She stood by the roadside in her purple skirt and white top
with dotted red that formed the shape of love. Gold colored aluminum bangles, dangled on her left hand, a digital blue wristwatch fitted on her right. Her big white eyeballs with tiny pupils paraded the street as the gentle breeze blew her long dripping weave on.

“Clara,” Tj called. “Sorry, the door gave me a hitch.”
She’s been standing there by the dirty gutter; the stink; foul smell of rotten giant rats, beans, rice and feces. The black sewage water with shredded sanitary pads from the
bathrooms of houses along the narrow tarred street of
Lagos. It wasn’t the smell or dirt that irritated her, it was
herself. The guilt that now robbed her heart of peace and
ease. That feeling that made her ask what had kept Tj back
for so long, so long that it’s been only five minutes and
every eye that passed in human heads seemed to smile with a mouth saying; “I know you did it, C-l-a-r-a, you finally did it”.

“Please do quickly. I have to go home now.” she said,
frowning her face and trying to walk away.

“Ok. Sorry. Here, have this for your transport” Tj tried to
squeeze money into her hand. She took it reluctantly.
Moments later, she’s home. Alights from the bike, Mummy
greets her welcome but she’s shy, so shy as though her skirt had some pupu rubbed all over.
“Does mother know?” She kept asking herself.
Avoiding Daddy in the living room, she sneaked into her
room, locked the door behind her and slammed her lesson
notes on the reading table. Stripping naked, she looked
herself in the mirror; her slender figure-eight shaped body, brown chocolate skin, broad shoulders, scanty black pubic hairs, teacup shaped sized breasts with tiny dotted nipples.

Just fifteen years. She spread her legs wide and takes a
look; it’s smeared with blood, her hymen was broken. Tears dripped down her left eye, then her right eye; like gentle rivers overshooting their banks. She sobbed and sobbed until she heard footsteps; Mummy was passing by. She held her hands across her face, her palms pressed tightly against her curved lips to prevent her sobs sipping out.

“Clara, Clara.” Mummy called but she didn’t answer.
Mummy knocked on her door. She quickly grabbed her
wrapper from the wardrobe, mopped her face frantically
and tied it around her chest before opening the door.
“Didn’t you hear me calling you?”
Clara went mute and sobbed.
“Is anything the matter, are you alright?”

“Nothing. I just didn’t do well in my Maths test and I’m not
happy about that.” She said, lying. She can’t tell the last time she lied. Mummy grabbed her in her arms, rubbed her head and pat her back.

“It’s ok my baby. Don’t worry, you’ll pass your exams. You
got me scared, you made me fear that you were pregnant”
Mummy said jokingly and smiled.

Clara giggled but the joke was heavy on her heart.
“Pregnant! God forbid.” She thought to herself.
It just dawned on her that ladies could get pregnant.
“Tj used condoms,” she tried to convince herself. “Maybe?
Sure. He must have used them, he can’t be that foolish.”
She concluded.

Days passed and she felt a little easy but she avoided Tj
now. She was ashamed. He worked at the local drug store
down town. She recalls the first time they met at the market and how he was on her neck.

“I love you Clara, I love you. Sugar in my tea…” And all that.

But it wasn’t because of the things he said that made her do it with him. It was for an argument she had with Shade and Ngozi at school. They abused her that she’s never done it, she’s not brave, not smart because she’s never tasted a man. She feels she can stand up to them now, at least, but she’s wondering if it was worth bragging about.

The memories of Tj doing her in his brother’s one room
apartment; the heat, the dusty old mattress on bare floor,
the smell of burnt beans from the cooking stove in a corner of the room and the semen he spilled all over her…
disgusted her now.

“Hey Clara.” A voice called and she recognized it.
She’s in a hurry to school but it’s Tj’s.

“Wait now, did I offend you?” He walks up to her and tries to pat her on the shoulder, she yanks his hand off.

“Don’t you ever in your life, touch me!” She yelled at him and she’s surprised at herself. Something in her subconscious was enraged at Tj. Tj smiled but his friends Oke and Femi laughed.

“Abeg, Tijani, leave her joor, e be like say the way you do am too bad.” Oke said and laughed the more.

“Guy. Wetin now, abeg free my babe” Tj replied.

“Come on, shut up,” Femi interrupted. “You don chop our
money. You bet say na you go first do her. Now, na our
turn.” Tj walked up to him and tried to cover his mouth but
he shoved him aside.

Clara is too petrified to move now; her mouth wide open,
her eyelids flicker but not from the bright morning sun. Her lips are shaking and tears roll down her cheek.

“Tj, you mean I was just a bet. So all the ‘I love you’ was just
a – God I’m such a fool!” Clara said, shocked and ashamed.

“What’s it now, babe. What? Are you the first person I’ll
touch? Abeg.” He threw the words at her like hail stones as
he and his friends turned to leave.

Clara began to boil over. She looked around and found a
piece of wood, picked it and rushed after them, striking Tj
on the back of his head. He screamed out loud; a nail in the wood had stuck in his head, blood gushed as he forced it out. He charged at Clara who fled, after a little distance he slums to the ground. Oke and Femi took to their heels. Clara is too afraid, she continued running off to school.
Onlookers from the petty shops screamed and watched

Clara got to school earlier than she bargained for, her facial powder was giving way to the profuse sweat. Her heart pounded hard, so hard that Clara thought it would break through her chest and escape through the open metallic windows of her classroom, leaving her to face the consequences. Her fingers trembled, sudden fever struck
her like a plague as she struggled to regulate herself to
avoid suspicion.

“Clara, how far, you’re sweating so badly. Were you chased
by a lion down to school?” Bisi asked.
“No o. Lion?” She forced a smile
“What’s that blood stain on your skirt?”

Clara looked and saw blood stains on the edge of her skirt.

“Oh. Mummy asked me to help her kill a stubborn chicken
this morning, we’re expecting a visitor.” She lied again
forcing another smile as she hurried away to the toilet. She wondered where her lies were coming from, as though they were premeditated.

The smell of feces choked the air of the school toilet; the
female section was worse. On the floor, urine formed a
small pond. Blood stained sanitary pads with buzzing flies
decorated the WCs. It’s Friday, cleaners cleaned up on
Mondays and Wednesdays. She tried the tap; no water as
usual. Leaning her back-bag sideways, she brought out a
plastic-bottle of water and attempted to wash the thick red
blood stain away without soap, but only got it to turn pink
and faint.

Moments later, she returned to the class room. Her hatred
for Shade and Ngozi had grown; they made her do it. Now
she sees no pride in it, no gain, plus, Tj may be dead, and
the police may be on their way for her.

To Clara the day was slow; as slow as a snail walking up
Mount Everest. No one had come for her; not yet.

“Clara,” the Maths Teacher called as he entered the

Her heart skipped a beat, she almost fainted, she managed
to open her mouth to say ‘Yes sir’, her body was too heavy,
she sat like a graven image and swallowed giant saliva down her thin throat.

“Yes, Clara is the only person in this class that impressed me in the last test, scoring 18/20.” He said and took to the white board with his marker. Whew, she almost peed, of cos, she was the brightest student in Maths in the entire class.

School was over but Clara ran to the library, it was 2 o’clock but the Librarian stays till 5 p.m. to let students read. She’s wasn’t comfortable, she has not been all day.

On her way home, she took another route. She got home
and opened the door; Daddy and Mummy were seated as
well as a policeman and TJ’s brother. Oke and Femi are in
the living room too.

“Good evening Sir, Ma” she greeted, but remained glued to
the door handle; too afraid. She felt like evaporating. She
wished she was knocked down by a truck on her way home.

“Clara, my baby, what have you done?” Mummy asked in

There was a lot to talk about. Clara denied Tj doing her, but
admitted he asked her out. She was quite happy the report
said Tj wasn’t dead, but that he was unconscious and under admission didn’t make her feel better. Her parents agreed to foot the bills, his brother said the nail got into his head and the doctors would run a scan to know if he would undergo a surgery. The policeman made it clear that Clara and her parents mustn’t travel or leave town until the matter was sorted out.

After the company left, Daddy was disappointed, he left
quietly to his room with red eyes. He rarely talked, he
survived a stroke 2 years ago; never ate salt, do tedious
work or involve in troubled matters, but Clara knows she
has bought one now. Mummy dragged Clara to the room.
“Clara, you want to kill your Daddy abi? Off your uniform!”
Mummy said refusing to call her ‘Baby’ now.

She pulled her uniform and stood timidly naked in the
room. It’s dark but Mummy held the kerosene lamp at her,
and took a glaring look before tears ran down the hills of
her oily cheek.

“He slept with you right?” Mummy asked with affirmation;
her lips shivering, hands trembling.

She cared too much that she married as a virgin, she taught her from the Bible and warned her about STDs. Clara couldn’t say ‘Yes’; ashamed of herself, her doing it, her lies…But she nods ‘Yes’.

Mummy collapsed with tears to the floor; the lamp
dropped, the glass broke and kerosene spilled as thick black smoke coiled out of the extinguished flame.

“Mummy, I’m s-o-r-r-y” Clara pleaded in tears, clamping her
naked body against Mummy.

They cried bitterly. Mummy got up after an hour, dragged
her to the bathroom and bath her with cold water and put
her in bed. She didn’t say a word, no one said anything. It
was the longest night of her life.
Three months later. Tj is still unconscious, her parents had
kept paying the bills, the doctors claimed the wound was
healing and no need for surgery but no one knows why he’s not waking up. Going to school was difficult. She was the talk of the whole town.

One tiring day after school, she returned home to find the
doors locked. She walked up to Mama Kene, their next door neighbor.

“Hmmm, you’re just coming, where were you when-” Kene
said on sighting her.

“Shut up!” His mother screamed from the living room and
came out.

Kene was the lousy and stubborn; a very black boy.
Everyone wondered why he was so black with fair
complexioned parents. He was called ‘Kenecharcoal’ instead of ‘Kenechukwu’.

“Sorry Clara, welcome ehn. How was school?”

“Good evening Ma, school was fine. Where are my parents,
did they drop our key?”

“Yes they did, but things have gone sour”

“What happened?”

“Tj’s brother came with the police this afternoon, they said
Tj died this morning. Your father slumped on hearing the
news and was rushed to the hospital-”

Clara fainted.

“Arrgh, I’ll not do it again. Stupid man, ahhh. Push oooo.”
The noise of a woman in the labour ward a little distance
away, but the nurses are at easy, they must have seen or
heard worse women, echoed.

“Shut up, na me send you?” The midwife screamed at her
and gave her a good slap on her wide lap saying ‘Push!
Push! My friend!’.

The smell of drugs, healing wounds and vomit nauseated
her. She woke up with a blur sight and tried to focus;
Mummy is sitting at the edge of her bed, she said nothing.
“My daughter, you don wake? Thank God o” Clara turns left
to Mama Kene.

Discharged, until they get home, she didn’t notice Daddy
was missing. She was too weak and kept throwing up every now and then with a dizzy feeling. She was unusually cold
and was wrapped in thick blankets, fed with hot tea every
now and then by Mama Kene. There is so much movement
in the living room, voices and tears.

“Mama Kene, wetin dey happen?” She was forced to ask.
“Hmm, my pikin, your Mummy never tell you?” She threw
her face away from Clara’s eye “Your father is late oo”.

Clara’s bags of vocabulary ran empty, her grammatical and
analytical comprehension evaporated. Confused.
“Where or what is he late for?”
“He don die ooo”.

Her eyes lacked tears. If she had one wish; it was death. She looked at the ceiling and wished her room collapsed on her, or a scorpion could crawl into her bed and sting her to death, or a snake. Whatever, she wanted to die.
The court was seated, Clara stood in the witness box staring into the faces of Tj’s brothers, family and friends. The headmaster, some of her teachers and fellow students sat as the female judge and the lawyers, decked in their ceremonial black-white uniforms and wool curly wigs went about her case. Mummy sat with her hair unkempt and Clara wondered if she had her usual bean cake and soya milk that morning.

“You’re hereby sentenced to seven years imprisonment at
the juvenile prison…” The judge said, and slammed her

Clara was dragged away by the police from Mummy who
tried to hold on to her. She was three months pregnant for

Tj and his family has been granted a plea by the court that
she must keep the pregnancy against her wish so that Tj
can have a child to live on for him.


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