Wednesday, 7 November 2018


“Amina, come and go and buy….”

I sprang up, not waiting for the words to fully leave my mother’s mouth. “Yes, ma. What should I buy?”

I eagerly took the money she held out, listened attentively to what she wanted me to buy, and rushed out. 

I loved going on errands, but only at a particular time of the day – early in the morning. The women that sold things on our street loved me buying things from them in the mornings too; loved me being their first customer of the day. And this was because, according to them, I have a special power known as aje, so once I was anyone’s first customer in a day, the person would make lots of sales all through that day.

I had overhead one of such traders saying this to my mother some time back, while pleading with her to always allow me buy things from her. She had called me ‘Aworo’ which Mummy later told me meant ‘bringer of plenty customers’. The woman had added that the extra little toe I had on my right foot was proof of this.

Of course, Mummy did not take her seriously and neither did I. But when I started getting gifts from her and the other the women that sold things, I began to. And with time, I learnt to make the most of this ‘blessing’ of mine.

When out on an errand in the mornings, I would wave my carrier bag and money in the air like bait, and immediately, the traders would start calling me, “Amina, come and buy from me” “Amina, no go Mama Ramo shop, come my own” “Amina zo mana” “Come, I go give you plenty biscuit.”. They would go on like that, trying to attract me with their gifts and I would quickly run to the store of the woman who mentioned something I found most interesting. Afterwards, I would return home with what I had been asked to buy, my ‘gift’ hidden from my mother.

This morning, it was the same routine. The moment I came out of our house and stepped into the store-lined street with my green bag in full view, Mama Ramo noticed me.

“Amina, come, come. Today you must buy from me. I go give you Fanta,” she called out. But I was not interested. Mama Nkechi in the store next to her gave better gifts.

On cue, Mama Nkechi rushed out of her store too. “Amina, no mind am o, come my own shop. Me I go give you Fanta and Gala.”

I nodded in agreement and headed to her. A third woman, Alhaja, beckoned at me, “Come my side, don’t mind the two of them. I will give you plenty baba dudu and biscuit.”

I shook my head and continued in the direction of Mama Nkechi’s shop.

But Mama Ramo was not having any of that today. She rushed at me and grabbed me by the hands. “Na me you must buy from today. Wetin? Every time, Mama Nkechi.”

Mama Nkechi was not ready to be overtaken so easily, either. She raced over, too, and grabbed my legs. “Leave the pikin, make she buy where she wan’ buy.”

And it became a full struggle between the two – Mama Ramo had me by the hands and Mama Nkechi had me by the legs, and I was soon suspended in the air with both women tugging at me, trying to get me out of the other’s grip.

I screamed, scared that they would injure me. My carrier bag had dropped to the ground and I struggled to hold tight to the money Mummy had given me, but both women did not even notice my fright, they were busy yelling at each other.

“You people should not wound this child o,” Alhaja shouted at them from her own store.

The tussle continued, and I began to scream for my mother, “Mummy, Mummy!”

And just like a super woman, my mother appeared. She came running out of our house, rushing towards the two women in a rage. They both let go of me quickly when they saw her, and I fell to the ground. It was a short fall, I was not hurt, but my school uniform got dirtied and I burst into tears.

“What is the meaning of this rubbish?” my mother shouted. “You people want to injure my daughter? Because of what?”

The story came out that Mama Nkechi had been bribing me with goodies and monopolizing my lucky ‘aworo’ charm all to herself.

Mummy gave both women a piece of her mind before taking me back to the house. “As for you, I would no longer send you on errands on this street. I will be sending your brother instead.”

I felt sad hearing that. It was the end of all the freebies I had been getting. But then, after the scary experience I had just been through, maybe it was not such a bad thing.

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