The sory of a ninteen year old albino girl who falls in love. written by Merit Gogo-fyneface
I did not fall in love with Yemi because he promised me the whole world. Whenever I walked along the street he was there, on occasions. Our first stares grew into first words, first words ripened to a first visit and here my story begins.
I am Adiba, calm and easy going. My albino skin is nineteen years old, my unsteady brown eyes do not make me prettier and for this cause people would rather keep their distance. When Yemi tells me I am beautiful, my head sparks and there is a shocking sensation in my bones because for him only, I am dark. Ordinarily, I should cry but I cannot for all the tears I should shed now had dried up in my childhood where several humiliating and isolating experiences lay. I did not cry. I looked straight in his eyes and he said it again this time with a depth of sincerity in his voice that hastened lip locking and before one could say Jack, I had toured that filthy path that made me forget Sunday school lessons. Soon, the remorse I had felt each time I left Yemi’s was history and all I could do was yearn for more moments with the only man that did not see the awkward colour of my skin. I had learnt to love him, to trust every word he said. If the whole world would not associate with me; knowing Yemi cared made me care less. Everything seemed perfect till one beautiful morning. One morning just like the others, something changed, with me precisely a lot of things I could not comprehend.
Days later, the nurse told me I had acquired the dreaded disease, (HIV/AIDS) and if I regularly took the necessary drugs she had given, I may live longer but if not death was near, but before I die if I had to; my mother would kill me for there was no place to go, nowhere else to watch this belly of mine grow since she was all I had and Yemi for whom I was beautiful and dark, I lately repelled.
The sun hid behind the clouds, birds journeyed home. I walked along the street, with my face bent to the ground, in order to avoid eye contact with any of our neighbours who would bother asking where I was heading. That did not make much difference because from afar, when they spot the rare colour of my skin they know it is the only “oyibopepper” within the vicinity. I hate that title which half the inhabitants of Shomolu have learnt to call me. An Ice cream bicycle sped past, almost throwing me into the bush on my right. I ran speedily into a part of it on hearing Chinwe, our next door neighbour shout “your dry fish here”, seeking attention for the well roasted fish on the tray her head held.
Immediately I heard the familiar kpai-kpai sound of her flattened rubber slippers which raised puffs of dust, I stealthily walked out of the bush, making way for Bisi’s, my friend at Ajegunle who had promised to take me to a good herbalist who would end a part of my misery with just one bottle or less of properly mixed concoction.
Bisi stopped paddling her sewing machine when she caught a glimpse of me; she jumped out of the congested veranda which served as her kitchen and shop, she hugged me passionately.
I filled my eyes with the slight changes in her apartment; she had replaced the rusted zinc I had met on my last visit a year ago, with a new one. Two boys’ sat on a wooden bench, eating, discussing and laughing loudly. Flies hovered around, resting on the mound of eba in a stainless plate. The boy chased it vehemently with his palms, and after cursing, moulded the perched spot, put it into his bowl of soup, swallowing with delight that revealed a victory over the fly by not letting it shorten his ration. I wondered if he would have done the same if the fly had died on the eba.
Bisi proceeded from her room with a cup of water, apologizing for its hotness with the excuse of recurrent power failure for some days. I gulped the drink hurriedly and we both set out.
I bled profusely after taking the mixture the herbalist had given in exchange for some naira notes. I could not return to Shomolu that day, I remained in Ajegunle for two more days when weakness and dizziness was far off, and I felt slightly revived. Bisi accompanied me to the motor park and I smiled, waving at her from the side window as I left. As the rickety bus began to move, all I could think of was the emptiness of my belly, I had gotten rid of the emerging bulge and I resolved never to let anyone fondle even the public parts of my albino body.
As I walked into the vast compound, bracing up for whatever aggressive slap of discipline my mother would have stored up for me, for leaving without a word to anyone, I met a very sombre atmosphere, a lot of people gathered wailing at the top of their voices, some rolling on the sandy floor.
From mothers’ straight face which was very similar with that which I had met on the day Father had died, I deduced something terrible had happened. She did not utter a word, no response followed my greeting. I nosed around for an insight on what the commotion was all about.
Mama Ruke, our neighbour was dead! Some whispered it was a shameful death which was a result of secret promiscuity for a shameless widow; others said David had given her the virus from his sharp equipment he used for manicure around the area. The awareness of Mama Ruke’s death resulting from the same disease which Yemi had transmitted to me birthed a new kind of fear.