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Excerpt for Leaves From the Sky and the Beautiful Ones by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

LEAVES FROM THE SKY AND THE BEAUTIFUL ONES







ONYIYECHI ROSELINE AGWU







DEDICATION

Dedicated to my parents and siblings and encouraging friends and to all persons who have struggled with a dark part in their life.



To ChuChu, Ezi, Obi, Tobi(typing), Habila, Sa’a, Rezan,Ebo, Davies(constructive criticism) you showed a little bitty interest or a lot of interest. That I appreciate so much





I see the leaves falling

And the birds calling

The sky opening

The beautiful coming

The autumn smelling

And I have beautiful me”

CHAPTER 1



“She is dead oh!”

Jesus Christ!”

“Oh God, what are we going to do?”

“Blood of Jesus, why in my own time?”

These were the horrified exclamations from the students of Girl’s Grammar School in Lagos. Two girls had died earlier and another death would close down the school.



I stood before the judge in a juvenile court. Although I looked innocent, everyone was not thinking that. I looked like a small devil standing before them. I could hear the sighs and hissings from the people in the court. Even the judge shook her head when she saw me

“Miss Rahab Ice you have been charged with killing a fellow student. Did you do it?” she asked.

I looked at her with my icy grey eyes, “Yes” I answered almost in a whisper.

“Please I didn’t hear you “she asked again.

“Yes I did” I answered her almost smiling.

I knew I had to hold my amusement before they took me to the adult court. While she talked and the whole court continued acting crazily, booing and hissing at me, I turned my mind back to the incident that landed me in the juvenile court.



I was sitting on my seat doing nothing but staring at the wall, my life was upside down, no parents, no siblings and almost no friends. I was seen weird because of my colour. I was a mulatto; that is a half-caste. My mother was from London, a daughter of a very prominent man there, and my father was a nobody, an artist whom I hated with so much passion. Then I was in Jss3, our school being an all-girls school had very few opportunities to meet with fellow boys. The prefects, perfect brains and sabi sabi who followed others like flies were the ones who had opportunities to go to other schools where they met boys and even ended up having boyfriends.

Our school was a new one but had had many terrible occurrences that gave it a bad name. We were the seniors, and the senior secondary was to start with us. I knew deep within my heart that was not going to happen, I usually had strange dreams, and those dreams always told me the next thing that would happen. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to go to a mixed school for a competition, I was talented in playing the guitar, and I had a song to present, one I had written myself. After the presentation, I was surprised at how the crowd of students, staff, and parents were moved by my song, I even heard someone crying. I felt touched but not cry, a warm applause was rendered. I bowed and left.

After the event, I won and was given a very large trophy, we were given time to enjoy ourselves before we took our leave. So many students came to greet and shake my hand which I did forcing a smile. I hated to see so many people cluster about me. I quickly looked for a place to stay alone and think. Because of the activity, so many classrooms were empty so I took refuge under a tree in front of the classes sipping my bottle of Fanta and eating biscuit. I was lost in my thoughts I did not notice someone in front of me.

“Hiding from everyone?”

I looked up, that was the boy who presented a very lovely song with a piano but mine seemed to have beat his.

“Oh” I said wanting to stand up.

“No, please don’t run, I won’t bite, I too got irritated about being clustered”.

I looked at him, studying him with my grey eyes. Fair skin almost like my own, his hair also looked silky and his eyes were blue or was I imagining things?

“My name is Daniel Park, Dan for short, yours is?” he said stretching his hands.

“Rahab” I answered not returning his handshake.

“Oh, sorry” he said withdrawing his hand. He smiled and looked at the ground. “So you are from Girls’ Grammar School, that’s nice, they have not been performing well since the competition began, it is good they won this time”.

“Mm” I grunted back. I was surprised that this made him laugh aloud. He looked huge and I wondered his school class but I was more concerned with whether he was a mulatto or not.

“Are you a mulatto?” I blurted out.

“Mulatto?” he asked surprised.

“I mean half-caste” I explained

“Oh! Yes I am. Mulatto also?” he asked sounding the mulatto in a funny way I almost giggled.

“Yes” I answered

“Wow that makes a good combination, finally you have decided to talk to me” he added. “Your voice is nice and I think your song was also very nice”.

“Thank you but you were the one who won, I came second”

“That’s nice” I said nodding my head. I was surprised that I didn’t feel the way other girls said they usually felt whenever they were with boys, I just felt very comfortable with Dan, he was nice to talk to, I discovered he was already in SS1 which surprised me more. His school was the hosting school so he stayed behind while I waved him from the window as our bus drove away.



That was the beginning of the trouble. Tessy the big girl in the school who was notorious for being bossy had an eye for Dan for a long time and had tried several times to get his attention but had failed. She had even lied to everyone that he was her boyfriend and kept a copy of his picture in her locker. So, when she saw that he walked me to the bus she was infuriated because she tried to attach herself to him all day but had failed. Whatever added more pain to it was the fact I waved him and she saw him smiling while he also waved back at me. I was happy that I saw someone almost like a brother, to me mainly because of our similarities with our background.

While I tried to take some cornflakes to eat, she came to my room with her eyes puffed up. I had overheard her crying with her friends and saying lot of nasty things about me. I smiled to myself as I heard her humiliate herself with her own dirty mouth. I was stirring the cornflakes when she grabbed the only ceramic plate I had and broke it into pieces with the contents pouring on the floor. I looked at her with icy eyes, smiled and laid on the bed trying to contain my laughter. People were afraid of my grey eyes, which I liked to dim and scare them. I saw her shake when I looked at her like that and she was surprised that I did not reply her.

“Stupid girl! Cat, stand up now!” she shouted drawing the blanket on my body.

I laughed and stood up, I made a move to walk past her but she pushed me back with a lot of force that I hit the bunk badly, she was getting gingered up.

“Eh! Let me see what you would do today. You think you can scare me! You can do it to everyone but not me. By the time I am through with you, your corpse will be taken to the mortuary”.

I winced in pain but still stood up. Most people saw me a weakling because I had never had a physical fight with anyone not even a quarrel because I hardly talked to them. They were all annoying, even the ones that looked nice were scared of me so I got put off and decided to stay on my own.

I got a very resounding slap to the right of my face, Tessy was left handed. Before I could think of what just happened, another one landed on the second side. I bent down and she began to kick and blow me. I could not let her beat me like that, her friends had circled us and starting chanting

“Yes! Do it! Do it!” they kept giving Tessy more courage to hit me

“Boyfriend snatcher, because you are oyinbo that doesn’t mean anything, you come from the gutters, you do not even belong to the poorest of us”

“I don’t even know how she got that colour, maybe she bleached her slimy skin “

Nawo oh! For some people, they won’t look for class”.

I heard so many nasty comments as Tessy landed blows on my body, the beating was getting too much, my nose had started bleeding, and nobody made a move to separate us.

“I will kill you today, you don’t know me” I heard Tessy panting as she talked

I suddenly pushed her with all my might, everyone gasped as they saw me mount her and punch her face with my ringed finger. Blood started oozing from her jelly face. I grabbed her hand and twisted it till I heard it snap, before anyone could do anything I grabbed her throat and pressed it as I had seen in the action movies that I had sneaked to watch back at the orphanage. She began to gasp for air while I tightened my grip, everyone looked with horror as she continued kicking, her friends began to hit and pull me but my hands were tightly locked around her neck. I received so many kicking, biting and slapping but I was determined not to remove my hands. I heard a girl suggest they used something harder to hit me

“Charcoal iron” one of them shouted.

But too late before they could hit, Tessy kicked her last, that was when I left her and the hit came on my head.

The last thing I saw was blood between my eyes.



After I was treated in the hospital, I was made to stand before Madam Funke the judge. Her heavy spectacles did not even scare me rather it even made me feel amused. She looked like a cartoon character to me. The principal of the school had made sure that the whole story was horrified to make me look very guilty.

All I heard was:

“Oh! She is so evil. You should have seen how she came to Tessy’s bed and began to press her neck,” her friend Tola sobbed as she lied.

I looked at her, when she caught my eyes she turned away scared

“Please I want to go, I am scared of her” she mumbled

“Miss Tola, you are in the court nothing will happen and speak louder” the judge said.

After so many half-stories from the students of my school, the judge gave her sentence:

“It’s a pity you are just thirteen but you have the courage to kill someone, people like you are not meant to be in the society. So you are sentenced to two years in a psychiatric hospital in the juvenile prison because your lawyer said that it might be as a result of psychiatric problem but I don’t think so. After two years there, you will spend five years in the juvenile prison and special attention would be given to you” she hit her hammer and arose, case dismissed.

As I was led away, I saw aunty Sandra cry. I felt sorry for the orphanage home, they had tried their best to send me to school because I looked promising, aunty Sandra had tried so many times to get close to me, she was the only one who came close to understanding me. That was when a tear dropped from my eyes, I saw the other girls as they cried, I wanted to hug them and apologize but the handcuff on my wrist and the police would not allow me. Outside was different, objects were thrown at me, spit even landed on my head, and I could hear the bereaved parents shout

“This is not fair, a murderer is a murderer no matter the age, they all deserve the same sentence!”

The judge had not given me such an adult punishment because Tessy had also seriously gotten me injured, so it was a fight I had taken too far.



“Rahab Ice!” my name was called. I stood up and walked slowly to the counter where the warder was to give me prison clothes.

“What kind of name is that? Don’t you have native names?” the huge busty woman asked me.

I just looked at her and stretched my hand to collect the pink dress meant for girls. “Are you deaf? Murderer!” she shouted.

That word struck me for the first time, I looked at her with my grey eyes, I noticed she shuddered,

“No” I whispered, she cursed under her breath and threw the clothes at me, I picked it up and walked to the next section. As I surveyed the whole place with my eyes, I noticed I was the smallest in size (I did not know of age).

The lady giving the tag was friendlier but asked stupid questions like:

“Oh little girl are you the one that killed the other, oh poor creature the devil must have entered you. I feel sorry for you, you look so beautiful, you are not meant to be here” she kept rattling.

This got me very angry and impatient, the others at my back had started murmuring. “Thank you ma” I said sharply

“Oh sorry, take it” she said

As I left, I heard her say almost the same thing to the girl at my back, I looked at my tag, it read No 8, my room. I walked there slowly, taking my time to survey the whole place, some girls looked so disfigured I couldn’t help but look at them twice, some had broad chest, nothing on their chest, I looked at myself and felt hope. They all stared at me with their ugly faces and looks, they were far older than me (although the highest age was eighteen) and also bigger. The second woman had already directed me to my room, so I followed her description till I reached the smelly place called my room, I already had a neighbour who had occupied the down bunk. I looked at her and climbed the eaten mattress.

I wanted to close my eyes and forget about everyone, I wanted to dream, I wanted to open my eyes and find them in my grandmother’s house in London. The only person I felt loved me and not pity me, I never thought aunty Sandra loved me, she only pitied me, although I was half-caste I was not a sight to behold though I could look down on people like me. What made me want to look beautiful was my fairness and red lips, my hair was another, it reached my waist but I had plaited it and folded it till it was not visible it was long. All the time I was in school no-one saw my hair because I always covered it with caps and scarfs, in the prison there was no way to hide it so I folded it till reached my neck. Other features were something else, my eyelashes, my eyebrows were too full and dark brown, a colour I hated.

A push from under made me wake up, I said nothing but only opened my eyes.

“Wake up, we are summoned in the hall downstairs” my Bunkie said with a gruffly voice, she too had been sleeping.

I came down and followed her. She was old in the prison, her clothes did not look new like mine, from her back I studied her features, she had thick woolly hair which she plaited in big cornrows, it was very short. I could see the attachments her hairdressers tried to add (which was a disaster). We finally reached the hall, inmates had occupied the seats so we stood, the lady in charge came and introduced herself, she gave the rules, do’s and don’ts and those silly talks, I was already getting bored

I heard her say “The new comers are going to be introduced and we would all hear their names, she started from A.

I lost concentration, I remembered Dan, the only person I had felt a similarity with, every other half-caste I had opportunity to meet where wealthy and after talking with them for some time they pulled away. I had tried to picture my grandmother’s face (my mother’s mum), I was beginning to forget, no! I must not, that was my most precious treasure.

“Rahab Ice!” I heard her shout, I didn’t shake, I only looked at her and began walking to the queue that had been formed in front of the whole girls.

She faced me, “You were to answer, not stare at me with your grey eyes”

I smiled, “Sorry ma” I said only to her hearing. She nodded her and continued till the Zth person came out, I wondered what she called out us for.

“Girls, this is going to be a rehabilitating ground for you, so we are going to indulge ourselves in many activities like sewing, plaiting, cooking, baking, artwork, music, whatever the hand can do, so expect a lot, we have rules I have called out and anybody who goes against them shall be punished, so behave well so you can go back better. We have religious activities on Sunday which no-one should miss, the sleeping time should be obeyed, thanks to the government we would be running three hours lessons for you girls so you won’t forget how to read or spell or even write, is that okay? Please abide, if not you would force us to embarrass you and make life tougher for you, You may go back”.

We went in a straight line back to our former positions. I heard the clock chime, it was 6’oclock, time for supper.

“Rahab Ice!” I heard my name again

“Wait behind”

I heard four more names and everyone was gone to eat. When we had answered her, she started again, “The five of you girls have been sentenced to the psychiatric portion in this place, so your positions would have to change, so go get your bags and come here quickly”.

I hardly talked, so I didn’t even grumble even though in my heart I was already getting angry, the turns and turns of today had been too much, our bags which they had packaged for us contained three pairs of pants, three bras, three singlet, a Vaseline, a toothpaste and toothbrush. We had been told that other items would be given gradually, my Bunkie was sleeping when I came back, we never even got to know names, I wondered if she knew what I looked like, I left the room quietly. When we returned, we were taken to another building, I ate the beans and garri (grounded cassava) and slept in the room I shared with a new girl.



A loud ringing woke me up,

“Wake up, wake up and come outside before we clean up” was the command. We all stayed in a straight line as we followed her to an open space.

“It is 5’o clock and we are going to jog for 1 hour”

We were separated from the others by a barbed fence, so we could see what they were doing. After jogging and doing some exercise we went back to bathe, there was no personal towel, the soaps, sponges and towels were in the bathroom. I felt so bad, I was a very neat person and was imagining how I was going to share a towel with hundreds of dirty girls so I decided to bathe with only soap since to my knowledge it did not pass infections. I picked up a bucket at the entrance of the bathroom and entered, girls of different sizes were bathing, everything in this place was timed, and bathing was for fifteen minutes (including dressing).

Loku loku, you no go baf?”

I heard a girl shout in pidgin, I did not turn to look at her, I felt so disgusted with the surrounding I looked for a cleaner spot and took my time to bathe. Just when the soap was still on my face, that ringing started again, every girl began to run from the bathroom. I quickly splashed water on my face and turned the whole bucket of water on my body. I was only able to wear my undies before we were chased away from the bathroom, all the girls were laughing, to them it was exciting, to me disgusting and annoying. I quickly dressed up in the room, my Bunkie was already dressed when I entered.

“Hey” she said

I looked at her then continued combing my hair. I had gotten a band from the other room and had washed it before I packed my hair with it. Soon it was time for breakfast, we went to the hall to be served bread and tea, the tea was miserable. I remembered the orphanage, I ate better than this though I often complained but it was far better than what I ate now. I noticed a fly in my tea which worsened the whole thing, I pinched the bread twice and that was all, we were not allowed to smuggle food out of the hall, my mind kept telling me “get prepared to get hungry”. I saw others eating hurriedly, a girl even asked for my food which I gave her. They were used to it, though I never experienced a taste of what it was to be wealthy, I never ate poor quality at the orphanage, after eating we were asked to clean up our rooms and lay our beds. After that, we went straight to the classes prepared for us, we were seen as having psychiatric problems, so our teaching was special, we were made to talk to a psychologist. After taking the class, the newcomers were asked to stay behind; I was already getting tired of the callings.

“Please who is the girl involved in murder” one of our instructors asked, nobody raised their hands, everyone kept looking at each other except me.

“Her name is Rahab Ice” she continued

I just looked at her without responding

“Who is Rahab Ice? You are wanted in the office” she continued

The girls around also made no move to point me out. Every man was for himself

“Now, don’t let me get pushy, if you are Rahab Ice show yourself now! Don’t let me get you” she shouted

I smiled, I was not going to let her scare me. I stayed put

“It seems there is no-one with that name, you can all go” she said looking at me all the while. I knew she knew I was Rahab Ice but she was trying to play games I could not understand. I wasn’t sorry for killing Tessy, it was her time to die just like our Reverend sister used to say anytime someone died. Moreover, if I did not kill her someone else would have, since her parents were not wise enough to teach her good manners. As we were going, the lady called me back,

“Hey little girl, you refused to answer your name”

I smiled and looked away, she eyed me and said harshly

“Go to that room now, someone is there to see you”.

I felt her anger already rising, that even made me almost laugh and I took my time to go to the office. I knocked on the door, a sweet voice called me inside.

“Good morning” I greeted

“Good morning Rahab, how are you” she asked

“I am fine” I answered

“So am I” she said staring at me, “Rahab you were convicted of murdering a student, a girl of your age and your looks are surprising for this kind of crime. So tell me the story again, I know you narrated it in the court, I know no-one believed you because someone died and it was not you, so tell me how it happened”.

I hated to remember that incident but it was the reason I was here in the prison at the age of thirteen, I hated to cry in front of anybody, and I preferred crying alone, my eyes were already glossy. I stared at the window before I looked at her,

“Do I look like a killer?” I asked

“No-one does,” she answered.

“It is not true,” I said,

“It’s true, because everyone has the capacity to kill but some of us decided not to use it”.

A smile spread on her face, I hated that smile, I looked away again,

“Rahab I am here to help you, I know you need someone to talk to, someone to share your feelings with, tell them to me” her voice sounding softer.

I smiled, “Well I went to her bed just as Tola said and snap I strangulated her till she died. People like her deserve to die!”

She looked at me astonished, “Rahab! Tell me the truth”,

I saw she was serious, “Okay, well Tessy was a bossy girl, she had been looking for a way to lay her hands on me which she never got because I stayed for only me. I disturbed no-one so no-one disturbed me. Despite that, I felt hatred from them mainly because of my colour because I know I am not beautiful. So in July I had an opportunity to visit a mixed school for a competition, that was the first time I had gone to a mixed school, our girls were always looking forward to these times where they had the opportunity to have boyfriends. I won the competition with a song I wrote myself. I went to a secluded place to eat, I hate crowd, a boy like me found me and we got talking, he was someone nice to be with, we are similar in so many things but he is a class ahead of me and funny enough he came second in the competition. Unfortunately he was the guy Tessy was snuggling herself to, she lied to everyone that he was her boyfriend. They were aware I was from the orphanage and that was the reason for their dislike for me, maybe out of jealousy” I laughed

“If I was a rich girl I would have been number one, so that led to a fight she forced on me, sorry enough I decided to test what I had watched in a movie, that was how she died, I strangulated her” I said it casually.

Dr Brownie listened with rapt attention, she looked at me for a long time thinking of something, I looked away again, I noticed a small bird with feathers of rainbow colour perching on the branch of the tree leaning on the window.

“Rahab do you feel sorry for doing that?” she asked,

“I do sometimes but I feel more that she deserved it. We don’t need people like her making other people’s lives a living hell. If she had not pushed me, slapped and hit me, we would not have fought and she would have not died”

“Okay, Rahab are there other problems you have? What else is your reason to be vicious”? , “Am I vicious?” I laughed again, “Ma I was pushed, I have never fought before, I just wanted to test a trick on her but she died”.

“Did you know that the trick would kill her?” she asked, “Well I knew but I couldn’t control myself when I got her neck”.

“Rahab, knowing you were from the orphanage, were you taken care of well?”,

“Yes, I was sent to school by the orphanage because I was brighter than most of them there, I used to teach them most of the times, especially when I was back from school”.

She nodded her head as if she had found a new specie (me!),

“Rahab are there personal issues you want to talk about”,

“No”

“Rahab, you are a kind of person that doesn’t voice out your feelings, you keep it locked in your heart, you have to express yourself to let the bird out of its cage”

“I am no bird, ma I won’t talk again”.

She stopped talking and looked at me

“Rahab, I hope to know you better, we would be having sessions like this every day, for two weeks before another comes again. You may go but don’t forget our sessions are always after your breakfast”.

I stood up and left without saying a word, I felt her eyes looking at me strangely, I heard the announcer say it was time for lessons, and in my mind I thought proper lessons. I saw other girls come out from other offices and rooms; they had also gone under interrogations like I did because some of their faces were grim, wet and neutral like mine. We were shared into rooms, our teachers were already waiting for us. I loved education with all my heart, that was one thing that made me cry and regret my action (aside the orphanage). Our seats were labelled with our names, I was happy to see my seat in the front. After we had taken our seats, our teacher introduced herself :

“My name is Funke David, I am here to teach you maths, and I can see your names are on your tables, so I would walk round to know your names”.

I stared at her, she was so beautiful, she was chocolate in complexion, her hair was cut short, and her white teeth sparkled as she talked. I wondered what her laughter would do to her beautiful face. I felt a longing in my heart to know this one, when she reached my seat she called my name

“Rahab Ice, what a wonderful name” she touched my hand on the desk and moved to the other desk, “Chinwe, Alice…….”

I felt so happy; no-one had said my name was nice. I knew my liking for this lady would make her class interesting, she began teaching, and I listened with rapt attention and answered most of her questions. After her class we had other lessons before we took lunch, by now my stomach was in turmoil, I did not hesitate to eat the meal which was cassava and soup, I hated draw soup (sticky soup), they were like catarrh to me but I swallowed the mounds I had formed without tasting the soup. I drank a lot of water to take away any remaining flavour of the soup in my mouth. We had beads lesson, then we were taken to the kitchen to wash up the plates, this we did till we took the evening meal, a corn pap of disaster with hard fried bean balls. Knowing by now to eat whatever I was given, I ate the meal as if it was a plate of fried chicken, this helped me forget the taste of the meal, we were dismissed to our rooms to be asleep by 10pm. My Bunkie was already on her bed, she had beaten me to it by staying down, I climbed up and laid on my back, the bracelet my grandma had given since I was three was still on my wrist, I reduced its size as I grew up by reducing the beads on them and retied it again. This time around I had reduced in weight a bit so I stretched the strings on it to make it tighten on my wrist. I put my hair into the bead and tied it; I already had seven of that now.

“Hey, I don’t know your name yet, mine is Gloria Tobi, yours?”, my Bunkie asked

I got angry inside, would have loved it if I was left alone. I kept quiet hoping she would get the message but after a while she spoke again

“Not unusual, I did the same when I came, had to change when I couldn’t put up any longer. I am just one week older than you here, good night silent one”,

I sighed, why people won’t leave me alone. She didn’t know me, I could stay alone for a long time, the bunk creaked, I turned my head, and Gloria was at the window muttering to herself, I closed my eyes and slept. I was free flying in the sky, I sat on the rainbow near the sun, the sun was not hurting me, it was even making my face glow. I shook my hair from side to side laughing and feeling happy then I saw a figure, my heart leapt with joy. I stretched my hand towards it, his handsome face appeared

“Don’t worry, I am coming for you, just wait for me”

I tried speaking but no words came out, my rainbow broke, the sun turned to gross darkness, my beautiful world turned grey, I began falling down, my hair turned grey and my skin wrinkled. I opened my eyes and saw myself on the floor, Gloria was on me, her hands on my neck, it was then I noticed she was strangulating me, her teeth were brown as a mouse’s own. Her hands were strong, I had not taken time to look at her properly. I was gasping for air, my strength was failing me, she laughed wickedly and left me

“Wanted to feel a neck on my hands, understands how it feels like to get strangled, haha….” She laughed and went to her bed. I laid on the floor weak and sweating, I held my throat and coughed, the night was dead, everyone was asleep, the moon shone brightly into our room. She huddled herself on her bed and sang stupidly “Silent silent....night, all….is bright…..all…….is…calm…round….the….silent…......one...,hum, hum , silent…one…silent one..” she continued.

Was this a human being or a creature of another existence that was made to stay with me? This girl was mad, I was not, who I was going to tell she had almost killed me, everyone saw us psychiatric but she was a gone case. I had to watch my back, I stayed awake throughout the night without blinking my eyes, when I had gotten enough strength I sat in a corner of the room and watched her. She later laid on the bed still muttering to her, finally the moon gave way for the sun, the ringing started silently, and I stood up and got prepared to run to the bathroom, my previous experience at the bathroom was not going to repeat itself. Our room was opened; I dashed out before I could be stopped without bothering to wake my mad Bunkie.

CHAPTER 2

My sessions with Dr Brownie became more interesting, I became more relaxed with her but not trust her. She was paid to ask me questions and treat me nice, so for that I didn’t take her nice treatment natural. As for teacher Funke David, I had come to like her so much; I tried as much as possible to do all the maths she asked us to do. I began noticing similar responses towards me, the thought that she was already picking interest in me made me more happy. I had put her in friends’ list, grandmother, Dan, Funke, those were my friends’ list. My eyes followed her as she explained word problems in algebra, I made sure that the whole world around me was oblivious, it all centred on my beautiful teacher.

I pitied myself, I was a person who once devoted to something or someone got tied, I couldn’t control to an extent. After the class she asked me to stay behind, this I did happily. She sat on my desk, “You are Rahab Ice, is that right?” she asked

“Yes ma” I answered

“I heard you killed someone, was it an accident or otherwise?”

I lowered my eyes, why did everyone I met always referred to the murder, soon they would be calling me Murder Rahab Ice. After 5 minutes of silence I answered “Yes”

“Wow!” she said as she sat on a chair beside me, “But you don’t look like you it, you are a very pretty girl, I like your concentration in class, it looks like you really love studying”. “Yes I do, that is one of the things that made me regret my action” I blurted out regretting why I said the last sentence.

Her face seemed to be surprised, “You are not unhappy that a human being is dead?!” she said shocked.

Not again, not another antagonism, not from her

“It’s okay, I only told you to wait behind because I love your interest, let me leave you” she said standing up.

So that was it, just to tell me she liked my interest in class? Nothing like let us be friends. I stood without saying a word and left the class, our books were left in the class, soon we were to be reading in the class at night in preparation for any examination. I felt a tear drop from my left eye, how come? I felt hurt, nobody talked to me without referring to the incident.

It was time for catering lessons, I hated cakes but found myself good at it, today I had no concentration, just when I was thinking that Miss Funke wanted to know me for me, she failed. She was just like everyone else, just then the hatred for Miss Funke entered my heart. I easily hated people, that was one trait the doctor had not noticed. Time flew by fast and it was time for dinner, a better meal was served, moi moi (bean cake) and garri (cassava flakes) which we soaked in water with sugar. This was one of the first meal I had really enjoyed because the moi moi was well prepared, unfortunately the moi moi was small; delicious food, small ratio, horrible food, excess ration. As usual I gulped a lot of water to fill the remaining empty spaces in my stomach, I had noticed during the day that my Bunkie had been taken to a proper psychiatric hospital because she had tried to stab her doctor with a pen she saw on the table. I was relieved and happy that the room was going to be empty and I would have a good sleep, I entered my room while the warder locked it. I climbed my bed and stared at the windows, the moon was shining ever bright in my room at night, I didn’t know when I slept off.





I woke up the next day, this time around late, nobody had woken me up. The whole place was quiet, I walked to the bathroom and took my bath, this time around taking my time. I changed to the other pink dress we were given the previous one being dirty. It was Saturday, I could see rain drops falling on the muddy ground filled with dying flowers and healthy grasses in the courtyard. I could hear the chopping of grasses outside with cutlass, soon the rain increased and everyone was forced inside, by then I had finished washing my dirty clothes, everyone had rushed inside without noticing me until Bose one of the biggest girl shouted

“Rahab was not outside today. I saw her inside all the while we were outside”.

I did not turn or behave as if I was the one she was referring to, I heard another person shout:

“I think I remember who Rahab is, is she not the prostitute in Jericho”, there was laughter ringing everywhere. My eyes were icy again, this time around it was worse, I looked at the person making the joke and whispered “I will kill you”.

The whole place became dead silent and the laughter withered away, I entered my room and locked it, spreading my clothes on the bunk, the door of our rooms were gate like, the whole place became quiet and I heard no remarks again.

Soon my door was opened and I was requested for.

“Rahab we heard you weren’t out for morning clean-up, we warned you that any disobedience to the law would attract severe punishment, so take a cutlass over there and a rake and do outside, a portion has been allocated for you. You will notice a red spade outside, that is where you will clean up” the instructor I had a clash with said smiling.

I looked at her and smiled, I liked to do that to cover up my anger in front of elderly people especially when I had done something wrong and was getting punished for it. I picked up the cutlass and rake and went under the heavy rain, they could watch me from inside the building. I saw the spade and walked towards it, the grass had not even been properly cleared because of the rain but on the spade I saw written with a marker “clean up properly” then a fowl scratch signature. I began to clean the place trying to ignore the rain. My long hair was losing, this I did not want, I re-arranged it again and continued. After an hour the rain the rain stopped. My palms were covered with blisters as red as red an apple , the grass I had cut was wet with mud, I cleaned up the place and placed the grasses in a pit that had been dug for it. I took the implements inside trying as much as possible to hold the pain the blisters were inflicting on me.

The mean lady was surprised but was determined to push me further, “Clean them up”

I had an angry look on my face, “I met them dirty”

“But I said clean them” she retorted.

“If I say I won’t, what will you do, you idle woman” I said quietly

“Are you talking to me like that? Murderer!” she shouted.

“I am a murderer and I can kill you now" I continued.

“You will kiss dust today, you will pay for your words, oh my God! What are my saying” she stood up to my side and slapped me. “I will make your miserable life here more miserable, stupid girl, God-forsaken alien!”.

“Mrs Adewummi what is happening here?” the lady in charge asked

“Ma it’s this murderer who is insulting me” said Mrs Adewummi. The lady looked at me, noticed my reddened cheek then looked at Mrs Adewummi again, “But I see her face red, what did she do to receive beating” she asked

“I asked her to clean up those implements, she answered by saying she would kill me” the woman answered heaving with anger.

“I didn’t ask you to shout, take it easy, is that true Rahab?” she turned to me

“No, she asked me to cut grass in the heavy rain which I did clean, instead of letting me go inside she asked me to clean all the implements” I replied,

“Is that true Mrs Adewummi?” she asked the angry woman.

“Ma! How can you believe this little liar, I don’t know how to explain it. This girl deserves to be here longer” she answered more angrily. I was happy I had made her loss of words,

“It is okay, Mrs Adewummi I expected you to handle matters like this maturely, for Christ’s sake this girl is just thirteen years, she is here for a terrible offence, she is under supervision to watch her, please do your work better than this. Rahab follow me” she said entering her office.

As I followed her behind, I made sure I looked at the angry woman and smiled. She was overwhelmed with anger, I smiled more and quickly entered the office. After closing the door behind me, Mrs Lara George asked me to sit down, I had expected her to be very stern with me but she rather behaved cool.

“Rahab why did you disrespect Mrs Adewummi like that, she is married and has kids your age”.

“I am sorry for that ma, it’s just that she doesn’t like me and has always tried to prove it all the time. I know I should have been out but I overslept and no-one woke me up. She gave me a large portion to clean which I did, after all the blisters and beating of the rain, she still asked me to clean all the implements” I said at length.

Mrs Lara looked at me and smiled, “You have a strong will even though your face doesn’t show it. Rahab you will clean the implements then go to the clinic in-case the blisters get out of hand, the lesson I want you to learn is never to disrespect your seniors even it means to suffer in silence, unless something you know is wrong. I don’t think what she asked you to do is wrong, if you have any problems my office is always open to you” she said still smiling, “You can go now, clean it and report in my office” she continued.

I stood up and thanked her with my lips not my heart and left the office, I did not look at Mrs Adewummi instead I picked the implements outside.

The clouds gave way for the sun to shine, I stayed under the sun cleaning the tools with a rag, I was lost in thoughts. Was it possible for anyone to love me for me? Was it possible for someone to understand me? I had never known what it was to have a best friend. My mind raced back to Dan, I remembered his piercing blue eyes and red lips, his gruffly voice. What was he going to think of me now, would he also conclude with the others to call me a murderer? I tried to push the thought away trying not to feel the pain of that thought but it kept troubling me. I kept thinking of him, the orphanage and my grandmother, they were all I had in the world no other person mattered to me. Someone poured dirt on the cutlass I had just cleaned, I looked up and saw the girl I had threatened

“Cleaning dirt, that’s what you are always supposed to do” she said scornfully.

I looked at her then continued what I was doing, she noticed I hadn’t replied, she continued pouring more sand as I cleaned. I whispered, “It seems you like being killed”.

She froze then recovered, “That’s why I am here, kill me, you are surrounded by tools, nobody is watching. I will just lie there in a pool of blood while they will hang you “

“Stupid girl, you are so afraid, better leave me alone, I am not ready for trouble” I looked at her straight in the eyes with my grey eyes turning icy, the stare seemed to shake her to the bones. She retreated and left, I sighed, something I had not done for a long time. She ran, her chubby legs unable to carry her, her friends who were watching frowned, their plan had failed. I just felt they were planning something messy for me, they did not know I was not strong, my eyes and speech were my strength. Tessy’s death was a death I had not planned or I will say something overtook me. I reported back to Mrs Lara’s office, then she set me free. We became friends, another friend added to my list to replace Miss Funke.

Weeks had passed and I seemed to enjoy the room to myself, everyone had forgotten that my roommate was gone. I was to spend two years here and a month had just passed, I was already getting frustrated. I still had a long way to go, Mrs Lara had proven to be very understanding although I did not let myself get carried away, I never disclosed my personal life or feelings to her. I only enjoyed being in her presence, I had gotten on better with Dr Brownie, she was becoming natural with me and I felt at ease talking with her. After our last encounter, Miss Funke Davies seemed to keep away from me and I noticed she was not all that beautiful, her teeth were not white as I thought, her skin was too dark. Her features were becoming jagged to me and I resented her, I begged to change my seat, her perfume had turned horrible in my nostrils. This affected my attention in class, she noticed it but made no move to inquire, I felt so hurt seeing her, I asked myself why the sudden change from like to hatred. It was the disappointment I experienced, I had expected her to be more friendly showing from the signals she had given me but it became different after we talked.

It was already one week for her transfer, she had informed the class she was going , everyone cheered and clapped, some even spilled some dirty tears . I just sat staring at her black face angrily “let her go”

The class was over and I stood up to go, she was engrossed with students around her hugging and giving her goodbye words. As I was leaving the door she called my name “Rahab wait behind”, I froze, my thoughts in a frenzy. I was debating whether to go or to stay when I found myself back on my seat. By now the students had gone leaving both of us alone, I sat there staring at a very tiny bird perching on a branch of a tree. I noticed from the corner of my eye that she had folded her arms across her chest

“Rahab won’t you miss me?” she asked

I did not answer, she came closer to where I sat

“Rahab, what is it, I noticed you left the front seat and took to the back, you no longer participated in the class, what went wrong?” concern sounding in her voice, it did not still move me, I opened the shuttle of the window, the bird flew as I opened it. She had now sat on the desk I was sitting on, she turned my face and asked

“Rahab what is it?” genuine concern over her face, my eyes glistened, I removed my face from her hands

“You disgust me” I said with anger. She was taken aback, “Are you satisfied? You want me to talk? All of you are the same, I hate you!” I shouted, she stood up and covered her mouth, “What did I do?” she managed to ask

“I don’t know” I answered rudely.

“Rahab” she called my name slowly with pain, I felt a sting in my heart, I looked at her face, tears were already in her eyes, was she that emotional? There was a long silence, finally her voice spoke first

“Rahab I am going, I just have this special gift for you, for your participation in class”.

I stood up “I don’t need your gifts or any other person’s gift, you are just like them, you never could see me with a different eye, why are you crying? I am a murderer, yes! I can kill you, I can kill anybody, leave me, take your gifts. You never wanted to know me for me” tears I could not control came out of my eyes, she sat there crying as I left the class. I ran to the toilet and poured my frustration out, I looked at myself in the mirror, my grey eyes were red, why did they put glass in the toilet, they had forgotten we were psychiatric. I smiled devilishly at the mirror before I broke it with my hands, I was so angry I did not know how to pour it out, I hit my fist on the wall and screamed, blood spilling from my fist. The guards had heard my scream and rushed inside, by now my hair was no secret, it covered my face making me look like a confirmed lunatic. As I was picked up, I heard them whisper horribly “Oh my God”, I smiled, then I laughed hysterically. I began to struggle; their strong hands were draining blood from my body.

“Hold her down, bring the cuffs” I heard one say.

I convulsed up and down, swirling from side to side, I was having fun, lazy women, they couldn’t hold me down. To add to the fun I began to scream “I will kill all of you, you are all gonna die, hahahaha” was that my voice? Like those black old witches in the films I watched at the orphanage. The cuffs were on my wrists and ankles, they were quite painful. I was then carried to the clinic and placed on a bed with straps around my waist, the doctor came, I felt the pain in my head disappear as the injection pierced my wrist. Jagged images formed in my eyes, all I could do was to obey sleep.

I dreamt again, this time around I was drowning in my tears like Alice in wonderland.

CHAPTER 3

I never saw Miss Funke again but I still got her gift, it was a rubber fish glass, it sparkled with lights anytime I switched it on. The fat girl I had scared off stayed far away from as possible but I always caught she and her friends giving me suspicious glances. I had made up my mind to deal with anyone that attacked me, I decided to tell Mrs Lara about it, I knocked on her door and a familiar reply was what I heard. After sitting down I spoke “Ma I have noticed that Bimpe, Temisola and Samia the three hefty girls are planning something nasty, Bimpe is the weakling and the other two are using her as a bait to get me. I want to tell because I won’t hesitate to hurt anyone

Mrs Lara smiled, she looked at me then spoke “Rahab, just stay on your own, avoid quarrels because if you keep giving trouble them your days here will be increased”.

“Haven’t I been staying on my own?” I asked anger rising in my voice

“Yes you have, keep on like that, stay within open areas, the guards are around to prevent mischief and fight. Is there any other thing?” She asked

I shook my head instead and left. I was very angry, she did not even think of calling them and reprimanding them; everyone took me for a murderer. The other girls had been involved in drugs and fighting, they would be gone before me. I walked to the open field and savoured the fresh air, it was evening on a Wednesday, a day we were allowed an hour to ourselves in the evening to do anything. A butterfly rested on my arm, it tickled the hairs on my arm, I put my finger near it, it did not fly away like the birds did instead it moved to my finger. It was beautifully coloured, nature was something no-one could dispute with, the butterfly left my finger and perched on a leaf on a tree, I rested my head on my hands staring at the sky, I had not spent two months and I was already miserable. We were allowed a visit once in a month and no one had popped their head for me, I cared less moreover no one would care for me. The whistle was blown showing our time was over, we all marched to the dining hall for our meal. I had not made friends, so I sat alone on my seat, normal thing for me, I had never had friends. I stood up to drop my plates when someone stuck out a leg for me that almost made me fall. I looked to see the griming face of a fat girl, I smiled at her and continued my journey to the place dirty plates were kept. What people never understood was my will, it was something I had learnt to control in a very hard way to the extent some behaviours became reflex like smiling at Bimpe who stuck her fat leg for me. The smile was not a genuine smile but a wicked one, I purposely sat on a table where three girls sat, they ignored me as they as they continued to chat amongst themselves, soon eating was over and we all went to our rooms. Someone bumped into me making me fall down in the dark, I hurt my big toe, I looked up and saw grinning face, Bimpe again, my toe had already started bleeding. She continued grinning as she joined her supporters. I stood up and limped to my room, I was still alone, something I was happy about, cool breeze blew into the courtyard as if it was meant to hurt me more, my exposed wound screamed more hurt. I bit my lips to hold the pain, I didn’t know when I slept.

When I woke up in the morning, I forgot about the wound, it was during the morning exercise I remembered the wound, it was bleeding again. I looked at it and noticed the nail was out, I did not tell anyone, instead I managed it till I took my bath. It was later in the day when I met Mrs Lara that her eyes went straight to my swollen toe

“Rahab what happened? Why is there dried blood on your toe?”

I looked away, “Ma it is nothing” I answered.

“Then why have you not gone to the clinic for it to be cleaned,

“Nothing ma” I answered

“Okay, let’s go” she said.

I bit my lip, I stood up and followed her as she led the way, I almost sneaked away from her but her continuous turning to check me prevented me. After I had sat on the stool, the nurse cleaned my toe with spirit before applying a bandage, I did a lot to keep myself from crying like a child, only a few drops of tears were permitted.

Mrs Lara smiled “Now your toe would be protected from infections, you can now go back to what you were doing”

As she walked back to her office I looked keenly at her. She was very nice, I was beginning to really like her, she had proven to be better than Miss Funke.

Weeks passed, Bimpe and her cohorts seemed to get bored of me, something I was grateful for, because I had planned to hurt anyone that tried to hurt me again. The lady that came to teach us after Miss Funke, had gone straight to teaching and did not add any other attachment to it. I had even lost interest in getting friendly with any teacher, Mrs Lara was the only one I felt a little comfortable with.


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