56 days ago, I was with my friend in the main fruit market in Lomé. It’s called Gbadago Market.
It’s a big market where you can find all seasonal tropical fruits displayed with ingenuity by colorful ladies whose only marketing tools is their soft and prolonged gaze when you pass along their fortunate shelf.
The sidewalk of that market is really beautiful for me. In fact, I love the peaceful chaos there, like in many markets in Lomé.
We bought lot of fruits and my bag was already heavy but we decided to walk a little further to buy some cassava or yam. We prefer yam to cassava, because yam is much tastier and you can keep for much longer.
Before we reach the other part of the market where the ladies are selling yams, we have to cross the filthiest bridge ever. You can’t go trough that bridge without becoming haunted for ever. I have all the images in my head, but my mind doesn’t want to recall them now otherwise I’d vomit. The smell, the dirt, the mountains of solid and liquid waste were all over, obviously the symbol of how decadent our society has become.
I wondered, why isn’t anyone doing anything? How could such a place exist?
We managed to cross the bridge, and reached the first lady selling yams. She has that petillant, sparkling eyes decorated with fine wrinkles, an imperceptible sebum makeup hides well her old age, and her falsely unscripted smile marries the other thousands smiles which illuminate the market everyday. She was by herself a confident invitation to start a conversation.
I asked how much is the yam.
“Three for 2500F” she replied.
“That’s expensive” I responded. I love to bargain on the market.
“It’s good yam, and they are big. You can buy small one if you want. I’ll make you a price.” she commented.
“I think, We won’t buy today. They will be too heavy to carry. We’d would come back with car”. I said
“Ok” she said, but continued with a soft voice and a smile. “You look like you just came back from abroad, do you?”
“Yeah, I’ve been living abroad for fifteen years, and I moved back recently to see how I can contribute here”. I replied.
“My husband was also abroad. We got married when he was still a student. he got a scholarship to study in Russia. He came back some time ago, but with a Russian wife and two kids. He is trying to setup a clinic her, but things are not working well for him. I wish he put in more thought, hard work and organization. I don’t understand how someone could fail a clinic in a country where everyone is sick like that. I don’t understand … I don’t understand … without organization nothing is possible … look my business… I’m doing well … I’m doing quite well … I’ve built my own house selling yams, and I support my kids without the help of anyone.”
“How many kids do you have?”, I asked
“I have three. My biggest daughter is sitting there. She helps me… When you want something in life you have to believe in yourself, and get organized. Organization is important. The Russian wife of my “husband” is lazy. She doesn’t do anything but stay at home all day long. She wants the man to stay at home all the time with her. What she doesn’t know is that this guy has 6 wives, and she has to share, but she want exclusivity and she does every stupid things to get attention…Last time she got a lamp broken, and has to call the husband to come home to fix the lamp … I think she is unhappy here, but I think life is much better for her here than in the cold there”.
“Does your husband have 6 wives?” I asked again
“He is a failure. You know what … Everything reacts… Everything you do triggers something accordingly. Nothing we do is neutral or inconsequential. Nothing. It’s an illusion when people think they are having it their way without expecting or thinking about the consequences, now or later. I have nothing again him, but he has to put order in his life. You can’t threat people without consideration and expect life to give you what you want. Everyone makes mistakes, but … without confession there is no progress… He has to confess his past, acknowledge his wrongdoings, ask pardon for himself, then life would eventually give him a new blank sheet, a second chance. I’m not talking about religious confession, but something more intimate, a soul searching confession to break from the past, in order to offer oneself an opportunity for the future. Confession is very important….You see I love talking… You haven’t asked me anything … but life has taught me so much … and I always want to share…” She smiled and gazed at me before pausing here eyes and smile.
We were there in front that lady amazed by every bit of words she pronounced.
“Are you still married to that man?” I asked again
She started laughing, and politely replied “That man doesn’t belong to any woman. I have my life, he has his life. I don’t ask him anything, and I don’t expect anything from him. I just want my kids to have a good future, and I’m working on that, and I work hard, really hard”.
“Thank you very much for the amazing conversation. We will come back to buy yams from you”. I said and we departed.
It has been two months since I’ve met that lady. I went 3 times already to the market to find that lady, but she was not there. Was she a ghost, a spirit which speaks the truth and disappear. This afternoon, I’m going one more time to the market to look for her.