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Highly Commended from the Summer Flash Fiction Competition
Head to Okey’s shop as soon as you leave the house, but please, don’t go in your blue shoes; not because your shoes may lose their shine and open up like a dead frog’s mouth should you bathe your feet in Nwakpa’s puddles like I have been told you do; but because I want you to listen to me for once; I know how much you like your blue shoes; how you wear them like horse’s hooves; how they stick to your feet, guiding you wherever you go; I have been told that the big girls at school point and laugh at you, blu-shoo girl, they call you, don’t they?; but you never stop wearing them, even though you cut your hair to skin that time they said your ponytails looked like chicken tail feathers; you will do anything for these shoes; I have noticed how you wear them to dinner, to the bathroom, to church, to the mall, when we visit grandma, everywhere; but, please, do not go to Okey’s shop in your blue shoes; I remember those days I would scold you, telling you that you would never follow me to the market wearing those shoes, and how you would cry, drop to the floor and roll your body in the manner of dying chickens; you are not those gentle daughters who listen to their mothers, and know the way of the broom and grinding stone; you are not one of those daughters who massage ease into their mother’s tired backs; you are not one of those daughters who bring responsible men home; you are not one of those daughters who never lose their dignity outside holy matrimony, because you do not listen to me; but I never let boys touch me, not even a handshake!; on your way to Okey’s shop, I know you will bathe your feet in the puddles of Nwakpa Street along Yaba road but do not let Yaba boys touch you; with your open tooth and this beauty mark on your left cheek that gives you the prettiest smiles, everybody wants to touch you; they will want to run their hands through your long, lustrous hair; they will want to caress your skin that glows under the bright morning sun of Ikoyi; they will want to fiddle with the ribbon in your hair; they will want to feel the skin of the shimmering belt you tie around your gowns at the waist—why do you tie belts around your waist?; but do not let Yaba boys on Nwakpa touch you; if they do, look at them with your father’s fiery eyes; if they dare you, do not hesitate to slap them; Yaba boys stay away from fiery girls; I know it is wrong, unfair, but nothing is fair in life; it is not fair that you do not listen to me; what if I don’t find the strength to slap them?; if you were one of those daughters who listen to their mothers, you would find the strength to slap people who harass you; but you are not, are you?