Mom and I were at the Saturday market in Epe town. She bought some pepper, onions and spices. Our next stop was the fish market which was by the lagoon. Some fishermen tied their boats to the wooden pier and brought in their catch for the day to the market. We stopped by the table of a young woman selling fish, crabs and snails. Mom pointed at some fish and the fish seller set them aside. While mom haggled with the fish seller, I looked around at the other fish sellers in the market. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed an elderly woman watching me. She regarded me for a while, then she stood up and started walking towards me. As she got closer to me, she kept her gaze on me and it made me uncomfortable. I moved close to mom and held her hand.
The woman came over to where we stood but her eyes never left me. There was something about her eyes. I had seen that look before when I read dad’s books about the southern parts of the country, where the oil companies had damaged the ecosystem, poisoning millions of fish with oil spills, turning fertile farmlands into a dark, depressing, barren wilderness. The woman grinned at me but her eyes were cold, lifeless, like…dead fish.
The woman spoke almost in a whisper. “Good morning.” She pointed her head at me. “Do you know that your daughter is from the sea?”
Mom regarded the woman in silence.
“Do you know that they want her back?”
The fish seller handed over mom’s fish purchase and mom dropped it inside her market bag. Mom gave me a ‘shut-your-mouth look,’ then began walking away from the woman. But the woman followed and caught up with us.
“Is what I am telling you strange?” the woman asked.
Mom looked around to see if anyone was listening to what the woman was saying. Nobody seemed to pay us any attention.
Mom’s face was creased with concern. “Why won’t you people just leave me alone? What do you want from me?” mom asked.
“I do not want anything from you. I wanted to let you know that if you do not return her, there will be consequences,” the woman whispered.
Mom seized the woman by the hand. “Have I not suffered enough? What consequences are you talking about? When will this torment come to an end?”
The woman was silent.
“Please tell me how to stop this. I have suffered a lot because of my daughter. It has been one calamity after another. My husband left me when he found out that she was a gift from the ocean goddess. What should I do?”
The woman regarded mom with some intensity. “Your daughter is too powerful to live with you.”
Mom looked confused. “You keep talking about her powers but she has never shown any powers. She is a normal child,” mom lied. Mom knew I had some powers. She knew this since the day I brought in a squid into the house.
The woman knelt down on one knee so that our eyes were on the same level. “Lara, you speak to fish, don’t you? I know you do. They know you are here. They feel you. They hear you.” She stood up and spread her hands towards the fish market. “Speak to them.” Continue reading