Synopsis: A teenage girl hawking mangoes on the streets of Lagos has only one goal: to raise enough money to pay her examination fees. Her short, but colorful journey turns out to be an adventure, and a brief glimpse into the lives of her customers. Of particular note, are the customers who purchase the last three yellow mangoes.
The mechanic’s shop was not hard to find. A couple of rusted, lifeless, engine-less cars and buses from another decade were scattered over a plot of land overgrown with weeds. These were the irrefutable landmarks that signaled her destination. Several boys, mostly teenagers, and older men milled around the few cars that looked like they were still running. They all wore blue uniforms covered in several-months-old engine oil, and every other gunk that could conceivably come out of anything on four wheels. As she approached the mechanic’s shop, she knew that even if she had not intended to stop there, they would have harassed her nonetheless. One of them spotted her, and just like that, the word spread quickly that a girl selling mangoes was nearby. Within seconds, several of them had left what they were doing and began to call her. Some of them even came towards her. It was like watching bees drawn to nectar.
“Eh, fine girl! Mango seller, come here! We want to buy mangoes! How much you dey sell your mangoes? Na dis one I want. I no want that one. Wetin be dis? Na mango be dis abi na paw-paw?”
They all spoke at once as if Risikat had more than two ears that they could see. This was not the first time Risikat had sold mangoes to a group of mechanics before, but something about the way they all came at once, made her very apprehensive. As a precaution, she made sure she did not go to close to the actual workshop, a wooden shed with a corrugated iron roof that was hidden among the cars on the lot. She stood on the very outskirts of the lot, and set her tray down on an old, condemned car battery. While simultaneously keeping the greasy hands of the mechanics from handling her wares, and making sure no one was stealing from her, she sold a good number of the mangoes on her tray. Within minutes, they had bought a majority of the other two species of mangoes: the reddish ones, and the green ones.
As she collected the money from each buyer, she took the naira notes and tucked them away in her sweaty bra – this was the safest place possible, according to her mother. The sight of a well-endowed young girl at the peak of puberty, putting money into her bra, seemed to throw the men’s hormones into overdrive. Two of the younger men made passes at her, trying to lock her into an embrace, while calling her “My wife!” as if they had paid her bride price to Baba Risikat. Another one actually succeeded in grabbing her by the waist and was pulling her off to the side amidst her screams of protest. The tray of mangoes lay defenseless while this scene unfolded.
Three Mangoes, is my third e-book. It is a short story, and like all the others, is available for download (yes, it is free) on Smashwords. You can read the rest of it on Smashwords. Cheers!