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Monday, 18 January 2016

CITY GIRL --by Nickz

(Image source: www.agatasartcorner.com)

Toyin had just returned from Abuja to her village for the Christmas holiday. She barely noticed any form of changes as she remained on the backseat of the Keke through the bush path that led to their family compound. The community was still rural with sparsely built stone houses capped with patchy and rusty roofs. Her parents, Ma and Pa Adewale were very happy to see their daughter in one piece after two years. Tayo, her younger sister hugged her tight before she got her bags and took her to her room. After a cold drink from the calabash, a refreshing bath in the palm frond walled bathroom, she was served her favorite soup, Ewedu. She would have loved to have a long period of interaction with everyone but her vivaciousness was dampened by the stress from the long duration of her trip. 

Toyin had lived in Abuja for the past two years with her aunt, Patricia where she did her SS2 and SS3 classes. Her SS1 was in the community secondary school in her village but she had always yearned for a better opportunity outside. Her zeal for academic pursuit was a thing her uneducated parents admired her for. Luck had  smiled on her when Aunt Patricia had replied one of her numerous letters, inviting her to Abuja to continue her education. Her parents also sent little money to support the fees and  had been in good communication via letters. Now, their daughter was home for few weeks before she would return to prepare for her matriculation examination.

Unfortunately, every coin has a second side. In addition to the academic enlightenment she obtained, the two years exposure she had in a major city made her feel like she had seen the best part of life, raising her pride and ego above every other person as far as the village was concerned. The friends and neighbours she often interacted with suddenly appeared to have been dug out from two centuries beneath. Also, she was the first person to own a cell phone in her family, an asset she treasured and spent time on so much. After few days at home, Ma Adewale realized her daughter was not exactly the Toyin that used to help her blow firewood to kindle flames for evening meals; neither was she the Toyin that used to rise early in the morning with her sister to fetch water for bathing and consumption. The new Toyin they saw had lackadaisical attitude to domestic chores and errands. 

“Toyin, you cannot see what I am doing ehh? Do you need the town crier to invite you to help me?” Her mother inquired of her one morning while washing out soaked beans for moi moi. 
“Mama, ah ah, have I not been helping you all these times? It’s just that I don’t want to ruin my nail polish. I just applied them last week. Let me call Tayo for you.” 
Iyanu ko ma ni tan! So it has come to this eh? You will not kill this Tayo for me! Nail polish ni.” Her mother sucked her teeth in annoyance and ignored her. It was neither the first nor the second time and she was sure to do something about it sooner or later. 

It was evening and Toyin’s father had just returned from his tailoring shop. Ma Adewale  brought his meal to him at the veranda, along with his radio set. After dropping the tray on the bamboo stool, she refused to retire back to the kitchen, choosing to stand with folded arms. It was always her way of signaling her husband that all was not well.
“Woman, will I not have my meal in peace? What is it again? Business is not moving well so if it’s money you want—”
“Papa Toyin this one is more than money case o. I don’t know what has become of your daughter o. Omo yi ti fe ma ya nkan imin. Since Toyin came back to this house she has refused to bend down and do anything for me. All she does is to plug ropes into her ears and press that new toy she brought back. Is that what school teach children over there? Talk to her o. I wasn’t like this to my mother o.”
“Woman, I have heard you. So because of Toyin you cannot give me drinking water?”
“That’s what I have been trying to say. There’s no drinking water in the house. Toyin will tell me she doesn’t want to ruin her hair by carrying water on it. Tayo just came back from choir practice and she has gone to fetch small water. She should be back soon.”
Later in the evening when Papa Toyin was ready to go to bed, he called his daughter Toyin and had a long talk with her. With reluctance, she promised to be helpful to the house. 

The cock crow woke everyone up except Toyin. It took an additional slap on the thigh from her mother before she jerked up. “Go and fetch water with your sister!” Mama Toyin said. Tayo was already up, waiting for her sister to be ready. After ten minutes of stretching and another ten for face and mouth cleaning, Toyin left with her sister to the public water sales point. 

Chief Olu was the only man who was privileged to drill water in the neighbourhood. He took great advantage of the government’s unreliable water supply and sold out water in fair measures. Toyin and Tayo arrived to see a good number of people crowded up, awaiting their turns. Seeing this greatly displeased Toyin who was thinking it was a come-fetch-go thing. The feeling of being in the midst of local and unexposed youths was disgusting to her, especially as they did not smell so nice. She consciously avoided touching people while paving her way forward to the water outlet. “Tayo come with me. We don’t have all day.”  She said to Tayo. “We have to wait for our turn sister! They won’t let us fetch now!” Tayo protested. “Are you worried about these illiterates who don’t even know what letter ‘A’ looks like? Education is power my dear and I have it so come with me.” She managed to push herself to the front, praying she doesn’t get diseases for exposing her delicate skin to contact. People started to murmur but she deliberately ignored and pushed on. 
“What do you think you’re doing? You think I didn’t see when you came here with your sister? Go and wait your turn.” A girl about Toyin’s age spoke to her at the outlet as she attempted to overtake her turn. 
“Look at this caricature with zoological genealogy! Mind the way you talk to civilized people, okay? Don’t you know I’ve been here for ages and I don’t have all day to waste?”
Ki ni eleyi nso? That one na your palava. Na my turn to fetch. Civilization ni!” Funmi, the resistant female retorted and pushed in her bucket. Toyin, sucking in her pride and impatience decided to wait a little more. Funmi fetched her water and while she was raising the filled bucket to her head, a little quantity of water poured out and splashed on few people, including Toyin. “Hey moron! Are you blind? Don’t you know you’ve poured water on me?” Toyin spat out at Funmi who was finding her way out. “Ma wo oni iranu obirin yi o! So make I fry akara give you? You no sabi say na water place you dey? Na your mama be moron!” Like a scorpion sting, the words penetrated deep into Toyin’s medulla oblongata and her anger was kindled. She rushed after Funmi, pushed her roughly and the young lady fell with her bucket of water, breaking the container in the process. When Funmi picked herself up from the fall, only one word was on her mind: fight. “Wa fe te!” Funmi yelled the words at Toyin as she charged like a junk yard dog towards her aggressor. 

Toyin in anyway did not anticipate such speed and impact when Funmi bumped into her, slammed her to the earth and painted her face with slaps. She managed to raise her hands to Funmi’s face in an effort to push her off. When that didn’t work, she put her fingernails to work and scratched the hell out of Funmi’s face, not minding the nail polish. Funmi yelled in pain, giving Toyin a chance to roll her over to the earth. But Funmi was far from giving up. She grabbed Toyin’s scattered braids and pulled them hard. Toyin felt like her whole scalp was being skinned off. Her agony was immense. Like cat and dog, they rolled the earth, tore each other’s skins and rendered one another’s fabrics shredded. No one made any effort to separate the two pugnacious beings rather, they encircled them and clapped while chorusing a local song for fighters. Tayo was afraid to penetrate the circle and rescue her sister. It was when the fight was over and Funmi left Toyin on the ground half naked and bruised that she rushed in with a wrapper to cover her sister and help her up. She retrieved their buckets and took her sister home.

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