Stories of My Mother : Shopping Stories – Pt. 2

“I na-ekwo ije”.

“You walk really fast”, my young cousin commented one day talking about my speed when I’m walking on the road.

I laughed.

You see, the skill of walking fast was something we had to learn.

You couldn’t afford to walk slowly when you go to the market with my Mum, else you might end up on ABS Onitsha News, the missing child advert section…

Of course, she would never have left us behind or even let us get missing but she gave us that impression. You either walked fast or you found your way home, and that option nobody wanted to consider.

This rule basically applied when we went to Main Market or Ose. You see those big markets; whenever our Mum had to go there, it was for serious business and she usually had a whole lot to buy, sooo, no time to waste time.

She would tie her white handkerchief folded into a triangle over her nose to protect her from the dust, especially in the dry season. She was allergic to dust and would start sneezing when unduly exposed to it.

Then with her handbag under her armpit and her shoulder slightly titled towards the right side, she would ‘change gear‘ as we approached one of the many entrances to the market from the Car park.

The market roads were narrow and the moving cars and thronging human traffic made them even narrower. Once Mummy moves, our singular target was to keep our eyes on her and keep up with her pace and that meant walking really fast.

When my sister Uju and I started going to boarding school and wrote our lists, we would be glad when Mummy came back from the market with our stuffs but a little sad when one or two tiny items weren’t bought.

I remember my elder sister Ifeyinwa, when she took over the shopping for our lists from my Mum would explain to us that the market was too big and the items on our lists scattered all over, so it was usually difficult to buy everything at once.

Well, accompanying my Mum to the market soon made it clear. “Mummy do we have to buy everything?” I would find myself asking.

Following Mum to the market was like a rite of passage. You observed how to shop, how to haggle, how to check for ‘original’; ‘the main the main’, how to pretend walk away so that the market seller would call you back and offer a lower price, how to frown at the item in your hands and look distracted while jumping on the inside at the very good deal you just got and how to check for expiry dates. You also got introduced to her preferred merchants, so you would just locate them when you start coming alone and continue the ‘Customer’ relationship.

Anyways, when I was old enough to start shopping for myself, by myself which was in my Senior Secondary/University, I’m not sure I bothered much. Let’s just say that shopping is not my thing.

I don’t know how my Mum did it though, for years, for a large family, eight kids, varied age groups, long shopping lists. Oh Lord!

It’s June and in some weeks time, it would be the first anniversary of her passing on to glory. Time does fly, so much has happened already but the memories seem just like yesterday.

The Storytela

#LadyBeneLivesOn
#InEverLovingMemory

My Mum- Her Greetings

Elegant Mama

“Morning, Nne, i tetago?”

“Morning, Nnaa, i tetago?

That’s the way she would respond; the first line for the girls and the second line for the boys, every single time we said “Mummy, good morning”.

She would ask if we had woken up; in her calm undulating voice. And it would come with a smile, even if you had fallen out with her the previous night.

My Mum’s smile, the way her face would light up whenever we walked into her room. It was like switching on a light bulb. She might have been pondering on something moments before any of us walked in but as soon as that person entered, she turned on that smile.

Mmmaaa mu na nwanne m o!”

She would say, calling us her siblings, spreading out her arms and wrapping us in a warm hug. This was usually when we arrived from a journey, be it from school or anywhere.

She would then peer into your face, squinting her eyes as if trying to read behind the facial expressions and I’m certain in our older years, she also examined our facial skin for conformity to her beauty standards.

I remember when I had a serious case of pimples in University, it was my final year and I think I probably reacted to an adulterated Face Wash I bought from the market.

My Mum’s reaction was something else, she would constantly examine my face and worry that the pimples weren’t clearing despite the products she gave me to use. At a point she openly wondered if the ‘pimples were as a result of a spiritual attack to prevent her daughter from getting married’ LOL. Like I’m still laughing, thinking about it at the moment.

Well, I got to Lagos after graduation and my sister, Chika gave me something that helped clear the pimples.

“Oo Ikemsinachi o! Oo nwanne m o! Oo Brother Ikemsinachi o!”

She would chant in a sing-song voice while greeting my first son, Ikem. She would again refer to him as her sibling and also add ‘Brother’ a sign of respect and probably spirituality I think. I never asked her why she called him that, we would just laugh over it.

As part of the Igbo burial rites, a woman’s body was usually taken to her Father’s compound to be shown to her people before it would then arrive her own compound for lying-in-state and burial.

Chants of “Oo nwanne m o! Oo nne o! Oo nwanne m o!” filled the air as the casket bearing my Mum’s body arrived her Father’s compound. It was such an emotional moment as they paid final respects to their sibling and daughter and watching the whole scenario brought back memories.

Memories of a voice we were blessed to have heard and of precious moments that we’re grateful to have experienced.

The Storytela

#LadyBeneLivesOn

#InEverLovingMemory

When Nigerians Say This…

I laughed hard, really hard when it dawned on me.

My two year old son had just given me a typical Naija response, something you need to know if relating with Nigerians or visiting Nigeria. Or, do I say Africa? Well, I speak for my country.

I had called out to him and in his light slightly high pitched voice, he answered “I’m coming“.

I waited. Nothing.

I’m coming Mummy…

He answered, “I’m coming Mummy” but continued with what he was doing. It was then it hit me.

It’s typical of Nigerians to say ‘I’m coming’ in response to being beckoned but still take a little time to finish up a task at hand or even go in an opposite direction, with the intention to return later.

Or someone could stand up to leave a room and say ‘I’m coming’ while they actually meant ‘I’ll be back’.

I remember on another occasion, he kept walking away, stopping intermittently to say ‘I’m coming Mummy’. Something I’ve done to them on quite some occasions.

I’ve tried to check myself sometimes, and I’ve agreed that I would use the right terms like ‘give me a minute‘ or ‘I’d be back‘ or ‘give me some time‘ but then it seems that ‘greater is the I’m coming in my programming than my efforts at a change’.

I’ll let it pass for the kids as an additional Naija flavour. No need fighting to change what I’m guilty of.

#shrugs

The Storytela