The midday sun provided me with favorable heat . In a few hours, the newly-washed clothes would easily dry up.
I was resting under a low mango tree when a group of indigenous people passed by the road. Naturally, I supposed that the quartet I hosted earlier had already spread the news where they could receive gifts. It was not surprising at all.
However, such worry was probably incorrect because I noticed the group lugging sacks: they looked heavy as each bearer walked with much strain. Perhaps, they were no carolers at all.
“Like some yams, young man?” an older woman called out to me from outside the fence.
When I heard the words ‘young man’ I was a bit surprised, no, more or less confused. Either she had eye problems or she was simply being friendly. But since I liked the sound of her offer, I immediately stood up and approached her group.
They stopped and unburden themselves with their load. Under my ten-year-old Acacia tree, whose shade covered a wide area including part of the road, we sat down and prepared to haggle with the price.
“How much?” I asked while they opened the sacks to show me the produce.
“Exchange,” she grinned, unashamed to show her set of teeth missing the front section. “Rice. Anything, No cash.”
So, she wanted to do business the old-fashioned way. It could be tricky somehow because they were more knowledgeable about the system than me, who was more accustomed to cash deals.
“I do not have a scale. How could we estimate the weight?”
For a while, we were stumped. A kilo of rice would fetch the same price as two kilos of yams.
She picked up a large rock by the side of the road and placed it inside a plastic bag.
“Here,” she showed me the hastily-made scale, composed of an approximately two-foot twig with a short finger-sized rope she tied at the middle.
Well, I should have thought of it first. Her inventiveness awed me.
I excused myself and went inside the house to get rice. Using another form of estimation, a used can of milk provided the solution. Filled to the brim, ten cans were believed to weigh more or less two and a half kilos.
When I came back, I saw her placed the rock in the bag at one end of the scale while at the other end, yams in another bag. Once level, she repeated the process. She set aside the two portions and took from me the bag of rice. Fortunately, the scale was near balanced, the bag of rice weighing a bit more than the rock.
To cover for the deficiency, she added three pieces of yams to the two portions.
“I think it is a fair exchange,” she said finally.
If I was not mistaken, she handed me almost five kilos of yams. Indeed, there was nothing fairer than that.