Nigerian Millennial Writing series Ep.2
I was told by my mum that just like in Aba, major Port Harcourt markets still trade following the archaic timings, ‘Eke’, ‘Orie’, ‘Afo’ and ‘Nkwo’. My instinct didn’t dare push my feet to go speak to some of the women in a market nearby on an ‘Eke’ market day. They will buy me and my camera and sell me off in a blink, I thought to myself.
There’s no way to speak to Catherine one of the prominent sellers known for her healthy crayfish and fish than to introduce yourself. I got her comfortable enough to go personal on me by reiterating the aims of my little writing series, reminding her at every pause to keep overly personal details to herself. We got talking. As she began talking about her family and how they moved to this part of the city because of her husband, an unforeseen long call came in.
The market was quiet and gay. Women at their different corners stared at me and my camera hanging down my left shoulder. It somewhat became a competition of who got tired of staring between them and myself.
I was looking above shoulder level to spot what food item was common in the area I had sat talking when my left arm was tickled by a chill of soft fingers. I lowered my neck in curiosity as I turned to the direction of my tickled arm and found a young boy gazing at my camera with so much enthusiasm. He looked like he wanted me to say something, but for a few minutes I was silent. Eyes turned to our direction. He withdrew, taking a few steps back and continued gazing.
I asked him quietly, leaning towards him with a slight bend, “Would you like me to take a photo of you?”. He nodded in approval and to my surprise stroke different poses for all angles I took of him.
He was beautiful, courageous and bold for a child of his age.
Isn’t this how we adults all start off until our innocence are rubbed? I thought.
Catherine’s voice raised as the conversation with her caller started to sound a bit heated up.
I hopped on the chance to get the young boy still standing for more shots to talk to me.
“Come and take me naa, I’ve snapped you. It’s your turn” I said to him with a bold smile.
He grabbed the camera from my hand. The camera however, seemed to have swallowed his tiny fingers. His arms shook as he tried holding it firmly.
“What’s your name?” I asked as I showed him the snap button.
“Kelechi” he said sharply with an exciting look.
He took pictures of me which I found really cute and funny. Some he had cut my head off and others were just of my stomach, blurry and without focus. I praised him on every shot he took, clapped and had other women watching cheer him up. He became confident eventually and was ready to take a full picture of me standing when we heard a distant voice roaring his name “KEleeechii!”. He hurriedly dropped the camera on my laps and took to his heels without looking back.
I watched him dissappear into one of the corners. I giggled and bent my neck to watch a slideshow of the pictures he had taken when Catherine tapped my right shoulder to pick up from where she had stopped.
I thought about Kelechi throughout our conversation.
Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2018.