• Dami Afam Ade-Odiachi

The Difference between Morning Food and Breakfast

“You must form a routine.”

My dad said this to me more than once. I listened, but I didn’t do anything. I didn’t have it in me. When you’re perpetually depressed, one upset away from a full on nervous break down, it’s really difficult to do things. I’d developed a terrible fondness for my bed. Bed was safe. Bed was fun. That’s all I needed, a bed, and an internet connection, all the routine I could handle.

“You should think about getting into a routine.”

That’s what my therapist said.

“Yes! Yes!” I said to the witch doctor like figure. I think he’s a hack. The first time I met him he muttered to himself and I suppose the wall about whatever he thought might be wrong with me in Yoruba - a language I refuse to speak. At one point he took off his glasses and shed a tear on my behalf.

He is a ridiculous fellow. He tells me that we’re making progress at the end of each session, but it’s a fool’s progress. I do not see the gains of which he speaks. I’m just as terrible as I ever was.

“What happened to the routine you promised me?”

That’s my mum.

“Do something! This quagmire, this endless cycle of self pity and moroseness isn’t in your DNA. My father worked like a donkey. His wife worked like a dragon. Your father works like a demon. I work like a beatified horse. My son, you must work!”

I wasn’t quite in agreement. When your parents have done fairly well at life and refuse to cut you off, you’re entitled to a pension of sorts. You may never enjoy the grand luxuries of life, but you will have a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and food to eat. But I wasn’t counting on that. I was counting on not living a day past them. It’d have been quite the poetic story. The suicide of a son after the loss of his parents. I’m pretty sure it’d make the news, a half decent article in all the broad sheets. How sweet! So sweet that I suppose it is a little bit of a shame that this future has been aborted.

A heady concoction of therapy, some pills, life experience, familial prodding and divine intervention have done the impossible. I have been released from my perpetual condition. I thought it impossible, but here I am, free. The scales have tipped in my favour, hope is accessible, my mind no longer fixates on the emptiness of the proverbial cup. Instead, it is amazed at the fullness therein. And what’s more, it’s looking for ways to increase the water inside. It is a miracle.

The ability to form a routine, once impossible for me, has come rather naturally. There isn’t much to it really. I wake up at 6, pop my pills, and between that time and 8am, three times a week, I swim. After that, I eat. Sometimes, it’s something breakfasty. There are eggs, there’s bacon, there are sausages. Sometimes it’s oats, an apple and a pear. But on days when I am too heavily burdened for breakfast, it is a meal Nigerians call Morning food.

Morning food is not the same as breakfast even though they are both meals eaten in the morning. Breakfast is cute, fun, light. Morning food is heavy duty fuel, a meal so complex, so large, so full of energy giving starch that it’ll keep you running for 40 days and as many nights. It is not a sandwich. It is a pot of pasta, a basket of giant potatoes, a positively unhealthy mound of eba surrounded by an ocean of ogbono soup. Fuel to keep me going for the long haul.

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