So, my mum steps out of the car at the market to buy some items.
I’m in the car, I stare at her back.
Every time she gets down from the car without a second thought in order to buy foodstuff regardless of the fact that we’re (my sisters and I) in the car and she could as well send us to buy whatever it is, I’m awed. And she does that sooo often.
I even feel guilty. Grown as I am, I sit in the car. Sighs.
She walks to where the mallam had set up his stand for the fried rice ingredients.
Another woman at the same spot looks away seemingly uninterested while my mom prices the items. From here, I can tell my mum bargains in Hausa language.
When my mum shifts slightly such that her back is turned to the other woman, the seemingly uninterested woman resumes admiring her.
That’s not my focus Today. I only want to capture details.
From this vantage point where I sit in the car,
I see a market woman perched on a bench, her legs on either side of it, as a man would sit.
I take notice of her when my mom, on whom my gaze is fixed, asks “who is crying?” while she gazes lovingly at a young toddler wailing badly. Wailing badly!
It is then I notice the market woman, and I see another boy of about four years of age with her. She leans over a flimsy note book that is spread open on the bench.
Then I begin to hear her when I pay attention “oya, write four, write four!”
The boy, I assume her son, looks at her, no defiance on his face. No expression. He just looks at her.
She hits him.
“write four! ” she says as she raises and keeps her right hand hanging in a position set to hit him. She does hit him again.
” oloshi alabukun omo-ale”
And I gasp.
I know, I know, children are insulted everyday but really what has this boy done?
The boy is now crying. The toddler is also crying. But it’s a market, noise is allowed.
She threatens the four year old that if his tears drop, she would beat him even more.
He keeps crying.
What I see next as I picture an intervention in tones of sepia, is my mum walking up and explaining to the mother why she should cuddle him a bit and tell him to write the number she desires. Maybe teach him again.
We know after rain, comes sunshine right? Surely there must be another way to tackle this crying child.
Yorubas in Nigeria say “ta ba if owo osi na omode, a fi owo otun fa mora” when we use the right hand to discipline a child, we use the left hand to pull him close
As I imagine my mum explaining to the boy’s mother, I imagine the woman flaring up, fed up.
This is Nigeria. To this market woman, her son must “know book” he must become literate. He must drive cars and care for her. He must become more influential than anyone she knows.
This is the way of hope.
So I can imagine the good intentions with which this market woman now orders her son to kneel down.
Without the imagined scenes and tones of sepia, the boy doesn’t kneel down and she doesn’t beat him any longer either. I’m not in the market for much longer to see her(a market woman howbeit a mother) train her son in the way she thinks best.
This one thing I know, the boy must “know book”.
This brings to mind the words “motherhood”, “education”, and the phrases “financial privilege”, “developing countries”, “a means to an end”.
The boy must know book!
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