Fawzia was the youngest of her three siblings, and loved to draw with chalk, so her parents had painted an entire wall in her room with matte black paint.

One day, Fawzia set out on the quest to draw the largest picture she’d ever dared to draw. When she was almost halfway done, Ziyad — her older brother — walked into the room, took a quick glance of the drawing and told her it was rubbish.

Fawzia stopped in her tracks and looked at him as he said it looked like a bunch of squiggles then walked out. Fawzia stared at the drawing for a minute, rubbed a bit out, then took herself to bed.

The next day, with fresh eyes and optimism, Fawzia went to work on her drawing again. Curves and shades; lines and shadowing, Fawzia kept adding detail to her drawing. No sooner had Fawzia got into her groove, Ziyad appeared in her doorway.

“Gosh!” He gasped. “It looks worse than yesterday,” he said leaning on the door frame. “Why don’t you stick to those stick figures you always draw? You’re great at those,” he said as he turned and walked away.

‘Stick figures?’ Fawzia thought. ‘I am good at stick figures’, and a weak smile crept onto her face. With that, she rubbed out one side of her drawing and started adding her favourite stick figures to the wall.

Every day, Fawzia would add new scenes of stick figures onto the wall and rub out a little more of her delicate drawing that Ziyad disliked; and every day Ziyad would compliment the latest stick figures she added to the wall.

One evening, Fawzia heard a jingle of a voice rise from the front door as it slammed shut. Shamsiya! Fawzia ran and hugged her big sister as she was shaking off her coat.

“I’ve been working on my new drawing, wanna see?”

Shamsiya stood before the spectacle and smiled at the various stick figures and scenes Fawzia had drawn.

“These are good, Fawzee!” she said. And then she took a step closer as she noticed the smudging of a small drawing on a far corner of the board. “What’s that?” she asked.

“Oh, it’s nothing, Fawzia shrugged as her cheeks flushed pink. “Just a silly drawing I started ages ago.”

“Silly? It’s great!” Shamsiya said before walking out of the room.

That night, Fawzia dreamed of the chalk lines of her delicate drawing, slowly pushing through the smudging and erasing the stick figures. They swirled into spectacular shapes shaded in green and blue and fuchsia and teal, until the entire wall was filled with flowers, rivers, hills, and streams. The wall was bright, light, and beautiful.

The next morning, Fawzia rubbed out her stick figures and started on her drawing again. She heard a familiar grunt and gasp in the doorway.

“Thank you, Ziyad. I know it looks great,” she said as she created swirls and streams and rivers, and hills. And every day she would add to her drawing and say, “Thank you, I know it looks great.”

© LaYinka Sanni, 2017


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