A lot of teenagers were embarrassed of and by their parents but Priscilla bore this much more than any of her peers. Priscilla, on days the gods decided to smile upon her was a Queen bee in her own right. Part of this was due to the colour of her skin. She was what Nigerians beguilingly call half-caste. Her hair fell over her shoulders in a way African hair isn’t supposed to. And this wasn’t due to the ferocious heat and voluntary torture other African women who coveted straight, softer hair had to subject themselves to. No, it was her blood. The blood of her Italian father it seemed was in a winning streak against the Nigerian genes of her mother in terms of hair and lips. The hair flowed in her veins. And her lips were a carving of love from the moulder Himself. Her nose wasn’t African either. It was hers. Neither flat nor pointed. Hard to categorize. In short, it seemed like Priscilla got the best of both worlds in terms of looks.
The other part was, she was voluptuous in a way that was peculiar to African women or women of African descent. She had well-formed teenage breasts and hips perfectly curved giving the appearance of the figure eight. Lastly, and most importantly, she was intelligent. Not just book smart but also experienced in worldly affairs. She knew what sex was. She knew what drugs were. She knew what men were. She recognized folly her age mates were not naturally equipped to recognize. She knew what literature was. She understood the words of Buchi Emecheta, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sefi Atta, she read them like scripture. She was immersed in the history of peoples, their struggles and would often quote James Baldwin in the most unexpected circumstances. She isn’t a know it all, it is just that she had read them so well and so often that they had become a part of her.
When a girl at school had gossiped about her and said to the boys in their class that Priscilla had had abortions and often did aristo for her mother who took her to get abortions all the time. Priscilla had confronted her and when the girl started crying she said: “People can cry much easier than they can change, you are a gossip, a busybody and I should have let your shame live with you”
Of course, James Baldwin had not used the statement ‘People can cry much easier than they can change’ to refer to teenage girls who after a pregnancy scare went to their ‘experienced’ friend who together with her ‘aristo’ mom took her to a planned parenthood clinic.
But it was the same in the end. People find it hard to change.
Which is why on days the gods were asleep, Priscilla had her rep dropped. She became the whore in embryo. Asides the fact that she was a stunning beauty at fifteen and was susceptible to envy of other women and unwanted attention of men who were older than her father, she was also the only daughter of a single mother in a big city who also happened to be an Italian returnee.
It was an open secret that Pricilla’s mother, Omotinne had been a lucciole – a firefly in Italy. How that came about Priscilla could never know. Omotinne and her daughter were close in a way that was not generally applauded in their community. They talked about everything except that part of Omotinne’s life. Of course, Omotinne should know that the fact that she doesn’t talk about it does not mean that other people wouldn’t and to her daughter’s hearing. And Priscilla often wondered if her mother was truly who she thought she was. If it was possible for her mother to have changed.