My uncle had taken me to the market the previous day, to buy pepper, meat and other things for the evening. He was generous enough to allow me pick a few personal things which he paid for. But on a general note, I don’t ever want to be in the market with him anymore. It all started with the meat seller.

“How can you say this meat is 5,000 naira! Eh?” my uncle told the meat seller while touching and lifting the meat.
“How much do you want to pay, customer?” he asked while sharpening one knife with another.
“1,500” my uncle replied, checking out another meat.

Chai. 5,000 to 1500, uncle, you’re too much. You dare not do this kind of bargaining back in Ibadan – your life shall never remain the same. Although, apart from strangers, market sellers always get their match as well. The typical conversation goes like this!

“How much is this?”
“Ah, don’t touch it like that, ogbeni”
“Sell what you have to sell. How much is it?”
“5000 naira ni”
“I’ll take it for 1000”
“Ehen! You can as well buy the entire stall for 500”
“I really can’t pay more than that even if you’re added to the list”

An Ibadan seller has no chill, so also, an Ibadan buyer has no time. Anyways, at the end, my uncle got the big chunk of meat for 2,500. I was taken aback by his skills at negotiation. No wonder my aunt always asks him to do the shopping. My uncle will ‘price’ even items with price tags – maybe it’s a Lagos thing.

“Hope you’re learning fast? You’ll soon start coming here by yourself”
“I go to the market at home, it’s nothing new except for your exceptional skill. Besides, I’ll be due to return home in two days.”
“Two days? I’ll talk to my wife about that. You’ve barely spent one week na”
“Ah! Uncle, it’s almost 3weeks”
I quickly corrected.

Later that day, my aunt mentioned something about her husband’s discussion with her and she has agreed to put a call across to my mum asking that I stay longer with them because I’m quite helpful and the kids will miss me too much.

What’s my problem with that? I really want to return home to my mum, dad and siblings.

However, I had a great sensation within me – that feeling you have when someone is at your mercy. A rare sense of victory enveloped me, and I enjoyed every minute in that house henceforth. I realized how much my aunt will miss my help even though she rarely appreciates my efforts. I knew staying back isn’t something I’d like to do but I want the feeling of wanting me to stay back never to end.

I’m sorry about the other time, Feranmi” my aunt apologized for the first time this morning on her way out of the house.

This can only be a miracle. No! it’s not. She is just doing what is necessary to have me continue working for her.
She went on to mention that I stay with the kids while she quickly makes her hair down the street, to which I obliged.

Mummy, I want more food” Oviyon cried out
“When did you start eating this much ehn!”
“Anty Feranmi said that if I belch while eating it means I am okay”
“So?”

I have not belched!” Oviyon concluded with a pity face
“Eh ehn! Feranmi. See what you’ve caused! Give him some more”

I want more too” Mautin says softly with a mouthful and half empty plate of food.
Look at this one! Like father like daughter I said to myself – no single table manners.

Despite my aunt’s desire that I stay back, I have made up my mind to leave anyways. So, as a part of my au revoir package, I decided to take the kids out to get some toys to themselves. I wasn’t sure If it’s age appropriate but I need something I can refer to as ‘forget me not’.

I know of a store nearby, so we took a walk there hoping to return before my uncle who is never in support of taking his kids out of the house except for cogent reasons.

Arriving at the store, I led them to the section I want them to pick from, nevertheless Oviyon can’t help but create a scene. He obviously wants to go for a bigger one – where a bigger one means a bigger amount.

“Anty, why are you buying us baby toys?” Oviyon acted upset
“They are not baby toys Oviyon” I tried to explain
“I love this one. It’s a duck” Mautin picked up one and held it to her chest

That’s the one I want” Oviyon ran to him and dragged it off her hands
“You can have it”
Mautin said and made another choice. This time, it’s an aeroplane. I watched Oviyon’s jaw drop but he didn’t say a word.

As soon as we returned, my mum called to confirm my desire to remain longer than planned. She said my aunt called earlier to inform her about my latest decision. I told her that I was not ready to come in between them, but I have made up my mind to return home.

Talk with your small mummy then” mother said and ended the call.

My mum occasionally calls my aunt my small mummy especially in cases where she wants to be diplomatic such as this. I am not having it this time though. All I want to do is return home.

Part of the instructions my aunt left was to prepare semovita for dinner. Before leaving for the kitchen, I noticed that Oviyon is rather playing with Mautin’s toy and not his. So I asked:

Oviyon, where is your toy”
“I kept it inside… he says blinking rapidly”
Why are you not playing with it?
“I want an aeroplane”

Okay. give your duck to Mautin and collect her aeroplane” I said out of frustration, while trying to control myself from giving him a brain resetting knock on the head.
No! the duck is mine” he said authoritatively.

I wasn’t ready for any further drama from naughty Oviyon, so I proceeded to the kitchen to start cooking. Hoping Mautin will put him in his place at the very least.

Anty Feranmi, Oviyon won’t allow me play with my aeroplane” Mautin screamed

Hope I haven’t used my money to buy trouble like this? Mautin rarely complains, so whenever she does, I don’t take it lightly. I move to the sitting room where they were seated before the television set and Mautin is holding her toy.

You said he won’t allow you play with it”
“he threw it back at me just now”

I turned to scold Oviyon but his face was already portraying “guilty as charged”. so, I just warned him with a wave of my index finger and returned to the kitchen. It’s the first stage of semovita preparation and I have the paste all over my hand when I heard Mautin scream after Oviyon as they both ran out.

These kids have started again. I will make sure their mum returns to meet them so. Omo olomo kan o ni wa pa iya o niya (someone else’s child won’t kill someone else’s mother).

Just then, I heard something hits the ground continuously with Mautin’s screaming accompanying each thud. I ran out of the kitchen with my semo stained hands.

Behold, lying on the floor is Mautin’s toy, broken into tiny pieces with a stone by Oviyon. I was moved with fury

“Oviyon! Why?”

She won’t allow me play with it” he replied bravely, breathing heavily.

A word for Oviyon please! Plus, guess what I did next!

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Author

Rebecca Maulome Padonu is an enthusiastic writer with a soft spot for factions. A RubyWrites 2016 finalist. She has completed several freelance writing projects, including BBC Media Action’s Drama series, Story Story (series 32 & 33).

6 Comments

  1. Gbese Re o. This makes me remember Osondi Owendi ( not sure I got the spellings right but I know it means Sweet for one Bitter for the other). The word for Oviyon is “Owendi 😂😂😂”

  2. Isah Gidado Reply

    Interesting my Dear keep it up. The sky is your limit getting to international novelist

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