Nwanne stood in front of their new home at 50 Abam street Aba. She couldn’t see Onu and Otisi again to play with. “They must be big boys now like these ash boys here”, she thought. She watched some boys playing football in the rain. She had marked this set of boys for their always being dusty. Sh
“Shege JB”, she cursed playfully.
If it were to be some years before now, she would have pulled off her cloth and ran into the rain to play football. She was sure she could play better than some of the boys but she wouldn’t play now that some little balls were growing on her chest; the kind of balls she couldn’t see on the chest of the boys of her age. She had thought they were boils because of the little pains she felt in them. Her mother said they were not boils when she complained and said they were called breasts; that they would soon grow bigger like those on her own chest; and that they would be producing milk and that her babies would have to suck and feed on them. She had felt so embarrassed the day she tried playing with boys of her age and some of them left the football and focused on watching the balls on her chest. Some of them tried to touch the balls but she didn’t allow them. She would have allowed them, if not for the pains she would feel at the touch.
Now she felt bad. She wanted to feel free and play naked in the rain. Even if she ran into the rain with her dress on, the football might hit her chest and the balls would start ache her. She couldn’t risk increasing the pains of the balls now. She drew up the upper part of her cloth and looked down into it to her chest. The area of the balls looked lighter than every other part of her abdomen. The balls were still there growing and softening by the day, just as her mother had said. She felt them with her left hand and sighed. She wondered what might be inside the balls. They felt strong like unripe tomato balls. As her fingers shoved across the edge of the tender breasts, she felt some pains and sighed again, and looked up straight into the rain. She was looking at nothing in particular. With her eyes on the droplets of the fading rain as they trickled down from the roof she could see the serenity in them. She felt like going into the world in the droplets to know how it felt in there. Then the voice came.
It was her mother calling and she jumped out of her imagination and scurried to the kitchen where Igbeneche was wrapping asusu with plantain leaves. She knew why she was being called. “Mma, let me get the trey pan ready” she said as she walked in and out of the kitchen. Igbeneche looked up watching her back as she sauntered bouncingly with her shoulders up like a tomboy towards the wall on which the tray leaned. She could notice the increase in the size of her back side and the curvy sides of her hips and her dark skin that shined oilier by the day. Her daughter was gradually developing into womanhood. She thought something about telling her to walk like a woman but just saying it had not worked. Igbeneche was worried that her daughter was acting masculine. She recalled her own days as a growing teenage girl in the village. She tried to compare herself with her daughter yet she couldn’t fix any similarity but the knock knees and the shrill voice they shared. She was just a picture of her late father. Igbeneche was still watching Nwanne till she picked the tray and turned. She could now see that her breasts are getting bigger despite the many cloths Nwanne wore to hide them. When would she get to terms with the fact that she was different from the boys?