Mama Nkechi walked towards her stand with a smile on her
face, Patience was speaking to her and she’d handed the nylon of food to
her. My heart stopped and I wanted to scream in frustration.
“Oya…nor vex….bring your plate make I sell food give
you.” Mama Nkechi said to Patience as though she’d not just reported me to her.
I looked up to the heavens and wondered which of my
ancestors was responsible for this. I watched as Mama Nkechi opened the cooler
of food and put a generous amount of food in the girl’s plate and she scampered
off. I was expecting to be bashed but Mama Nkechi did nothing of the sort, instead, she
kept the nylon bag of food by the side of the cooler and spoke to me in her
calmest tone.

“De children plenty for shade?” She asked me about the
number of those who’d come to buy food from us.
“Yes ma…dem nor too plenty but dem sha plenty.” I said
with a tremor in my voice.
“Okay…food don sha finish…we go pack de remaining. I go
sell dem for house.” She said to me.
I was instantly relieved, Mama Nkechi had not even acted as
though she’d been told something about me. She was so cool about the whole
thing, I counted myself lucky and almost wanted to look for the little Patience and laugh in her face.
“Mama Nkechi…” I called out.
“Yes…” She answered.
“I fit get salary advance?” I asked.
“For wetin na?” She asked me.
“I go soon marry…and errmm…I suppose join some money to
my husband own so dat we fit do proper wedding.” I lie.
She looked at me and said.
“You wan marry?”
“Yes…why you dey look me like dat? I never reach to marry?”
“I nor talk dat one ooo…I just dey ask queshun.”
“Okay…” I said as imagined the money she’d give to me. I
had calculated two hundred naira for thirty days and it was going to be enough for what I wanted to do. I
wanted to give my father the sum he’d requested for to help me snag Gabriel
while the other one was for me to hold on to. I was already tired of the
selling work and I intended to work for a few days after she’d given me my
salary advance and quickly disappear into thin air.
“Okay…sha help me pack all dis food for inside barrow.”
She said to me.
I was so thrilled, I quickly helped her to pack the whole
coolers of food into the barrow, when I was done, she said to me.
“Abeg you fit helep me wheel am go my house? I for wait for
my pikin but she never close from school. When I reach house I go count the
salary advance, give you.”
That gingered me so I quickly held on to the handles of the
wheel barrow and pushed it out of the school as though my life depended on it.
Mama Nkechi definitely liked me a whole lot, I mused. She was even kinder, now
after I’d been caught with stolen food from her cooler.
I wheeled the barrow past the gates of the school and into
the road. She was behind me, pointing out directions and in about fifteen
minutes after I was exhausted from so much pushing, we arrived at a neat face
me I face you quarters.
“Where I go keep the barrow?” I asked.
“Drop am here…” She said to me.
I wheeled the barrow to the center of the compound and
dropped it there. Suddenly I felt rough hands grab me and I heard Mama Nkechi
shout.
“Thief ooo….thief!”
I was shocked, my mouth stood wide open as I stood there.
“Make una come ooo…thief!” She shouted again.
I heard heavy footfalls from inside the quarters and I
struggled to release myself but Mama Nkechi’s hold was too strong. Two men ran
out of the house, each carrying long sticks, fear gripped my heart. Soon, I was
surrounded and pushed to the ground.
“Wetin happen?” One of the men asked.
“Dis thief wey I carry gum body for school dey thief my
food…she dey pack am for nylon.” Mama Nkechi panted. “If not for my pikin
Patience wey dey helep me investigate matters, dis woman for finish me.”
My eyes widened, the troublesome Patience was Mama Nkechi’s
daughter? So this was a trap all along? I almost had a heart attack.
“Abeg…I take God beg you ooo…” I cried.
One of the men hit me with the stick while the other kicked
me.
“Ahhhh…dis na jungle justice…ahhhh…” I screamed.
“I want make una show am say thief nor be better work…”
Mama Nkechi said with determination in her eyes.
Some other tenants had come out of the house and were
staring at me. Mama Nkechi opened the nylon bag of food that I had stolen and
emptied the contents on my head.
“Shebi you want food. Take food.” She said to me. “She even
talk say she want salary advance…ole buruku!”
“Ahhhhh…” The tenants shouted in shock.
“Make we beat am?” One of the men asked.
“Yes…” The crowd shouted.
“Nooo…nooo…I nor go thief again…noooo…” I cried.
I wept as I imagined the heavy sticks falling on my body
when I heard a familiar voice.
“Abosede!” A woman called out.
“You know am?” Mama Nkechi asked.
I looked up to see Turayo, my mother’s customer and friend.
“Yes na…na her mama get that big supermarket for Ashiru
street….” Turayo informed.
“Wait first…her mama get wetin? Nor be that woman wey be landlord
for the compound wey near dat her supermarket?” Mama Nkechi asked in surprise.
“Yes…na dis be her last born ooo…” Turayo informed.
“You can imagine! So pesin wey her mama get money fit thief?”
Mama Nkechi asked puzzled.
“Abeg make una leave am…I go report am for im mama hand. Her
mama go pay for anything she thief.” Turayo said.
“Chai…see curse ooo…I nor go born pikin wey even after
everything I get go come dey thief and spoil my name for area. Abeg carry am
dey go.” Mama Nkechi said.
I stood up shakily from the ground with tears in my eyes,
Turayo held out her hand to me and I placed my hand in hers as we left the
compound. 
It was a terrible day.

To be continued next week Wednesday….

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