It was shining that day before it suddenly began to rain. I hurried up with lightning the charcoal stove before I took it to the verandah behind our kitchen where I would soon cook a pot of vegetable soup. Inside me was a mixture of fear and disappointment: disappointment that it was raining in the evening of a night full of well laid out plans, and fear that the laid out plans itself might go wrong.

Days like this when it shone all day and suddenly rained usually turned out bad for me. When I was little, I would forget either to do my homework or mess up my mother’s tomato garden, squashing the round bobs while playing chef in the garden. But now that I have gotten bigger, it’s either I was scolded for putting too much oil in the food or spanked for staying out a little late. I was seventeen, fully matured, yet I still got spanked.

I started with the vegetables, plucking, washing and cutting while waiting for my best friend Oby to show up. It was our farewell night and I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t already here to help me prepare the soup so that we could round up in time and quietly sneak out. She was getting married off to a very rich man in Abuja. I had cried the day she told me about it and I was still always close to crying each time I remember that my best friend turned sister of a long time since kindergarten was being taken away from me. It was totally abrupt; we had bought university admission forms with great anticipation of our university life together. But she sat with me that day on the balcony, overlooking our fence, watching the boys play football at the next compound while debating on who was more handsome and who was yet to toast us when she suddenly stopped, half frozen, her pretty dark face lined with uncertainties.

“Ugo, my parents have finalized that I will be getting married to that Chief next week.”

“What did you say? You said that it might not happen?”

“Well,” she shrugged, “That chief is too good to resist. He bought a bus for my father, can you beat that? And he promised my mother a provision shop, my twin brothers a scholarship, my eldest brother a partnership in his business. ”

She was counting with her fingers, as if his gifts and promises were the dowries required for her hand.

“This is total bullshit,” I said and began to cry. 

She came when I was washing the snails, her eyes sparkling and her hands holding her school bag. We had agreed that for the big party tonight, she would bring her mother’s make-up while I make two of my mother’s gown and shoes available. My mother was a petite woman, so all her clothes were exactly our size.

“I swear, my mother is addicted to makeup, she bought new set of lipsticks, all the colours in the world.” she said.

“I wonder when she will stop buying fake and cheap make-up.” I teased.

“I will pour you this water. Does your mother have even talcum powder?”

“My mother is born again.”

I took the pot into the kitchen, sprinkled off the charcoal and we went to my room to get ready. My house was a sharp contrast to my friend’s, a distinction between the middle class and the lower class, between the almost haves and the have-nots. She shared a room with her three brothers and often changed in the bathroom after bath. They cooked in their verandah and she had to always indulge her mother, a talkative house wife who had found solace in make-up. Once I had told her that she could come and live with us, we could share my room and she wouldn’t have to deal with her squabbling brothers. I had asked mainly out of concern because I knew that it wasn’t possible. My mother wouldn’t allow it, not with her incessant small talks about her being a bad influence on me. Once I had stolen my father’s money to buy us snacks at school and my father had whipped my buttocks with a wire until it sobered up. But she still came around anyway, especially on nights of her parent’s great arguments. Her father, a driver to a very wealthy man in the market and always frustrated, would lock her outside for taking her mother’s side, and then I would sneak her in, risking especially my mother scorn.

When I told her that Oby was getting married, she sighed and said:

“At least she would be useful there.”

We came out from the bathroom and I gasped when I saw her trying on my new panty.

“No, Oby,” I said. “It’s not your size, my buttocks is bigger than yours now.”

She laughed. “You wish.”

I smiled and began to reconstruct my mother’s finest gowns – her long sleeved silk gown that was pleated from the waist, cutting off a good length of it to make two cute mini gowns; something similar to what the big girls wear to night parties. The panty was a bit small for her, dividing her buttocks into an upper bulged part. Oby had always had more matured features than me. We used to argue about who had the bigger butt and boobs, and darker nipples and we took turns in counting the lines of stretch marks on each other’s butt. Hers was always difficult to count. It was broad and intertwined. People called her fat, even though she’d always insist that she wasn’t fat but plump. The week before, we’d got into a fight with a girl that called her fat, saying mockingly that men don’t marry fat women anymore. She was the one that slapped the girl and started the fight anyway, and because she was my friend and I couldn’t just stay back and watch, I joined her in pushing the girl to the ground and stuffing dry leaves into her mouth. I apologized later when the girl’s mother came to our house with the daughter, eyes bulged and face swollen. They left with a fattened chicken from mother’s poultry and afterwards I knelt to plead my parents’ leniency, swearing that it would never happen again. In my bed, I heard my mother shouting, “She wouldn’t have been possessed by that Oby girl if she had a sister. We should have tried at least.” I thought that perhaps my mother was right.

Dressed in my mother’s reconstructed gowns, our feet in her wedge and her chain bags across our shoulders, we set off for the business of the night, sneaking out through the back door to avoid my parents who were at the front for some air. This was our farewell night and we decided to fast forward our lives to the way we planned it to be in the university. We would do the adult things: go to the bush bar at Newheaven and chatter away while eating bush meats and drinking palm wine, then we would go to Toppy Night Club and drink alcohol and dance on the laps of rich men ’til morning. I had emphasized that we mustn’t get drunk, so that we could find our way home. I have heard stories of horrible things that happened to girls who indulged in night life: a girl raped until she fainted, another kidnapped, killed and dumped in the gutter or on the road side, her vital body parts missing, and another went mad after being pushed out of a big car. But what I planned to do this night was just a scratch of the thing I’d done because of Oby. I‘d said no to a boy I liked because she didn’t like him, and we were accused of being lesbians. Once my mother had taken me to their prayer house for deliverance and then threatened to send me to the village or a boarding school, but none of those happened and somehow, I had managed to still be around Oby.

“What will you call him, your husband? Honey or daddy or baby?” I asked teasingly.

“Chief. Isn’t that what everybody calls him?”

“Will you be happy, I mean in his house?”

She shrugged. “Well, my mother said that she wasn’t happy when she married my father. But after living with him for years and having kids for him, she began to like him. Now she can’t even imagine life without him. It’s like that Ugo, don’t worry, next time you see me, I will be a complete woman.”

“And you will be having sex with him?”

She laughed. “Of course, is he going to be watching me like a television?”

There was raw confidence in her voice, and I could sense beneath that confidence, a complete bewilderment. She didn’t know what to expect or become and neither did I. I felt sorry for her, for us, for being dragged around by forces beyond our control. We were just ordinary girls not interested in the system of things in our society; we were just focused on becoming women.

We had alighted from a taxi and was about to cross the road to the other side. We held each other’s hands and crossed, using our hands to gesture on coming vehicles to slow down. Oby said that she wanted to sit close to the bamboo sticks that fenced the bar because according her, she wanted to see the people walking past the road, but I knew that her reason was a lie; she wanted to stay there because of the men that sat in small circles round the tables. Their eyes were all over us in our short gowns and heels and hair combed high.

“Cross your legs,” Oby said.


“Cross your legs like this. That’s how big ladies sit in a bar. Don’t you watch movies? Sit like a sophisticated woman.”

I crossed my legs and began to eat the goat meat cooked in a spicy broth that the waiter just served us.

No,” Oby said again. “Eat like this; don’t let the meat touch your lips.”

She went back to exchanging winks with a full-bearded man at the other table.

“You are flirting with that man.” I said. “It’s not part of the plan, I don’t want any problem. We are just going to have fun and then go home.”

“Relax, this is part of the fun. Don’t be a baby tonight.”

We went to the club with that man’s hand wrapped tightly around Oby’s waist. I whispered in her ear that it was best if we just went home instead. She smiled and ignored me and we ended up in the club still. I did not like the club, the loud music and the noise and the coloured flickering light tired me out. The smell of alcohol and cigarette nauseated me. Apparently, the night wasn’t turning out the way I imagined it. I sat on the bar, taking a shot of a strong smelling liquor to my lips without even tasting it. I saw girls my age, few of them I recognised, smoking and drowning themselves in alcohol. Oby was on the floor with that man, dancing and rubbing her buttocks all over him. She had called it ‘twerking’.

“I am going to twerk till day break. You will see.”

I made sure that my eyes never left her, even though it was uncomfortable for me to see that man hold her waist and even touch her breasts. Smelling he-goat! I was waiting for the moment he would try any nonsense, like take her outside. But then people started to troop to the dance floor and I lost sight of her. I stood up from the stool and scampered through the crowd, shouting her name, the loud music swallowing my voice. I ran outside.

“Did you see my friend?”

I was asking everybody: the heavily muscled men at the entrance, passers bye.

“A fat girl, I mean woman, she is this height, and she wore short gown.” I gasped.

“Who did you say you are looking for?” One of the bouncers asked.

“My friend. We came together. I think that she left with that man.” My heart was palpitating and I was trembling.

He pointed to the car park. “That way.”

I thanked him and went toward the parking lot, and I heard him saying something about small girls wanting to swallow a live frog when they know that their throat is tiny. I went from car to car, searching and peeping until I saw Oby in one of the cars sitting on top of the man with her gown rolled above her breasts, which the man was madly squeezing. She was jumping up and down. I screamed and opened the door but she didn’t stop. It was the man who pushed her away. I descended on him, hitting him with my shoe, calling him a devil and a rapist. He did not react; rather he simply closed his car door, spat on the floor and bounced off.

“Pig!” I screamed after him.

“It’s ok” Oby said and drew me back. “He didn’t rape me. I asked him for it. I am going to that chief’s house tomorrow and I should at least prepare.”

I looked at her legs. Lines of blood were running down on them. I cleaned it with my handkerchief and she said thank you.

“You are drunk,” Oby I said. “Let’s go home.”

“Thank you Ugo,” she said. “You are my best friend forever.”


Written by Onyinyechi Ishiwu-Pat.

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