Ibadan was fast becoming a shadow of Lagos. The city of yellow and wine cabs was gradually giving way to neon green helmets of corporate sharks. The brown roofs of Ibadan were gradually giving way for more colours in gated estates. More people, more shopping malls, more booze, more taxi services, more corporate organizations and banks and in effect more single career ladies and definitely more stolen dreams. But most importantly, a bigger market for Omotinne’s products.
Omotinne walked into her shop, resplendent in an Ankara wrap top, jeans and Italian loafers. The atmosphere changed from one of languorous ease to a deferent unease. A sales girl with about a dozen faux gold studs on her person rushed forward to take her bag
“Good morning mah”
“Good morning, Kaosara”
Echoes of “Good morning mah” went round the shop.
“Haha fine Aunty Shally, you came to my shop today. I thought we were fighting”
The customer whose hair was being partitioned into tiny bits smiled ‘’Omo-tee I’ve been busy at work ni jare. So I just make my hair with one of those local salons in my neighbourhood. But it didn’t take me long to realise my mistake. Those girls have almost pulled out all the hair on my head with attachment.”
The room laughed.
It was a lie. An expected one. An overused one. The truth was that Aunty Shally was one of those customers Omotinne and her girls called ‘broke wannabes’. They were the women who considered a visit to Omotinne’s place a treat. Aunty Shally had not made her hair in three months. She just went about in wigs Omotinne would not be caught dead in and would never sell.
Hours of yelling at her girls, babysitting spoiled and offended customers, flattering returning customers, cajoling them into buying products they neither needed nor wanted, and at the close of day doing the one thing she truly enjoyed, calculating her profits. That was Omotinne’s life.