#Article (Archive)

The Strong Woman

Oct 23, 2009, 4:16 PM

(Thursday 22nd October 2009 Issue)

It was the time of inflation, prices were sky-rocketing and people were finding it hard to eat a good balance diet especially this one woman Mariatou. Mariatou couldn?t believe her ears when a vendor told her that a cup of rice was four dalasis. When she moved to another stall where potatoes were being sold, it was a bomb to her ears when she was told of the price. An average income earner would find the prices shocking and later enduring. But what of the person who lived below the dollar, surely the prices must be devastating, she thought.

When she took a curve into Assane?s milk shop, she saw a fat robust woman, who had a strong Fula accent blending with the wollof language as she quarreled over the price of milk with the milk man.

From the door of the shop, she could see beads of perspiration falling from his forehead as he unsuccessfully tried to convince the woman.

- The police will catch you for increasing the price of milk, you just wait and see,? the woman threatened.

- Woman, it is due to the world market price, but not me, try to understand,? he pleaded. ?Any way if you don?t want to, your money is yours and who am I to force you to buy my milk.?

Mariatou realized that the woman was one of the many others who blamed the inflation on vendors. Truth be told, she sometimes wanted to blame it on them, but she was educated by the one o? clock news usually read by Babucarr Mendy in the Gambia Radio and Television Services that it was caused by food shortage and global warming then eventually leading to inflation. It was then she came to know of economy. Every butut was not to be wasted and money was hard to come by. Some families made use of the principle of rechauffe and reheated food since they had barely enough to go by for the day. Mariatou cleverly used left-over vegetables; fruits, flour and milk, and added necessary things from the market. The woman left with no choice, bought a pint of milk and grudgingly left the shop, brushing past Mariatou.

Mariatou suppressed a giggle and walked to Assane who was behind the counter.

- You must be going through a lot trying to convince the likes of her,? she said after exchanging a few pleasantries with him.

- My sister, only Allah can help,? he replied as he demonstrated his hands toward the sky as if in supplication. Mariatou bought a pint of milk and rushed home before her husband comes before her. He would grumble if dinner is not served on time.

Today there wasn?t enough to waste, but enough to eat hours later as she laid the table. There was fish pie, rice cake and milk to go with them. Not that that was her best pastry work, but she would have preferred meat pie, coconut cake and whipped cream to those. She went on to the only window in the dinning room to look out for her husband. She anxiously waited for him. To tell him the most awaited news in their married life. The night before, she did something she had never done before. She noticed a dramatic change in her body and her two monthlies she realized she had missed. She rushed to her room and inspected herself; a thing she had never done before. Her worst fear was confirmed.

Today she was going to tell her husband. Maybe over a hot cup of tea after dinner or in front of the television, when sleep was ready to overcome her. She began fantasizing about baby clothes, baby laughs and cries, and the ?uuhs and aahs? she would say to the baby. Oh and the lullabies she would sing to the baby when she rocks it to sleep she reminded herself. She laughed unconsciously. She sat on the floor and wrapped her hands around her knees. She vibrated with joy and drifted into a peaceful sleep.

Calls from her mother jolted her to life. She wanted to believe that she wasn?t dreaming. But the beam of light coming through the French window in her room told her that she was. She leaned on her elbows on the soft bed and sank again. She replayed the sweet dream she had and laughed with complete abandon. The clock on the wall told her that she hadn?t any time to waste. She got up and headed for the bathroom. Mariatou had a business to run. The perfect corporate lady if you wish to call her that. She had no time for a relationship talk-less of marriage and babies. But when she was taking bath, the message the dream was trying to tell her sank in deep. It was time to settle down.

She decided to give it a chance. She knew that she was a strong woman in every sense of the word.