“This is Ksh 800 while this leather one is 1,200.” She says of some awesome brown African shoes to a white woman who looks more interested on the beautiful woody African bracelet on a rack.
“How much is this?” The tourist asks with a Spanish accent to the amusement of the seller.
“That’s Ksh 500,” she says putting it on her thin hand to fit perfectly.
Amina happily takes the new Ksh 500 note while talking to her husband who sits on an old bench at the corner. Her husband gets up to pick the money from her to put it in a drawer nearby.
Halayan is the name of the shop. So what does it mean? Heavenly or somewhere peaceful that’s what we call this beautiful shop full of African attire, shoes and accessories that Amina and her husband owns.
She is tall slender and beautiful with a young shy face that would shock you when you hear that she has 4 kids.
“Ha ha of course I have 4 beautiful kids, 3 boys and 1 girl,” anyway that’s not a big deal from a lady who was born in a big family.
“We were 9 kids and my mum worked hard to see us through school after our dad passed on.” Amina remembers.
Being second born and the first girl in her family to a widowed mum was hard, but Amina can’t hide her praises for her dear mum who became the bread winner and a rock to all of them.
“Mum was always there for us and I can’t forget the big sacrifice she did for us and that’s why I am here today.” She says gratefully.
She is her sister and at the same time a great friend. She has always been there for her all her life. When Amina is down, she always knew what to do to bring back happiness to her face. Esha is her name, and Amina loves her to death.
“I love Esha so much, and since we were young, we have been so close save for the usual squabbles between siblings.”
She doesn’t remember having a close friend apart from Esha, that’s really weird.
“To me, that’s not weird because I believe that my sister knows me more than anybody else, and growing up with her makes it easier to deal with our weaknesses.” She says beaming.
A friend comes by to invite her to a wedding. She gets excited and makes phone calls to friends in Mombasa to bring her some jewellery and something that you wouldn’t expect her to order given that her face has nothing on apart from maybe some face cream.
“I do make- up yes, but only when I am going out to weddings. Anyway I can’t lie that I love putting on make-up. I do it occasionally.”Amina explains that too much make-up though is just a turn off.
She jumps up with a start as if she had remembered something. Oh! So that’s it…. It is almost lunch time and Amina remembers that she has to pick her last born from school. She gets out hurriedly to pick up the person who might one day inherit Halayan while her quick strides make her long white dress cling to her tiny legs desperately.
This story was written by Irene Ougo as part of Sasafrica's Binti Lamu (Daughter of Lamu series)