You have just gotta love Funminiyi’s style of story telling… this is an excerpt from his story ‘Amara’. Please read and leave a comment to encourage my friend and egbon in this story telling business… 🙂
They sat beside each other on the cold cement floor, their legs stretched out in front of them.
Amara stared at her legs. They had grown fat and lumpy, like a woman’s own – a woman who had given birth to four or five children. And even though her neighbor was farther gone, Aniekan’s legs on the other hand were skinny like the rest of her. Her shoulders were bony too, extending into hands like tree branches. Her arms rested on her big stomach, their long green veins evident, straining against her flesh. Her head was hung on one side, an absent look in her eyes.
“Are you okay, Aniekan?” Amara asked. The other girl did not respond. She just blinked. She had not spoken for almost two days now. She just sat there and stared, and blinked.
Amara got up from her sitting position and looked out of the window above them. It was noon, and the sun sat lazily in the sky like an old woman. An occasional bird crossed its smiling face, punctuating the laughter in the compound beneath with loud squawks. Amara eyed the teenage girls. They were all busy, washing clothes, sweeping, clearing debris, chatting and laughing.
Here was a nightmare. She had thought that it was only children who could find happiness in dark places. But she had come to find she was wrong. Here she was, in a place where happiness had been wrested from the hands of every inmate, yet, life went on as if all was well.
She wondered what was going on back at home. Were they looking for her? Or had her father, after the first few frantic weeks, come to terms with the idea that his daughter was missing and with a shrug, retreated behind his endless newspapers? What about Ada? She was sure Ada would have gone on with her life, with her provocative dressing and the reckless use of sexual allure to fund her life and education.
The girls were really having a good time. She could barely hear what they said because the louvers were shut, but one look at Oma, the tough round girl with unmade wooly hair who sat on the pavement told Amara everything. Oma who rarely mingled with the others was smiling indulgently at the chit chat of the younger girls around her, filing her nails and spitting intermittently into a gutter. Her spittle was startlingly white, compared to her charcoal complexion.
“See this mumu? Na one thousan’ them take fuck you?” Oma guffawed, pointing the piece of metal in her hand at Chinenye, an awkward girl with a long thin face guarded on either side by hair weaved strong and erect in black thread. Chinenye’s back was turned to the window and Amara could see she was bent over a bowl of clothes, washing vigorously. The water in the bowl was a dark color and had little lather. Beside her gritty heels that were marked with Y-shaped lines like cracks in a wall was a mashed remnant of green bar soap.
All the other girls laughed at Oma’s jokes, more out of deference than funniness. They all showed Oma a lot of respect because she was the oldest there. They said that she had produced up to four – all of them male. She was carrying the fifth
“I have saved some money. Hundred thousan’,” she had told Amara on one of those rare occasions she had been in a chatty mood. “After this one, I will leave and never come back,” she had said as they sat on the balcony downstairs and watched a shooting star.
“Did you see that?” Oma asked, pointing.
Amara squeezed her eyes shut and palmed her boiling forehead. There was a turbulence brewing there, and sometimes she felt as if her brain was in a vortex, and her skull was readying to cave in, to implode on her
“But, aren’t you worried? Amara had choked, ignoring the other girl’s question. “I mean, about them, that you may never meet them in the real life?” Her second hand was cradling her own swelling stomach. An inferno had traveled down through her chest down there. She was burning all over. Tears fell freely from her eyes.
Oma looked at her, then away. “Well, sometimes…” she had replied, pensively. She had looked as though she wanted to add something else, but then had shrugged it away. “You should do the same too. Have two or three, save some money, then go an’ start your life afresh. Obodo bu igwe. Life is hard, nwanne’m. You have to use what you have to get what you want.”
It was funny that was the same thing Ada had said to her that night, six months ago.
To be continued…