Thursday, December 20, 2007
There is a young woman I see just about every day on my way to school in the morning. Often I see what she is selling long before I see her, but I have come to know her by the sweets she sells piled a foot high onto an enamel platter about a foot and a half in diameter that she carries on her head. I see the stack of crunchy sesame sticks dancing in the crowd of taxi and poda-poda drivers and passengers looking for the right car or van. Standing about five feet tall, she will appear between two people in the crowd and then disappear again, with only the sweets visible above and through the crowd. She will come to stand at the open window or door of each poda-poda, silent or quietly stating what she has for sale. Her eyes, large and friendly, search the poda-poda for buyers as she stands perfectly still, the platter on her head not swaying in the least. When someone signals to her, always a subtle gesture that I usually fail to notice, she tears off a piece of newspaper from the bundle she carries in her hands and passes it to the customer. She then lowers herself and gently moves her head toward the customer, her eyes following the movement of the platter as she brings it within easy reach of the man or woman who then simply helps him or herself using the scrap of newspaper. She pulls her head back gracefully as she rises back to her full height and accepts the 100 leone coin as payment. She then begins searching again with her lovely eyes, and when no one seems interested, she stands perfectly straight and at her ease with her wares sitting securely on her head and remains so until another subtle gesture attracts her attention and sets her into motion again.