Life would not find completely its essence if it does not explain cogently to Laila what justice meant. How and where her birth stepped wrongly on the order of existence is what she could not decipher. She was a blessing to her parents for being a fulfilment of their union. But the torments she grew with over the years would clearly mean she is just but a missing link between a child and the result of an underserved pleasure. God should not have permitted children to be born from every fertile ejaculation. All these clouded Laila’s mind as she leaned by the wood upon which the lingering kitchen rested on as a pillar. The night breeze was restless so that it flung the kitchen’s corrugated  sheets clapping, and extending their duties to her young dark skin. It penetrated underneath her half sown wrapper, parting open the torn part and swaying dancingly her follicles. She stood patiently and darting her sight to the pot as the blazing flames flicker round it. The water would soon be ready she wished, or perhaps, would soon hear Aunty Wiki’s tormenting voice, instructing her to come and clear every crumb on the mat for her dinner. Washing the mat after Aunty Wiki and her two children finished dinner was the only duty Laila did with every passion. At least, her stomach at that point had records of food particles drop in it, like pebbles settle calmly on the floor of a sea.
“Laila!” Came Wiki’s shrill voice. “Infidel!” she re-echoed. Laila’s heart sprang like a pendulum so that she answered twice at a time. “Aunty, Aunty.” She cried. Trying to catch the pace, her flappy wrapper ran through a nail on the cupboard fixed beside the outer passage of the kitchen, so that she jolted slightly. It threw her rapidly to a bucket whose mouth was open to pay her for her wrong steps. Gathering every strength she could, Laila limped into the room. She stood coiled to herself like a hen that just escaped the torments of the rains. Her limbs danced as water escaped their way out of her wrapper, and forming  streamlines down to her feet. “Infidel, how long does it take you to answer me?” Wiki thundered. “Sorry aunty, I fell to the ground.” Laila’s teary voice jostled out advocacy. A voice that should say how much she wished to have arrived early enough. One that should drop an ice on Wiki’s fury, and just say to her, she is also a daughter and aught be acknowledged as one. The cascade of tears on her cheeks, her running nose, wriggled lips and the emptiness of life she wore, could tell that Laila’s heart crawled out to her face. She wished to say more.

However, she was wrong, for Wiki was quick to refute: “Shut your mouth! You are only lazy and you deserve nothing more than where you belong right now.” It appeared clearly to Laila that her voice could push not more than empty echoes of justice. Not when an infidel like her remained her own attorney. And so she bent to gather the plates. She picked Pipi’s. Her tears trickled into it but she tried to hold them back by sniffing them through her nostril. She turned round to pick Wiki’s plates, but it was no use obeying now. Clemency was never Wiki’s ally. Not when it concerns voiceless non entities like Laila. All they deserve is penury for their parent’s misdeeds. Parents whose long-professed love withered at the sight of its test. It was never meant to stay longer than the wedding day.

Wiki swung her hand rapidly like a crashing plane and made of Laila’s cheeks the impact point. It sounded loud so that Pipi, the youngest, fell sideways to the ground with her hands on her ears. Okinwa, Wiki’s son, only stared with intense admiration at the exposed part of Laila’s young thighs the incident exposed. Pipi opened her hands slightly and pointed at Laila’s right leg. “Mummy, Laila’s leg is bleeding.” she cried! “Oh darling” wiki responded quickly. “She is only excreting waste blood.” Pipi stared at her in amazement. One could tell from the expression on her face that, she found it hard to chew her mother’s response. Perhaps, at four, her incisors were not strong enough. She threw another question that would confirm what her mother said. Any answer she got, would remain in the never-fading side of her brain. “Mum, are you sure it doesn’t hurt?” “Don’t worry dear… never mind.” Wiki stammered. “Ok mum” Pipi concluded and stood to retire. “Laila, don’t worry, you will be fine.” she consoled. Laila gathered the plates into a bowl, wrapped the mat carefully as she struggled to avoid the scornful and lustful looks that came from both Wiki and Okinwa respectively.

Soon, she had finished all that was left to be done for that day except for the waiting-for-her-mat thing which often ushered her in to the house for the day. The December breeze had intensified in its assaults. The rough sounds from creaking iron sheets could confirm it. She leaned upwards in order to prevent her tears from falling, but it was unnecessary as they only found paths down her ears. The stars discharged every light directly at Laila as she glared to catch every ray from where it shone. She dazed to the skies to see if her mother’s words were true, or if the God people say exist could lift her hand off this boiling crucible. She could hear her mother now, comforting her with her usual tone of regret “I wish it did not happen my daughter…”

Her mother’s words became a resounding gong on Laila’s mind since the day they ushered her into the flames of hell as a saint. Yes, she could see her resilient mother whom God did not allow to live longer than she prayed. She knew for sure that if mortality could fight its helpless nature against the scourges of death, her mother would choose to watch her grow forever. For it was in a bid to bring this to fulfilment on a day that her mother went out but never returned.
That faithless morning, upon which clouds without rain engulfed her young sunny life, Laila waved her mother continuously as the road down the street stole her visibility away. Her right hand grew weary, yet her left hand offered a great help. She made that a duty whenever she didn’t go to school. For some time now, it had become her perfect obligation. She has been home from school for two months already. Her fees have not been paid.

Laila felt she could go out to do whatever, just to help her mother. Disappointedly, her mother wouldn’t let her. “I will do my best for you Lai” she always said. Laila had always believed in the good judgements of her mother. And so she resolved to pray for her each time she went out. Whenever she swung to the right, the prayer that went with it is: “God Bless mama today”, to the left: “God please keep her safe today” again to the right “God keep her safe please”. And so on that day she waved with pride filled in her heart. She hoped that her mother was just leaving for some hours and would be back to her by nightfall.
The breeze gradually died into a tranquil calmness, so that only crickets creaked. The perfect solemnity that filtered Laila’s senses could confirm aunty Wiki and her family were fast asleep. She folded her mat carefully as she sets to retire for the day. Aunty Wiki had just three rooms apartment in which two served as bedrooms for herself and her children respectively. The biggest served as the sitting room in which Laila finds a corner for her bedroom on faithful nights she is not asked to sleep outside. And so today marked one of those. She settled her mat behind the three sitter cushion and laid gently on it to allow her young bones smile in their weariness. The night’s dark hardly had the strength to dim her senses. Nothing could sleep her mind. Not even now, for her eyes were forced slightly open by the stream of tears from within it. She could hear Okinwa crouch closer. Amidst the heart of the night, she could feel his hands gradually slide apart her wrapper. Her tears intensified with no voice to go with them. She only sobbed without struggling as he parts her legs. Her tears were enough blows of struggle to his conscience. She wished. However, she was wrong, Okinwa had not a drop left in him. He carried out his course whenever he had the chance. Laila’s case was a minor issue. She should be used to it by now he thought.

By Alpha E.Y .  2017 ©

3 thoughts on “LAILA

  1. Afangideh Amaowo

    The story of laila reminds me of the early African slave young girls in the hands of the white. It also makes me ponder on when the world would be tired of orphans and the less- privileged tragedy, because patience is running out of its shield. I love the use of similes which makes your craft literally rich and understandable.

    Liked by 1 person

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