Read the daily, non-fictional tales of a young, unmarried Nigerian woman who lives in Lagos at this time.
Mama Ope’s shop was locked - padlock, keys and all. I stood dazed, with my arms akimbo, frowning at the huge sign ‘Mama Ope’s Chemist and Food Store’ just above the iron door. I couldn’t believe it!
Of course, I was disappointed. I might have cried, too, if I hadn’t spotted the tall, fine boy with cute dimples that I had walked past on my way to the shop, coming towards me.
I hated that I walked two streets for nothing. Hadn’t I struggled with the indecision of walking so far without a face mask and gloves? And I walked past Mohammed’s kiosk o! If I had known, I would have stopped.
Tsk! It took all my willpower not to sit on the culvert in front of the shop, biting my finger.
“Hi!” Fine boy with dimples had a voice that was just as fine as his face. It was deep in a way that was soothing. He was now only a few steps away from me.
If it was any other day, I would have been only too glad to move close to him and perhaps catch a whiff of his body spray, perfume, or whatever he was wearing - surely, he had to be wearing something. He was too cool to smell bland - but I took a step or two back as soon as he approached me. No fine boy for coronavirus matter abeg!
He smiled knowingly.
I smiled back and said, “No offence!”
“None taken,” he replied. “Do you know when this woman opens?”
It turned out we were coming to the same place.
“If she isn’t here at this time, then she is not coming,” I responded, taking in his cool blue polo shirt, deep blue jeans trousers and casual slippers.
“But she lives here, doesn’t she?”
“Oh!” I said simply. “She does?”
Why did I never think of it? I wondered. I had always seen her there, all week and all day, and yet I had never thought of where she came from.
“I think so,” he responded, approaching the black gate of the compound that Mama Ope’s store was carved from.
He started knocking, then stopped to ask, “You wanna try?”
“Wha - what?” I looked at him aghast. The fewer things I touched, the better for me. “No. I’m good.”
He smiled again and knocked. A few more knocks later, the gate opened and Ope - I recognized the woman’s teenage daughter - appeared.
“Yes?” she responded rudely. Her dress was probably last washed a week ago, for it looked dirty and had oil stains that only a toddler’s dress could have.
After much persuasion from us, she called her mother to attend to us. We went in through the gate because she refused to open the shop.
“Na dis lockdown and corona ting o!” she said, explaining to no one in particular.
I nodded while Fine Boy said, “But street shops are allowed to open.”
“Ah, abeg! I nor fit. I fit open am tomorrow sha o!” she responded.
I bought a few things that I needed around the house and two loaves of bread that did not particularly look or smell fresh. I did not mind. At least that was breakfast, lunch and dinner all settled.
Fine Boy bought a pack of cigarettes and some drinks. I looked at him shocked.
“Not to judge o, but is that all you are buying?” I asked, thinking of my struggle to get here in spite of the fact that I was buying only necessities.
“You don’t think these are necessary?” he asked, smiling again.
I shrugged and turned to walk away, now angry that he was always smiling.
“We are going the same way,” he said. “Why don’t we walk together? I’ll keep my distance, I promise.”
He kept his promise. But by the time I arrived at my gate, I did not care if he did or not. I almost gave him a hug when he was saying goodbye. I was hurt that he did not ask for my number before he continued on his journey down the road.
Saturday was not a bad day, after all. If I did nothing else, I met fine boy Ikechukwu - he told me his name while we walked and I told him mine.
Oh, I almost lost my wallet. How could I forget that? It fell right into a gutter of slimy, sticky green water. It was all the money I had on me and contained my only ATM card. I was distraught but could not for the life of me imagine going into the gutter to pick it up.
I was going to, eventually, if Fine Boy had not offered to help. With all his swag, he entered the gutter, picked up my wallet and had it cleaned with his handkerchief. I was SHOOK! I held it with the tip of my fingers until I got home. I was sure I was going to lose one of my fingers, too, because it ached so badly till this morning.
There! The two things my going out almost cost me.
Sunday was uneventful. Very much so. I slept for the most part and binged on the first season of ‘Money Heist.’ I had no idea it would be so good. I cannot wait to get back to it now.
Today, Monday! Well, you know the drill. It was hectic. Zoom meetings after meetings. Reports and deadlines. Only just got some time for myself. Think I am going to call my mum and brother. I have not spoken to them in a while. Will let you know how that goes.
Anike signing out.