Black Tussle


“Carrie, oh Carrie, how I love you” Priye was singing in his Donald duck voice, his dark blue shirt was a sharp contrast to his light skin. He looked as handsome as the first time she saw him, sitting on the steps and sipping a tropic alcoholic drink covered with a brown paper bag. He always sat outside his father’s house with his two dumb friends, gisting and laughing at people who walked by.

Carrie pretended not to hear him. She walked past, swaying more extravagantly so her flayed pink shirt danced above her knees, showing off her spotless straight legs. She was just sixteen but she knew the dance.

So she went everyday, always an excuse to go buy something, anything towards evening. Any excuse to see Priye’s face and hear his funny antics as he tried to profess his love. He was only four years her senior. She knew the hard-to-get game was getting old so she made a plan. On the Friday of that week, she would finally give him an answer.

Although she never told anybody, her sister, Violet, knew. She could tell from the shine in her eyes, always teasing her. Priye was the popular boy in the area, feeding off his father’s fame. His tall lanky frame and light complexion, coupled with his dark curly hair and pink lips earned him the term ‘oyibo’.

She dressed carefully that Friday, stealing some of violet’s lip gloss to make her lips shine. She styled her hair artfully and left the house on the pretext of going to buy popcorn for her little brother. She slowed down as she came towards Priye’s house and started her cat walk. It was a waste. Priye was not there. Just his two dumb friends snickering and laughing.

Her smile dimmed and she walked past like she was in a hurry. Priye was inside, she knew. His two friends wouldn’t be standing outside if he was not around.  She was going to say yes to Priye today, come hell or high water. She spent as much time as she possibly could, to make sure he would be out by the time she walked past again.

This time, she saw him. He was coming out from his house, wearing a red singlet on an army green short. She stood straight and was about to start her famous walk, when she noticed that he wasn’t alone. He was with a girl, they were coming out together. His hands were on her shoulders possesively and even though her back was turned, she couldn’t mistake that purple skirt and green top the girl wore. It was Violet. She stood still and watched as they hugged and Priye gave her a goodbye kiss. Violet giggled and sashayed away.

It took ten minutes before she could get her legs to move. She walked woodenly past the boys. Priye acted unabashed. He didn’t know he had been seen. She ignored his calls and went home. Violet was lying on the bed, reading one of her novels. She dropped the popcorn on the bed and asked her “What were you doing with Priye today?”

Violet paused, her eyes went hard. “What business of yours is that? You’ve been playing hard to get so I took over.” she replied staunchly and went back to her novel, like it didn’t matter.

“But you knew he was asking me out. You knew I liked him.” she exploded as tears filled her eyes.

Violet hissed long and hard. “If you liked him so much then why haven’t you said yes? You think you’re the prettiest girl abi? You think you’re finer than me. You want to date Priye so that you’ll be boasting that you have the finest and richest boyfriend in this area abi? Let me see how that will happen.”

“Yes am finer than you. Yes am prettier than you. Is it my fault that boys like me instead of you?” she burst out.

Violet dropped her novel and stood up shaking her head. She walked to Carrie and released a sound slap on her face, her eyes filled with hatred.

Carrie stood there, shocked. If it came to a fight, Violet would beat her black and blue. She was helpless. She was the one supposed to date Priye. She was the most beautiful girl in the area. Everybody said so. How could she show her face again if she lost him to a less prettier girl? Violet of all people.

Then an unrealistic calm took over. Suddenly she knew what she had to do. Nobody saw her as she left the house or as she came back. She waited until the food had been dished and her mother had left the kitchen. Then she went into the kitchen and looked at the plates. She knew Violet would pick the soup with the big meat. So she poured the rat poison into that soup and went away. True enough, Violet picked that soup and ate it. She watched her gleefully, her mind not bothered about anything. All she could see was Priye.



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