“Must’ve been intense”, remarked the light-skinned woman staring intensely into my face. I enjoyed watching the frightful apprehensiveness budding in her eyes.
“A tiger you say…”
“Must’ve been quite something…”
“Does it hurt?”
“Can I tou…” she reached out her hand but was interrupted by the train halting. It’s my stop, so I walked towards the exit.
As I exit the train station, I think about Annette whom I had just met on the train ride, and I immediately wished I would see her again. Not because I fancied her company for any reason, but because I would have liked to tell her the real origin of the marks on my face. But as I thought about the elaborate tale of the tiger-fight I told her, I was a little comforted that blonde Annette would have a story to tell of an exotic man who fought tigers in Africa.
I have thought about Annette once or twice since I got back to Nigeria. And today, as I walk down the busy market in the Centre of the town, I pass through a small shop selling wigs and I see, with my side-eye, a blonde wig on the head of a pale mannequin. The hair is curly and frizzy and blonde.
“Oga, you no go buy for madam?” asked the shop attendant, smiling.
I now realize that I’ve been fixated on the mannequin’s wig for a while. The sun is scorching, and I now feel beads of sweat forming on my temple.
“Oga, leave the sun ehn. Come check, you go see for madam”, the attendant says.
I ignore her and walk toward the market exit.
As I scramble to find the market exit, an unfamiliar man in a flowery shirt hails me from afar with a weathered voice. And as I turn and squint in his direction, I step my foot into a pile of rotting tomatoes.
I gnarl under my breath.
I continue to walk for a little while before I realize that I have missed my way and circled back to the same shop selling Annette’s hair.
“Oga you come back?” the attendant smiles again at me. I notice her nose ring and cross-eye.
“How much?” I ask, pointing at the hair on the pale mannequin bust.
“Na seven-five last sir.”
“With the mannequin?”
“Manni-gini?” she responds puzzled.
“The head. I want to buy the head too.”
I leave the market that day with a bag of Annette’s mannequin bust, and another with the items on my grocery list.
As I finally find the market exit and board a rickety saloon taxi, I find Mr. Flowery Shirt aboard the taxi too. We are headed in the same direction.
“Brotherly!” he yells again.
“We are all brothers o, but you are my brother brother.” he continues in a familiar dialect.
“Well done sir!” I reply cordially.
As we settle in the Peugeot and drive past the local Post Office, a small hope kindles in my mind as I remember Annette mention in passing that she works at The Post Office on Maysworth.
An Annette at The Post Office on Maysworth should not be hard to find.
Mr. Flowery Shirt has fallen asleep beside me while I was thinking about the Post Office. And as I stare at him, I realize that I do not so far, like anything about this man. I watch him, asleep with his mouth open, a steady stream of spit flowing down his mouth to his shirt.
A little further up from his mouth are vertical marks that almost exactly mirror mine and in one instant, put in my heart a warm and almost divine feeling of kinship and camaraderie.
I hit his arm and he jolts awake, and wipes his mouth with his hand.
“Brotherly,” I hear myself say to him “We don almost reach bus stop.”
Noyor is a photographer and budding writer based in Warri, Nigeria. Her work has been shortlisted for The Christian Storyteller Prize. She’s currently trying to learn Japanese for the sole purpose of exploring their unique script-implied double and triple entendres. She also plans to live forever. So far, so good.