This morning, I went to market to buy Shea butter.
Usually, there is enough humidity in the air here to keep my skin naturally hydrated. Since a week, however, we have the annual dry and cold wind from the north which is in town. Shea butter is my favorite companion during harmattan. It’s natural, organic, locally produced and does the job better.
I used to buy my Shea butter from the same lady during the last two years. She is an old lady, probably over 80, full grey hair, arc-curved with shiny, black vivid eyes.
She has a small stall in the central market of Atakpame, with about a hundred items on it. She is very kind and always thanks me for visiting her and buying from her.
Today, I bought four rolls of Shea butter from her and just before I’d leave she noticed that an item has been stolen from her stall.
A boy, she told me, came to buy the item. She gave him the price, and he decided not to buy and leave. Somehow, he ended up pickpocketing one of the item.
“One is missing. One missing. He didn’t pay.” Desperately said the old lady. Then she started crying. Tears ran from her left eye, almost unconsciously. Then tears started pouring from her right eye too. Suddenly, her face was in tear, she tried to clean with the back of her hand.
I stood up there, in silence. She went to sit, head over her knees. Then her eyes got fixed in the void.
I asked her how much was the item. We put together the money and give it to her.
I did not have the courage to look at her face. She said “oh!” Speechless.
I went away cursing the thief, but I’m afraid the market is becoming too dangerous for her.
Slowly, we went from high trust society to a society of mistrust and disloyalty. It’s called modernization.