As a young girl while awaiting university admission, I spent months with my uncle and his family in Aba. My uncle was the Area manager of Savannah Bank in those days!! I remember vividly that this was in 1990-1991 and that house was at Ekenna Avenue, GRA Aba. I can still remember what the house looked like and the major road closest to it is what I can’t remember. Is it Okigwe road? In 1992 also, I spent some months with them in Kaduna when they relocated to Kaduna, Queen Amina street, Angwar Rimi GRA. I remember the house and how I travelled on Ekene Dilichukwu luxury bus all by myself from Onitsha to Kaduna and the fare was #170. I remember how worried my dad was as he saw me off to the major road to board the local bus from Ogidi to Ekene park at Onitsha that early in the morning. He tried to cajole me to wait for my uncle to visit so I could travel with him but I was bent on traveling by myself all the way, that was the main attraction!
My Adrenalin was pumping! I loved adventure and still love it! Those months I lived in Aba and Kaduna were good and memorable days! Anyway, those were where I learnt how to make steamed jollof rice. My uncle’s wife made this by herself weekly, there was a menu strictly followed. She was a manager at UBA Ogbor hill while they were in Aba and no matter how busy she was, she spared time to make those meals. Her ofe ora was and is still something else. I looked forward to meals she made by herself. I lived in the room downstairs and had a ludo that I played by myself when I had nothing to do. My uncle was concerned that when the family sat together in the living room, I would lock myself up and play ludo all by myself. It wasn’t like I did it always but I had moments and still have moments I seclude and do my own thing no matter the people surrounding me. I love those me times! It helps me think and plan, the plan could be on anything! I loved cleaning up my Aunt’s bedroom. I loved her dressing mirror and always told myself that when I get married I would have such. Not just the mirror but the array of perfumes and body creams. I saw Estée Lauder’s beautiful there for the first time, I remember that I also saw Elizabeth Arden’s visible difference there among others, but these two I mentioned glued to my mind. The fragrance was how I knew she was either leaving or returning. I took down the name of the perfume and the body cream and kept that journal so well. I also retained in my memory the dressing mirror layout and made a decision to replicate it whenever I got married or had my own home. I told my friend then that if I didn’t marry before NYSC that I would like to serve in Kaduna or Jos. I liked those two cities and I always reminded myself to have that kind of mirror in my bedroom and display those exotic stuff in my aunt’s either as a working class gal or in my home as a married gal. Then, from her also I learnt without her saying anything to me in that regards that a woman should be a career woman and earn her own money. I loved the idea of leaving the house every morning dressed like that and chaffeur-driven to the office. She made me love suits. Her skirt suits were mind-blowing and her shoes, those work shoes! Wooowww! Till date, I dress to that pattern. I never told her any of these!! Fast forward to 1993, Mmili and I had started dating and he used to travel a lot to Austria, UK and Norway.
Each time he would shop for me and one time I asked him to buy some stuff for me and he asked what those could be? I brought out that small journal from years back and scribbled two names on a paper for him: Beautiful by Estée Lauder and Visible Difference by Elizabeth Arden! He took the paper, looked at me and smiled. “Goziem, so these are all you want? You don’t want clothes or shoes or bags? And how did you even come to know about these, you small and ‘open-eye’ girl?” I shared my Aba and Kaduna experiences with him and told him to get me those and if he wanted he could buy other things. Guess what? He returned with 2 50 ml bottles of the perfume and 4 packs of the body cream, I gave out a bottle of the cream without telling him! And he also loaded a suit case filled with clothes and shoes and so many packs of original dove soap! The fragrance was out of this world! As usual, I gave out some bars of the soap! An Aunt I gave some, took them in and then advised me not to accept gifts from the man of I won’t marry him, I reminded her that I didn’t seek her advice and only offered her the gift because she needed a good quality soap! She told me off and yet retained the soap bars! Ifugonu!! When we got married the following year, right in my bedroom in the bungalow in Enugu where we first lived, was a dressing mirror exactly like my Aunt’s! Isn’t this God a good God? So I displayed all my ‘arsenals’ and would sit and admire and smile at the display almost every morning. Then I added fashion fair foundation and red lipsticks and other items I saw on those tables