What My Iya Alata (Tomato/Pepper Seller) Taught Me

And this I will never forget…….

Our relationship began about 7 years ago, a few years after I got married and relocated to another part of Lagos.

Our first encounter obviously led to our long buyer-seller relationship. Iya ……….. was friendly and treated her customers nicely. Even when she was overwhelmed by the influx of customers before her , she always maintained a calm and polite disposition.

I particularly loved the way she always sold my tomatoes, tatashe, shombo and pepper. She knew what I liked and always left me satisfied even when the cost of tomatoes was at its peak.

Each time I stare at my basket of onions at a corner in my balcony, she comes to mind and I remember her last noble gesture to me.

She persuaded me to buy my onions in bulk, knowing that the cost of onions would soon shoot up. She offered to buy it from the main market and she did.

But this I will never forget, the conversation I had with her few days to Christmas last year. I never knew that she will not be here celebrating this new month with us.

She always asked after my family and occasionally she would chat with me and we will laugh together. But on that day, she seemed to be in a sober/reflective mood and told me to thank God with her. She said that God worked miracles and that I must always pray for my children.

She encouraged me that day to pray daily and always for my children. She shared her testimony of how God supernaturally brought her straying child back home. She told me about how she always lay awake in the middle of the night, daily interceding for that child.

In her words, ‘ What if I die today, what will become of this child. No, I will not be alive and watch this child waste away. If prayer is all I that I will do, then I will keep praying.’

And God answered, but not knowing that few months later, she would be leaving this earth. I will never forget her words. If you have read my book ‘ Why you Mother’, she inspired the chapter ‘ Weapons, Battles and Destinies’.

It is amazing how some conversations leave a deep and lasting impact on you. I believe God indeed wanted me to hear those words from her.

My Iya Alata was a godly and extremely hard-working woman. She had good customer service and knew how to keep her customers coming back.

It is no surprise that I stuck to buying tomatoes and pepper from her every week for the past 7 years. There were days she was absent but she always told me before time.

It was a week yesterday, that she passed away after a brief illness. I was in shock because I had spoken to her previously and she told me that she was fine and will be back at the market soon.

But Alas!, that was our last conversation and all I am left with are memories of her. I miss her a lot already. I will miss buying from her but I am forever grateful for that one great conversation I had with her.

She taught me once again about the role of a mother and the importance of praying always for your children.

She taught me about the importance of good customer service in a business and how it can keep your customers coming back.

She taught me that people ( your staff and customers) will always be the strength of your business and that you must always treat them well.

She taught me also about the value of relationships and why God sometimes bring certain people into your lives.

She taught me that people come into your life for various reasons and that you must discover for yourself why they are in your life.

She taught me that anyone can teach and inspire you, and also be the light that leads you to your divine path. You must never look down on anyone.

She taught me that you must always make the most of the time you have here on earth, and that life is too short to waste on it anger, bitterness and unforgiveness. Rather,

Forgive if you have to.
Give even from the little you have.
Encourage others with your wisdom.
Treat people kindly.
Celebrate the good in others.
Show gratitude always.
Love your spouse and children deeply.
Make an impact in someone’s life.

My Iya Alata has gone home to be with the Lord but I am grateful that she loved her heavenly father and that our paths crossed here on earth.

Sleep well my Iya Alata.

You did not wait to turn 60 or even wait to reap the fruits of your labour, but God knows best. May God comfort the family you left behind.


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