Nneka used to wear this shade of lipstick that defined those two touching flaps of flesh in a way that made you want them to touch you. And I was lucky because they touched me a lot. Nneka and I were engaged. That was before the war.
Before the war, the two of us would sit on the verandah of my small apartment in a crowded building in Festac, and we would talk, and talk, and talk. She would complain about the smell coming from my next door neighbour's cauldron, as it wafted into our nostrils and made them tingle. And then she would comment, on watching the children playing football downstairs, that Preye and Jide were by far, the best players, and that they deserved to be beneficiaries of a football scholarship. Then our conversation would end in the smearing of lipstick the colour of hybrid hibiscus plants on my lips, my neck, and the rest of my body. In return, I bathed her in my saliva.
Then the war came, and one day, my next door neighbour, the Ijaw woman whose cauldron's aroma used to make our nostrils tingle, ran home from the market, up the ten flights of stairs to our floor, and told me that Nneka was dead, that a bomb had exploded in the market. My ears were on fire, and so were Nnenna's, with the rest of her body, except her lipstick coated lips that stood out in the mass of burnt flesh, like a young hybrid hibiscus, planted in loamy soil.