So that year, Tejuosho was gutted by fire. I was far removed. It did not hit home. I did not connect. I visited tejuosho market monthly. But after the fire I did not bother.
I was also very busy with production of programs.
So I did not need to do Tejuosho.
Then three months after I was being a good boss and thought to drop my staff where she could get an easy bus closer to home.
I drove into the Tejuosho market road from the rear end of the rail line.
As I saw the ruins a heavy dread enveloped me. I wept deeply . I saw years and decades of lost toil, sweat and sacrifice.
I remembered the shops. My ” customers” as we called each other.
Customer” a common term used by either sellers or buyers to establish a common repeated purchase and better bargain between both during transactions. ( Naija lingo)
I had plenty customers. I was also customers to many.
From when I shopped during maternity for baby’s things. The mother care shops and wannabe shops.
When I needed to furnish. The curtain fabric section. Needed to upholster the furnishings were there. Poles and brilliant tassels.
Last minute wedding things.
When I needed to dazzle my friends and keep then guessing where the shoes or bags and clothes were. I went to “Okrika” now christened “Bendown boutique”. Aka second hand market.
When I needed to bake. Cook correct afang soup or banga. My customers dey.
Alhajas make up. All her products were original. (If you know what I mean)
The vases and decor shops.
My favorite shop for party favors. I loved making favors for parties then. Now who has that kinda time? Kids are all adults now.
The provisions . Ah original Brazilian cornbeef was in demand before Brazilian hair.
My customers. Yes my customers.
I cried. I cried so hard on the steering my staff felt guilty she allowed me to do this good Samaritan job of dropping her closer home.
I cried so hard I started convulsing . I parked. Cars honking impatiently or was it me that was causing the commotion. Holding up traffic. I did not care. Peoples lives have been ” held up”.
The abruptness of destruction is unfathomable. The silence and anguish and despair that follows no words can describe.
That was Tejuosho. More than ten years ago or less. Can’t remember.
How do I begin to talk about the shops that put a smile on my face anytime I walked into them.
Lagos is a cosmopolitan city and really have shops that defined the very fine lines of its cosmopolitan appeal.
The beautiful well laid out malls with its quant and dainty stores are always a sure pleasure for retail therapy and for authentic shoppers.
The stores or shops with well cultured attendants all in sync with the well arranged products on display.
Sometimes you just want to be in the shops walk round the rows of exquisite products for health well being or cosmetics. The sweet aroma keeps you staying longer you planned and sometimes you end up buying just 100 naira sweet or gum. Bet you would have done that with the corner side mallam or the traffic mobile super market boys. But no.
Being surrounded by beauty is an integral need of man. The beautiful stores in the malls did just that.
The owners went over and above while selling to you what you may need, they also thought of how you may feel. Marketing strategy 101. They got that right.
All the same I’m still trying to understand how some of these places now lie in ruins .
The loss of lives , livelihoods and Properties may be unquantified. How about the loss of hope and faith to rise from the ashes like a Phoenix?
The silence that comes after such destruction? The dark long road to recovery?
The pain that comes from the realisation that you did absolutely NOTHING WRONG.
Words indeed fail me.
I say to my “Customers” your “Customer” is waiting.
I fall with you. I walk with you at this time and will Rise with you.
Uri Ngozichukwuka is a Public Relations Consultant based in Lagos
( Dedicated to those who lost livelihoods and businesses to violence by hoodlums post #EndSars protest)