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by zainab abubakar

Eid & there is the smell of a busy morning of cloves & someone making tea of green leaves doused in ginger water meats sizzling in hot oil. Together my cousins and I clamber over sofas

We do all the wrong things & someone complains. But they are harmless mistakes so leave the children, they will learn to grow. A room packed with all the other girls these ones are not like us

They have girlish smiles; adorn their eyes with kohl worry about the texture of powder on their faces the fragrance of perfumes whose boyfriend is hotter more handsome talk in hushed voices sometimes sweetened with sugar when Ahmed or Mustapha calls

Cousin sleepovers I remember them like this bright smiles pretty faces & sometimes they send us on errands and reward us with candies bribe their way into our silence as they sneak into the night. The last I saw of them their smiles washed off their faces weighed down by the weight of children who do all the wrong things &the other crushed by the weight of none the girls locked up in a distant memory.

Time passes & we metamorphose into giggles we are in a room packed with all the other girls we are not like the others we talk about boys who say they love us lies we lie facing the

ceiling our heads dangling from the bed we laugh our way into the night. We have girlish smiles adorn our eyes with kohl our lips too our wrist with dangling bracelets we glue sequins

on our noses on our ears dream of days when we grow the courage to pierce through our skins a time when we will not be reprimanded

Time passes & we grow into silence cousin sleepovers something that lives in our memories there is nothing funny. No boy to extract the giggles from us. The last I saw of

us we talk about anything but us promise to keep in contact but forget & Eid doesn’t Eid like before. Everyone leaves & our smiles are washed off weighed down

by the weight of all the wrong things we did.


Zainab Abubakar is a writer, photographer and a lover.

Image by Bree Anne
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