They called her Rekiya, the name her mother whispered into her ears when she was born had been lost to time. She made Bambara under the dogoyaro tree near Aisha’s shop just before the mango groove where the village children plucked mangoes to sell at the market near Dutse. Her Bambara was the best in the whole town and just before she mixed the dough and pepper and set her rectangular pan with the round holes that formed the lush, oily, stretchy masses of perfection that had people queuing even before the first batch was ready.
No one knew when she began selling, even grandmothers had remembered stealing money from their mother’s purses to buy her Bambara, but life went by very quickly in these parts with women in their thirties already grandmothers of many children. Apart from the Bambara, she also was the local midwife and was responsible for the births of nearly everyone in the town and she listened to all the secret crushes and knew all the hidden love triangles in the town. Everyone loved her except Fatima.
Fatima also sold Bambara but hers was too oily, too runny and never had enough pepper to give it a kick. Only people from her village bought her Bambara, they would buy two pieces before sneaking to Rekiya to buy enough to fill their belly- you see Rekiya’s Bambara was the lunch staple in the sleepy town of Katangara.
Each day Fatima seethed as she imagined the heaps of money Rekiya made while she barely made ten notes to squeeze in a ball of frustration. The bitterness that swelled in her heart had no outlet and it began to puff up her skin and she soon resembled a sleek ball of fat and she went from marabout to marabout to alfa in search of answers. They further reduced her shrunken pile of naira notes without answers, killing goats and chickens which their wives made delicious peppersoup with, while they sprinkled her with the blood of the animals. She did not get better.
It soon occurred to her that the only way she could get better was to kill Rekiya, she knew just how to do it, the opportunity was the problem and she plotted daily, disregarding schemes as impossible, foolish and plain stupid, until she hit the right one.
She crept into Rekiya’s room at midnight, she held a huge stick to reduce Rekiya’s head to a mixture of skull, blood and grayish-pink rubbish when Rekiya’s voice stopped her.
“What do you want my child?”
She began to scream, she ran out of the room knocking out Rekiya’s legs and arms strewn on the clay floor, with her screams echoing in the surrounding houses. No one heard her though, they just felt a vibration of energy but didn’t stir out of their beds. Rekiya chuckled softly and returned to her perch at the left corner of the ceiling, her scaly skin glistening in the moonlight.
No one ever saw Fatimah again, no one missed her and no one questioned the secret of Rekiya’s everlasting youth.
26th May, 2017.