‘One one fifty! One one fifty!” hit us as we alighted from the car. Beside the car was the ninja looking young man who had helped us to park. He was chewing gum ferociously as though the layers of his teeth were engaged in fierce mortal combat. There were wares displayed all around and in front of us and I stepped for a moment wondering how to meander my way through this beauty. In my artist’s eye, I saw the fragments come together and I perceived the coarse beauty formed by the shoes, bags, skirts, scarves and what not in their different corners on the ground.
‘Hundred! Hundred!’ came another vociferous cry, chased by ‘pencil skirts, buy your own!’. It was a chaotic order and I was in the midst of it and loving it. A welcome change from the neat and straight rows and rows of goods displayed in the shops. A different world with its various elements merging into one another. A sharp contrast from the separated inner world of each customer visiting the supermarket. There she is, most probably lost in her own thoughts or giggling at the quiet comment made by her friend if she is lucky. She moves to the row of her choice, picks what she wants, pays and leaves. Efficient but boring! Sometimes bad for your health.
‘what shall I do to make girls happy?
Tell me wetin I go do to make them smile?’
I turned in quest of the singer. He was there, standing over his wares of rumpled clothing of all sorts in one heap. He was clapping as if to fight off an imaginary cold and singing at the risk of screaming out his lungs.
‘I give them fine fine clothes
At small small price
What else I fit do to make girls happy?’
Give him a little more time and this young man will be waxing records, hopefully selling plenty and living large.
‘Twai!’ a slap mildly delivered on a trader’s hand as Ella tried to free herself from his grip. ‘Fine sister, no be like that o. Come follow me buy now’ he coaxed without letting go. I stored the images, as they unfolded, in my biological hard disk for use later.
‘The firm grip on Ella’s wrist. Ella employing words to free herself. Calm Ella getting worked up. Ella finally agreeing to inspect. Ella standing soldier straight asking to see this or that item of clothing. Ella turning to tell me that she will get it for Sisi the maid. Even Ella bending down to pick something that caught her eye. A blouse as creased as the smile of a 110 year old lady, with a matching scarf, being extracted from the heap. The possessive half smile on Ella’s face as she paid for it.’
I am in the midst of this disorder, I thought again to myself. And I am definitely loving it.