When the land was young and I was a younger child and we used to wake up very early to prepare the day’s foods, there was a man who liked my mother.
He would come to our restaurant in the day, occupy a corner of the shop that was hidden from outside and place his orders. He made orders like a ‘big’ man.
“Yes, you have chicken laps? Yes, I want two. I want small rice with two chicken. I want another two in a takeaway.”
After eating, this man sometimes would leave his N200 or N300 change with any of us who was money collector for the day/period.
Over time, he would ask whichever of us went to collect money to ask my mother to come for the money. He would say, “tell your mother to come take the money, I don’t want stories.”
On some days my mother would take money, on some days she would reply angrily that he gave us the money since we were already there.
On some days when my father was around, he would sit quietly with some of the guys in the street and if you were a visitor, you would not know he was my father and the beautiful food seller’s husband.
The ‘big’ man walked into our shop as usual with an air of superiority, went into our shop and occupied his usual corner at the edge. My father was having a casual talk with other men outside. The ‘big’ man was served his usual small rice with two chicken laps, Eva water and Amstel malt and he asked my sister to call my mother because the food did not taste like our food and he wanted to personally find out.
My mother went in. There was muttering, then my mother’s voice came rather loud, “Okay. Hold on let me ask my husband.”
At the same time, there was the sound of scuffling feet, scratch of the table’s legs against the floor, a plea to hold on and my mother’s exit from the shop to where my father was acting like he did not know what was happening.
“D,” she said. “This is the man I told you about. He wants me to see him at a bar around Milverton and I want you to know.”
The big man was already outside having dropped N3000 on the table by the time my father was saying, oh, ọdịmma. You will go later. Shey you have collected his number.”
‘Big’ man was already out. My mom shouted “customer, wait. Wait.”
He did not wait. He didn’t know that my mother wanted to remind him of his takeaway chicken and to ask if we could keep the change for the day.