The day had begun like every normal day, we said our prayers and did our house chores. In the house we shared with other tenants, we took turns to wash d bathroom and today it was my family’s turn.
“ciara when u finish sweeping the palour wash the bathroom then we are going to iya gbenga’s place to buy garii”
“yes mama”, I replied.
Our bathroom floor was made of concrete and d wall was just plastered. It has a small window for light rays to pass through, it lacked shower and a tap so we fetch water into our bucket and brought it in to bath, it had a creaky ugly looking door that termites had infested. I got a brush from the room and a bucket and quickly began the process of washing d bathroom. I poured a cup of the diluted hypo water on the floor and began scrubbing it, after which I poured a mixture of soap and water on the floor and did a final scrubbing. During the whole process of scrubbing the bathroom I had to hold my breath because although the bathroom wasn’t so dirty it stank of urine. I don’t know why someone would voluntarily pee inside the bathroom when there was a toilet even if it was a pit latrine. I exited the bathroom and exhaled fresh air from outside.
I removed my dress, brushed my teeth and began taking my bath hurriedly. The rest of my family had taken their bath very early this morning but mama hadn’t woken me up because I was to wash the bathroom. I poured some cold water on my body and began scrubbing hurriedly.It was never advisable to stay long in the bathroom because you don’t know who could see you or bust in at any moment. We used to lock the door while bathing but it wasn’t that strong a protection, with just a little force applied to the door, it would open or possibly break.
Mama had taught me that if I should hear footsteps or someone opening the door, I should pour a little detergent in water and splash it on the person’s face before running away, I hope I never experience such but it was better safe than sorry. Luckily for me today, no one attempted to break the door down or force their way in, I finished my bath tied a towel and entered our room to dress up. Mama and Kira were in the kitchen, probably Making breakfast although I don’t what we were going to eat.
“mama my friend Lucy said the government organized waec lectures on tv and radio during that we could listen to during this time so we won’t forget what we have learnt, can I please use the radio to listen to it?” Kira asked
I could hear mama’s sigh or maybe I just imagined her sighing.
“kira….., You know we don’t have much money and if you’re having lessons everyday the battery would die faster….. it’s only through the radio we can hear the news, I don’t know if…”
“ I understand mama, but you could talk to baba it’s just physics and chemistry I would be listening to, it’s probably going to be for just 30minutes and not everyday”, Kira replied
“okay I would talk to your father ….now call him that food is ready”
“where is he?”
“He is at baba funke’s house doing some carpentry repairs, maybe baba funke would give him some money”
“okay mama”, Kira replied before leaving the house.
Baba had learnt Carpentry and woodwork from his grandfather while growing up ,he was very good at repairing things and making furnitures but because it wasn’t every time he got money, he rarely did it and focused more on teaching. I came out of the room fully clothed now and helped Mama carry the food inside.
Mama had made two medium sized Eba and okro stew. She must have either bought fifty naira okro herself or sent kira to buy it while I was washing the bathroom. Mama had added another tiny fish to the okro and palm oil.
I remembered one of the days during the last semester when my roommate had made this type of okro stew, she had called it Ila alasepo( mixed okro stew). She had added big chunks of fish, beef and crayfish to it and she added palm oil to cook it. She had given me some and I really enjoyed it.
Now I looked at the stew in front of us with just one fish swimming in it. I knew I would enjoy it because it was mama would made it but it won’t be the same.
As I dropped the food, baba appeared by the door
“my love your food smells delicious” he said with a smile towards my mother. Which made her smile a little. We all sat down and began to it. Baba had washed his hands and his face before he entered but I could still see some particles of saw dust around his face.
“Are u done at baba funke’s place”, mama asked him.
Baba funke was a friend of my father’s. He was robost and he had three wives or so the rumour said, I had only met one of the wives and that was mama funke. She had only one child, a girl named funke and sometimes I used to play with her though she was Kira’s age mate. They lived in a bungalow two houses from our place and sometimes they invited us to their place especially on sunday’s after service. I used to look forward to that because iya funke used to make a big pot of jollof rice and she gave to so much to eat with one piece of chicken each. After we had all eaten, she used to serve a plate of Chinchin or puff puff and gave us fruit juice to enjoy it with. I didn’t know what baba funke did but I think he is rich.
“No I am going back there after I finish eating, four of his doors has fault and I am helping him to fix it”
“ I hope he pays you some money”
Baba and mama shared one ball of the eba while I and Kira shared the other one. Before long, we had finished eating and I carried the plate to wash.
“ciara, let’s go and buy the garii”, mama said
“yes mama, I am coming”
We left the house and began walking to buy the garii. The street was becoming empty as we moved further away from our house. We saw just two or three people and I was scared. I just hope iya gbenga would be there if not it was a wasted trip. It’s gbenga’s house was three streets from our house and when trekking it takes up to 30min to get to her place.The government had organized a small market at the end of every street to reduce the movement of people, they had also allocated a specific time for the market to run after which it closes till the following week. We weren’t sure of the day the market opened and even if we knew we didn’t have money to buy things there, the price of the commodities would be expensive. It’s gbenga’s price for garii was cheaper before without the pandemic happened and was still cheaper so we had no choice.
As we got to the end of the third Street, we saw two police officers holding a cane and hand sanitizers, the market was open and there was no way we could lie that it’s because it wasn’t open that was why we were going to the next street.
“ciara, I think we have to enter this market, we may be lucky and get a cheap price for the garii”
We greeted the police politely, used some of the hand sanitizer and proceeded into the market. The market had more sellers than buyers. People were wearing nose mask to cover their face, the market women were wearing handkerchief as a replacement for the nose mask.
I was surprised at this, I guess people didn’t want to die. Mama priced a cup of garii at three different shops but the price was outrageous, one shop said #700, another one said #800 while the last one said #900.
We had taken one thousand naira from baba to buy the garii but we had expected to buy at least four cups of garii not one. Baba would be disappointed.
“ciara let’s go, I am not buying garii for this price, I thought since there weren’t plenty buyers price of foodstuffs would have dropped”, mama said and turned her back to find the exit.
“customer, u know dey buy again”, an Igbo man who called the price of garii #900 said. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.
As we were leaving, I told mama that it would be better to confirm what time the market used to open and how many times they do open wether once per week or once per two weeks.
Mama thought it was a good idea and started speaking Yoruba to one of the sellers. I couldn’t speak Yoruba that fluently but could hear what mama was saying. She replied
“eshe” at the end which means than you then she said
“ciara kalo”, which means Ciara let’s go.
We got to the exit, sanitized our hands again and went home. Baba was back and wasn’t in a very good mood. He was just seating down with his face crumpled.
“Baba, what happened”, I asked looking from Kira to Baba’s face. “Nothing you should worry about my dear”, he replied.
I knew it was something serious but I also knew baba won’t tell us , he would wait for us to be asleep before he tells mama. I sighed, after removing my dirty clothes, I collected Mama’s own and proceeded to wash it.
I could hear mama telling baba that we couldn’t get to iya gbenga place but that he should not worry we still had garii.
After washing, we sat down to play a game called Ayo that Baba had made. I loved playing the game because I used to win most times.
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