Winnie sat before the mirror of her mother’s shop and stared
at her reflection in the mirror. She couldn’t believe it, she looked so
beautiful.
“Look at you! No one would guess you’re still in secondary
school.” Her mother’s apprentice said with a smile, happy at her job weldone.
“Thank you auntie Megan, thank you…thank you…” Winnie said
with a smile.
“You are beautiful dear, the make-up just added a touch.”
Megan said with a smile.

“I know I shouldn’t but can I step out with this?” She
asked standing up from the chair and staring at Megan.
Megan walked over to the door of the shop and peeked
outside. When she looked back to Winnie, she smiled mischievously.
“Yea…you can…but if your mother sees you looking like this, don’t
call my name ooo…” Megan said.
“Of course she won’t, she’s busy preoccupied with her make-up contract for her new brides.” Winnie said speaking of her mother’s job as a
make-up artist and a widely sort after one too.
“Okay…coast is clear, you can go and …wait, here are wipes.
As soon as you get to your gate, hide and wipe your make-up off, am I clear?”
Megan said handing over some wipes to her.
“Sure…thank you so much…thank you.” Winnie said again and
taking the small pack of wipes, she dashed out of her mother’s shop.
Megan watched her leave and smiled, she really liked Winnie, she was so polite, well-mannered, down to earth and very respectful, she wished that when she had a daughter, she’d be just like Winnie.
Winnie was the only daughter of her mother, her father had
died long ago while she was still little and her mother remarried when she was
about seven years old to a man who was far older than she was and who had been
married too with grown kids but divorced. She had two step-siblings, both boys
and they were seven and five years old. Winnie loved her parents, and has
always been a good girl as she hated to hear daddy say the words; “I am
disappointed in you, Winnie”
, her step-dad who was now basically her dad was
quite protective of her and never treated her any less than all his five kids-his kids from his ex-wife inclusive.
School had ended for the term and she was promoted to Senior
Secondary three, a very important class, her dad never failed to reiterate, he
made her understand that she had to pass her papers in one sitting as she was
going to attend the University of Lagos, a school that hardly ever accepted
students who hadn’t passed all their subjects in one sitting. She didn’t know
if that was true but since daddy was an alumni of the university, he knew it
all.
Winnie had no friends as she really didn’t socialize, she
was a member of the boring and cooped up students association (BACUSA) in her school, a
nickname given to students who weren’t popular or who didn’t strive for attention. The
reason for her being a part of the club was that even at fifteen years of age,
her mother refused that she wore her dresses without socks and flat shoes.
She was never allowed to let her hair down or do different beautiful styles
like other girls in her class but had to plait her hair every time, all thanks
to mummy Olajumoke, a woman who did her plaits every week. She couldn’t have any makeup
like other girls in her class who had eye pencils, lipsticks, powers and the rest. She couldn’t even
boast of a lip gloss. Her clothes were always picked out by her mom and she
never bought her a dress that was higher than her knees, it was always lower or
ankle length. She wore trousers but they weren’t allowed to be too clingy,
hence she always wore oversize. She wore leggings but only when she was wearing
her knee-length dresses. Life was horrible and she hated it.
As soon as she left her mother’s make-up studio, she walked
down the road, headed towards the bustop.
“Hey…pretty girl…model….sugar…”
These were the words she heard from all and sundry, men
turned around to gawk at her, people called her beautiful and she really felt
pretty. She got to the bustop and took a bus headed home, she really wished she
had some other place to go but unfortunately, she had no other place to go.
None of her classmates were friends with her beyond the classroom and Amaka,
her classmate who came close to being her friend went on a family
vacation with her family. Life clearly sucked.
The bus stopped her at her bustop and she made her way
towards her street, it was a very quiet street, just like her life was and the
house she lived was built by her sixty-seven year old step-dad while he was in
his forties. Winnie walked up to the gate and knocked, the gate man peeped through
the hole in the gate and asked.
“Who is you?”
“It’s Winnie!” She said.
“Ha! Winnie? De Winnie I know is a small geh, dis is a big
woman…” He said.
Winnie gasped when she remembered she still had make-up on
her face, common sense said she should wipe it clean but her vain-self told her
otherwise.
“Abdullahi, it’s me…it’s Winnie! Open the gate.” She said.
“The voice sounds like Winnie, so I open.” He said and opened
the gate.
Winnie walked into the large compound. Her house was a white
one storey building which was weather-washed and had carpet grasses around.
She saw her brothers playing about with their bicycles and they saw her come
into the house.
“Winne! You’re on make-up.” Her seven year old brother,
Micah said with wide eyes.
“So? Mummy wears make-up so it’s no big deal.” She said.
“Mummy is a grown-up and you’re not.” He said.
“Oh shut up.” Winnie said.
“There’s cake and cookies in the fridge for you…” Her
youngest brother, Samuel sang out.
Winnie’s eyes widened.
“Really?”
Her mother was strict with food as well, as she and her
brothers hardly ever got cakes, ice creams or any treats of any kind. ‘I’m
trying to give you kids a healthy life.’
Her mother used to echo as she served them mountain of vegetables.
“You’re lying.” Winnie said.
“No way…” Samuel said.
“Sister Theodora is here, she brought goodies.” Micah said.
Sister Theodora is her step-dad’s biological daughter and
the second of his kids, she was always super nice to them and they loved her,
much more than sister Agatha and brother Patrick, her siblings.
“Are you for real?” Winnie asked in excitement.
“Yup! So go and take your goodies before mommy comes home
and place an embargo on them.” Samuel said.
“Who thought you these big words, smarty?” She asked him as she used her nickname for him.
“You.” He said and gave her a cute smile.
Winnie almost hugged her brother, he was so smart and even at
his age, he knew what their mother could do and yes, if she saw the goodies in
the fridge, she’ll dump them in the garbage bin with the words.
“My husband’s kids
want my children to miss out on living a healthy life.”

Winnie shook her head in trepidation and she thought of what
her mother would do to the chocolaty goodness in the fridge and rushed into the house
through the back door.
She entered the kitchen and brought out the cake from the
fridge as well as the chocolates and began to eat them, savoring the taste and
licking her lips in sheer ecstasy.
“Are you going to eat that alone?” Their house help Kems,
asked.
Winnie wasn’t ready for argument, she cut of a chunk of cake
and handed it over to Kems who accepted with thanks.
“What’s going on with your face?” Kems asked.
Kems loved asking questions, she was a twenty-one year old
lady her mother had brought from the village when her littlest brother was
born. Kems parents had separated and neither wanted to take her so, somehow,
her mother had found her and brought her home. Kems attended a government
school close to their house and she was in Basic nine.
“This your sister can buy goodies for Africa.” Kems said.
“Hmmm…” Winnie replied with mouth full.
“She’s in the sitting room upstairs with your dad, you
should say hello.” Kems said.
“Hmmm…”
“What’s with the make-up?”
“I dunno…”
“Don’t let mummy catch you on make-up or your own is
finished, she’ll beat you ehn.” Kems reminded.
Everyone knew Winnie’s mother was a legendary beater, she
could beat for no reason, she just liked to prove her point with beating. She
beat the gate man, her kids, Kems and the only people she never beat is herself
or daddy.
“Lemme go and say hello to sister Theodora.” Winnie said and
ran out of the kitchen.
She got to the sitting room where daddy and his daughter
were holding a conversation.
“Who’s this grown lady?” Theodora asked with a smile.
“Winnie? Do you want your mom to give us a heart attack?”
Daddy asked.
“Don’t worry your head dad, I’ll clean it off before she
gets home.” Winnie said. “Good afternoon, sister Theodora, welcome home.”
“Awww….my princess…look at you. Come and give me a hug.” She
said with a smile as she rose from the chair.
Winnie walked over to hug her and was surprised to see that
she was pregnant.
“Ha! I’m going to be an aunt?” Winnie asked with a smile.
“You bet!” Her sister said as she hugged her.
“Winnie, Theodora came here with a request.” Daddy said.
Winnie looked at Theodora and her dad and asked. “Request?
What sort of request?”
“I want you to come and spend the summer holidays with me,
it’s so boring in my house and you know my husband goes off shore. Don’t worry, I am going to enroll you in a summer lesson so it’s not going to be all boring with me.” She smiled.
Winnie’s eyes widened as she let out a scream of delight.
“Thank you! God bless you….yay!” She screamed and danced
around.
Daddy and Theodora stared at her in surprise and amazement.
“Wait ooo…does it mean your parent’s house is a hell hole?”
Her dad asked.
“No, it’s not that, daddy….I just need a breather, I need to
leave here for a while.” Winnie said.
“Well, the only person that can really let you come with me
is your mom.” Theodora said.
“But daddy has given his consent, hasn’t he?” Winnie asked.
“You know it’s more complicated than that honey, the only
person who has a right to you in this house is your mom.” Theodora said.
“Oh please daddy…please…tell mommy that you demand that I go
with sister Theodora.” Winnie begged.
“You know I can’t do that love.” Her father said.
“Why don’t you go and wash the make-up off your face, then,
keep your fingers crossed.” Theodora said.
Winnie nodded and left the sitting room, as she left she
heard, her father say.

“You know her mother will never agree to it.”
To be continued tomorrow….

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