Today we’ve got a guest on the blog.
Her name is Elect Alenkhe and she comes with a short story titled “Butterfly Riot”.
’Tayo, why? Why? Why?’ the 40-something year old woman cries as she sits sprawled on the floor. Tayo just stands still as tears streams down her copper-brown face. She wishes her father would say something instead of pacing the room, staring at her disconsolate mother and then at her. She knows she made a terrible mistake. She is downcast and yet relieved that her secret was finally uncovered. It has been big work hiding her pregnancy from her parents for about six weeks now. As she leans against the wall of the living room, her mind wanders into the past.
‘Mum?’ Tayo had called out to her mother as she typed away on her laptop.
‘Yes?’ She stared back, impatience written on her face.
‘Errm, Mum…’ she started. ‘Don’t worry Mum. I see you’re busy.’
‘Yes I am. Whatever you have to say can wait,’ she said as she focused her eyes on the screen before her. Tayo knew better. She knew she would not get the opportunity to tell her mother about Kola’s letter after today. Kola, the coolest senior, had been all over her for sometime now. She was shy and found the excessive attention he gave her embarrassing. Just the day before, he had shuffled a note into her hand. It was a blue sheet of paper that had these words written on it:
My Dear Tayo,
I just couldn’t keep from writing this. I’m constrained to express what I feel for you. My darling, if seeing you in my dreams every night, if being lost in the island of my thoughts with you as the object of my meditation, if being totally enchanted when I see your beautiful face is love, then I can say that all of Kola loves all of Tayo. Babe, please accept my love. I love you.
Since talking this over with her mother proved to be a herculean task, she turned to her friends for counsel.
‘Oh, wow! Kola, the bundle of cuteness. Girl, what are you waiting for? Go for it, babe,’ Sandra chirped.
‘Tayo, please don’t do this. You don’t want to ruin your life so soon. By the way, everyone knows he’s dating Sylvia. Last year, it was Katherine,’ Chika advised.
So, Tayo decided she wouldn’t date Kola. But he wouldn’t let her be and slowly she found herself being drawn to him. He always had time for her, treating her as though she was the only woman in the world. Then came the day that she was completely won over. It was her birthday.
She woke up that morning full of expectations, hoping that Mother and maybe Father would give her something special to mark the day. While she allowed her hopes rise, another part of her tried to warn her, tried to tell her of the possibility of her parents forgetting her birthday again. Well, that part was right. Her heart broke when Mother and Father left home that morning after responding to her morning greetings. There was no sign that they knew it was their only child’s special day. Tayo was forced to reminisce on the previous year with sorrow in her heart. They had not remembered her birthday just like today and when she told them about how she felt about their forgetfulness, they apologised profusely and promised to spoil her this year. But yet again, they left her disappointed and heartbroken. She left for school in the Toyota Camry driven by Mr Adamu, the family’s driver. She was disillusioned while the morning assembly lasted and even during the first break till someone came along to brighten her day.
‘Hey, Tayo. How are you today?’ he asked, his disarming smile etched on his finely-chiseled face.
‘I’m fine, thank you,’ she sighed. He looked into her eyes in silence before reaching for a parcel inside his bag.
‘Tayo, my Tayo…,’ he began, as he reached for her hand. ‘…have this token. I love you,’ he said and scurried away before she could mutter a reply. Tayo was swooned. She was overcome with ecstasy and curiosity, she wanted to unwrap the parcel at that very moment but decided she would do it in the confines of her bedroom back home.
As soon as she got into her room that evening, she settled down to see the contents of the only parcel she had received for her birthday. In it was a necklace and a wristwatch. ‘Oh, Kola… I love you. I’d be your girl. I love you, I love you,’ she exclaimed excitedly. He had won her heart.
She became Kola’s girl and found seeming comfort in their fairytale relationship. She was 15 and one year younger. She was also Kola’s junior by one year. She thought she was having the time of her life. She constantly found herself reminiscing on Kola’s mushy words and smiling like an idiot. Then came the day that she’d not forget in a hurry, the day Osahon, Kola’s classmate decided to throw a party.
Kola told her about the party but she had no interest in it. She was an introvert and certainly not a fan of social outings. But Kola cajoled her till she gave in. Anything for Kola.
‘Thanks darling. Trust me you’d have real fun,’ he said to her as they walked towards the school gate.
Then came the D-day. It was easy for her to leave home that Saturday afternoon. Her parents were away at a social function like every other Saturday and the gateman let her pass through the gate, thinking her parents were aware of her movements.
‘Small madam, Madam know sey you dey comot?
‘Yes. She knows I’m going to study with my friend, Ezinne.’
She got there to meet loud music and wildly dressed people. She felt uneasiness well up in her. What am I doing here? Then she felt a hand come over her shoulder. She turned swiftly to see Kola.
‘Look at you, bae. You look like a scaredycat,’ he teased. ‘Let’s get you seated.’ He did a mock bow as he added, ‘My Lady, you look ravishing.’ Tayo offered a grin and followed him closely. There were a lot of students there, many seniors and a few juniors like Tayo. Osahon’s parents were out of town and he had stolen the opportunity to invite his friends over to party and catch bad fun. Soon, it was time to drink and dance.
‘Here’s one for you,’ Kola said, as he held out a bottle to Tayo.
‘Isn’t this alcohol?’
‘Yup. But trust me, you won’t get stoned. A bottle would do you no harm. If you’re so scared, you could take half but just drink something,’ he nudged her.
Tayo looked around and saw that almost everyone was busy with a bottle. ‘All right. Just a little,’ she said both to Kola and herself before reaching for it.
But that was the genesis of her problems. Soon, almost everyone in that living room were drunk… dead drunk. Some found their way to the laundry room, some to any of the bedrooms to make out. The whole place turned into a brothel of some sort and somehow Kola and Tayo were part of the mess. With all resistance destroyed by alcohol, they did it. They ate the forbidden fruit.
Three weeks after the party, she noticed her breasts were suddenly fuller and tender. She often had the urge to throw up and sometimes tried to stifle it with chewing gum and kola nuts. When she missed her period, she grew pretty scared, went for a test and her fears were confirmed. She was pregnant.
‘Who is responsible for the pregnancy?’ her dad finally asks.
‘It’s… it’s Ko… la,’ she stammers.
She doesn’t know what to expect next. Maybe he’d disown her, perhaps he’d storm Kola’s house, maybe he’d send her far away to live with a relative. But standing there in this situation leaves her heart in her mouth. She knows she would have to face it, she’d have to weather through this storm and if she’s tough enough, she’d make it through… she would still achieve her dreams. So, here she is, pregnant at 15.