Enemy Within

My enemy staring right before me in the mirror. Scarier than a horror movie. Am I a demon sent from hell because I don’t understand why I can be so ugly. I can still hear them calling me “monster! Monster!”. When is it going to end? ( She burst into tears). The thought of beholding the “enemy within” every day breaks her.

Enemy Within
Image Credit: Vlad Ilinca

It’s Monday again, I am going to school, the most dreadful place on earth, well, at least Debby is there, my best friend. Who sees me miraculously for who I am and not what I look like. I want to leave the bed to prepare for school but the bed does not want to leave me, let me just obey my bed, besides obedience is better than sacrifice. 5!4!3!2!1!.

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Chantel! Leave that bed right now. always on time. “Mummy I don’t want to go to school today, my stomach is paining me”

Mum answered, Pele, take paracetamol, it will go, but you see that school, you are going. My mum always believes in two cure, prayer and paracetamol.

Mum, I’m having a headache; take paracetamol. Mum, I’m feeling dizzy, take paracetamol.. it looks like you are having malaria o, oya drink paracetamol. If you leave my mother, she will give prescribe paracetamol to HIV patients. I sincerely wish paracetamol can cure my look, make me look less of a monster.

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I  have a very thick dry skin with scales all over my body like a fish,

My eyelids are turned out.

Medically it is called Harlequin Ichthyosis, it is a rare genetic skin disorder, it is caused by the changes of the gene that give instructions for making protein that is very good for the skin cell to develop normally; but spiritually, it is called “earthly abomination”.

Though mum has tried everything within her powers apart from paracetamol to make me beautiful like my mate.

we have gone to tons of churches for deliverance, where pastors consistently shout die!die!die, I was confused.

I started asking myself if he is referring to me or my skin, my skin is still me. Wait for it, there’s this pastor that said, I am the queen of the coast, I am not supposed to be on earth but in the marine to lead my people,(laughing) orishirishi. My mother answered him very well, she said that it is him and his generation that comes from the marine and will go back there. I have taken garlic, ginger, dogoyaro, ogogro… God help me, but all that cannot be compared to the nightmare of going to school.

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At least United Christian Academy accepted me despite my predicament, so many schools rejected me just at a glance at me, according to them, they are protecting the welfare of other students. In spite of the fact that I was welcomed by the school, I wasn’t welcome by the students and some of the teachers.. how I managed to finish primary school, I don’t know, but hell itself is secondary school.

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So I lazily got into the shower, took my bath, wore my uniform with my everyday hoody sweater, come rain or sunshine. I have an elder brother called Derrick, who is very cute and is always ready to fight anybody that insults me, he is so brave, caring, and intelligent. I wonder, maybe,  if I looked normal, I could have been beautiful too, well, if only wishes were horses. We attended the same school so we always go to school together and come home together.

When we got to school, he hugged me goodbye and went to his class, now, Debby saw me and came to me, Chantel, “guess what?”

I asked “What? Babe you know I am terrible at guessing.”

“Just guess,” she said;

“okay, Dwayne Johnson wants to marry me, you know I like them big,” I said  (Laughing), “I am serious,” she said,

” I don’t know, just tell me I said…”

“Okay, you’re overall best student academically in the whole Jss 3. Your name is everywhere.”

“Jesus” I screamed, “I don’t want my name to be everywhere, it is better for them to just buy me free lunch than pasting my name all over the school.”

Debby said “come on how long do you want to hide under your sweater,”

I replied “Forever my sister” I quickly ran into the class. The stare was so much, I could not decode if they were good stare, bad stare, or disgusting stare. So I cringed close to the wall and did not even go for break.

Then the unimaginable happened. Richard Okon, the finest boy in the whole school, he is even finer than my brother, every girl’s crush, he is not big like my Dwayne but I still admire him secretly.

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He came to me and said “Hi Chantel, my name is Richard”,

“I know, we are classmates and you’re the most popular boy in the school. What do you want from me, please hurry up, people are staring too much…” I said fidgeting.

“Let them stare, I like you and please I want us to be friends.”

My brain screamed “FRIEND! FRIEND!” while my stomach started singing “oh happy day”. I quickly composed myself, “are you sure, it is Chantel the monster..”

Then he said, “I want to be your friend just like your Debby…” (my heart screamed Oluwa o) “okay. I want us to study together, have fun together, even go home together, in fact, I want you to be my girlfriend”

My lips became dried, I moved my sweater a bit, probably my scales are all gone, nope, they were there staring at me… I smiled and nodded my head. When I got home I broke the news to my mum, but I did not tell her he asked me out o, I don’t want sermon, I told her he asked me to be his friend and I told Derrick the whole gist, mum was very happy while Derrick was a bit skeptical about the whole “girlfriend” stuff. Today is the best day of my life I screamed out of joy.

Throughout the term, Richard and I were so close, I became more popular, but this time not only as “the monster”, but as the monster dating an angel. He was so sweet, we did everything together, studied, ate, sang, I even danced, mind you, I am a very terrible dancer.. but for him, I was ready to look for Kafy to teach me.

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After the term exam, we started preparing for the end of term party, I normally do not attend the party, it will be my first one, my mum was happy that I am finally socializing, she bought me a very pretty blue gown, very fitted and nice, black hills, fixed my hair, rubbed powder for the first time in my scally face with lip gloss, this time, I did not wear my sweater, neither did I wait for Derrick, I ran to school to see Richard, I searched for him but he was nowhere to be found, my desperation took me to the male toilet.

I wanted to shout his name when I heard him and his friend talking, so I listened.

Maybe he is telling his friend how much he loves me.

His friend Simon asked “Richard your result was so good, all thanks to your girlfriend”

“God forbid, who is my girlfriend, that ugly monster.. the only thing fine about her is her name and brain, she is so ugly, anytime I see her, I feel like vomiting and whenever I touch her, I use iron sponge to scrub my hand, she is the reflection of the devil himself”.

“So why did you asked her out?”

“Very simple, I needed her to trust me, so she can assist me in this our exam, see, all this is for show, the person I am really dating is her friend Debby, she was even the one that told me to just do it, she said, I know she is disgusting but just overlook it, act and pass. She told me that as she is ugly like that, her crush his Dwayne Johnson” (they all laughed)

“Even a leper will reject her…but guy you try o, for a full term”

“Bro, it was not easy o, but Debby was compensating me very well, she said she is managing her as friends so she can pass too,  so what I am going to do is openly break up with her at this party. She is a beast and needs to be treated like one, she is even supposed to be in the forest for experiment, because her face causes nightmares, and besides I don’t roll with monsters.”

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Chantel was broken as she ran outside, Richard saw her, knowing that she heard everything. he chased after out of fear that he won’t get help during exams, so distracted by fear and the chase, they were both hit by a drunk driver.

Richard wakes up at the hospital, out of guilt, he asked “is Chantel okay”

Then the doctor answered

“hmm, the accident damaged your liver while Chantel’s condition was very critical due to her health history, there was no way she could make it, so she consented to give you her liver, so you could live. Her family also agreed to it because it was her last wish before she died, am sorry for your loss”.

Tears gushed out of his eyes, with pain in his heart he said: “she’s not dead, she lives within”.


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