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    Toke walked around the village for hours without making sales. She knew that she couldn’t return the wares to her foster mother because she had been warned against doing that. She thought of trekking the long distance to the next village to sell since their king had been buried and it was now safe for strangers to go there but the fear of what happened to her mother happening to her was enough to discourage her. She preferred to return home with the wares and be starved all night than to go to the same place where her mother’s life had been wasted.

    She was just about taking the turn that led home when she saw a car stop beside her. she increased her pace but the car still caught up with her.

    Chief Oko: “hello, pretty girl, how are you?” he asked after winding down.

    Toke ignored him and moved on without answering.

    Chief Oko: “hey, I don’t bite okay. I just want to patronize you” he said and Toke stopped abruptly.

    Toke: “you want to buy what I am selling?”

    “yes, all of it. It is not good for a pretty girl like you to be hawking around the street by this time”

    Toke: “okay, it is not expensive. The pepper is fifty naira per bowl and the tomatoes are…” she started to say.

    Chief Oko: “hey, calm down. The money is not a problem. I will even give you extra money to take care of your other needs” he said enticingly.

    Toke: “I don’t need extra money. Just pay for the goods if you really want to buy and allow me leave”

    Chief Oko: “I will do just that but first all, you have to hop into the car and follow me to my house so that I can carry the money and give you. I actually do not have cash on me”

    Toke: “I am sorry, sir. I don’t know you and I cannot follow a stranger home”

    Chief Oko: “I am not a stranger and I live down this street and I am sure that your mother must have told you that your father and I were friends while he was alive so I cannot harm you. We will just go into my compound and you will remain in the car while I go in and get the money” he said.

    Toke ignored him and began to walk away from him as quickly as her legs could carry her.

    The Chief Oko drove after her, caught up with her and stopped beside her.

    Toke: “can you please just leave me alone? I said I don’t want to follow you to your house”

    She said and just then, she saw her foster mother coming in from the opposite direction.

    Mama Gift: “is that not Toke that I am seeing? So this girl has started following men about like her mother did?” she said and began to walk quickly towards them but Toke ran to her even before she got close to the car.

    Mama Gift: “Toke, what are you doing there with a Chief Oko? So, you have started going out with Chief Oko right?”

    Toke: “no, mama. Chief Oko said he wanted to buy all the pepper and tomatoes that I am carrying and I stopped. Then he said I have to follow him to his house to drop the goods and collect the money but I refused and I started to walk away then he began to follow me”

    Mama Gift: “you what! Okay, how much sales have you made today?” she said extending her hand to collect the money.

    Toke: “I have not made any sales. All the people I went to said they still have and that I should check back tomorrow”

    Mama Gift: “can you see how very foolish you are? You have not made any sales today and you saw someone who wants to buy everything from you and you are saying you cannot follow him to his house. So, you want to return the goods home so that they will get spoilt over the night right? And then you expect me to feed you tonight when you cannot sell ordinary tomatoes and pepper? If you like yourself, you will follow that man to his house to sell off everything”

    Toke: “my mother told me not to ever follow a man to his house. She said men can be dangerous and I could get harmed”

    Mama Gift: “I will squeeze that your mouth there for you now, my mother said this, my mother said that. Which mother are we talking about? The same one who died without leaving a dime for you to live on? And so what if men harm you, will you be the first person to be harmed? Weren’t your own mother harmed? Go to that man before he changes his mind and drive away”

    Toke walked reluctantly to the man who had parked and was pretending to make a call. She entered the car without saying a word and the man drove off after acknowledging mama Gift’s presence with a wave of his hand.

    As soon as they got into the house, chief Oko left Toke in the car, went into his room and returned with a bowl and some money. Toke transferred the goods in her tray into his bowl, collected the money, counted it, removed the exact amount that was the goods worth and returned the remaining money to him.

    Chief Oko: “you can keep the rest, I deliberately gave you that much so that you can use the remaining to get some toiletries for yourself. Like I said, I was your late father’s friend” he said.

    Toke: “I didn’t do anything for you that you will give me money. I have taken enough for what I sold” she said and turned to leave.

    Chief Oko: “let me give you a lift back home then” he suggested.

    Toke: “don’t worry, I am already used to walking” she said and left the compound.

    Chief Oko: “you can always bring tomatoes and pepper for me every weekend” he called after her.

    Toke heaved a sigh of relief as soon as she got out.

    “I was just afraid for nothing, this man is a very good man” she said.

    As soon as she stepped out of the compound, she ran into her school’s principal who was driving his old and rickety Volkswagen. He stopped Toke and after several attempts, she opened up and told him that she didn’t resume school because her foster parents had torn the letter he gave her and had forbade her from going close to the school compound.

    The principal assured her that he would do something about it and told her not to tell her foster parents that she had spoken with him.

    That evening, the principal visited their home and after several pleas and threat to report Gift’s parents to the local government officials if they refused to allow her go to the school, they reluctantly agreed. That night, even though Toke was beaten and denied dinner, she slept well, knowing that she was going to resume her education.
    Toke stayed behind after school hours to copy notes and study for the days she had missed out. When it was getting dark in the classroom, she picked her nylon bag, containing her books and left for the house.

    When she got home, she entered the house through the backyard door and went to the room she shared with Gift to change her school uniform. She had just finished doing that when she began to hear funny noise coming from the sitting room. Knowing that her foster parents were yet to return from work, she went into the sitting room and screamed aloud at what she saw.

    To be continued.



    Chris Brown – “Nobody Has To Know” ft. Davido


    Gyakie – “Something”


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