Short Story: Illuminated Shame

by Shehu Idris

Here she comes, elegant in gait, each step taken gingerly like she had a designated footpath carved into the ground.

Her newly made cornrows sat gorgeously on top her radiant round face. The face that housed those naturally erect and long eyelashes, the straight nose that seemed to be always glowing and full pink lips that curved into a hypnotizing smile.

Her chest looked round and firm, her hips curving out of the cream and crimson of her school uniform.

Here she comes…Oh! She almost caught me staring.

Her name was Imọlẹ́, a Yorùbá​ name which translates to “Illumination” in English.

There could’ve been no better name to give this girl that illuminated my heart throughout Secondary School.

I would chew her name endlessly like a tough horse meat and my jaws won’t ache.

Every night on my flattened mattress in the privacy of my room, I scribbled poems about her into a special jotter before I let myself​ drift into the dream world.

The only world where I can look at her, talk to her and have her reciprocate.

I would often wake up from these numerous dreams cuddling and grinding my hard pillow.

This gnawing feeling of ‘owning’ Imọlẹ started as just a mild infatuation that kindled a little yellow flame of love, that was later fuelled into a seething cauldron of passion that has now engulfed my entire heart.

Nobody knew about the overwhelming feeling of this love that was burning quietly within me.

Nobody, not even Imọlẹ̀.

Girls like her barely know the names of guys like me, not to mention the powerful and mighty statements like “date me” or “kiss me”.

I could hear her return every compliment that was thrown at her by fellow classmates, ending each one with a loud “Good morning”.

Too afraid to look at her not to talk of greeting her, I swerved my vision to others in the class and, as usual, they were all ogling her voluptuous backside as she sashayed across the occupied rows of seats.

All eyes were looking in that direction.

All eyes…boys’ and girls’.

She’s the dream girl of most boys and the Super Model of most girls. She was just in a class of her own, our very own Naomi Campbell.

“It won’t be too bad to look too” I concluded and then swivelled my neck towards the “centre of attention”.

Just as I started feeding my eyes, she stopped abruptly, turned and our eyes met.

I could feel my heart palpitating fearfully against ​my chest. I turned my gaze quickly onto the empty blackboard but it was too late; she had caught me eyeing her…her backside.

I could hear my bowel rumble aloud and my rear ready to give way for hot poo as she made a beeline for my seat.

“Ye! What will I say?” I muttered underneath my gasping breath, eyes still firmly fixed on the blackboard.

With the side of my eyes, I followed her blurry figure. I mounted a bold front, ready to take all the insult she’ll rain on me like a man that I am…or the man that I wish I were.

I held my breath still until she sauntered across my ‘hot seat’ and sank into a vacant seat behind me.


I thought the dangerous times have passed until I felt her soft hand tap my shoulder.

My entire body stiffened as if her hand was a Taser.

Sweats brewing forcefully on my wrinkled forehead, I turned my neck backward at the speed of a pregnant snail.

“Hi,” she greeted, in that lovely dulcet voice that eased all my tensed organs. “Ife, good morning,” she added.

My heart leapt triumphantly about in my rib cage.


I was so shocked that my brain couldn’t wire a response immediately.

“Good…good…good morning,” I finally produced, my head bobbing uncontrollably as I beamed a wide smile.


The day took a far better turn when she invited me for lunch.

I don’t believe in lucky charms but something I had on at that moment had probably been enchanted by some fairies.

Imọlẹ̀, the girl that I love with the whole of my heart but have never talked to before, greeted me and even invited me on a date…all in just one day.

Hell yeah!

I needed to circle this date on my calendar.

It was a quick lunch of hot puff-puff and cold bottles​ of sobo.

I avoided her eyes the whole time, my gaze fixed on my bottle of sobo.

“Ife, you know I’ve been watching you for a while,” she began, drawing towards me on the long bench. “You are quite different from the other boys. You’re brilliant, good looking and calm.”

I was about to say something when she placed her index finger on my lips, hushing me.

“I love you, Ifẹ.”

She placed her soft palm on my cheek​, encouraging me to look into her eyes.

Those words were a tad too sweet for my brain to process while eating, so I forced the mouthful of snack down my throat with a loud gulp.

With my fears swallowed with the lunch, I raised up my head and look into those bright brown eyeballs of hers and replied “I love you too.”

I let myself get lost in the bottomless abyss of passion I could see through her eyes and pushed my head forward with my lips pouted.

I was about to feel the soft skin of her lips when, suddenly, I felt a sharp pain on my back.

Another pain followed in quick succession and rattled through my body.

“Wake up!” was the statement that accompanied the third lash and it jerked me back to reality.

I was greeted by the intimidating figure of Mr. Odekunle – our Mathematics Teacher, who was standing in front of my desk clutching a long, lean cane.

“So, you’re sleeping in my class. Go outside, kneel down, raise up your hands and close your eyes!”

I was slow and he barked on some more before releasing a couple more lashes of the cane down my back.

The entire class roared in laughter.

Amidst pain and tears, I searched for Imọlẹ while I was making the walk of shame through the rows of chairs and I saw her.

I saw the girl…the girl I’ve just dreamt of.

I saw the lady of my dreams shaking with laughter. She appeared the most amused.

I wished the ground I was standing on could split and swallow me.

I wished…badly.

Utter shame.


Shehu Idris is a Mass Communication student at the University of Lagos, with the sobriquet, ‘Unchoppable Eba’.

Connect with him on Twitter: @NA_Idrizeba

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