“Where are you nau?!” called out the fat woman again from inside the changing cubicle.
“I will be there in a moment ma!” followed my reply, as I pulled shut the glass sliding front door to my elder brother’s lingerie shop! It was already past 9pm and from what I could see around, virtually all shops on the road had closed down for the day despite the festivities. Unfortunately, I had to delay a bit hoping this seemingly last customer, will quickly purchase a wear and leave; but she hadn’t and was still endlessly needing my attention.
“And please bring me a larger mirror o, this one can’t let me see a thing!” she suddenly yelled again from the cubicle! Her English was just too good for how she looked. A common trait with the average Lagos resident – you can never tell the learned from how they appeared.
“Okay ma.” was my own reply as I finally shut the door, leaving both of us locked in. We were going to leave from the service door behind anyways. After picking up the larger mirror from where it was hung on a high shelf, I began walking down the hall to go meet the customer.
My brother, Chime’s shop was that big. It was actually six shops collapsed into one! The largest in the vicinity. He was so lucky to have been told of the availability of all six of them, and as soon as he got the information, he quickly bought them up at once! Talk of the average Ibo man’s business acumen.
And it paid off handsomely! He became an instant rival to all the lingerie shop owners along that road and more like chased them out of business. He soon became the only dealer of brassieres, panties, undies and anything female lingerie! And many customers came from far and wide. His success was unprecedented and soon he began doing wonders back home at Onitsha, our hometown. I was still there as at then, and it was just after he bought his fifth landed property that he asked me come over to Lagos to join him. Not as a trader though, but to come school. I was always the brilliant one among us – we were three boys. And did continue with academics. It wasn’t really easy getting through Jamb initially, but I was quite surprised even though fortunate to eventually secure an admission finally at Lagos State University.
So this was how I moved to Lagos for study, even though I had to occasionally assist him at his shop, where he now had over 8 sales girls and boys.
This very day was one such days and I had moved straight from lectures to come assist in the trading for the day. It was a very busy day, basically because of the Xmas season, and despite his presence and mine alongside the 8 additional sales persons, we were continually overwhelmed by visiting costumers! It was just overtly hectic and we had to repeatedly ask some people to momentarily wait outside. That was how difficult it was for everyone. Yet it continued that way until sometime around 7pm, before we began having some respite. Chime dismissed the sales girls and boys earlier than normal just to allow them return home to rest. He also left me with some instructions and drove off with his car. He was obviously not done with the day as he needed to go pick up some of his wears that were moved to a nearby cloth factory for a bit of stitching here and there – they were shipped in with a few tears and needed amending. As for me, I was to close the shop by 9pm after attending to any other costumers that may still call in. It was just a few minutes to the said 9pm, when this very lady costumer walked in.
To Be Continued…