A Day With The Boys
IT started with an invitation to a traditional ceremony but for me, it was work related. Still, I worried about the proper way to dress. Should I wear a simple Ankara? In normal circumstances, I rarely wanted to dress native but I did not want to look too different in such a setting.
But it is work, I though and eventually I settled on this my black skirt-quite comfortable; just a few comfortable inches below the knee and flared too.
For about four years, I have looked on it as an emergency wear, stress solver or protest skirt, depending on the mood. Determinedly as on this occasion, I fished it out from the bottom of my clothes and pointed at a drip dry long sleeve blouse “and you,” I went to a bed and slept soundly.
I did not know the area well and since I had been warned to be early, I got there about one and half hours before the time “I was hungry, so I looked for where to buy gala; no luck but I saw another sausage roll which was crumbling form age and careless packing on the part of the seller.
I bought one and went to a refreshing Store. I was getting on nicely with the woman who owned it when an elderly woman came; she must be somebody important in the local sense, perhaps her mother-in-law, I jumped to think immediately- from the subdued way she greeted her, a smile, not with excitement and the gasp of surprise before she knelt with two fingers touching the ground.
I offered a slight bow of acknowledgement, still seated but got a veiled hostile look or of surprise in return. I noticed that she looked towards my knees; did she want me to kneel all the way? To give them privacy and to show them that I was not there for long, I looked towards the venue, where I had come.
The young woman saw and asked why I had come there. I had asked her some questions concerning the ceremony which she obliged by giving me some insight.
This moment though she did not sound friendly and I thought she wanted the older woman to hear me. So I told her exactly my mission to her suggestion that I asked the policeman, which I indented to do the second time, I left them. Back there, some people had come, all of them men in aso ebi; to the suggestion that I took a seat among them.
I refused, there was not a woman there, there was no way I would want to do that. The first I came, I had turned down the invitation to take a seat at one of the many neatly arranged tables, not in a traditional setting, not even in this modern society.
When I looked around, I was a tiled dais; there were drums to suggesting that drinks would be chilled and prepared here. They were comfortable to seat and there were some young men here.
I took my seat among them. I thought that I would not mind spending the whole time in their company. I was not disappointed when after a few moments of silence to look at me; they resumed their discussions some minutes after I joined them, a girl of about Eighteen years came.
She looked shyly at the small group and went to one of the boys in particular. She did not know the others- that was obvious. But she was quite familiar with the one. And he expected her I saw, his body language said that. She smiled up at him, he did not say anything, but his body language said “happy to see you too”.
After another glance at his list, he accosted her still without a direct look “N100! Why did you not lap? Why una no lap?” He was displeased at the cost of transportation.
At this event, the girl who must have another type of relationship with him was there his assistant, an employee who would be paid at the end of the day. She looked at him, shame on her face; she could only flutter a clump of false eye lashes at him.
I understood her embarrassment; why should she ‘lap’ another man in a bus? A second young man told of how his boss in a major soft drink company would show preference by giving N200 to female colleague when they have outside duty. There was the sport better among them. He wanted to know where a popular sport betting company was in the vicinity.
So they compared the company with the others- that removed the issue of money, but only briefly as he would attack the girl again, not convinced that she spent the extra N50 on transport I winced when a junior worker with the bottling firm was sent in search of ice block for the umpteenth time in further streets; each time he said it was not available.
There was, directly opposite the place. He was a local and they believed that he made a deal with the seller to increase the price. I did not doubt them; the way he looked at the seller showed a conspiracy. The girl though, I wanted to console by telling her that her beau/employer is careful with money and would make a good provider.
But seriously, the one who wants you to sit on the lap of another man because he wants to save N50 would not be thinking seriously about you. They talk remotely about a culture that encourages a man to offer his wife to his good friend, I am not sure it still happens. But I know you would not like that. So what do you get from that relationship. But I also marveled at these young men who haggled over prices so; our future husbands.
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