There was noise everywhere. The concert was holding in a football field five streets away but the wind was able to carry the noise all the way across to where we were; a couple decibels more than a whisper. It was either that or I was mistaking the noise for the excitement that buzzed in the street where I was making my hair. Iya muyiwa was even humming to herself with delight as she twisted and turned my hair to form an intricate maze of weaving. She was plaiting the Alicia Keys hairstyle and I instructed her to add a little more shakara to the style, like I always wanted it. It was my job to make my hairstyle outstanding; after all, being the Social Prefect meant that I was in charge of the Hair Roster. I created the list to contain only hairstyles that looked like they were created to suit me; but then again, the hairstyle has not been created that I couldn’t do justice. Thankfully, I was Fulani, so my long dark hair, would obediently align with the weave, teasing you with you peeks of my bright yellow scalp before cascading, bathing my shoulders with curls.
My mother used to say that I deserved better than our crappy neighbourhood, more than this country. She was always talking about how lovely I had grown to be and how she could not wait for me to be done with my secondary education. There was a long line of men waiting for my hand in marriage and their hefty dowries would be just what my father needs to get back on his feet with his spice business. My beauty was the future of my family; I was adorable and I knew it. The office of the Social Prefect just added to my vanity; so I thought it only fair that my hair should be like a neon light screaming “This is what you are supposed to plait!” That way it was easier to punish defaulters whilst flaunting my flamboyant hairstyle.
Iya muyiwa’s humming was pleasant at first but it now seemed like she was paying more attention to the melody than the artwork she was constructing on my head and I was not about to let her ruin my scalp.
“E de rora a (take it easy now)” I had become quite fluent in Yoruba. I thought it was a fierce sounding language so I liked speaking it when I wanted to be intimidating. Telling her to take it easy in Yoruba was all I could do to prevent myself from screaming at her.
“Pele my dear” she replied.
If only I had eyes at the back of my head, she would have turned to stone from the spine-chilling glare than was directed at her. It’s a pity we weren’t in her shop; the ginormous grandmother mirror would have helped conveyed the message very clearly. Instead we were stationed in front of her house, my chair facing the road while she stood behind me weaving my hair. My frown even deepened when I saw Aunty Deborah approaching. The woman was a pest, not just an ordinary pest. The specie of mosquitoes that appear to whisper absurdities in your ears when you are preparing for a good night’s rest. She approached us dragging her feet, her usual way of announcing her presence. The smug smile on her face was just too peculiar, it was obvious that she came bearing gossip.
“E ku ise o (well done o)”, she was too pre-occupied with finding where to seat that she didn’t notice that Iya muyiwa barely paid her any attention. She wouldn’t have cared either, all she wanted to do was let out the steaming pile of gossip burning in her chest. She leaned against the wall and began to speak.
“Iya muyiwa, e tie mo nnkan to sele” (You don’t even know what happened), she began. Before continuing, she re-adjusted her wrappers as if to prepare for the task at hand.
“ Waheed Odupa is performing in the football field at Kadara Street and the organisers just found out that he isn’t the only one that agreed to perform. Maberu just called and confirmed that he was on his way to the event and now there is a huge fire on the mountain”.
Iya muyiwa was now interested and truth be told, I was too.
“Which fire is on the mountain again Deborah”, Iya muyiwa replied in the most I-don’t-like-you-but-your-gist-makes-sense tone I had ever heard. She went on and on about how the two rival musicians had never performed in the same show for years, talk less of being in the same place at the same time. The organisers were having a hard time trying to get Waheed and his cohorts to leave the show without informing them about the reason. A big fight was about to ensue between the organisers and Waheed’s people and it only got worse when Waheed’s people discovered that he was asked to leave because of another musician. We could only imagine what would happen when Maberu’s people arrive at the scene and the cat is let out of the bag.
Not too long after, we could see people coming down from Kadara street in hurried steps. In their twos and then in threes and soon enough their steps seemed to be even more hurried. I was very uncomfortable sitting by the roadside and watching people hurry past like something was about to happen.
“Iya muyiwa, don’t you think we should go inside?” She sensed the fear in my voice and she gave my head a soft pat.
“You worry too much, Habibat, they are probably excited because of the show and all the drama, I suspect Maberu’s people are even here already. It’s nothing, so ti gbo (do you hear)?” I nodded, trying to calm my paranoid self. She was an adult, she knew better.
True to her words, Maberu’s people had arrived and people were no longer walking back home. People were running; men, women and children alike. We were snapped out of our ignorance with the sound of gunshots. Before we knew what was happening, two big men headed straight for us carrying knives. Iya Muyiwa and Aunty Deborah took to their heels and locked the doors behind them. There was not enough time for me to stand, clear around my chair and make a run for it. So I froze.
They grabbed me; one of the men held the knife against my throat while the other ran his hands through my body searching for valuables. I tried not to look into the eyes of the guy with the knife as his partner took my phone and my money. With my eyes squeezed shut, i began to feel the culprit running his hands in places that had never been touched. I looked up in shock and I met the thief’s gaze. His eyes were red, like the colour of the sun setting behind him. He wasn’t too happy that I saw his face, the main reason I had tried to avoid it earlier. I tried not to talk so I held my breath, pleading with my eyes. With a swift flick of his wrist, the knife ran through my throat and blood came racing down. Like it was in a hurry to be introduced to my black satin blouse. I sat on the chair struggling to let air into my lungs and past the blood that was choking me, but it all bubbled out the slit in my throat. I shouldn’t have held my breath earlier, it would have been nice to take one last breath.
What does breathing feel like again? I could hardly remember.
Author’s note: Hey Everyone! Thanks so much for reading! One more story to go till the end of ST’ART and I am overwhelmed by all the love and support that you guys have showed me. God bless all of your kind hearts. With ST’ART coming to an end, I’d like to usher in August with a new phase in TIAR. I am gald to announce that I will be starting the PETAL series; since petals are little parts of the rose flower, this will be a collection of little stories writing in FLASH FICTION! Flash fiction is a genre of prose where the writer has to tell a story using 500-1000 words. The PETAL series, however, will be written with 500 words or less. I am so excited to start this next phase of TIAR with all of you guys! So as we rise to the challenge, let the countdown to August begin.
Love, Rosie (xoxo)