Thunder ravaged Allen Avenue. No one could hide from its intermittent blasts that rocked the city like a boat on a stormy sea.
Amaka shuddered in a corner at the sound of another thunder roar. Her feet hugged close to her shivering body, drops of water fell from the long matted curls spread on her face.
She had been unprepared for the arrival of the rain, and like many others, had taken refuge in the local church. It was quiet but for her breathing that came in raspy short intervals. She heard the giggles and the laughter in the voices that approached.
A scar ran across her face like an irrevocable curse, marking her out, placing a tag on her.
It had been an accident, so her mother said. On that fateful night, there had been a thunderstorm like never before and everyone marvelled that she had not perished along with their little house and belongings.
She remembered little of the fire but she had heard the daring tales of her miraculous rescue. All she had as a reminder was the dreaded mark, for life. She felt a warm hand on her shoulder, and looking upward, with misty eyes, she heard the voice of the cheerful woman that took care of the children during the services.
“The rain has stopped now,” she was saying. “You can go home.”
A blanket covered Amaka with warmth and tender hands urged her to her feet.
She came out of her hiding place and walked out of the church. A tall man with a handsome face stood by the gate, talking, and his hands moving animatedly as he entertained the dazzling beauty by his side.
Amaka’s heart skipped as recognised him. Pastor Daniel. She never missed any of his Sunday school classes, seated on the same position, by the window, head bowed down, and her scar hidden from prying eyes.
Her stomach tied up in knots but it was only a foolish fantasy for he did not care much for her. No one did anyway. It no longer hurt to know there was no gentleman hanging around, seeking attention, or wanting to do anything special for her. She was ugly but she knew there was Someone who she mattered to, someone who saw her deeper than anyone else, Someone who could see beyond the scars.
As Amaka turned, Pastor Daniel looked upwards and their gazes met, like an acquaintance’s handshake, and slid away, unnoticed.
Daniel recognised her immediately. Each time he met her scarred face during his long teachings, he politely looked away to brighter looking sights - smooth unblemished faces, good looking beauties in the congregation with large eyes that encouraged, strong hands that clapped and motivated as he spoke, and captivating smiles that held promises of a life of togetherness. A face like Amaka’s only reminded him of the suffering and the misery of the world he had been sent to…
“Do you know her?” Tina asked him with her angelic voice. Her eyes were like large shiny peach fruits and a winning smile decorated her face.
Daniel let the question slip by unanswered and he walked by Tina's side who he hoped one day would become his wife.
A child with a runny nose, no more than five, tugged at Tina’s wonderful dress. Tina pushed the thin hand away, her eyes flashing fire as impatience echoed in her voice. “Please get away from me…”
Daniel saw the disappointment in the child’s face and felt the rejection in the young eyes. He sought to say something but Tina had already walked ahead. He moved quickly to catch up with her.
Tina smiled at him, the special smile she reserved for him. “Some of all these people are pests, always looking for trouble…”
The wind was getting chillier and Daniel tightened his arms around himself. He heard a sound and turned around. It was Dinah, and the child with a runny nose. The soft look in the eyes brought him to a halt.
Dinah’s blanket was wrapped around the child and she squatted, attending to the child with tenderness.
Dinah sensed someone was watching and she looked into Daniel’s eyes. They were misty with tears.
Daniel had never seen a more beautiful sight.
It was beautiful. She was beautiful.
His heart thudded.
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