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Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Life is full of difficulties. Some say it is a bitch and can bite you where you least expect it and others say if life gives you lemons, make lemonade out of it. This life really is a mystery or is it? The things we hear and see every day are unbelievable. It gets me wondering what life has in store for me and I increase my prayer effort. I sit and I ponder for minutes, hours.
It was a lovely Friday afternoon. I wanted to get some things. I thought about getting to the border since I was close to Mile 2, i changed my mind when I saw a market at Cele. I got down and started going round the market searching. In this harmattan it was not a pleasant chore, the dust was unsettling. I always did love the sights and sounds of a market. I went from one seller to the other. I saw a little wooden kiosk looking shop. I entered inside. I met a pretty woman. She is on the big side but not fat because she had a lovely figure, plump more like it. I was not paying attention to her initially. Her dressing was like that of every market woman but neat. She was conversing in Igbo with her neighbour. I greeted and she responded, she asked what I wanted. I was taken aback. Her English was the Queen’s English. She spoke better than most bankers and call centre agents who always use fake irritating accents. I could not believe my ears; I had to hear her speak again so I asked another question. It was not a phony accent. I looked round her shop again and wondered what someone who spoke like this was doing was a shack. a meat seller was beside her shack and a charcoal seller at the far end. this to me was squalor ,poverty for the voice i heard. She was wearing a faded wrapper that had seen better days. on her feet were bathroom slippers albeit i noticed her nails were finely pedicured. I was lost for words. I looked at her again. I guessed she was in her forties and I was right in the end. My curiosity antennae were up and they refused to go down. I had to know, to understand.
I sat there; I could not help looking, more like staring at her. She was even graceful. Finally, I spoke, I told her I liked the way she spoke. She smiled at me and said thank you. I had to know more. I told her she speaks like someone that has lived in the UK. She smiled again. I waited for her to say something and finally she did. She had a faraway look in her eyes when she told me yes. I continued, I told her sorry madam but I just have to ask you, what are you doing here? She laughed; I liked the way she laughed too. It reminded me of people with class.
She looked at me, told me it was a long story, and stopped. I hoped she would continue and she did. She had schooled in London during the eighties before I was born obviously and she laughed again. She was there for seven years. She did a diploma course before she did a degree course. She came back to Nigeria for the holidays. She met a man who wanted to marry her, more than one actually but she settled for love. That was the beginning of her downhill journey. She could not get a visa to travel back; she had a job waiting there. It was meant to be easy but she does not understand what happened. Her husband had an ok job but he never progressed. Her in-laws insisted that she must not work. They said she was the reason her husband never progressed. He too changed all of a sudden. She could not work. They were living from hand to mouth. The worst happened; her original certificates were engulfed in a fire. She could always get in touch with the school now but who would take someone without work experience in this country. My dear, it is all in the past. She has accepted it all as life. Now, she owns this place yes it is small but she has been able to put her children through school with it. Her eldest is in her final year at a federal university. She is struggling so her children will not live the life she has or make her mistakes. She smiled at me again and continued. She could have avoided all this if she had listened to her mum not to marry the man or prayed about it. Her family washed their hands off her. They later went to the afterlife after that.
She looked at me and started giving me serious advice. She told me to be careful the kind of company I kept. I should never let anybody disrespect me and dictate my life. Be careful to whom you give your affection, your love they hold power over you. It should be someone that really deserves you. Before, I get married that I should pray seriously, before I say yes. That some people’s destinies can stunt that of others. They kill it and bring you down you will never go forward. Some things in life are more spiritual than we think. That man that seems like the perfect choice might not be be careful as you grow. A wrong choice can destroy you. As she was saying all this, she was not bitter; she smiled all through and only paused briefly to remember with nostalgia. She told me about her stay in London, the fun, the life she had there. Only then did I see the pain. She had it all but it all disappeared, she said and her smile came back. As I left that shop that afternoon, I wished there was something I could do for her. I sighed and shook my head, pondering as she waved me good-bye.

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