Have you ever drank or even tasted these unhealthy looking herbal concoctions sold as the cure all for every ailment under the sun?
I have, to my greatest embarrassment!
I was at the petrol station, staring hard at the meter so I wouldn’t get cheated by the attendant who hitherto had done all things to distract my attention from the meter. He complimented my hair, offered to have my windscreen wiped, asked if I was having a good day, to which I murmured my replies without taking my eyes from the meter gauge.
I was glued to the numbers rolling on the gauge until one of those ladies selling agbo came by; she was in leggings and her buttocks were doing dangerous turns in the butt hugging leopard skin designed outfit ; I abandoned the meter and stared at her butt as she rolled fully into view.
She dropped the basin of agbo she had perched on her head; and soon, every attendant at the petrol station, including female attendants came to buy her herbals of many colours.
I don’t know what cure she promised them but I knew, it was all lies!
Years back, I was young and quite foolish. I was schooling at the then Ogun state Polytechnic with my elder sister where I was preparing for my A levels. I was 17 years old.
One day, Big Sister sent me home to Lagos to get our pocket money from the parents as we had run out of food and money for the month; besides, exams were starting the following week.
On my way back to school, I boarded an urvan bus at Oshodi, (it was a much terrible place than it is today,) anyway, I boarded and found another class mate and friend already seated. We sat together and started chatting while waiting for the bus to fill up.
Before it did, however, a man came bearing agbo and all kinds of concoctions in a transparent bag; he promised an all cure medicine, even for memory loss. He claimed his herbals could help students like us remember stuff we were taught and pass our exams.
I didn’t believe him but my friend did and she convinced me to share one dose with her; (one dose being that disgusting cone shaped liquid in a nylon.) She said she’d been having problems remembering stuff from our European history classes. But then, my friend, not to be uncharitable in anyway, had always struggled with her studies generally, so I was kind of sympathetic and besides, she had once confided in me that she visited Alfas for ‘aajo’ meaning ‘help’ during exam periods so she could retain portions she had read for exams.
I didn’t have such a problem retaining stuff. I enjoyed my History classes both European and African. And although I was not a straight A student, I was fine riding on my Cs and occasional A+s, so I never bought into the theory that some herbs or Alfa could help me pass my exams. My friend, however, was quite convincing. So I thought, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to replace my regular Cs with As, all round, abi?
If she, dull as she was, scored Ds and occasional Cs, I could only imagine how well I, with a little ‘aajo’, would do.
That day, virtually everyone in the bus had one need or another they figured would get cured and I am not talking about bush people. I am talking about jeans wearing, gum chewing giggly school girls like us, a few lecturers who came to Lagos and were heading back to Abeokuta and well, yes, maybe a few business people.
Long story short, I succumbed to my friend, she bought one portion sold in thin nylons, drank from it, squeezed her face and passed the rest to me. As I sucked at the bitter herbs, my mother’s words rang in my head, my sister’s chiding flashed before my eyes but I had an exam coming, and I figured I would need a lil help with my C grades.
Well, no one told me I would spend an entire day crawling back and forth from the toilet to the room I shared with my sister; no one told me I would shit so much I wouldn’t even have the strength to study not to talk of retaining anything thing for the exams; no one warned that at some point, after all the stool was out, I would only be passing water with a bum so swollen I wasn’t able to sit for days.
And when I finally summoned strength to study, I failed, I didn’t even remember jack.
I failed so woefully, my mother asked if I was jinxed; she’d never seen a result so bad from me.
I didn’t tell, she would slap the black off me if I told her I drank agbo to pass my exams. So I kept my secret for years!
As for my friend, nothing happened to her, o.
I guess she must have been used to several agbos. Did she pass?