It was my intention from the very beginning, from that point, that minute, that second, from that infinitesimal space of time in which I realized that I had to, simply had to write about Mr. Alani, to present him to my reader as clearly as possible, to paint a portrait as vivid and as bright and as rich as the larger-than-life boli-seller himself.
But where to begin? That became the question. Do I start with a description of the man? His physical attributes? Or with a few sentences to praise the heavenly sweetness of his roasted plantains? The crispness of his groundnuts? The neatness of his surroundings? The fastidiousness of his preparation? Or do I commence with a short bit of narrative detailing how my obsessive-compulsive love of hot boli and roasted groundnuts led me to make an acquaintance of Mr. Alani and to experience firsthand the power of his stunningly offensive and yet gregarious personality?
I decided to pursue the latter course and as an introductory paragraph to my short piece on my relationship with the infamous boli-seller, I described to the reader the circumstances that led me to become a favourite customer of Mr. Alani-Baba Boli.
I began with a simple statement of fact, the fact being that I had always been, from as far as I could remember, in a committed relationship with boli. From the blessed day, at three years old, when my grandmother cut a small piece of hot roasted plantain and blew on it, to cool it a little, and crushed it between her thumbs, to soften it a little, so I could chew it, and put it in my mouth, I had become hopelessly addicted to the plantain snack; this addiction leading me through primary school and secondary school and university to part with quite a lot of energy and money and also time, invested in walking about town, looking for that roadside woman who sold the best boli and its delightful accompaniment, roasted groundnuts. Read the rest of this entry