If anger was a person, Dooshima had become her new best friend. So they now met each passing day and played their lovely game, trying out different makeovers so that, the once smiley face, replica of the sun’s bright shade, of Dooshima was unrecognizable when it contorted like that of a rabid dog who had watched her master murdered, calling on hell and hell fire to guide her words and actions.
It was so much a wonder where this rage of a temper came from. Inasmuch as it was common and expected for couples to be the opposite of each other, it wasn’t so here. Dooshima’s parents, Terna and Dorothy Kwanghise were both very calm and cool-headed people. They were peacemakers. But this wasn’t entirely what made their daughter’s short and grave temper such a mystery, it was that it had been totally nonexistent one day and everywhere the next.
On one of those long vacations that secondary schools gave to their students, who believed they wanted them, but realized after the first boring week that they were incredibly wrong, Dooshima was to be sent to her aunty Sewe’s place; this was becoming something of a custom.
Aunty Sewe lived in the capital city of Benue state, Makurdi, while Dooshima lived with her parents in the dry and dusty area of Otukpo, where houses, no matter which colorful shade they’d been painted, envied the red-faced mud roads so much that they eventually ended up looking like them.
Otukpo may seem like a rural, unexciting place to an outsider because of the red houses that marked its trail and the stories told of the frequent times of drought which did not allow for the luxury of bathing. If one could no longer live with himself, he’d have to make do with a quarter bucket of palm wine for bathing water. But for any of its residents, Otukpo could as well be a second Makurdi. It had electricity, water, schools; it even had tarred roads—where it did. It was a city, all and all.
Dooshima had had quite a number of visits to Makurdi, all for the same reason—to visit her aunty. At first, she was sent on these visits because she actually enjoyed them and would talk nonstop when she returned of the beautiful roundabouts and the elegant modern market, the IBB square and all the exciting places her aunty had taken her. But in the later years, when it was apparent she no longer liked visiting, she was still sent because Dorothy could not put up with her daughter’s bitterness.
Dooshima sat very still and quiet in the car. Her father peeked at her from the corner of his eyes and fruitlessly tried to gauge her thoughts.
“Are you not happy to be visiting your aunty?”
Her reply came immediately. “No.”
“But why?” he inquired.
This time around, her reply didn’t come as swiftly. “I hate…” She hesitated. “She hates me.”
Mr. Terna didn’t know what to make of this and concluded it was hilarious and ridiculous. He decided his daughter had been over-pampered and resolved at that moment to use a stricter hand on her.
“You’ll treat your aunty with respect,” he ordered in a final tone.
Anger flashed across Dooshima’s face and something else he couldn’t read. He preferred to let her be and minded the road instead that came with the surplus gift packs of potholes.
They arrived early at Aunty Sewe’s place, giving Terna enough daylight to head back home to the many things that called for his attention. He was gulping down his bottle of malt when he was picking up his car keys so he never noticed how much even more still and quiet Dooshima had become, with something like fear adding a glint to her eyes. Or were they tears? Mr Terna had already driven off before the first drop fell unseen.
It was just a week later when a call came to wake up Mr. and Mrs. Kwanghise in place of their alarm. It was 2am!
“Do something about that!” Dorothy cried. Her lids had only finally shut minutes ago.
Terna picked the call and in seconds, all the sleep drained from his eyes. He slowly turned to his wife who automatically knew something was wrong and pushed to sit up. He dropped the call with robotic hands and relayed the news with dread cloaking each word.
“Dooshima ran away.”
That same night they left for Makurdi. Aunty Sewe wasted no time in showing them the note Dooshima had left. It read:
I hate you all. You all hate me.
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