I haven’t been to the market in a long while. I could afford to buy groceries at Spars, Shoprite, Amigo and Dunes. I even disdained Sahad Stores because I bought a fake box of Persil there once. The convenience was worth the price.
This morning I went to Garki market with my bff. There is an electronic barrier at the entrance now. Someone stands there, punches out a ticket and hands it to us. It’s still early, the heat won’t be overwhelming for at least another hour.
The secret to going to the market – go early. Everything is fresh, the sellers are eager to make their first sale and believe it can give them good luck. Although some people prefer to go at the end of the day because its cheaper.
My bff drives into the car lot. We are here to buy fruits and vegetables. I see some near the entrance. She keeps driving.
“Why you parking here? The veg stall is back there.”
“We’re going that way” she points to an un-tarred dusty lane leading off the lot.
“Because its cheaper”
Of course it is. We walk in the direction she pointed. The road is steep and rough.
“No wonder its cheaper. This road is rough”.
We are going deeper into the market. I’m glad I wore my sun cap but wish I had used some sunscreen.
“Is it muddy?”
An open van stands at the end of the lane. It just delivered meat and is being washed down. Bloody water flows into the dirt lane in a muddy red trail. I feel like I’m wading through rivers of blood. I’m careful not to stain my white Birkenstocks.
But I’m still feeling magnanimous. I take some pictures. The market boys notice me. They start speaking Chinese at me. I smile good naturedly. To them all white people must look the same.
I remember going to the market in my village.
“Owu nwa Agwubuo. Nna ya kporo ya lota obodo oyibo”
Women would leave their wares to touch me, touch my hair. Pregnant women would rub up against me believing they could rub off some of my yellow on their unborn baby. Every woman wanted a yellow baby. Yellow babies brought good luck and wealth.
Then they would give me presents of food; smoked fish, akara wrapped in leaves, bananas, peanuts. Children followed me through the market and all the way home.
Father disapproved but I paid him no mind. I had no fear of these people and I did cute things like fetch firewood and water for old childless widows and give old men Father’s Schnapps to tell me stories. They loved me.
Eventually my bff and I get to the very heart of the market. The vegetables are fresh and the price is great. Here they usually sell to smaller distributors. I buy avocado’s, lettuce, cabbage, green peppers, tomatoes, oranges, mangoes, celery, parsley and potatoes for half the price I would pay at the supermarket.