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Bukky tossed and turned on the almost flat foam
continuously until her disgruntled aunt woke up and gave
her a knock on the head. She rolled to the edge of the bed,
lay still, and massaged the spot where the pain emanated
from. She couldn’t sleep. Thoughts of how her boyfriend
fondled her replayed on her mind over and over again. She
enjoyed been kissed by him. She liked been in his arms. The
deal breaker was that things could really get out of hand.
What if she got pregnant? She was just eigteen and he was
twenty. They were not matured enough to take care of
themselves, talk about a child. She didn’t want to be a baby
mama. It was the trend amongst several teenage girls and
young women in the society. Was it possible to date
someone and be able to prevent getting physically intimate?
How does one control the sexual urge in the face of
temptation? She had no idea that it was going to be that
tough. Living in obedience to God’s word was a whole new
affair when it involved matters of the heart. She cleared her
mind and tried to think about other things.
Her boyfriend was now an undergraduate and in the next
four years, he would be a graduate of LASU, with B.sc in
Economics and Statistics. Where would she be then? If by
chance they were still in a relationship, would her illiteracy
come in-between them? If she really wanted to get educated,
how was she going to finance it? God said in his word that he
had given her the power to make wealth. She needed a very
good business idea. If she began to do something, God would
surely bless the work of her hand. She was not too young to
run her own business. She closed her eyes and began to
Kike woke her niece up that morning before leaving the
house to the market place to hustle for her daily bread. The
girl didn’t allow her to sleep the other night. The way she was
turning every five minutes kept her awake. Even after hitting
her on the head in order to caution her, she heard her
praying a storm a while later. If not that the girl was her elder
sister’s daughter, she would have driven her out of the room.
She wasn’t against the prayers, but, it was done at the wrong
time. She should have considered the fact that she wasn’t
alone in the room. She would raise the issue when she
returned home in the evening.
Bukky sat up on the almost flat bed, drowsy and exhausted.
She doubted if she slept for more than three hours. She
scratched a spot on her scalp and thought of loosening her
plaited hair. It would cost her nothing less than two hundred
naira to have it re-done. She looked around for her leather
wrist-watch and found it on the floor. She stretched out her
hand and picked it up. It was several minutes past seven. She
was late. By the time she had her bath and dressed up, an
hour would have gone by. If she met a queue outside the
only bathroom in the compound, two hours would take
She rubbed her fingers against her eyes and yawned loudly. A
random thought crossed her mind. There was a woman that
lived three houses away from theirs, when she used to live
with her parents. She sold fried bean cake, popularly called
akara. Whenever she was sent to buy some bean cake, she
watched how the woman turned the grinded bean in a big
basin and scooped it into the hot oil. The people that
patronized her used the akara to eat cooked pap, bread, or
garri soaked in water. She heard that the woman was able to
sponsor her children’s education with the business.
Bukky jumped off the bed. Several thoughts and ideas ran
through her excited mind. She could do the same thing. She
had less than a thousand naira in her purse. She could start
with what she had. She would buy a module of beans, a
bottle of vegetable oil, pepper, maggi, salt, what else? She
used to see one of her neighbours with a big black fry pan.
She would borrow it. She needed a coal pot too. How much
does it cost to buy coal and fire wood in the area? She would
find out. First things first, she needed to ask the landlady for
permission to use the front of the bungalow to sell her
wares. What if she asked her to pay? She hoped she wouldn’t.
She paled. The landlady was known to be foulmouthed and
easily angered. She prayed to God for favour.
She slipped into her Dunlop slippers, changed into a blouse
and a skirt and hurried out of the room. She was going to
take the bull by the horns.
Bukky placed the big black fry pan on the medium size
charcoal stove and re-arranged the coal and firewood
underneath. The pan was borrowed from her neighbour, on
the condition that she returned it washed and cleaned every
day. She hoped to buy one soonest. The yellow light of the
fire began to lick its way around the wood and coal which
cost her a quarter of the money she had in her purse. She
opened the bottle of vegetable oil she bought that morning
and poured it into the pan. She threw the empty bottle aside
and began to turn the mixture of grinded black-eyed beans,
pepper, onions and seasoned with maggi and salt. She had
no more money left. She promised to pay the local grinder
after sales that day. The woman was the only one she owed.
It had been a miracle when the landlady gave her permission
to use part of the frontage of the house to cook and sell her
wares. The woman didn’t even ask any funny questions. All
she wanted was a daily portion of bean-cake. She looked up
to the sky and prayed to God to bless her business.
“Na you dey sell akara for here?” one of her neighbours
approached her. The pot-bellied man was bare-chested and
had a wrapper tied around his weight.
She looked in his direction, “Yes, sir.”
“Very good. How much?” he stood in front of the charcoal
“Ten naira per one.”
“I want a hundred naira own,” his eyes darted around, “Don’t
you sell bread?”
“What about corn pap?” he directed his gaze at her sweat
He scratched his bald head.
“I will start selling bread by tomorrow, and maybe corn pap
later on,” she made a mental note to go to the bakery at the
junction and find out what it would cost to buy hot fresh
bread daily, with or without cash. She might buy corn, blend
it and make the pap herself. Her mother taught her how to
make corn pap before she turned twelve.
“Once your akara is done, please sell a hundred naira own
“I will go and buy bread at the junction.”
“Okay sir,” she watched him leave and smiled; her very first
customer. She started to scoop the mixture into the hot oil
with her hand until the pan had no more space. The aroma
of the cooking bean-cake drifted into her nose. She grinned
from ear to ear. She could discern that it was going to be
Thirty minutes later, almost everyone living in the twenty
room bungalow gathered around her, ordering for the akara.
They argued, fought, joked and bought her wares. People
from the houses next to theirs joined them and in less than
three hours, it was sold out. When she counted the money
she made, it was triple the amount she spent that morning.
She had enough to prepare for the next day, pay her debt,
make pap and buy bread from the bakery.
She had her bath, changed into a tee-shirt and a jean,
brushed her hair and set off to the market. She thanked God
as she walked towards the junction. She had a feeling that
her business was going to do very well. Finally, she would be
able to sponsor herself and get educated. It didn’t matter
how long it would take, she would not give up.
Kike returned home from the market that evening and met
her niece sieving a large amount of corn pap outside their
room. One of their neighbours who saw her in the market
informed her that Bukky’s akara was the best she had eaten
in a long while. She thought the woman was high on
something, until she met someone that lived on the same
street. The man was just dishing out advise without been
asked. She had no idea what her elder sister’s daughter had
been up to, but, it got the attention of many people.
”Good evening aunty Kike,” she looked up at the tired looking
woman in her mid-thirties.
The dark skinned a little above average height woman eyed
her, “Your news travelled all the way to the market and made
me look like a fool. Next time you want to do something,
please let me know in advance. Or have you forgotten that
you are living with someone? Are you the one paying the
rent?” she hissed and marched into the room.
Bukky scrambled to her feet and hurried after her, hands
covered with blended corn. She found her mother’s sister
seated on the almost flat bed, fuming.
“I am so sorry aunty. It all happened so fast…” she went on
her knees, “I am sorry. It won’t happen again. E ma bi nu
Kike hissed again, “You are not serious at all. When your
mother sent you to me, what did I tell you? Since I have been
living in this compound, no one has heard my voice. I mind
my own business. I don’t want any problem with anybody.”
“I am sorry,” she sighed heavily. Maybe she should have
looked for her aunt and intimated her of her plans when she
was at the market that morning. Assuming she had a phone,
she would have been able to call her. Or maybe she should
have gone to the lady selling recharge cards under the
umbrella down the street and put a call through to her aunt.
Next time, she would do just that.
“What exactly is going on?” she turned to the remorseful
eighteen year old girl.
Bukky narrated how she started the akara business that
morning. Her aunt advised and encouraged her. She thanked
her and returned to the basin of pap she left outside the