I woke up to the sound of smoke at night, and my vision was blurred. I searched through the darkness for my touch light that I bought from Abu, a trader that sells electronics and batteries. I managed to locate the door from the holes on this zinc, with the moonlight shining brightly at night. My neighbours were far asleep; we closed late that day. Sometimes the market comes at night when workers return home from their offices.
I shouted for help when I saw the flame of fire dancing like an Indian flower. People gathered around to put the fire off. But before the fire was quenched, it had eaten up half of the shop. I was left crying when I entered inside to see the damage.
It was one of the terrifying moments in my life. I went to market the day before the incident to buy some of the things that had finished in the shop so that customers would not come looking for them. My mind travelled back to trace the Genesis of the fire. It flashes to me that it was from the candle I bought that I left it burning after they had taken the light. My shop was filled with cartons from the goods I purchased. Life has opened another door for me. A lot of thought shuffled out of my mind; where should I even begin.
The first time I came to the city was in my youthful years; I left the village when a friend told me how the city looked and how people make a lot of money. Leaving the village and the tradition we grew up in was hard. I have a farm where I produce many products year in year out to sell and support myself and the family.
Seeing how our market went down and the cost of production involved made me change my profession. I decided to come to the city and start up a business. I had to wait for my farm produce to be harvested to have a heavy pocket to start the business.
Like the wind, days and weeks are passing. I set a day to leave my village to the city to begin a new life. I had one wife and five children. We were married for ten years, and we lived happily. I was determined to go wherever I could to provide for my family as a man. I was set, everything was ready, and my friend led the way, and we were welcomed to the city by a pure water seller. I waved my hands to call him, he said it’s ten Naira. How can that be possible? In the village, we get them to give a Naira each. But I had no option but to take it because I was thirsty.
From the village to the town was a matter of some 700 kilometres. It was not easy as this was the first time I had travelled a long journey like this. We followed a lorry from the village that supplies goods to the nearby town. From there, we took a long bus, which carries businessmen to the city every week. If you missed that lorry, you have to wait until next week.
I got a shop adjacent to the mosque for easy conveyance when it’s time for prayers. I furnished the shop and made it look attractive to draw customers’ attention. I started selling the day I bought goods from the market and arranged. Life has been smiling blissfully, and everything seemed to be perfect.
I remembered making a considerable profit from the beginning because I got a good location by the roadside, an open space where I could easily be spotted. When things were flourishing like the water, I brought my immediate brother from the village to stay and learn the business. I often go back to the village to see my family and my parents and know their well-being.
Upon my return, the fire happened when I sent my brother to the village for a one week holiday to reunite with childhood friends. He was not around probably. He would have told me to off the candle before sleeping. One man living behind our street and my regular customer gave me a helping hand to return the business to be lively again. All thanks to him, I would have ended up crying day and night without a solution.