Cornelius has done it again. Foolish boy! His mother gossips in the corner of the market while the boy messes himself up. Last week, he touched Omalicha’s okrika cloth-collection with soiled hands. It took five of us to deliver him from her slaps. Five.
Cornis’ poopoo is legendary. It sends his mother’s customers away. Nobody wants foodstuff that smells like shit. They come close, perceive Cornis’ handiwork and move. But Mama Corni thinks it’s her enemies, she picks quarrels with her neighbor who also sells foodstuff. She even goes as far as patronizing the fake prophet who commands fire whenever we don’t give him things.
Then she sprinkles his powder at the entrance of her stall.
‘Let my enemies fail. Let my customers come.’ she says as she eyes her neighbor. Still nobody comes. She starts to cry. Neighbor’s juju is stronger, she says. I give her my shoulder, it’s what friends do. And when I leave to return to my wheelbarrow-pushing, I steal a kiss and she lets me. Then she gives me a bowl of rice and beans to show her gratitude. Nobody sees us; else they brand her an ashawo. Like Omalicha the yellow pawpaw.
I return from time to time to check on Mama Corni, to know how business is moving. To listen to her whine. To give her my shoulder and kiss for two bowls of foodstuff. To rub cow dung all over Corni when no one’s watching. It never fails. Foolish woman!