– Dream of Lagos blind beans cook, seller who has been without sight for 7 years
For many who do not know Mrs Kaye Agbete (popularly called Kai Abeti), a Togolese woman, who has lived in Nigeria with her late husband since the early 70s, would think that all is well with her sight without really knowing that she is going through hell silently.
Both of her eyes are open and one could see the iris, but they are actually not functioning, as she could not see with them.
She has, however, managed the situation over the years after she had sought for solutions to no avail.
In spite of her sight challenge, Agbete is widely known for her great cooking skills, especially with Agoin Beans at the Orile area of Lagos State.
She has successfully built the cooking beans trade for close to three decades before she suddenly went blind.
In the present condition she found herself, the mother of four did not resign to fate, rather she continued with her business with all determination and happiness.
She spoke to the Sunday Sun in her shop.
“This is miracle. I can hear your voice, but cannot see you. I knew that someone has just entered here, but could not see the person.
“I cannot explain what happened to my eyes. It has been seven years that I have not seen with my two eyes,” she began.
How did it start?
“On that particular day, we did our normal business all day and closed as usual. I slept and when I woke up the next morning, my two eyes were open, but the right side was just blurred, I cleaned it with water severally, thinking that it was just a sleepy fault; yet it did not wake up with me even though it was open. I managed the left side that day with so many struggles and complaints. Within days, the left side stopped functioning as well, I could not see again with my two eyes; and everything was just blurred in my eyes till date. I also tried to rub on the second one, there was no result.
“I went to a private hospital immediately, after series of eye tests, the doctors told me there was nothing wrong with my eyes, that all the veins were functioning well and gave me eye drops. They asked me to go and use the medications given to me. I obeyed and left. Days into my medications, I did not see any result. I went to a general hospital as well, visited different private hospitals here in Lagos and even saw an oyinbo doctor before I was eventually advised to go to Ghana to see a traditional eye doctor. I travelled to Ghana and did all that I was told, at the end of the day, all I got from all the hospitals was untimely blindness.
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“As you entered now, I know that someone has entered, but I cannot see your face. I recognise the voices of most of my customers and my neighbours because I have been here for several years. My house is by this corner; I can trace my way home and walk to my shop and sit here all day until I close for the day. I can also bathe and do sanitary by myself if water is near me. I can also dress up, but someone would handpick my clothes. I cannot go beyond my immediate environment. If I have any reason to go out, my children would carry me in a vehicle and bring me back. My business nose-dived because of my bad sight.”
Asked how she moves around to do your business as it involves activities like going to the market, picking off the chaff and watching it go through the cooking process, she said:
“My suppliers know my condition now, so when they are bringing beans for me, they would have cleaned
it to assist me from going through that process. I get the neatly handpicked type for easy cooking. My children, though they are married now had also watched me over the years do the cooking, so they would wash it and cook while I sit at a place and supervise them.”
On how she supervises since she cannot see, she said:
“With questions and tasting since my sense of sight has failed me. Those good old days, I used to cook at least 30 dericas of beans (almost half of the jute bag) daily, but situation has reduced my cooking to five dericas in a day now. Then, my children would hawk some before they go to school.
“I used to wake up at 4:00 a.m. to start my business with a large quantity of handpicked beans daily. Most workers then would buy and take food to their various offices. If you look towards your left hand side, (pointing towards that side) you will see my large cooking pots; all the four burners would be active to provide jollof rice, beans, yam, plantain and stew. I would use strength to pound the cooked beans, gauge the water level, and lower the flame to keep it warm all day. Meanwhile, rice, yam, bread and plantain would be getting ready by the side.”
Now that her skill has been lowered, one would like to know how she is managing the little one left behind, and she said: “In my condition now, if I hold a tuber of yam in my hand, I would instruct on the pieces and amount it should yield. I can differentiate the various species of beans if I feel it. I know oloyin, olotun, oloka, white beans and Gongola.”
On how she feels now, she said: “That was why I said it is a miracle that you came to me for the first time. This business is here just to put food on the table for me. It is the same reason I cannot close it down. If I retire when I am not up to 70 years, how will my life be? All my daughters are married, but I am leaving with my granddaughters for assistance. If I see who will help me out for better treatment in my condition, I will be very glad to use my eyes again.”