Gabriel was an angel, he was
one man that truly took good care of me. We didn’t share a room in his sister’s
house, I slept on the couch in the small passage way while he slept in the room
but for once in my life, I was at peace. His sister, Gina was different, she
didn’t even talk to me, and most times she liked to pretend that I didn’t
exist.
I had stayed with them for
close to a month and every night I watched as Gina spoke to the computer
screen, Gabriel had said earlier that it was Skype calls and that as she was
talking to her husband, she was also seeing him in his sitting room abroad. I
was motivated to stay longer in their house and endure Gina’s silent treatment
all because I had a motive. My motive was, to find my way to America as soon as
possible through the aid of the computer.
I had just woken up that
morning and was brushing my teeth at the sink when Gina walked up to me.
“Take this money, I need you to
buy me some food stuff at the market.” She said, handing over some money to me.
I collected it, rinsed my mouth
and turned to face her.
“I know I have been lenient
with you Senorita, but you really have to learn to earn your keep. I can’t keep
spending on you without getting anything in return. The market is not far, just
take a twenty naira keke and tell them ‘market’ they will drop you there and
once you are done, board a keke and tell the rider that you are coming to last
bustop and he will stop you at the street gate.”
“Wetin you want make I buy?” I
ask.
“I’ll write it down in a piece
of paper and give it to you.” Gina said and walked away.
I shrugged and went to have my
bath. By the time I had showered and changed, Gina handed me the list and I set
off to the market.
The market was not far, it was
a bit rowdy, I walked into the market with the list in my hand and by the time
I reached the foodstuff section, I brought out the list.
“Auntie…fine girl wetin you wan
buy?” One of the traders asked me.
I looked at the list and shook
my head, I didn’t understand a word that Gina had written. She had spelt the
words but I couldn’t read them or understand them. This was the time I wished I
listened to my English teacher’s lessons in school.
“Auntie wetin you wan buy?” The
trader asked again.
“St…standa…stand…” I replied
still looking at the list.
“Stand? Wetin be that?” The
woman asked. “Make I see that ya list…”
“No…which wan you dey? Na you
carry me come market? Why you dey look me like say I nor sabi read?”
“Sorry ooo…auntie abeg nor vex.”
The trader said apologetically.
“Na stand I wan buy…” I said.
“Ha! Which wan be stand? I nor
get am ooo…” The woman said.
I peered at the list again and
with much difficulty I tried to read the next on the list.
“Vero…Veronica…” I said.
“Auntie you sure say you nor
want make I see dat list?”
“If you talk again, I go waka
leave ya side, which kain insult be dis na?” I warn.
“Sorry ooo…but I nor get de
things you call…” The trader told me.
“Okay…shebi you get cra…cra…” I
started again, now on the third item on the list.
“Crab? I nor dey sell crab ooo…go
meet Iya Baby…na she go get crab.” The trader told me.
With the trader’s direction, I was
able to buy two big crabs. The crabs were so expensive that I had little or no
money left after purchasing them. I left Iya Baby’s stall and walked further
into the market. I met another trader and my purchasing started.
“Madam…you get fi…fi…” I
started, looking at my list again.
“Wetin be dat…make I see de
list.” The trader asked.
“Which one be ya own na? Abi
you wan prove say I nor fit read?”
“Sorry ooo auntie…abeg read ya
list.”
“You get fi…fire?” I ask
finally deciphering the word on the list.
“Fire? Or na matches you wan
talk? Fire nor dey ya house?”
I look at her, make a face and
look at my list again. I read the last item on the list aloud.
“Pep…Pepsi…” I say.
“I nor get dat one…go
supermarket, you go see am dia.”
“Okay but make I tell you de
first food wey dey my list…e fit be say you go get am.”
“Oya call am…”
I begin from the first word on
my list.
“Saaa..stand…sand.” I say. “Vero…veronica…”
I continue. “I never buy de first two, na only crab dey my hand.”
“Auntie abeg, nor vex but who
send you come dis market?”
“How dat one take consign you?”
I spat.
“With de kain list wey you
carry so, I come dey wonder if na juju you wan do. You sef, look ya combination
na. Sand, Veronica, Crab, Fire and Pepsi, una wan use Veronica do juju?”
“Na God go punish ya mouth!
Thunder fire you well well, so if you nor get something na so you go dey run
mouth like tap. Weldone.” I say slapping my buttocks with my right hand and
lifting my butt in the air at her. I left the market, angrier than when I came.
“Which kain woman be dis ehn?
Gina na idiot I swear, how she go send me go market to buy sand, fire, veronica…if
she dey find sand, nor be sand full ground so? If na fire, shebi matches dey
house and if she dey find veronica, she nor get im number? Nonsense!” I hissed
and left the market.
On my way home I made sure I
packed up a heap of sand and tied it in a cellophane and I also asked majority of
the ladies on the street if their names were Veronica.
By the time I got home, it was
well into the afternoon, I saw a frustrated looking Gina waiting for me at the
entrance to the house. Not even bothering to mumble greetings, I walked
into the house, she followed me closely behind.
“Senorita! This is two pm, six
hours since you left for the market!” Gina screamed at me.
“Abeg…nor stress me unless I go
arrange ya teeth for you hia. Nor be you dey write list like pesin wey wan do
juju?”
Gabriel emerges from the room
and stares at the two of us.
“Can we all calm down?” Gabriel
started.
“Calm down to where? Please ask
this riffraff you brought into my house, where she has been for the last six
hours.”
“Who be riffraff? I go sammer
you slap o.” I warn.
“No one is slapping anybody.
Senorita! Behave yourself and stop biting the fingers that feed you.” Gabriel
warned.
“Please give me the food stuffs
abeg, I don’t have time to argue.” Gina said as she grabbed the nylon bag from
my hands. Immediately, the bag tore in half and the crabs and sand fell to the
ground.
Gina screamed in alarm.
“What is this? Are you a witch?
What are crabs and sand doing in the bag? Gabriel, I warned you about bringing
strangers into this house.” Gina cried.
“Nor be wetin you write for
list?” I screamed at her.
“Give me the list.” Gabriel
ordered, I could see he was already angry. I gave him the list and he read
aloud. “Salt, Vegetables, Crayfish, Fish and pepper. What’s difficult in
understanding this list?”
“Ahhh…I think say na …Sand,
Veronica, Crab, Fire and Pepsi…chei! Senorita don do am again ooo…” I cry
falling on my knees before Gabriel and his sister.
“I don’t know how you are going
to do this but I need this girl out of my house latest tomorrow.” Gabriel’s
sister screamed and stormed out of the sitting room.

“Senorita…trouble seems to loom
over your head. Are you sure you’re not cursed?” Gabriel asked exasperatingly
as he fell to the sofa and buried his face in his palms.

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