Tuesday, 8 April 2014

My First Business Lesson

hawker iconI was in primary four I think. After school I would get back home, take that annoying compulsory siesta and then watch the rest of the day go by. Some of my school mates on the other hand, were luckier - they had this really fun after-school job where they stacked trays with all sorts, placed it on their heads and waltzed into the horizon.

I had to wait for them to come back before we could play and sometimes they were too tired. I wanted to hawk too and I told my dad that much. His answer was an emphatic no. I broached the topic in different ways several times. His answer remained the same and his voice got louder. I got the message but I could not for the life of me understand why he was so wicked, depriving me of the opportunity to achieve my dreams.

One bright and sunny day, I decided I had had enough. No more trampling on my fundamental human right. I was going to do it and there was no stopping me. My big idea - hawking boiled groundnuts. Oh yes.

Armed with this new found strength, I saved enough to buy a bowl of fresh groundnuts. I came back from school, took off my uniform and went to work. I boiled the living daylight out of those pods I tell you; stuffed them in open peak milk tins (The ones we used for moi-moi before aluminum plates became popular), arranged them on a tray and went my merry way.

After walking for like 10 minutes I began to look around, thinking ‘Isn’t this supposed to be the part where I get called and stuff?’

I walked and walked and walked. I could have been a ghost 'cos I cannot recall anybody looking my way. And then I bumped into him - a neighbour of ours. My heart almost stopped. I thought, ‘I’m dead, he is going to tell my father’ but he looked at me with a sad pitying look as if to say ‘Is it so bad that they have to send this poor child out in the scorching sun to sell, of all things, boiled groundnuts?’ and then he said ‘give me two cups.' I think it was more out of pity than a craving for what I was selling. 

I was thankful for that but I still had a tray full left. After embarrassing my family from my varendah to the market more than a kilometer away, I came to my senses and told myself  ‘Naomi Lucas, go home.  You’re tired and as you can see, nobody feels like boiled groundnuts today.’

That was a low moment for me. I wanted to go back home with an empty tray like some of my playmates, and shock my father with a pocket full of money; to show him just how much there was to be made from selling boiled groundnuts. Alas...

I came back from school the next day and lay on the bed, enveloped with an exhilarating feeling of gratitude that I didn’t have to stress myself, cooking groundnuts for ungrateful customers who did not appreciate just how much effort it took to cook.

Most of all I was grateful for siesta, for the time I had been given to do with as I pleased. As I drifted off to sleep, I felt a pang of sadness for my playmates. Hawking was not fun afterall.

©Naomi Lucas

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