Orange Ribbons

This one I wrote for The Writer competition. It is one of those stories that are just perfect. Not a…


April 11, 2014

This one I wrote for The Writer competition. It is one of those stories that are just perfect. Not a word out of place.

Can y’all tell how much I love twins though? 🙂


She was waiting for me at the school gate; as she did every other day. That day though was different. That day I was too engrossed in my new friend, Oma to take any notice of Zizu at the gate.

It is how I will always remember my sister; impatient, sweaty and as dusty as any child can be from sitting in a classroom with sand floors all day.

Zimuz0 and I were twins and did everything together. Everything from walking to and from school to getting into trouble. Just the week before, Zizu had dragged me to Mazi Mezie’s farm to help her steal honey. My body had been swollen for days from bee stings and when I got better, Papa still beat me for stealing. He beat Zizu too but not as hard because he said I was older and should know better. I was only a few minutes older so I knew it had nothing to do with age and everything to do with the fact everyone loved Zizu more than they did me.

Everyone apart from Oma that is. Oma cared little for my sister and her rough ways. It was me Oma wanted to be friends with. She had even shared some of the nice ribbons her father bought for her from Lagos with me. I showed the orange ribbons to Zizu as we walked home from school and her face had turned red. She said to give them back because if I wore them we wouldn’t look like twins anymore. I refused and my sister had not spoken to me for two days. For once, someone saw beyond the fact that I was Zizu’s twin and I was fine with it.

“Olanna. Olanna!” Zizu called to me from the gate where she stood with her backpack when she couldn’t take the waiting any more.

“What? Can’t you see I am talking to someone?” I had yelled back at her before turning to Oma who stuck out her tongue at Zizu.

The next thing I saw was a flurry of dust and Oma on the ground. It had taken all my strength and lots of threats to pull Zizu off the weeping girl.

“What is wrong with you, Zizu? Why must you always behave so badly?” I asked my sister.

“Don’t talk to me, you traitor! You are supporting her instead of me, abi? Because of some stupid ugly ribbons that she bought at Iri market!”

“That’s a lie. My daddy bought them from Lagos.”Oma sputtered out. Poor girl. She had learned nothing from the beating my sister had just dished out.

“You can still talk abi? Just wait let me come and meet you there. Lagos ko, Lagos ni! Does your daddy know the way to Onitsha sef?” Zizu replied gearing for another round of punches.

“Stop it Zizu. Just go home and clean up before Mama gets back. You know she will beat you if she sees you like this. Go home. I will come and join you soon.”

“Why can’t you come with me now?” My sister asked in a voice that was so small that I had to strain my ears to hear her.

“Because I have to help Oma clean up before some teacher sees her like this. There will even be more trouble if she reports you. So go, I am behind you.”

“I will wait for you by the river then. That way I can clean up and we can still go home together.” Zizu said stubbornly

“Ok Zizu. Go to the river and I will come and meet you.” I finally succumbed.

I helped Oma clean up and begged her not to tell on Zizu. Once I got my friend’s promise, I went in search of my sister. At the river, Zizu was nowhere to be found. I walked home, angrily muttering to myself about how I had ended up sharing the same womb with such a hardheaded person. I made it home but Zizu was not there either.

She showed up later that night while I was fast asleep. “Where have you been? Everyone has been looking for you. I thought I told you to wait for me by the river. ”

”But that is where I have been; by the river waiting for you. Come; let me show you where I watched you from while you looked for me. ” Zizu replied.

My sister took her hand in mine and together we went to the river. She never showed me her hiding place and I never asked. We were too carried away being nine year olds at the river alone. We played all night by the river with only the moonlight to accompany us.

“You will always be my very bestest friend” I said to Zizu that night as we walked home.

“Always?” She had asked.

“Always. We are twins and God made us best friends even before we were born. But you must stop fighting.”

“Ok, Ola.”

I woke up to find my mother in tears and my father preparing to join a search party for Zizu. I told no one what I had dreamed for I feared they would blame me for leaving her behind in my dream. They found her on the banks of the river on the third day just as I dreamed. The river had finally given up its dead.

Everyone speculated about how Zizu got into that water. Only I knew the truth. At the edge of the river bank stood a flame tree with branches so long they spread across the length of the river. My sister had been trying to pick its orange flowers when the branch she held on to gave way. She was only trying to make sure we looked like the twins that we were; me with my orange ribbons, her with her orange flowers.

Sometimes I sleep and Zizu comes to visit. We go to the river banks together and I tell her how it feels to be a twin alone. Sometimes I sleep and find her at the school gate, stubbornly waiting for me to finish with Oma and go home with her.

Other times, I am the one waiting. There are orange flowers in my hair as I sit by the banks of the river, waiting for my sister to show up so we can play.


Song of the day: Sinachi – More of You

  • Twins

2 thoughts on "Orange Ribbons"

  • What a story. What a connection. Beautiful.

  • Can I just drop little one-liners here and there to mark my presence?
    Seriously, write a book already!
    or maybe, a compilation of all these stories of yours…
    I for one would for myself, my sisters (there are many of them), some of their friends…and possibly donate to my alma mater secondary school.

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