Mary Stella OkoloNigeriaWriting2006
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UNESCO-Aschberg Fellow

Exile

 

I stood in front of the mirror in my room taking in my square features and my baleful eyes. ‘Now you know,’ an inner voice consoled.
I had thought the knowledge would help me resolve my internal conflicts…expel forever the feeling of an alien on a lone voyage. Now the knowledge had intensified my awareness of abandonment.

 

‘I don’t want to have anything to do with her. Not now. Not ever.’

 

A chill descended on me. I left the mirror and sat on my bed. The recollection of that voice had triggered a flood of memories.

 

When was I not an exile?

 

The first time I went to school, at age five, the small girl who sat next to me took one look at my square head, face and baleful eyes and began to scream. When the teacher came to find out what it was, she said in a broken voice, while pointing at me, that a masquerade was sitting beside her. While some members of the class laughed, some kids about her age and mine were terrified. I was consigned to the back of the class with a fourteen-year-old late starter, nicknamed Mama T, who turned out to be an excellent bully. All my break snacks ended up in her voluptuous stomach. There was no one I could complain to. The only time I had attempted, the teacher avoided looking at me and without listening to what I had to say told me to go and join the other kids for break exercise. Of course, I did not play with the other kids. They would not let me except if I wanted to be the butt of all their unkind jokes. That again left me with no choice but to put up with Mama T who the kids were set against admitting into their puerile activities. For six years I was at the claws of Mama T.

 

Now I’m not so sure why I never complained at home. Why I didn’t tell Auntie Kika. Or may be I knew. Or at least subconsciously I must have known that Auntie Kika was the only one shouldering the burden of my monstrous personality…