It happened last night. Mummy and I were about to leave the shop when she sent me to buy some tubers of yam. I left the hair and clothes section of the market where her shop was located and crossed to the provision sections. I walked down and turned left to the section of food sellers and then to where yam sellers present their wares in a row.
All of them looked the same, dark-skinned, wearing shirts and trousers that could do with some washing, and speaking Hausa, with wheelbarrows bearing tubers of various types and sizes in front of them.
“Kostoma, how far?” one of them called. “How your mummy?”
“She’s fine,” I replied as I moved closer to him. “How much be this one?” I lifted a tuber of yam, almost double the size of my arm.
“Na eight hundred, but take am seven fifty.”
“No oh, e too cost. Na one thousand I get and I wan buy two.”
I bargained a little while and left with two pieces of yam bought for less than the original cost.
I returned the same way I had come. Just before I crossed to the provision section, I saw Naimah, my best friend. I hadn’t seen her in a while. She had travelled north to see her uncle and his family for Easter but didn’t come back. Later, we heard that she and her uncle’s family were taken hostage by terrorists.
Naimah came back some days ago. Only Naimah came back.
“Naimah! Naimah!” I shouted.
She turned around to see me waving. She looked at me for a few seconds and started heading in the opposite direction. I didn’t know why, but I saw her twitching. She was wearing a black khimar or maybe it’s navy blue. It was getting dark and I was not with my glasses.
“Naimah, it’s me Preye!”
She did not answer me. Instead, she kept walking towards the centre of the market, clutching something under her khimar. I ran up to her as fast as my skirt would allow me and caught up with her just as she was about to cross the road.
“Naimah, what is wrong with you? Answer me!” I yelled, shaking her.
“Leave!” she whimpered, with teary eyes.
“Why?” I asked.
That was when I heard the ticking. Boom!
Photo by Javier Peñas
This story emerged in the 5th position in the 2017 edition of the JB Afenfia Flash Fiction Contest.