Start from Chapter 1: December
he Night of Festivals turned out to be a spectacle. I was surprised at how fast I forgot about my troubles. We were so drowned in the display of talent and creativity that we lost track of time.
The young people pulled off a big Christmas night open theatre show. It was the comic version of the nativity story told by three wandering musketeers. The characters’ equally larger than life performance was hilarious and when they finally took a bow, the whole open space adjacent the cathedral erupted in loud applause.
There was a talent hunt, from which a petite girl with freckles emerged as the winner having drawn a boat and two lovers sailing to save their lives against a turbulent sea.
The picture sent chills down my spine as it was magnified on the projector, it was so animated and intrusive.
Soon, people started dispersing in twos and threes with cheerful remarks about the kids who acted in the drama. I wondered if the kids at CHO could have the same chance to show their talents.
No one ever considered that they were alienated from the rest of the town. How does it feel to be part of a larger plan and still never be a participant in it? Someone tapped my shoulder.
“You seem lost, did you enjoy the show?” It was Jideofor, standing by his side were his accomplices.
“Sure, I did,” I said, trying to be as upbeat as I can be.
“If you did, then why are you wearing that frown?” Sheba came around taking my hands into hers. I hadn’t noticed I was frowning all the while. The thought about CHO must have put me on edge.
I mustered a tiny smile, “See, I’m not frowning anymore.” They all cackled at my sarcasm.
“Can we go home already? I’m so hungry,” Ariva groaned, massaging her flat stomach. I almost laughed—it was amazing that she ate so much and added so little. Others wouldn’t eat as much to grow a big tummy.
“Even if you eat the whole world, you’ll always be hungry,” Jideofor teased. Ariva growled at him with her fists balled as if to strike, he dodged and we laughed harder.
When everyone was off their repartee, Sheba suggested we eat out at the bakery since driving to Wataman would be a hectic ride and Ariva might eat us along the way.
She was slightly embarrassed at this but didn’t charge at Sheba. Sheba had always been her tamer since childhood, she even saw her more in the big sister role than me. But heck, Sheba was our big sister anytime. She was our second mummy.
We were about climbing into the truck when an abrupt clap stopped us midway. We turned to see who was giving us such a sinister startle. It was none other than Ekeh, Francis’s cousin. His presence sent a shiver down my spine and at the same time a deep strangling bitterness I couldn’t control.
“Wow, here she is having fun with her family. And to think you said you loved Francis,” he said, his eyes roving all over me. This was trouble courting anger. I felt like puncturing his face with a hard fist but that would only get him to taunt me more.
“Oh! I see, your tongue has suddenly stuck to your mouth. Talk back, Chinny,” he said between gritted teeth.
Jideofor’s hand balled into a tight fist, he was going to do what I couldn’t do when Sheba held him. He struggled with her for a moment but relaxed when she held on still.
Something warm, maybe even beautiful transpired in that short moment. It was the way she held him and fixed her large eyes upon his— the understanding they shared without words.
Jideofor withdrew his fist, “Listen, your cousin must be proud of his scum arse at the moment, but he lost. He was never worth her and neither will you. Not today, not in the next life.” He turned and signalled that we climb in.
Everyone obeyed like the lamb in the nativity story.
“We will see to that,” he said behind us walking away without turning.
We zoomed off, the song from the stereo blasting into the night. Merry Christmas indeed.
Enjoyed Chapter 7? Continue the story in Chapter 8: Boxing DayDay