The Way Home from Uzonta
It all began in 1999. Abby was sixteen and a senior at Hannatu Memorial High School. She was the first of five children. The other children were Kamsi, John, Zara, and Kosi. Among these, she only had one sister, Kamsi, her immediate younger and naturally, they were best friends.
Abby was so light-skinned that, without her hair covered, one may mistake her for an albino who had been away from the sun for a long time. But seeing her with her coal-black hair you would realize how wrong you were. At first glance, she looked very much the part of a calm and collected young girl but you would be wrong again.
Abby had a very calm exterior and many people who knew her in school could count the number of times they had seen her laugh. In spite of this mask of seriousness she wore all day, every day, she was a surprisingly kind and generous person so naturally, she had many friends. But all her friends were girls. For some reason, she did not have any male friends in her class, school or neighborhood.
Her friend Maria was of the opinion that she had the kind of beauty that intimidates. Her beauty may be responsible for the absence of male friends in her life but some other people were of the opinion that her reputation for fighting and defeating any student or person who dared fight her friends or siblings was a more likely reason why the boys avoided Abby.
Every day when her parents came home from work, parents, and guardians of fellow students whom Abby had beaten up for the day would line up in their living room to lay complaints of what Abby had done to their children. Incidentally, all her victims were taller and of bigger stature than her so her father always found it amusing that she could not only fight but defeat these children. He would usually invite Abby to apologize to the parents and their children and promise she would leave them alone going forward.
Abby knew the truth but she never bothered to share it with any person. Leaving those children alone was not really up to her. They had a choice to beat up her friends and siblings or not. As long as they continued to make the wrong choices, they were sure to get the retribution from her and no promise was going to change that. One day her father realized his approach was not working and he could not punish her forever. She was a straight-A student and was always keen to help her mother on house chores and to take care of her younger ones. Besides he understood that all her fights started from how protective she was of her family and friends. He could not stop her schoolmates from aggravating her so he decided to try talking to her father-to-daughter.
“Abby, may I see your hands?” he said, spreading his own hands. “Do you see how big they are? They are not average hands. And that's the reason why I stopped fighting when I was much younger than you now are. I will leave you with the words of my father,
These are blacksmith’s hands like your grandfather’s. You could kill someone with your bare hands if you're not careful.
I need you to remember that next time you decide to avenge your friends.”
The Wavy Crowd...
The very next day, a new student transferred to Hannatu Memorial. He was a tall, handsome boy called Kanu. His father, a police commissioner, was transferred to the town recently. The boy considered himself a sort of celebrity, always walking around as if he was on the runway of a fashion show. He had wavy hair and could easily be seen brushing his hair repeatedly whenever there was no teacher in class. Kanu and Abby were classmates and Abby did not like him one bit.
Before the end of the week, Kanu had become the most popular boy in school with a new set of a gang, all clutching hair brushes. His posse called themselves Wavy. Each time their admirers hailed them, “Wavy!”, you'd hear the calm reply, “We’re drowning the earth!”
One thing was for sure, they weren't drowning Abbey’s ability to win a fight anytime soon. It seemed that Kanu had heard about Abby’s reputation, and to get to her, he gave Kosi a knock on the head. Kosi cried to Abby’s class. School had just dismissed for the day and Kanu was on his way when he knocked Kosi on the head intentionally.
Abby saw her little brother crying, tears running down her face. “It was that new boy. I did nothing to him, he just knocked my head and his friends laughed…”
Scores to Settle...
These words were more than she could have heard as she left her books and sundry to locate the boy. Kanu was already on his way home. Coincidentally, Abby found him along the road, just after the school fence, called Uzonta. Uzonta means ‘Narrow Way’ was so named because not only the road was narrow but it was also a lonely road. Tales of a ghost having been seen on that road by many people abound. It was perhaps because of this, or in spite of it, that it became the designated fight zone for students.
It was Abby’s custom not to confront. She came into a fight with full speed and the fight usually ended as it was starting. This earned her the nickname Hurricane. She always seemed to be prepared so on that day as she reached Uzonta, she quickly ran into the surrounding bush and appeared with a cane. She flogged Kanu who blocked most of the blows with his arms. Even though Abby was confident that she was winning the fight, she was uncomfortable with his fighting style. She wondered how the fight was going to end but she didn't have to wonder for long because Kanu ran away with his long strides and she was unable to catch up.
When she got home that afternoon, she expected Kanu to show up with his parents as her other victims would. She looked forward to it but nobody came. The next day, Kanu showed up at school completely unruffled, hairbrush in hand and hair as wavy as ever, drowning the earth as he would say. Abby paid him no attention but what really got on her nerves was the fact that he came to her the very moment he arrived school taunting her for her another fight.
“Hey, Daddy's little girl. So you could not stand up and fight without your little stick as a weapon. I enjoyed yesterday a lot. Why don't we do it again this afternoon? Same time, same venue. What do you say?”
Abby did not respond but she was not satisfied with the outcome of the last fight so she was inclined to let this one slide. Besides, there was no offense. In her opinion, he was just a spoiled little boy and she did not need to speak to him.
School dismissed and Abby was set to go home without any event but Kanu had other plans. He waited for her at Uzonta and when she came across, he went over and stood in her way. She tried to pass him but he kept blocking her way. After several minutes, Abby lost her temper and punched him in the stomach. He bent over so she kicked him in the chest such that he fell over. She went her way. This kind of altercation continued every day after school until Abby became tired of the routine.
“What is wrong with you? Have you not received enough beating from me?” she asked.
“Oh, no, from you I haven't. These have turned out to be the best part of my day,” he replied, smiling.
“Yes. I discovered that there was no other way to get your attention except through these little fights and it has been fun, by the way,” he said.
“Fun? I'm glad you have been enjoying yourself. I've hated myself each time I beat you up except for the first day, of course.”
“Don’t kid yourself, Abby. I let you win each time. Couldn't you tell?”
Abby and Kanu, to the chagrin of their spectators, became friends and were inseparable for their remaining days in secondary school. They started dating in their first year at the University.
Looking at their wedding picture now, after twelve years of marriage, Abby could not help but smile as she reminisces how Uzonta led her here.