Market Days

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I came of age underneath the faded awnings of stalls that sold peppers and crayfish; boiled pears and ripe ears of corn. The older women smiled at me as I, surreptitiously, tried to avoid the animal droppings that littered the market roads. Theirs was a slow smile, the kind that I loathed to receive from my teachers, compelling me to read topics in advance so I would never seem ignorant. I clutched my bag of food purchases and held my head higher, gritting my teeth as my shoes sank in the mud.

Oh, how I loathed market days. All matters pertaining to food were deemed a girl's task in my household, and as soon as I turned thirteen, my mother initiated me into womanhood by sending me to Falomo market to purchase chicken, spices, and vegetables at cheaper prices than the more refined supermarkets offered. As eating was a necessary activity and my household filled with hungry men I was obliged to visit Falomo Market once a week and the ostensibly offensive environment became my home. "Just you wait." my father chortled the first time my mother informed me of this unpleasant duty. "She'll be back crying with no food and mud in her hair." I could not let my father be proven correct, so I concealed my apprehension with arrogance. I...

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