It was Thursday.
It was Market day.
The list was ready, and Papa Uzoma had called earlier to inform us that his car was bad.
He will call ‘Dan’, our alternative driver to take us to the market.
As we waited for Dan, we prayed for a great day, great weather and safe journey.
Dan showed up. We made our withdrawals from the bank. Ready. Set. Go…and off to Eko market.
I love shopping…for clothes, and not food.
Eko sells clothes, food and everything, but today, we shopped for food and household items.
We needed 4 bags of rice, cartons of salts, tomatoes, seasonings, match box, tissue, soaps, etc.
We needed to hassle.
…not my favorite thing.
30 Minutes later, all we had purchased was 4 carton of tomatoes. Only.
The prices were high, we had a budget, and we kept waltzing in and out of their shops….of moms trying to make ends meet, and business women in iro and bubba, tending to their babies, hoping they one day, grow this venture.
We met Deborah. She’s as petite as me. Maybe same age. She’s not old at all.
Maybe, she isn’t educated.
She was our guide. She knew where to go. Her ‘Kpangolo’ or pan was by her side. She led us to the perfect destination to buy rice.
We had purchased our 4 bags of rice. We had purchased some items on our list.
Deborah placed the items on her ‘kpangolo’. They included 2 bags of salt and 4 cartons of tomatoes.
How can this ‘little lady’ balance all that on head? I thought.
When I tried to help….she laughed, ‘it’s my job’.
4 elderly women had surrounded us. They reminded me of mom, and elderly aunts. Some had gray hair. They each put the bags of rice on their head…
Was it comfortable? How is that comfortable?
How much we asked?
….they said, ‘200 naira’.
‘How do we pay 200 naira to someone who can carry something that I cannot carry, even if I have all the help in the world?’
What if they had a trolley? I thought.
Most of the responses I got were, ‘Considering that the road is narrow and the crowd is large, trolley will cause a delay. That’s why most people prefer to use those who will carry load on their head’
Carriers are paid 200 naira to transport loads to and fro the market, (Some carry things with a pan on their head while others uses a wheel barrow).
Someone said, ‘It’s better they do this. It’s better than being a road side beggar. Thank God they are working’.
Maybe it’s better. I choose work over begging.
But with the load, is it worth it?
We bade goodbye to the women, and then, dashed back to the market. By then, the cloud had darkened. We needed to buy other things. This was 2 hours later. More hassling.
It was rush, rush, rush.
No Deborah to guide us….but there was ‘Mama Brown’ this time. She took us to the Soap shop….and then, the rain started.
And when it stopped. You could not tell the road from the gutter.
How do we leave this market?
It still drizzled. The road was flooded, dark, and dirty. The road was overly flooded with drainage waste. We had to put our legs in it. Me, my friend, Mama Brown (our goods was on her head), and everyone in that market, that day.
No one minded what was in the water, what they were walking in….urine, feces, waste, dirt….My friend says to stop thinking about it…Unless you are thinking of amputating your legs.
I was grateful for a bath afterwards. Thank God for disinfectants.
But, I thought of men and women like, Deborah and Mama Brown…how many times they had to or will walk in such dirty flooded water?
I thought of my mom…I thought of times when she gets stuck in the market due to the rain, and has no choice but to wade through the flood to get home, just so that we can eat….
I called mom as soon as I settled and screamed ‘Thank You’.
She laughed and said…. ‘Well, you are learning’.
As we arranged the items we got, I started thinking to myself, ‘How do we help Deborah and Mama Brown?’
Not many people can afford to shop in a shopping mall, with beautiful cars and nice trolleys taking them around.
And so, how do we help women like Deborah and Mama Brown move things around without the stress on their health?
Also, as the rain approach, how do we prevent people from walking through murky waters as they go about their working life in places like Eko Market?
It is Thursday.
It is a market day.
I am at work, hustling in my cozy space….watching the rain pour as I type this.
The road is clear…devoid of dirt. I am so grateful to God for my ‘cozy’ life.
But, all I can think about is Eko market, Deborah, mama brown and market hustlers, scrambling through murky waters (with heavy loads on their heads) as they seek to make ends meet….All I can think about are places around that may be flooded right now?
I’m thinking about trolleys, rain coats, environmental education and a home (yes. A home. Some women & men actually sleep there in the market).
I’ve been told, the world isn’t perfect and so you can’t expect a perfect condition everytime…I know though, that we each can do our ‘one thing’…and hopefully, with God’s help, our one thing can multiply.
Imagine what can happen, if each of us, do our tiny one thing…leaving the world a little better.
We know better, so that we can do better…..What can we do better with the breath we’ve been gifted?
Please God, show us how we can help and partner with you in this world?
What do you think Fam!? How do you think we can help the Eko women? How can we be lamps in the world?
Love & Light….