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The mosquito bite marks on her fair skin had increased than they had been two days ago. I could count a dozen more fresh red bite marks.

“You didn’t go home last night, did you?” I asked her, sounding harsher than I had intended. It was not a careless assumption. Timah was from an affluent family who could afford to fumigate the house till the next two generation, so these marks were obvious pointers that the pretty lady who stood in front of me had slept under another man’s roof. What awed me was how she cooked up the sumptuous lies she fed people; I was a major part of the lie, I saw through every new one. She’d brag to her parents about designing new styles of jalabiya with the new machine bought for her, but she wasn’t even done with the cutting phase.

She dropped her long wrap skirt abruptly, locking her fingers, obviously furious and disappointed that I hadn’t complimented the new laali lines she was trying to show me which always accentuated her fairness.

Fatima was a child of wedlock, and her current lifestyle and daily escapades with her many strange men seemed to taunt the possibility that that trend would not end with her mother, as it hadn’t ended with her grandmother. The three generations before her had been born out of wedlock, an interesting open secret of the family which was beginning to seem hereditary.

Her parents were striving to curtail any form of waywardness; but Timah wanted the wild life, the freedom. So she had encouraged her mother to enroll her for the tailoring class. Her fees were paid once while most of us still struggled to pay half. Mallam Babu was a renowned fashion designer who was said to design and sew the clothes of the state’s first lady. He only took students who were either exceptionally good or exceptionally wealthy. I fell into the former and crossed paths with the crafty Fatimah. My father always told me that a crafty person cannot deceive everyone every time, so I awaited Timah’s fallout. I smelt it, it was in the air, an easily recognizable and domineering stench.

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