Circumventing a Gatekeeper/ All Hail Billy Boy.

You want Cafe?

I nod. Weakly. Very weakly.

He dips a container into the pot of Senegalese Cafe Touba brewing over the fire and fills my cup.

I begin to sip on the invigorating coffee. Swirling around me are guttural Senegalese greetings and the sounds of happy handshakes and excited salutes.

I am hungry.

I have had one piece of bread, but it only seems to have exacerbated the aggressiveness of my hunger. I stare longingly at the pile of loaves at the corner, being guarded by the Senegalese man who just refilled my cup.

He is very generous with the coffee. He is always asking me if I want some more.

Mon ami!! You want Cafe? Cafe? More Cafe?

He is not as generous with the bread. I can literally feel his face being drawn closer and closer to a complete frown whenever the supply of bread is diminished by a considerable amount.

Jesus Christ I am hungry.

A few feet to my left, some members of this Senegalese Islamic sect are dancing around in a circle, beating their drums and singing very loudly.

I felt frightened the first time I head them sing. Their voices were so loud. Screaming on top of their voices and wildly waving their long fat dreadlocks in the air. Shouting ardently into the night.

One of their members freshly arrives, and joins the meeting. He is talking with a lot of self-assurance, shaking hands and smiling and laughing.

In my understanding, genuine self-assurance and confidence comes a lot more naturally when your life is going well. This guy’s life is definitely going well. 

I am here with my head bowed, wincing under the crushing pain of the frustrations I am encountering in my training of some Artificial Intelligence models on Wildlife Conservation historical data to identify insights which could prove valuable to the managers of the Spanish Biodiversity NGO on the island.

For some reason they were persuaded to entrust me with their money and historical data on endangered sea turtles.

I am in trouble. I am in fucking trouble. I have collected money but the AI models are misbehaving. They are not working the way they should work.

Ah. I am in soup. I am finished. I am completely finished.

Mister Confident walks over to the gatekeeper of the coffee and bread.

A cup is filled with steaming Cafe Touba.

Mister self-assured reaches out his hand and grabs a hold of two pieces of bread from the pile.

YEHHHHH!!!!!!

THIS GUY TOOK TWO!!

TWO LOAVES!!!

JESUS CHRIST!!!!

JUST LIKE THAT!!!!

AHHHH!!!

I am screaming in my head.

WHATTT????!!!

I look at the gatekeeper’s face. He is smiling and exchanging words with Mister Confident.

My hunger begins to boil even more belligerently.

I need another loaf of bread.

Jesus Christ I need another loaf.

Mister Confident finishes exchanging greetings and goes to join the celebration.

As he walks away, I can feel my energy diminish. My propensity to act on the unbearable extent of my hunger is apparently, directly proportional to proximity with Mister Confident.

As he walks away, my welling assertiveness ebbs. Now I am left with no externally perceptible dissatisfaction. Just the gnashing agony of internal hunger.

AH!!! WHAT SORT OF ANGUISH IS THIS

The gatekeeper is frowning again. The loaves look so far away now. So distant. So out of reach. Oh my God.

I keep sipping on the coffee, inhaling the aroma as fully as I can, hoping that at least is doing something to assuage my tempestuous hunger.

I keep looking around glumly. The Senegalese chants sound like something from a dream. The smiles and Wolof chatter bouncing about in the air around me all feel like hallucinations.

The one real voice in my head right now, is that of impatient, menacing, inconsiderately vociferous hunger.

Ah. I am dead. I am dead. I am completely dead. I am finished.

In the midst of this delirious surreality, I hear a familiar voice.

Who is that?

I turn around.

Is that Billy Boy?

Is that Billy Boy?

Ah it is Billy Boy!

His gaze connects with mine. A smile spreads out on his face.

Jesus Christ I am so happy to see you Billy Boy. I am so happy to see you.

BILLY BOYYYY!!!!

Memories of our interactions come to the forefront of my mind and infuse me with a feeling of warmth very different from what the fire was providing.

Having coffee in the middle of the island at Espargos, with me marvelling and the astoundingly chasmic language barrier that existed between us.

Hanging out at “Chillout”- an interesting restaurant at Santa Maria- a multi-cultural hub at the southern end of the island.

We shake hands and hug and smile and laugh.

He walks over to the gatekeeper, smiling and laughing and exchanging greetings with him in Wolof.

I like this guy so much. He wears these very interesting trousers that involve a combination of Denim and brightly coloured traditional Senegalese attire. His neck is usually full of very heavy looking Senegalese bead necklaces. He walks with an extremely appealing bounce, stylishly favouring one leg as he cooly drifts through space. I like this guy so much.

A cup is filled with steaming Cafe Touba.

Billy Boy reaches out his hand and grabs a hold of two pieces of bread from the pile.

Wait.

Two.

Two pieces. Of bread.

Billy Boy. Is taking two.

The gatekeeper is immersed in exciting conversation with him.

The loaves feel within reach once again. The capable assertiveness is back to express the clamorous disgruntlement of my rumbling hunger.

Psychological electricity is flowing from Billy Boy right now. This guy’s magnetic field of relievingly reliable self-assuredness is inducing some serious electrical charge in me right now.

I order my right hand to move in the direction of the loaves.

It obeys.

Good. Very good. Very very good.

I can feel the loves in my hand. Jesus they feel so soft. And there is margarine, Jesus Christ. I can almost taste it already.

My hand grabs a hold of one.

Extends that hold to two.

Three? Three loaves Mayowa?

My hand is corresponding with my head.

Three? Three loaves?

Look at you. Look at your big head. Three loaves. Three loaves. In addition to the one you’ve already had.

At someone else’s expense.

You better get back to your apartment and continue grappling with your bellicose AI models. You better go figure out how to finish training your models so you can obtain the second instalment of your consultancy fee from the Spanish Biodiversity NGO, and then you can buy as many loaves as you want.

Okay. Okay. Two loaves it is. Two loaves it is.

The hand is back. Two loaves richer. Alright. This is good. This is very good.

I think the gatekeeper saw me from the corner of his eye. I think I see a slight frown. I think I see it. I’m not quite sure. He is still smiling excitedly with Billy Boy. I’m not sure. I am not really sure.

One loaf is in my mouth already.

Ah! Such relish, Jesus. Ah!

All hail Billy Boy.

All hail Billy Boy the dependable inducer of electrical charge.

All hail Billy Boy the undepletable watershed of self-assurance.

I keep munching voraciously.

All hail Billy Boy.

All hail Billy freaking Boy.

Ah! My body feels relieved of tenseness. The unnerving stress of hunger-induced focus loosens its grip on my consciousness.

Ah! My body feels so calm all of a sudden.

Now I am able to feel the cool breeze of the night.

Hm, I think there are stars in the sky.

Ah, this Senegalese coffee tastes so good.

Hm, now the smiles on the faces of the Senegalese guys at the meeting suddenly feels like a language that makes meaning to me. Now their smiles seem to make sense.

All hail Billy boy.

All hail Billy freaking Boy.

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