Wednesday, April 11, 2018 1:40 pm
By Funmi Peter-Omale
I was on my way to my sewing class one morning recently and thought it was too early to have breakfast. As I walked to the station in London, I noticed this Nigerian grocer near the station was already opened. I decided to cross over the road to pick up a fish pie and a packet of plantain crisps to snack on at lunch (my class finishes at about 3pm).
So I asked the old man, “do you have fish pie?”
Yes he replied.
“How much?” I asked him.
“£1.50,” he replied.
So I said not to worry I will take plantain crisps instead. His attitude and look on his face changed. Me, if there’s anyone in this world that you can consider too observant and too instinctive ; it’s me Oluwafunmilayo. But it’s too early. I went on to pick two packets of crisps. He started following me… I instinctively thought yes, something weird was going to happen.
Please stay with me, it’s a long narrative. And if you don’t mind, please make objective comments. Please…
So I picked one more crisps making three (each one is just 65 grammes and I chose two flavours). I went to pay, the old man was by now behind the counter and had this sad, murderous look on his face. I was wondering in my mind is this all because of chicken pie or something else… I kept my cool.
Next thing, he asked me “is the chicken pie too expensive?” I said to him in the other places I know it’s just £1 or £1.20… He wouldn’t allow me finish my explanation.
He started yelling, “can’t you see how big it is? Is that what you get in the other places? If you eat this you will see the difference…” blah blah blah.
I calmly explained that I stopped buying things because of size but quality.
“I am not looking at the size, but because I have never bought and eaten this particular one, I changed my mind.” I got another killer glance.
I fished into my purse and got the money out and paid. He just ignored me, and left my packets of crisps on the counter, instead of putting them in a carrier bag. I asked him for a bag and as I was putting them in and turning to leave I heard “ashrabacadadaba”
Huh? I turned back. I said amen and asked I am your first customer today then? He was still chanting “asbrabakadaba”… Then I switched to Yoruba. And asked him again to which he said yes.
I said amen to his prayers and told him I’m a Christian, a Yoruba girl from Ibadan. He forced a smile and asked which part of Ibadan and I told him… He said “oh”!
I majestically walked towards the door, speaking in tongues like him and capping it with “I cover your shop with the convenant blood of Jesus”. He shouted amen.
Just as I closed the door, I said to him, by the way he would have an influx of customers today, he would pray and beg me to come and “open market” for him every blessed day. I left with my head held high, because I know who I am and the God I serve!
As I walked to the station and rode on the train, I was just thinking, what a man, what an attitude…
Some people still allow superstitions to rule their lives and their businesses.