Whisperings of a new return of harmattan…
Is it hazy? Was it foggy? Dark, bright?
Feels, like Dawn, Sounds, like Dawn
Looks, like new Dawn –
An early breath of Harmattan serenaded
My heart –
Birds accompany, airy prose
Crickets nonstop chirping
Yet night is gone ~
Deeply I love the boundary between
Rains and thirsty Harmattan…
Nature has said yes,
Why say no?
For some reason, that poem had been going round and round in her head all morning. It had been with her when she arose and saw the haze through the window. It had been with her when she thought of her destination. But she had lost it now, in the middle, on the path between her beautiful beginning and the end of her journey. Now she was walking past the toughest, roughest, most chaotic, dirtiest market in her world and it had torn her out of her reverie. She would have much preferred not to come this way, but she had to, to get to the bus she needed.
The beautiful woman continued calmly down her path, ignoring the lusty cat-calls being pelted without restrain at her by the Oshodi traders. Rough young men with coarse voices and bad intentions. Given half a chance, they would make her regret not only her manner of dressing today, but that she even came this way at all, to this dirty, colourless, overpopulated market, to do her shopping.
Yet she walked with her head high, as though she were not burning with shame as she heard the phrases they were directing at her.
“Na me and you o! If I finish you, you no go want leave me lai-lai!”
“Baby you carry o! Me sef I carry. Come see am!”
Loud peals of dirty male laughter rolled after her. Her? Other people were following the scene with amusement. She walked as fast as she could without seeming to be in any hurry. There were other women, she knew, who would have returned insult for insult, thrown dirt for dirt, traded bad tongue for bad tongue, claimed an eye for an eye, verily, and a tooth for a tooth…. But she couldn’t. She was above that, above them. So she silently breathed her humiliation, in and out, in and out, in and out.
Soon she was out of range of the insults. She was in the thick of the crowd now, marching with the faceless rhythm of those who work a lot and earn a little. The masses. Nobody paid any attention to her now. Everybody was walking fast, as though propelled by a common will. Now she relaxed, and as she let out that one big outflow of breath, for some reason a few tears accompanied it and blurred her vision. Surreptitiously her left hand came up to her eyes and, in one quick little motion, her thumb and forefinger, stroking inwards from the outer corners of both eyes, met at the top of the bridge of her nose, and her vision was restored. Yet she was angry.
She boarded the Molue and settled back uncomfortably between two market women on a seat that would surely have seated only two people conveniently, if convenience could ever be spoken of at all in connection with a Molue bus. But a fresh breeze sighed softly through the window as the bus gathered speed and left the hell-hole of a market behind.
… to be continued-
– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.
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