A Heart to Mend (Chapter 4, page 1 of 10)

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Chapter 4

Gladys paused beside the Landcruiser. The smell of clean and wet air filled her nose as she took a deep breath and closed the door. This was her second time at The Palms in Lekki, but she still took a moment to enjoy the view before walking in. The shopping mall had opened just before last Christmas and was built on land reclaimed from the swamps. The idea of reclamation amazed her because she was used to the rocky terrain of Enugu, and also the very well designed building covered a very large space. She‘d been speechless the first time they came here for a movie; everything was so shiny and new. The driver parked the car and stepped out.

“Okon, I will give you a call when I am ready so you can come get the bags.”

The phone Aunt Isioma gave her soon after she arrived was very handy. The one her mother had scraped to buy for her when she was going off for her youth service had been stolen in the corper‘s lodge. With the new phone, employers contacted her more easily and she could call her mother when she wanted. Her aunt and the drivers also had phones on the same network and this made it possible to call each other at cheaper rates; useful at times like this.

“Okay Madam, I go wait here by the car.”

“No sleep or go far, you hear?”

“I dey here.”

Okon was the better spoken of the two drivers and whenever she could, she took him along for any errands. Ade was loud and garrulous and she couldn‘t understand his broken English or ‗pidgin‘ as they called it in Lagos. She always explained to people in her singles group in Church that the slang-filled lingo was not used a lot in Enugu. But she was picking it up slowly and looked forward to using it when she went to the local markets alone. This was supposed to be a trial run but she knew it would be a breeze compared to shopping at Ogbete, the major open-air market in Enugu that could make shopping for foodstuff almost traumatic.

On a similar day a few years ago, she‘d gone to the market with her mother to purchase their monthly supply of yam and tomatoes. The heavy rain during the night had turned the walkways to wells of mud. The ankle-high muck had sucked her feet in and in the process of dodging a fleeing miscreant; she‘d stumbled and fallen almost flat on her face. Her mother and some nearby shoppers had pulled her up but that was the end of that day‘s shopping. Her ankle was sprained and her clothes had become wet and the same color as the sludge.

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