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 Mannerisms

Mummy o!

“Go and rub some cream”

I told him in Igbo language, “jee tee ude” while pointing with my left hand towards the direction of his room.

At that moment, I saw her, in my mind’s eye.

She was pointing with her left hand too, dressed in a simple dark green patterned Ankara blouse and wrapper, (iro and buba style) holding the curtain with her right hand and also indicating the direction I should go with her head while looking sternly at a younger me.

Mummy a da achi at all…

My Mum and her mannerisms; she was stern enough to discipline and command respect but soft enough to give me my space to vent when I disagreed with her decisions as a young adult. Though her decisions stood anyway.

I can’t ever remember her calling us names. The most I can remember was she complaining that I was slow while doing house chores (rolls my eyes).

She had her expressions though and we would later turn them to jokes. She would usually ask;

‘a ga akpo gi onye isi di nma ka o onye isi n’adiro nma?

Which meant; based on your actions, would they call you someone who is sane or insane?

And if the person was feeling bold, they would say; someone who is sane, “onye isi di nma” even though you obviously qualify to be called the latter.

She also doesn’t expect you standing around when work is being done especially in the kitchen, she would usually ask;

“i kwu akwu?” Are you standing?

Spoken without looking at you, nooo, she was too busy preparing three different pots of soup; uzo ofe ito but she would say it with enough subtle threat in her voice to make you find something doing or explain why you were idling away at that moment.

I remember her standard instructions while going out, it changed over the years.

While we were much younger she would say:

“Zachakosisia, fichakosisia, kpochakosisia ebe nine”

That’s telling us to clean the entire house and make it tidy.

She said this with her eyes wide open for emphasis, her head turning round and her right hand holding her white hanky; just taken down from the cloth hanger, gesticulating to indicate the entire flat we shared with her then. Four large bedrooms, a huge dining room and a sitting room, let’s not include the corridors that qualify as rooms in modern day Lagos buildings. Thankfully, my Dad’s adjoining flat was cleaned by his umu boyi; the boys learning trade with him.

Later on, when we were much older, it would be her announcement as she locked her room door;

“I am going o!”

Said in English and then she would take measured steps which you could count by the sound of her fancy slippers; carefully selected to match her outfit, as they hit the floor. She would then stop by the room door of whoever was home at that time and ask;

“O nwee ife di mkpa?”

Is there anything needed at home that I should buy or sort out…

Fashion Mazi o!

As I walked away from telling my older son to put some cream on his body this morning, it dawned on me how often these flashbacks have been occurring since she passed on. I’m certain my siblings experience them too.

Memories of her reactions, her mannerisms, her gesticulations, triggered by even the slightest, seemingly unrelated things.

#InEverLovingMemory

#LadyBenedetteLivesOn

The Storytela