Caro was getting set to leave Kalu’s house to her place; all those times she had been sleeping at Kalu’s house was because her aunt and husband had travelled, for the father in laws’ burial. They were to be back that day in the evening, so she needed to be home before their arrival. Her aunt, Amarachi and husband had being married for five years but no issue, although it wasn’t his first marriage, he had been married before and the marriage had produced two children; two girls, married. They were divorced with the former wife for he accused her of cheating and being a witch. The court wasn’t willing to grant the divorce based on those allegations that held no water but had to when the woman complained of being tired of the marriage, for he had turned her into a punching bag. Rumour has it that they had started seeing with Caro’s aunt a year before the official divorce. The court had made him leave his house to wife and daughters so by the time he got married to Caro’s aunt he had to move in with her. Caro’s in law had insatiable love for women; he chased after anything in skirt, Caro would complain to Kalu,
Caro: “Uncle, can fit chasing goat inside wlapper o!” Kalu would laugh out really hard.
On many occasions, he had smacked Caro’s butt most times while she was busy washing plates, clothes or in the kitchen alone. She hated him for that, reporting him to her aunty was a sheer waste of time for it was always his word against hers. One day, she was upset her aunty had just scolded her for a thing she didn’t do, her aunt was like that .very unbearable. Caro was washing the dishes in the kitchen he looked around noticing she was alone, behind her counting his steps he smack her butt with the cover of the pot she smacked his head so hard that he lost balance, she apologized lying that she didn’t know it was him, it made the side of the fore head swell and when his wife asked about the injury, he lied,
Peter: “I hit my head on the kitchen door!” his name was Peter but his wife called him, “Pet!”
Amarachi: “Pet, where you drunk?”
Peter: “You know I can be accused of anything else but not alcohol na!”
That was true, he never consumed alcohol.
For a week, he avoided Caro, she soared with pride, and she told Kalu about it,
Caro: “I armost bleaking e head wit pot cover!”she said as they laughed about it.
She turned to Kalu as she was about to leave,
Caro: “As I am go don’t come and na using tinking to kii yourself o!”
Kalu smiled at her,
Kalu: “okay, my love!”
Caro: “You’re saying okay ma rove,okay ma rove, don come and na start clying and faint oo!” she pouted her lips as he continued smiling,
Kalu: ‘babi’m I’ve heard you. Oya go and prepare for the market before it gets late, right.”
With excitement she nodded, whenever he called her with pet names it tickled her so much that she blushed,
Caro: “Okay,” smiling with the shyness of a child, “what I wiri buy for you!”
Kalu touched the head as if he was thinking,
Kalu: “ Ehm, just make me see you this evening. that’s all!”
Caro: “You know am happying see you many times of day!but ma aunty and dat her womanizers husband is come back today. See you, impossican’t!”
Kalu clapped laughing,
Kalu: “babi’m is speaking oyibo o! if you agree to go to the adult class you’ll do just good!”
The talk of adult class churned her stomach,
Caro: “Babi’m, I wantu going!”
When she got home she add to quickly prepare soup so that her aunt and husband would come home and have something to eat. She had to be time conscious for she still needed to go sell Abacha for aunty wouldn’t listen to excuses and she had to make up for the days she was unable to go because of her lover’s health. She sold it at the front of a man’s shop, he was known as T-man, and the shop carried the name T-man ventures. He liked Caro so much that he pleaded with her to sell in front of the shop instead of hawking around. Jokingly, on numerous occasions he had asked Caro to marry him,
Caro: “Noo. You is a old man! I aff husband aleady!”
He claimed to be joking but she knew he meant it somehow, she had warned the women around who called her “T-man’s wife!”
That day market was bad, for days market had gone down that lane, recession had affected sales; Mama Nkechi and Mama Tobi two of the women who sold fish close to T-man’ shop were having a conversation, Caro just sat down listening, Mama Nkechi was telling her neighbour a very sad story of how her in law had killed himself,
Mama Nkechi: “my sister it hasn’t been easy for my family from one bad news to the other.”
Mama Tobi: “Eya, it is well o!”
Mama Nkechi sighed,
Mama Nkechi: “my sister is now a widow at the age of twenty five oo!” she placed her hands on the head with a sullen face.
Mama Tobi: “Jesu! Wait di wan wey just born twins last week?” Mama Nkechi nodded, Mama Tobi stood up screaming, Caro just shook her head, “aswear devil na bastard!”she added.
Mama Nkechi narrated how her in law a deputy branch manager who was doing well but was laid off by the bank when banks had to cut down workers because of the bad state of the country’s economy. After six months, things had gone bad for them they couldn’t feed and out of frustration he hung himself,
Mama Nkechi: “Na so oo.E take hang himself!”Mama Tobi was already in tears.
Caro having listened to the story had a mood swing. She thought of how life could be to some people, cruel and unfair, especially herself. A prickle of tear dropped on her Abacha tray. Immediately, she wiped her eyes before anyone could notice. For hours, she sat mopping at a few customers passing,it looked like the new government had banned people from the market. T-man crept from behind and tapped,
Caro: “Yeh!” he was laughing.
T-Man: “You sabi fear!”
Caro: “Go jare. You cause em now!”
Caro told him of how low sales were,
T-Man: “Eya, same with me!”
Caro: “You knows what? I went hawking!” she took her Abacha on the head and started hawking, “buy sweets-sweets Abacha, fifty naila!” it became a chorus as she entered a major street.
In less than thirty minutes she sold more than what she would have sold at the market. Amazed,she passed a group of people having a street photo shoot for a magazine. She stood for a while watching. Three photographers were busy arranging and taking shots. One of the photographers stepped aside,his camera light was giving him issues, he was busy fondling with the camera settings to get it back to normalcy. Caro was still dazed at how the models posed, breath taking poses,
Caro: “I wishing I can be like that!” she fantasized.
Camera clicked at her, she was aware she was lost in admiration. The young photographer smiled at his camera and returned back to work. Caro had her phone beeped, it was her aunty.
Aunty Amarachi: “Where are you?”
Caro answered in Igbo,
Caro: “serring abacha!”
Aunty Amarachi: “ we are back! Come home!” the phone went off.
Since hawking brought more sales Caro abandoned her spot in the market and was always going from one street to the other. Every day she always passed the street where she had saw model hoping to bump into them again but that never happened. That day, she had decided to start hawking on that street, she called it,
Caro: “My Amelica street!”
She told Kalu that the photo shoot session looked like something he had watched in an America film and that was why she had given the street that name. The sun was harsh that day; she was sweating all over before five minutes she had finished two satchet of water. Two men accosted her, sweating, from afar she saw one of them point at her, she became nervy. The younger one looked familiar but she couldn’t remember where she had met him.
Man: “hey” one of them said, the older, “excuse me!” she increased her pace, praying in her heart,
Caro: “Chimo! Kidrappers ooo!” they ran and caught up with her. She freeze, it was too late to run. The men stood before her with a picture in their hands-her picture! The elderly man noticing her fear calmed her down,
Elderly Man: “ Don’t be scared, please! Ehm, My name is Tanko Danjuma, I’m the editor of Eclaire magazine in Nigeria”
He went on to narrate that during one of the street photo shoot one of the photographers mistakenly took a shot of her and when he saw that shot, “I knew that was it for me. You picture rocked even better than that of my models! See,girl, I want you, you’re an embodiment of natural beauty! I want to sign you as a model. You’d definitely be our cover page for our first edition in Nigeria. It was like dream, Caro just stared at him as he spoke with urgency. Eclaire magazine with its headquarters in France had just opened an office in Nigeria. So,Caro was going to be its model, that was history.
Young Man: “take us to your parents so we could discuss contract details!”
Elderly Man: “Yes sweerie. We want you to be our model!” he kept on repeating.
Caro still couldn’t say a word- she was in a trance. She hopped into their flashy car as they drove off- she was taking them to Kalu’s place.
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