civil servants for months.
The other day at work, I saw on Channels TV, an old pensioner clutch his head and cry real tears for his unpaid gratuities for years. It was a poetic sight, something you could have seen in an Indian movie, but it was not a beautiful sight.
This is not a piece to chastise the new government, to say that their government has ushered in more hardship than I have ever heard since Structural Adjustment Program, or to reprimand our leaders and their method of governance. For I have learnt that they are so divorced and bullet-proofed from our plight that calling them out would be as futile as pouring water on impermeable rocks; no amount of literary venom nor missiles can faze them.
This is just an attempt to be pragmatic, to remind you that people around you are dying of churned intestines. People who could have taken care of their basic needs if only they were not flung into the eye of the storm of this economic hardship.
People who have a regular seven to seven jobs that offer payment on particular dates may not feel the pangs of hunger but ask a civil servant near you and you would hear a different testimony.
I am not hungry, I am well clothed, but I remember when I picked up my job, I had given myself a timeline of six months here before moving on to greater things. But with this recent happenings in the economy, I will not be found without a job in such a time as this. Not only should I make a living, I should also make a giving.
So I redrew my tactics and made a personal resolution to keep my work ethics topnotch because the hands of many employers itch to reduce their payroll and many, many people out there are willing to do my job for less pay and longer hours. My smile to customer would stretch further no matter how painful, no matter how plastic, but that does not mean I would sacrifice my basic human right on the altar of fear of the unknown.
This is the time to pacify irate customers, this is the time to be punctual.
Even though many firms and institutions are not dreaming of any kind of promotion for their staff. But I am always brimming with hope. Nature rewards – those extra hours, those extra miles we go to render quality service, the composure we maintain in the face of daunting circumstances- nature sees. And her promotions are independent of any government policies.