E1: That evening
Sometimes, your road veers. Take the turn with courage.
It was hard to sleep. She tossed left and right, eyes wide open all night. Who could blame her?
The uneasiness had set in when she quit. She hadn't wanted to, no. In fact, she loved to sew. She'd picked the trade when Brother Dayo had offered to sponsor her apprenticeship in any handwork. Tailoring was a pleasure and it was nice spending her pastime making clothes. But decisions had had to be made. Decisions like this.
She didn't know what to begin with, although she had a few options. Tailoring was expensive and just like many other professions, needed start-up capital, which of course, she didn't have. She'd hoped to find a paid job. She had even written application letters that she hoped to distribute at vacancy posts. But this is Ibadan. With a huge flow of people that the cost of which meant that there would be heavy traffic with job offers. Some job application processing could, in fact, take weeks. And that was what she didn't have. Time. Bolu, Peju, and Timi had school, the family had needs and Màámi had debts.
It's okay. She assured herself. Somehow, she would pull it all off. Somehow.
Mornings these days were getting better. Màámi was lighter, the children, more active. Peju was more open and Timi's friends came around. It had seemed that Brother Dayo's remains had left quick. Usually, it was believed that when a person died, his soul lingers around. His family and close relatives, although they can't see it, can sense its presence. The longer it stays, the longer the gloom lasts. Sometimes, some souls were so stubborn that they stayed months, even years, causing pressure and heartache on the living. They left their scents and caused their memories to linger so that they wouldn't be forgotten easily. And the living always remembered them, even in grief. Such souls were usually exorcised. But Brother Dayo's death had cleared up easily. Quick, his memories seemed to fade and the sorrow it brought lifted. Seyi sighed. Even in death, her brother still cared. He still wanted his family happy and although leaving them must cause him grief, he gave them space.
For some reason, Seyi felt lighter too, although she had only slept a little the night before. Seeing her younger ones run around seemed to restore clarity to her.
Her mother was outside, picking bean seeds. She worked harder these days. Seyi felt a bite of sympathy rise in her for the poor woman. Her mother smiled faintly at her. At least, she smiled.
"I'm going out, ma." Seyi said quietly.
The old lady's face lit up.
"Hurry, your brother can't cook beans." She said in Yoruba.
Seyi chuckled. Bolu couldn't cook anything except eggs. She greeted her mother and walked out of the compound.
She knew where she was going. A drug store had put up a vacancy sign the week before and she hoped it was still available. She didn't have friends around. So, she had no one to ask or watch out for her. She was the keen eyed hawk now, with her eyes everywhere. And in some way, she knew she would find a job.
The street was dry. The dirt road puffed up dust as her slippers pulled tuffs of sink sand in the air. She sighed in exasperation. Her shirt must be very dusty now.
She had been to the store and back. Unfortunately, the vacancy was occupied. She remembered the events at the store and mentally rolled her eyes. She had come in and asked about the vacancy position,
"...if it's still available."
"No." The answer had been sharp. "I've been employed already." The girl at the desk said.
Seyi felt the sharp hostility. "Err... okay. Okay. Thank you."
She left the store, partly offended. Who's taking her job position? She wondered, muttering angry words.
She was exhausted. The walk was long and the air was dry. Taxis didn't ply that route and she was scared of Motorbikes.
They race recklessly. I can't let someone kill me. The thought caused immediate unease as suddenly as she'd thought it. The trauma of the word "kill" or "death" might take a while to wear off.
She trekked the road, filling her mind with thoughts along the way to take it off focus from the distance. Her eyes roved past shops and stores around. A provisions store... She thirsted for cold minerals but the money could do something else. She'll take some water at home instead. A Shoe Maker's shop, a fruit stall, a hair store...
She walked several feet onwards until a thought struck her. Small, light, yet, with the force of a lead weight, it crept into her mind. A hair store. It began with her mind lingering over the store. Then, the products inside.
The store owner didn't actually need a store. Imagine it's a student making hair and selling hair products and wigs, she could just store her things conveniently in her room. A hairdresser doesn't really need a store. Thank goodness for home services which luckily, most people prefer. A student hairdresser could be that easy. A student hairdresser. A student, like...her?
She almost laughed at the thought. Okay, of all things, her mind had never strayed towards hairdressing. Not that she didn't like it, she just didn't care about it. It had never been an option. Really! Hairdressing could be started without any capital. Truly. Seriously! She wondered at the thought. Why hadn't this occurred to her before. She didn't need an innovative venture, she could just start with what she had at hand. Something feasible, something realistic. Hairdressing. Hairdressing services are usually, most times, prepaid. Plus, the hair materials to be used usually belongs to the client. Good heavens! Where had she been thinking to?
She could actually start to make hair. Hair, wigs... students buy those. Màámi's friend made hair.
Mummy Àríkẹ́. Where had her mind been? She could learn how to make hair for free from the lady.
A huge grin crawled over her face.
A door had closed but another had been opened, and she had never felt more thrilled. She had been thrown on another path. Unknown, one she hadn't tread before. But she was happy. And lucky. Lucky that she had legs still to walk on them. And people to walk for.
She felt sentiments as she unpacked the bag. Her favourite needles, her pack of thread, her scissors... Her unfinished dress, her small length of material... buttons. Tears welled up in her eyes. Even her chalk. Aunty Simi had been so kind.
She searched deeper and found a small piece of bunched-up cloth cuttings. She didn't remember that. Maybe it was packed by mistake. She set it aside and set to empty the bag when a sheet of paper fell out.
For you. I hope it does something. Her boss had scrawled out on the sheet.
Gently, Seyi unwrapped the cloth bunch. Four pieces of rolled up one thousand naira notes fell out.
Tears sprung up painfully in her eyes.
Sometimes, our angels come in human forms.