She took the tube out of a thin, small black bag and looked at it for a moment. It had a beautiful woman with milky white skin on it. She opened the cap, turned it around and pushed it back onto the top to break the seal, and out came this white cream. She had a piece of a mirror that she borrowed, well stole, from the girl next door, and she stared at herself, squinting her eyes, as it was rather difficult to see through the cracks of the glass. She placed a little bit of the cream on the tip of her index finger, and placed dots on her cheeks, chin, nose and forehead, and using round motions applied it all around her face. She looked to see if it made a difference. It didn’t. Yet.

Nayaa, did you cook the anjero?” her mother screamed from her room. She jumped up from where she was seated and ran outside to set up the charcoal stove.  She placed a few charcoals underneath it, doused a little gasoline on top of them, threw a lit match in, and started fanning immediately. She was running short on time. The boys would be up soon.

“Yes, hooyo, I’m still cooking it,” as if she didn’t just start. The fumes from the stove irritated her eyes. She started to rub then, but now her eyes were burning. She tried to open them with no luck. She couldn’t see anything, and tears were coming out of her eyes. Frustrated, she reached around for some water, but couldn’t find anything. She stood up to look for some, knocked the gasoline on her dress, and bumped into the charcoal stove, lighting herself on fire. She dropped onto the sand, and started rolling, screaming for her mother, “Hooyo, help me! Hooyo, help! I’m on fire, Help!!!” Her eyes were burning, and in between rubbing her eyes, and rolling to stop the fire, sheer panic started to envelop her. Then utter darkness enclosed in on her as she closed her eyes. Is this how death feels? Am I really dying?, she thought.

Her mother, unsure of what to do, reacted on instinct and threw water on her daughter. The girl screamed in terror, but the fire was extinguished. Then silence.

“What happened, nayaa? Can’t you cook a simple anjero breakfast without setting yourself on fire?” She screamed at her unresponsive daughter.  She squatted down next to her daughter and nudged her little bit with her index finger to get a response from her. “Hoda, wake up! What is going on with you? Wake up!!”  No response. She jumped up as sudden realization hit her, and ran to the neighbors, screaming, and crying, “I need a doctor! Someone get a doctor! My daughter! Someone help me!!!”

“Nadia, what’s going on? “said Aisha, her neighbor. “What has happened to Hoda?”

“She ‘s dead! Someone help me! She’s dead!” cried Hoda’s mother. “Please, call someone for me! Please!” She fell down on her knees raising her hands up in the air in prayer,” Ya Allah, why?? What has caused this to happen? Please make her well! “she wailed on, as her neighbors ran to Hoda.  Aisha’s husband, who was a physician, was home and instantly felt for a pulse. It was faint. He covered her, picked her up and ran to the car. There wasn’t an ambulance in the small town, so he had to drive her to the nearest hospital which was 25 kilometers away.

The Diana cream was still in the bedroom.  In it was the promise of lighter skin. She’d be a fair beauty. Men would come from afar, begging for her hand in marriage, and pay her mother so much money in dowry. Songs would be made about her, she would be renamed caddeey , and her soon bulging blue veins, appearing underneath her light skin, would be a wonder and amazement to them.  Her prince charming would come from America, or England, and take her from this miserable life of waking up at 5am to make anjero for her five brothers whom her mother favored. She would show her. Her old man skipped town a long time ago and left her mother with all six kids of theirs. She had to quit school to cook and clean after the boys. After all, she was but a girl.

Hoda was in the back of the car feeling numb as her body was throbbing with pain. She lay still, and her eyes were closed. The wind was howling outside and swooshing the trees back and forth. It was actually a rather sweet melody and it lulled her to sleep. The birds were chirping and instead of darkness, she saw light and felt as though she was being carried away.  Her breathing slowed down, and she took her last breath while thinking of her mother; how she ignored her presence all the time other than yelling at her to take the boys to school, or to clean up after them once they ate, and how she never showed her any love and affection as a mother. She would often remind Hoda how she looked like that useless tool of a father of hers. She was going to show her… She was going to be great. She would be the one Hooyo would be so proud of and love the most.


There was so promise in her plans, but they started with Diana, and ended with Diana.


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