She always walked amongst them, watching quietly, unseen, unnoticed. She was the youngest amongst them or so she seemed. Everybody knew that nondescript group of five girls in the faculty who seemed to be living in revolt of this Brazilian hair craze; consistently wearing their natural hair in low cut… However, I bet not everyone knew the story of Flora, the cute little one amongst them whose smile could melt a heart; the one she told me at the love garden behind the Kegite Shrine in Uniport.
‘I’ll tell you a story,” she began, “I hope it wins you the writing challenge you’re talking about.
“Aunty Evelyn had been happily married for a decade to a man in Lagos whom I hardly saw more than once. She used to come to the village alone in her car very often; for burial, traditional marriage, Umuada meetings, ikeji; and each time, she came with a ‘bootful’ of supplies for us.
“However, when she came back with some bruises on her face that fateful night, it was not for any of those occasions. Neither did she come in her car. Unknown to me, She’s been having some troubles in her marriage because of childlessness. One thing led to another, and her husband beat her up; bruised her face. And so Aunty Evelyn returned to the village, but for some reason, mama’s sympathy was not with her.
“Against the quietness of the village night, mama raised her voice to drown the whistling of the insects, the occasional but throaty cries of the owls and bats, in rebuke of Aunty Evelyn. That was when she spilled the beans and for the first time, lying on age-worn Vitafoam beside the kerosene lantern that burned quietly and steadily at the centre of room next to mama’s, I learned who I really was.
“Evelyn had me out of wedlock while in senior secondary. She was the village belle, and it got to her head. Everybody warned her, but she THE BUTTERFLY ON A DUNGHILL
listen. She kept jumping from one man to another until she missed her period without knowing on whose bed or otherwise. Stubborn her, she refused to point at any particular man as being responsible for her pregnancy. When I came out, I didn't look like any of the men they’d seen around her_ I looked just like her; fair and beautiful.
“Well, mama said a lot of these things in anger, and so I can’t vouch for their authenticity. But Aunty Evelyn didn't attempt to put the records straight for me anyway. As a matter of fact, from that night of revelation to the following morning when she ran away to God-knows-where, she never looked me in the eyes; neither could she say a word to me. I figured that could be shame, disdain or anything in between.
“Funny enough, I had a baby girl myself in SS3 when I turned 17.”
I stared at her in shock.