I was lying sprawled on the floor of my small dark shop. My brown face etched screaming forever with melted lips. An empty bottle of Fanta was lying close to my right hand. The police that arrived at the spot was horrified at the scent of burning flesh and burning carpet.
The Policeman took notes.
The woman was probably killed with acid. There were two Zobo drinks and one plastic bottle of Fanta unopened on the long narrow table against the left wall. The police called the two witnesses for questioning.
Interview with the hair trainee.
It was in the morning madam was plating the customer’s hair in order to fix the wig. She went out brought two bottles of Fanta came back and she gave one to the customer. She swallowed a large quantity and tried to spit it out. She fell down and died.
Who kept the bottles of Zobo on the table.?
Does she have any enemies.?
Did you drink the Fanta too ?
No she and the customer drank.
Is this the first time the customer came to your shop.?
She came yesterday.
She was talking to madam as if she knew her for long. I could not hear what they said. They were both inside the shop and I was outside washing our hair towels.
As soon as she left yesterday madam went out and she closed the shop early. I was happy because it was 2pm she said I could go home.
Interview with the customer.
Do you know the saloon owner.?
She kept quiet.
Four years ago we were both working in a saloon in Kubwa then I met my husband and he rescued me and send me to a polytechnic and I no longer need to work in the saloon.
What brought you to the shop?
I wanted to check on mercy. We were friends once.
what ended your friendship?.
Actually, she met my husband first and she introduced us and he chose me.
Why did you come to her shop?.
I wanted to see how she was doing but she was acting so bitter. She said I should leave. So I told her to make my hair .At first she said no I should go. Then my husband called my phone. I finished talking on phone. She said I should come tomorrow. Her death is so shocking, I wanted to beg her forgiveness.
What happened before she died.
She was plaiting my hair then she said we should drink Zobo.I told her I don’t drink Zobo anymore. I mean how do I know if the bottle is clean or not.
Then she went out and bought Fanta.She gave me a bottle and said I should drink.
A woman passing by came and called her. She went to the front and talked to her. She said I should drink my Fanta. I was about to take a sip. When I saw an old Genevieve magazine lying on the table. I kept the drink close to hers. I was leafing through the magazine when the trainee stylist entered and I looked up and I saw her searching for something.
I was looking for my blue hair pin.
Did you shift the Fanta bottles.?
Maybe, I moved everything on the table.
The policeman got up carried the two Zobo drinks and he poured it in to two plastic cups. One cup melted.
The customer started crying. It is all my fault.
Interview with the dead Madam.
The policeman patted the dead woman and asked her to wake up.
Why did you do it.?
We were young girls working together at Queen’s Saloons in Kubwa. Lara and I ,but she was more beautiful than I. When I first met Lanre I was careful to prevent them from meeting. I told him our madam did not allow us to have guests during work hours. Everything was going on fine he worked for the legal department of sunshine bank. He had a good salary. He promised to put me through the polytechnic since I had 6 credits in my WAEC.My dad was late and my mom did not have enough money to put us through school. After my secondary school I had to work as a hairdresser to help my mum. We were both orphans Lara and I. So going through the same thing helped us to become better friends.
I had been careful not to allow him to come to the saloon. The Saturday that changed my destiny was a rainy day. It rained heavily at first in the morning then later it slowed down in a drizzle. We were in the saloon a small shop placed in a vibrant street in Kubwa.
Lanre came by in the afternoon. I tried to tell him to go but I could tell he was dazzled by Lara’s beauty. She didn’t do anything I guess she was just too beautiful.
Lanre was also handsome. Lara stopped coming to work she enrolled in a university. She eventually married Lanre .She brought invitation cards for the wedding. To me she said ”Mercy you are invited too; you know marriages are made in heaven. No sorry, nothing.
Did you go to the wedding? said the policeman.
Of course I didn’t I said in the harsh wispy voice I didn’t know.
I left the shop at the end of the month. I didn’t like the way the madam and the saloon customers looked at me. Everybody heard the story. I was still in Kubwa though, information trickled down to me about Lara. She was in living in area 11 ,she had two children.
Four years came, I was in a good place. Mum was able to make money selling tomatoes in the market. I was able to afford my own shop. I had been in about three relationships with people but they all had diploma and bad paying jobs. I wanted a well to do guy. I was thinking of enrolling in a university after all I am 23 years.
I was living my life until yesterday when I was lying on the sofa and I heard the sounds of heels clicking on the door. I looked up to see Lara standing by my door. I felt all the bottled up hatred churned inside my heart. I was overwhelmed with dark thoughts.
She entered smiled and tried to hug me but I refused. She said she was passing by the neighbourhood she heard I had my shop and she wanted to make her hair. I told her no, she can leave through the open door.
Then her phone rang, it was Lanre calling. She picked it up and said’’ hello sweetheart.’’
I didn’t hear anything but a voice in my head saying I will kill this lady. I told her to come tomorrow.
‘’You brought acid poured into the Zobo drink, when she refused to drink you had to buy Fanta.’’
‘’I don’t know what happened she was supposed to die.’’
When you went out after dropping your Fanta your hair trainee switched the drinks mistakenly.
I know I shouldn’t have hired her she can’t do anything well.
You should have forgiven her Mercy; you can’t get peace and happiness when you are filled with hatred.said the policeman.
I looked at the policeman but I couldn’t see his Face. I touched my Face but I could feel nothing.
I woke up around 5.30 a.m. I was sweating profusely in my blue night shirt. I got up switched on the light and ran to the mirror. My face was still intact.
I went to the shop. I didn’t feel like it but when you have your business you have to try and show up for work.
It was around 1pm I was lying on the sofa when I heard the sound of heels clicking on the floor. I looked up to see Lara pushing the white Lace curtain aside. I got up quickly.
She tried to hug me but I dodged and I said you know what I forgive you and the door is open so goodbye and have a nice life. I escorted her to the doorway, pushed the curtain in her face. I stood behind the curtain waiting for the sounds of her shoes clicking to disappear.