Bukky removed the last batch of the bean cake from the hot oil. It wasn’t even noon and almost all her wares had been bought. It’s being six days since she started the business and news had travelled fast. She was patronized by people living on the street and also in the area. God had truly blessed her business. She hoped to construct a wooden shelter soonest, so that when it rained, she would still be able to sell her akara.
She raised her head, “Morning,” she recognized the cyber café attendant. He was the guy who tried to teach her how to browse and opened an email address for her so that she could communicate with her boyfriend.
“How is business?” he grinned at the hot bean cake in the iron sieve.
“We thank God,” she used a piece of rag to lift the hot fry pan at both ends and placed it on the sandy ground.
He brought out a piece of paper from his pocket, “Your guy sent you a mail.”
She sighed with relief. She had been expecting him to write her since he resumed school. She looked around her. They were alone. She gave him the signal to read the mail. Soon, she hoped, she would be able to read her boyfriend’s mail all by herself.
“My sweetest pie…” he cleared his throat, “I have missed you so much.”
Bukky blushed. She missed him too. She suddenly felt shy that someone else was reading her love letter.
The café attendant tried to keep a straight face and read on, “School is okay. Lectures are running smoothly, although, some days, I get so tired, I can hardly get off the bed. I am really looking forward to coming home for the Christmas break. I miss home. I miss you. I can’t wait to see you. I am expecting your reply. Love you loads, your dearest, Oluwagbemiga.”
She scratched a spot on her scalp. Her newly plaited hair was beginning to itch, “Did you bring a pen and paper?”
“Yes,” he smiled, “I will write down your reply and mail it today.”
“Okay, good, thank you,” she mused for a while, “My darling… no, my dear, no, no…” she scratched her head, thinking of a better word of endearment, “My love,” she glanced at the café guy and blushed.
He stared down at the blank paper and tried not to laugh out loud, “Okay, my love,” he wrote it down.
Bukky dictated how she started her bean cake business, how much she missed him and hoped he would come home soon.
“Okay. I will send it today,” he folded the paper and kept it in his pocket.
“Thanks. Wait, let me give you some bread and akara,” she took some old newspaper and poured some bean cake in it.
“Thanks,” his mouth watered.
She placed the wrapped bean cake in a black nylon, alongside a medium size bread and gave it to him.
“Thank you,” he beamed, waved and strode off.
“Do you still have akara?” a tall brown skin, thick, young man hurried to her side. He was in a pair of sky blue shorts and black long sleeve tee-shirt.
“Yes,” she looked up at him. She recognized him. He was one of her customers living a street away.
“Thank God!” he brightened and smiled at her.
“How many pieces do you want?” she looked into his dark brown eyes and smiled.
He looked towards the iron sieve, “How much is everything in there?”
“Hmmm…” she did a quick count, “About two-fifty.”
“Bring everything,” he brought out his wallet.
She grinned with relief. She would be able to head to the market early and prepare for the next day. She thanked God for blessing her business.
“What’s the name?”
She gave him the wrapped bean cake in a small polythene bag and collected the five hundred naira note, “Bukola.”
“Bukola… Bukky for short right?”
“Yes,” she met his inquisitive gaze.
“Call me Chike,” he stretched his right hand.
She shook his hand, “Okay.”
“I moved into this area recently. I am an Engineering student of Unilag.”
Her eyes brightened, “What level?”
“Three hundred level.”
“So, you will be graduating next year.”
He chuckled, “I wish. My course is a five year course.”
“I see…” she thought all the courses in the university ended at the fourth year.
“Are you in school?”
She lifted her dark eyes and met his firm stare, “No,” she dropped her gaze and started to arrange her things.
“Oh… Waec issues or JAMB problems?” he stood akimbo.
She got to her feet, “None.”
He raised an eyebrow, “Why aren’t you in school?”
She put out the fire and zipped the purse tied to her waist.
“I am sorry for prying, just wondering why a pretty girl like you isn’t in school.”
She blushed and started to laugh. Some of her male customers, both single and married had also told her that she was pretty. Many of them had also tried to ask her out.
She met his gaze, “I am not lucky like you. I don’t even have a primary school certificate. I will get educated some day, I have not given up yet.”
His eyes widened in surprise. He watched her while she gathered her things, “But, you speak well.”
She shrugged, “But, I can’t write well. I watched a lot of movies while growing up, I guess I pick up a few things along the way.”
“I am impressed.”
She chuckled and stared at him.
“There is an Adult Education Centre close to my school. If you start now, by the end of the year, you will be able to acquire your first school leaving certificate. Then proceed to write the GCE and then the JAMB examination.”
She laughed, “I need to save first.”
She directed her gaze at him. He looked serious.
“I can take you to the centre this evening if you are ready.”
She scratched a spot on her head, “I don’t know if I have enough money to…”
“Just come along and find out exactly what you need for the enrolment.”
She sighed, “O-kay.”
“Great! Do you know how to get to Akoka?”
She looked towards the bus stop, “I think so.”
“Good, we will meet at the Campus gate. The centre is close by.”
She nodded in agreement.
“I have to run. I am late for lectures already.”
She waved at him as he hurried away. Joy filled her soul. A zing of excited flooded her. Finally, the realization of her dreams would come true. She carried the bottle of vegetable oil and headed into the building.