Amina is buried in deep thoughts as nothing seems to be working for her. At 36, she is still single and does not even have a good job. As a diploma holder, she is forced to take a job as a sales girl in the market where her madam sells wrappers of different types. They are three in the shop and the other girl and boy always look down on her because of her condition.
At 36, she had dated different men and all of them ended up breaking her heart, leaving her miserable but she also is the reason why most of her relationships have failed. From a tender age; she has been very choosy. She’ll always say, “He is too short!” “See his big head!” “Abeg oo, carry your potbelly dey go!” “A fine girl like me marry a fellow ND graduate? Nah, I want one with at least a master’s degree!” “Dis wan na Church rat!”
She is currently in a relationship with Kamal, a jobless guy of 28, way younger than her age, whom she feeds and accommodates in her one room apartment in Karu, Abuja.
Kamal is known around the area for making trouble but she ignores all his vices because he is the only man in her life. When it is time for lunch break, she leaves the shop for the Buka where she usually eats.
The Buka which is one of the most popular in Kubwa market because of their affordable prices was often overcrowded as customers have to practically struggle to get served on time.
The Buka is owned by Iya Basira, a fat woman whose husband many people call her puppet because he is a jobless drunkard, who works in his wife’s shop anytime he doesn’t go to drink with his friends.
Iya Basira has a special corner in her shop where she sits on a wide stool made specifically for her because of her enormous buttocks. In that corner are the pots of assorted meat, ranging from mutton, beef, chicKamal, orishi-rishi, etc.
There, customers also pay for their food and she gives them a ticket with which they will be served according to what they have paid for. She doesn’t trust her husband and her eight children who work in the Buka to handle her money and meat and so she keeps them away from that corner. When Amina gets to the restaurant, she walks to Iya Basira’s corner.
Amina: “Mummy, good afternoon.”
Iya Basira: “Afternoon, my dear. Wetin you wan chop today?”
Amina: “Iya, I want beans and dodo and orishi-rishi with one kpomo.”
Iya Basira: “Okay, your money na N700.”
Amina: “Ah, Iya, N700 ke. I have only N500 with me, but no problem put it, I will bring the remaining N200 tomorrow”
Iya Basira: “Tomorrow for where? You no see where I write no credit today, come tomorrow? Woo, I no dey sell anything on credit, if your money no reach, buy the one wey your money fit buy.”
Amina: “Haba, but I am a regular customer, now. The month has gone far and they will soon pay us salary. Ah! Iya your food is now very expensive o, before N500 is more than enough to eat here.”
Iya Basira: “Which kain talk be that one now, ehn? Na as things dey sell for market before na so e still dey now? How much we dey buy bag of rice before? Talk more of other ingredients wey we dey use cook. You want make I dey suffer for nothing, ba? Dem tell you say I come Abuja to come count big big building? Abeg, if you no wan buy, shift commot, other people dey wait, na God I dey take beg you.”
Amina: “Okay, give me the things my money can buy,” She exhales as she collects the ticket from Iya Basira.
All of her customers know her as a very rude and loud mouthed woman yet they keep patronizing her, which is one of the many reasons why some people feel that she was using supernatural powers to attract customers. Amina knows that they could be an atom of truth in the rumors about Iya Basira’s success but she didn’t care as she couldn’t stay a day in the shop without eating her food.
It took her almost fifteen minutes of struggle and shouting before she got served. She had met many people on the queue including bankers and married men who are addicted to Iya Basira’s meals. When she collects her food, she remembers that she has no water and she didn’t have any money on her to get water.
She walks to one of Iya Basira’s daughter, Patricia, a girl of seventeen years who is known in the area for her notorious habit of sleeping with her mother’s married male customers. She is slicing Ugwu when Amina approaches her.
Amina: “Patricia, how far? Please give me one sachet of water there.”
Patricia: “Ah! Aunty, you go pay for am be that o. Nothing is free in this recession.”
Amina: “It’s just one sachet, how much is it? I will pay tomorrow.”
Patricia: “Aunty, just respect your old age waka commot from here. If you no get money, hook one man that will be taking care of your needs. Your mates don get plenty children, you dey here dey beg for water for this recession.”
Amina is embarrassed and speechless; she makes to reply but Patricia cat walks away flaunting her medium sized butts at a male customer who just got down from his car, ignoring Amina.
As Amina makes to leave, she sees Baba Basira beckoning to her. She walks to him.
Baba Basira: “Why you dey behave like this, now? I don tell you say I love you so much and you no wan gree. See, if you agree to love me, ehn, I go spoil you with money. Even seff, I go make you shareholder for this our company.”
Amina: “Just listen to yourself, you shameless old man. How do you expect a young lady like me to date you? Are you not even ashamed to say it? You are here calling your wife’s Buka a company when your mates own and run multi-billion naira companies.”
Baba Basira: “Ehn, nothing wey person no go see for this Abuja o. Who be young lady? You like this? Abeg, don’t even allow your small body deceive you o, young ko, infant ni. You no even happy say I toast you, when at your age you can’t even get a man to ask you out. I no even sure say you go ever get husband marry for this life. Better become my second wife mek your life change.”
At the mention of her prolonged spinsterhood, a tear drops from Amina’s eyes, she quickly wipes it away and leaves without saying a word to him.
“Please help me, I am hungry, I have not eaten in many days. I don’t have money to buy food, I can’t breastfeed my baby because I am so hungry and there is no breast milk anymore. Help me before I die!” A woman with a skinny child strapped to her back walked past Amina saying. The sight of the child and the woman’s piercing plea for help attracts Amina who even though very hungry with no means of getting another food gives her food to the woman.
The woman thanks her and after a minute when Amina turns to see if the woman has started eating, there is no sign of the woman and her baby, she concludes that the woman must have walked away to a place where she can eat in peace from the hustle and bustle of the market.
She gets to the shop and her colleagues give her a look that suggests that all is not well.
Amina: “What is it, why are you all looking gloomy?”
Jummai: “Ah, we think say you have gotten a husband in Iya Basira’s place o.”
Amina: “What sort of an expensive joke is that? Are you mocking me or what? Please stop it, I don’t like it.”
Jummai: “Ah! Aunty Amina, person no fit joke with you again? Na wa for you o”
Amina:”Who is your aunty? Please, keep your silly jokes to yourself”, she hisses.
Jummai: “Where is the food you bought, now? Abeg bring it out lets devour it. Na hunger make our eyes red like this. I don’t talk am since say Iya Basira dey use jazz, that her own no be ordinary. That chair wey she no dey get up from in her shop, I hear say na there she keep the juju.”
Amina: “Jummai Jummai, radio without battery, tatafo, na you biko. She dey use jazz and yet you still dey hustle for the food. Anyway, I gave out the food to a starving woman and her little baby. As I dey here so, hunger dey waya mi, but I just had to help that poor woman.”
Jummai: “Subhanallah! You did what? Where were you when that Mallam/Boko warned that an evil woman is roaming the market and that nobody should give her anything?”
Amina: “What are you talking about?
Questions: Why is Amina yet to marry at 36? How true is the Mallam/Boka claim that the mysterious woman has gone with their destiny?
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.
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