The heat embraces us immediately we exit the bus. We cross the road while my mum and aunty speak rapidly about how busy the market will be. The first thing I notice is how the UBA building stands out as a landmark in the market. We don’t make it past before we’re assaulted by a guy who advertises a balm for pink lips. He swears that we’ll see the result after 48 hours of use. I look at his lips, and it’s the exact shade of a chicken’s yansh- butt. My mum mutters “Mma gi” to him and doesn’t spare him a second look.
“Biggy waist, fine face” blasts from the speakers as Davido’s stretchy voice imprints itself in my ears. The energy in the market is pulsating, I know the tiredness will hit me when I get home.
“Nne, I maka- Nne, you’re so beautiful”
“I maka nke gi” my aunt retorts.
“I ga nu ya?- Will you marry her? My dear you dey beuriful, I for like marry you. Ego aburo nsogbu- Money is not a problem.”
My aunt doesn’t dignify him with an answer as we walk away. I can still hear him when he shouts to another girl that she is his anyanwu ututu- Morning sun. Everything is happening all at once in the market, and it feels like I can’t see enough. A boy with colorful vintage scarfs breezes past us. I bump into a woman who tries to sell me a pair of “gold” earrings that will wash within a week. I don’t even have to put too much effort into walking as the crowd just propels me to keep walking. My mom says something to me, but I don’t hear her over the noise. We keep going till we stop at one of the many stores selling georges. We get in and sit while my mum plays catch up and eyes the shop for something that will get her attention. In that moment, I feel like I’ve been transported back to the east as everyone in the shop just happens to be Igbo. I sit on a stool and bask in the heat of the market and language. I watch the women selling minerals as they laugh and gist. I wonder how they can possibly hear themselves with over the noise. A walking wig shop walks past carrying 5 mannequin heads with wigs on them. Some children zip past talking excitedly and I wonder how they won’t get lost in this madness.
My mum breaks into my thoughts as she asks my opinion on one of the wrappers she’s picked out. I know it will be perfect on her. She’s in love with it, so I know she’ll get it. Our time soon comes to an end, and we join the crowd in search of our next buy. Midway through our journey, people begin to push like one in labor. The wise ones don’t ask any questions and quickly transfer their bags to their heads. No time for play in Balogun.
“Wetin dey happen?”
“Kilonshele? Stop pushing me oo jare” people yell.
We struggle to move forward. Some people make it to the ground admist screams of “Jesu oo” from some. An okada falls in the middle of this throng. The okada man still has the audacity to pick a fight with some people claiming they were in his way. Everyone is too concerned with making it out of this pushing, so the okada man can actually go and die for all we care.
A lady starts screaming for her phone, and in my heart I’m certain that the end of their journey. She can bid it farewell. I think she knows it, but it’s expected of her to still shout for it. Someone pushes my breast in the struggle. I’m just trying to keep moving, so I can’t even summon the strength to be annoyed. The sun shines mercilessly on us as some fall, many argue, and others steal what they can.
The man we later buy watches from tells us “Na so dem dey take do. Choke the crowd, cause a struggle and steal what they can. Onto the next place.” The way the man speaks reminds me of the sickness of this country. Graduates wasting their degrees because of unemployment. Everyone trying to make a living. Man must wack.
“The market is unforgiving at Christmas” he laments.
Thank you for reading Ekó II ✨💃🏽. If you missed Ekó I, you can read it here .
P.S Featured image is not mine