Growing up, I had a cousin who lived with us in Jos. Well, actually, I had two cousins. But the one I want to talk about today is Nachi. Nachi’s dad is my dad’s immediate younger brother, and he (Nachi) is two years older than me, so we were pretty much like 5 and 6 when we were younger. Anyway, my dad’s clinic wasn’t in Jos; it was in Mangu, which was about 45 minutes away from us in Jos, so we were back and forth very frequently.
At one point, we were renting a house in Mangu that was a stone throw away from Chinasa’s aunt shop. By the way, I usually change names when I tell these stories, but this time, Chinasa is her real name, and that’s because I doubt she will be reading this blog, and even if she does, she probably won’t know it’s me because she has probably completely forgotten me (and this encounter). Chinasa was a young girl who had a petite and masculine stature. She was chocolate colored and her head was an oddly shaped rectangle unfinished edges. She often smiled as if she did not want to smile. But in retrospect, it’s possible she was shy and/or had a crush on Nachi.
Anyway, Nachi, my cousin, would go to Chinasa’s shop and buy things on credit. Like I said, we were kids, so the things he was buying were things like kuli kuli, Caprisun, Ribena, Cowbell milk (in the sachet), the little five naira bread, etc. Nachi would sometimes pay Chinasa all of her money, and sometimes, he would only pay part of it and then promise to pay the rest “tomorrow,” but when tomorrow comes, Nachi would be nowhere to be found. He would take a different route to and from home to avoid Chinasa.
So what does Chinasa do? On her way to open up the shop at about six in the morning, she would be at our door, banging. And our door was made of glass. She would bang and bang, and then, she would shout, “Nachi, bia kwuo’m five naira’m!” (Nachi, come and pay me my five naira). She would bang until my dad would open the door and settler her. Dad would scold Nachi, and tomorrow, he would do it all over again.
Sometimes, before my dad comes out, Nachi would sneak out and beg Chinasa to lower her voice, that he would pay her later, but Chinasa would scream even louder and say that Nachi should not shush her, that she must speak the truth, that she, Chinasa [insert her last name, which I don’t know] would never be told to shush. Then she would conclude with, “Nachi Ezimora, kwuo’m ugwo’m kita kita!” (Nachi Ezimora, pay me my money now, now!)
Eventually, we moved away from that house and moved to a place that had a much more convenient way of buying now and paying later. This time, there was a nice convenience shop right outside, owned by a nice guy, called Hillary (his real name). My dad was fond of opening tabs at Hillary’s shop, so we (yes, me included) helped my daddy’s tab by buying things from Hillary and telling him that my daddy told him to add it to the tab. By the time my dad was ready to pay the tab, he did not remember what he actually bought, so he just paid for everything. Everybody was happy.
It’s probably close to two decades since we moved away from Chinasa.and her aunt. I won’t recogize her if I were to run into her today, and I’m assuming that she probably won’t recognize me either. But both Nachi and I still remember Chinansa. Although during the time it was happening, Nachi used to be terrified because my dad did not find it funny that Nachi was owing and that he (dad) was having to pay the bill, but now that years have passed, it’s funny. The irony, also, of Chinasa’s shop was that it had a big brown cardboard sign that read, NO CREDIT TODAY, COME TOMORROW.
I hope Chinasa is alive and well. And still being Chinasa in every capacity.