I sat still on a long bench placed inside the lorry flanked to my right were several other women, with only madam okohma to my left,
It was cold and windy morning of late November,the harmattan fog
Had covered everywhere so we could barely see each other inside the
Lorry,they were all traders, and the only person i knew was madam Okohma,
we only had a close range meeting for the first time that morning, I had previoulsy only seen her farway after church services.
They chatter in familiar low tones, and jeered, while others hummed hymns, I had nothing to contribute, infact i was a complete stranger in their midst and i am sure they asked each other and unanswered questions about me,
it was very obvious madam okohma was not a very good talker, she kept her still and only made remarks when necessary, mom had directed me to meet up with her that early morning, I am sure they had it all discussed, so I had no difficulty explaining myself when i meet up with her that early morning at the market square.
with a heart loaded with burden of having to leave my mom and sister behind, I just wanted to cry loudly and relieve myself,but what will I tell this people whose comfort i have already deprived with my presence, has they had to adjust to fix me in.
Beside mom told me i was a woman now and she trusted me to take care of myself, we cried our heart out that night, has mom handed me her sisters address and a little token to keep up with,i grab the few things i could has she insist I shouldn’t wait till dawn.
Mom sister Aunty Tima was my mom elder sister she had five kids and lived with her husband a railway worker in the City.
I was not entirely worried about getting to face my new home cause according to mom she lived comfortably , neither about my first ever travel,but about the fact that Aunty Tima was the one that told mom she should leave my father, she claimed my father was raising another home in the city thus the secret for his frequent travels, that explained the frequent quarrels between my mother and father which i witness as a toddler.
I have never been farway from my mom neither my sister, my eyes were blinded with tears but i manage not to let it flood down.
I consoled myself if not for anything but for the fact that i was leaving for good farway from the watch and reach of an hungry and wicked predator(Simon) whose prey i was, an innocent,vulnerable sixteen (16) years old step daughter.
the only time aunty Okohma spoke to me was when she asked if i was hungry, how could i have been hungry when I was entirely feed up to fill with worries,i had slept a few times and woke up dreaming about home. She then asked again if i knew my aunty very well,i had only met aunty Tima ones,
she visited our home back in my fathers house, i was just three years, so I hold very faint memory of what she looked like, Madam Okohma assured me she will take me straight to her house, has she buys from the city and have met with her quite often each time she made a trip to buy her goods.
Relieved now that i wouldn’t have to comb the entire city in search of the address mom gave me in a piece of paper, I lean back and slept off.
Startled I woke up to the many horns and buzz, it was heating up
We were in the middle of the city, very dusty it was,
line to each side of the road were many shops, the road was very busy, I was suprise at the many pedestrians and lot’s of buildings which looked busy like it was a semi-market,
“We are in port-hacourt”,
madam Okohma told me calmly, as if she read the question from my facial expression,
“I am sure it’s your first time here” she added breaking a smile
“Yes madam” i replied with a childish nod.
“We are close to the park, I know you are tired as this is your first time here ”
The lorry made a swift turn into an open space, where i spot several other parked lorries some loaded and some not.
To be continued……….
For next episode