I live on the island of Bako. Bako is a twin island with Wapu.
Bakois the island with the vulkano and the fertile land. Wapu is the island with the hills of sand.
My Oenke repeats the names of the islands daily. “Bako. Wapu. Bako.
I sit with her while she looks at the empty space between herself and the wall on the other side of the room. “Bako. Wapu. Bako. Wapu. ” It sounds like a beat of the drums. I look at her while she mumbles the words, dreamily.
She falls silent after a while. Smacking her lips, she seems to want to say the words one more time, but there is no sound anymore.
Then she looks at me, her eyes are clear again. "Almost old enough, my treasure."
She always calls me my treasure during her clear moments. I do not mind. But my name is Adaiba. In my language, Adaiba means: she who finds. That's nice to know, because I'll have to make a trip later and I really want to find what I have to find. And I'm not good at searching. Just ask my mother.
I look at Oenke, her wrinkled face is now relaxed.
"Tomorrow the big market?"
“Yes, Oenke, I packed everything. I'm going to collect a lot of money for you. "
But Oenke's gaze loses its clarity. I see her lips smack.
After a deep breath, I stand up and squeeze the hand I have been holding all the time. "I'm going, Oenke."
“Bako. Wapu. Bako. Wapu. "
"Until after the market."
Oenke nods, but not because she heard me.
I place her hand on her own lap. Oenke smiles broadly. “Bako. Wapu. ” She grins broadly.
My island is not big. We have a village where I know everyone. And everyone knows me. I live in the mud hut on the right of the market. I live there with Oenke and my mother. We have two stone huts, one for the village elders and one for the Fenix woman. I all know the village elders: Otu, Abou, Ato, Ano and Naïse. I have never seen the Fenix woman. No one has seen her, not for years.
It is busy at the market at our house. Together with fifteen other children I have put out our rugs with all our toys on them. This happens every year before the full moon turns red. I want to raise as much money as possible to give my Oenke a good last day. My mother does not have to earn money herself while I am away and she can take over the care of Oenke.
I see Otu, Abou, Ato, Ano and Naïse already standing in the doorway of the stone house. They are the first to view the items and bid on the toys.
One by one they look at the rugs. They are getting closer. I sit on my knees by my little blanket, everything is neat. My rattle lights next to my first reading book. My marbles in their felt bag, all 14, I counted them this morning. My toy car closes the line with pencils. I even added the coloring book. And of course Song, my little cuddly doll. I got her from Oenke at my birth. And today I am selling her again. That's the tradition.
Far too soon Ano and Naïse are standing by my little shop. I don't dare looking at them. What will they think of my things? How much will they offer? Ano just looks, but Naise touches everything; the bag with marbles, the rattle, the toy car. Then she takes Song and my heart shrinks in one. But I try not to show it. Naïse strokes the yellow hair and rubs with a thumb where a thread of the mouth is loose.
I try to swallow. Naise looks at me and smiles gently. We never exchanged a word, but Oenke always said she was the nicest. "If you get into trouble, you must ask her for forgiveness."
Now that I see Naise so close to me, I have no doubt about it. She may look very learned in her robe with golden chains, her upset hair and large earrings, but her "You have grown up, Abaida," she suddenly says. I must have drawn a frightened face because she is smiling. Ano walks on. "I'll make a good offer," she says, suddenly just as serious as before. Still, I get a wink before it continues.
The other elders also walk by, but hardly look at my things. I hardly dare to look at them. I'm a little bit ashamed. Even though I know they don't look at my stuff because they already know what they are going to give all the children, it still feels like my stuff is worth nothing. And that's no good. I have to raise money for Oenke. For my mother.
After the elders, all other interested people from the village can come and see the blankets. My mother is the first to stand by mine.
“Mmm, you have interesting things, Abaida. A rattle, a doll, marbles. Mmm. "
“Mom, you are not going to bid on my toys!”
My mother is grinning. It is a game that we have been playing for a week. She constantly teases me by bidding on my toys, knowing that it's silly.
Other villagers come by. The neighbors, my schoolmaster and even the store owner from further afield. Everyone looks at my toys, we greet each other and exchange courtesies. Some gently touch my things. My rattle and Song in particular are often viewed. The son of the smit wants my marbles. His mother promised to make a good offer for it. I smile. If the sun sinks behind the mountain, the flow of people is decreasing.
Soon the drums of the market play. The bidding will soon begin.
Every family will bring a scale to the house of the Elders. On the one hand, a feather is placed and on the other hand, everyone places their bid. As the owner of the blanket with toys you can listen from behind a curtain.
First I have to pack things for my trip. After the blessing of the Elders after de bidding I go on a journey in search of my own magical object. Everyone has a magical object for themselves. My mother has a black cat. Oenke has an hourglass. And I will go find my magical object. I'm excited. It is exciting. I look at my blanket and see Song lying there, my doll. My heart breaks with the thought that I must leave her behind.
The adults have left the market to make an offer in the home of the elders. It will be my turn soon. I have to hurry up and get my things quickly. Not that I will take much with me. A warm sweater and a cup. That's all I will have when I have sold all my things from my youth. I watch Song one more time. Without thinking about it further, I wrap her in the sweater that I bring. The other kids are ready to go. We all have our sweater hanging on a stick to carry it with us.
My cheeks are red but I don’t dare to look at the other kids. I walk with the last kids to the house of the Elders.
Numbers are mentioned. People cheer. The bidding has begun. I quickly walk through the door to the curtain where the other kids are.
My mother hangs up the scale of our family. She shows everyone the feather before she places it on one of the dishes. First, others may give a coin.
My schoolmaster puts a coin in it. “For the pencils”
Due to the weight, the spring in the container rises.
The neighbor also gives a coin. "For the notebook." As she turns our eyes cross. I dive behind the curtain, but a moment later I look behind the curtain again to see how my toy car is also bought.
I think of Song in my bag. That means she can no longer get the doll.
Oto and Abou put down some coins. "For the rattle."
There is a soft applause.
Ato puts down two coins.
"For the rug, the marbles and the bag of the marbles."
He is known for his avarice.
Ano puts down five. "For the marbles and the books."
Again a modest applause.
And then it's Naises turn. She looks at the curtains. I hide behind it. I can't look at her. I know shes gonna buy my Song. What would she do if she finds out that I packed my doll?