We all know shame and understand to avoid it when necessary. But sometimes, we just walk down her street and hope the world would forget.
Do they forget? Or do you forget? The unexplainable embarrassment of the year.
Yeah! My case was a shame of the year and this is how it happened.
My grandma, “a hajat” runs a retail shop along a highway in some small town. It faces a rising sun which I enjoy bathing on the cold days.
I greet her, grab a chair, place it onto the verandah as soon as she opens her doors to the shop.
She is a tough person to read really. Unlike most elderly ladies who give a cozy feeling while talking to them, she freaks me out. Like she doesn’t like me. Or for some reason, hates me and just blurs me in her mind’s eye. And I think I did give her a reason to.
About eight months ago, I came to live next to her, at my own place in my own first home. A single room, rented, along a muddy road (cause it’s raining now) off the highway. The building is one block away from where the shop is. So if the shop faces north, my room would face the east.
I should say I didn’t know her until that time. Like we had not seen each other until then, and until she sold me a three litre Jerry can for I think triple the price, Ugshs 3500. And then, she gave me a reason to go to other shops. It was expensive even in my own ignorance since I had never done shopping for household items before.
So I tried other shops and bought a five litre jerry can at Ugshs2500. I was happy. It felt like money well spent. That I was a genius finally in control of my first days in the real world, away from home and school.
But at the same time, a wrong or the best idea of never to buy from her again. I mean, if family is to be exploited by you, am sorry grandma, I ain’t going to be part of your legacy.
So the sneaky dealings started like I was buying drugs from another dealer and had to be sure she never comes to know. Not that she would do anything, but really it would look weird.
My new dealer would be a shop along the same highway, on the same side, just a one block away from the grandma’s left. A she of course, who undeniably is beautiful. A gracious voice and radiant smile, offering to do way good stuff if I buy from her. Like she sorts my rice so I take ready to cook and eat. Which of course my grandma, wouldn’t do. And again, she is beautiful.
Anyway I usually peeked at the verandah to see if grandma wasn’t there, then walk like a boss to my dealer whom am so proud to buy from. And this was just smooth until, I can’t even say…
It was a normal black out, just a few candle lights from the still open shops, and flashing lights of passing vehicles. The sky was dark enough for the many visible stars that dotted it’s canvas. And this guy, myself, chooses to take a walk, masking the night, thinking about my own duties till I come close to my dealer’s shop, “mama Mariam” that I remembered I had a pickup to do.
It was dark and if that wouldn’t have been the best time, then there wouldn’t have been any better. She was not on her verandah, but dumping rubbish into a “pit.” so I took hold of the moment and made the pickup. I didn’t ask for a wrapping for my 1kg of rice and turned to leave the shop.
And duh, lights everywhere. To be specific, light above my head. Electricity was back from its normal routines as it always is in developing countries. Very bright. Probably a new bulb. Looking across me, grandma standing on the verandah looking back at me. With my spoils in my hands, I swear I wished to be anywhere else but not there. I was drowning literally in my mind that I froze for sometime. May be a minute or two. Until I went back into the shop and asked for a wrapping before walking shamefully with my head low.
It was the worst I had ever felt in a long time. Wait, the worst that I still do feel. So guilty that I have been avoiding my morning sun bath.
And when I did see her, she replied to me like nothing had happened. Huh? Nothing?!
Just with her stale face like before which could mean she always knew I bought from that shop. Or worst, “I don’t care. You can go to hell grandson. You are a sellout.”
And to the moment I write this, I still feel her stale eyes, hear her raspy voice like echoes from a nightmare that am never to wake up from, taunting me like a ghost.
Grandma, am sorry. But she is a pretty lady the stole me from you. Please just understand why I had to do this. It was a tough decision that took seconds to make and would probably do the same until you start selling a bit cheaply. Wait, even if you did, she is a pretty woman and that’s a good reason to keep buying from
And again, am sorry! Love you!