I forgot to tell you that Mila has forgotten her shade. The one that was bestowed upon her, her name.

You see……….

Mila loves colours. She embraces the vibrant and pulsating ones as well as the spiritless anaemic ones. She thinks they are brilliant and, that they all possess certain characters.

Mila always sees colours. Even while in deep slumber, she dreams of being wrapped in silks of innumerable colours. The blend of each colour against her skin feels more like a melange between her skin and the colour of each fabric.

Mila travelled wide to learn all she could about colours. Her feet carried her far, through lands of pale and flushed hues as the seasons allowed. On her travels, Mila collected colour samples. She met many people who taught her about the colours of their land and how she must see them. These people were accustomed to these colours for years and their knowledge had been passed from one generation to another.

On one of such journeys, Mila met Livi, an oil painter. He was the most skilled painter she had ever met. His fingers moved in rhythmic fashion, forcing a doubtful onlooker to move in like manner. The apt with which he wielded his brush and mixed colours was such like Mila had never seen. Livi, on the other hand, was mesmerised by the beautifulness of the woman who stood before him. He wanted to paint her from head to toe. He wanted to give life to the colours that enhanced her nobleness and comportment.

Unable to restrain his itchy fingers he commenced.

As he painted, he fused colours together and enthusiastically worked at creating a piece of work that resembled Mila.

Mila was uncertain that the painting represented her as the colours she saw did not match who she thought she was. Livi was determined to make Mila see herself through the colours he had chosen to use in his painting of her. He persuaded her by making a case for his colours through his experience as an artist. Mila pondered and agreed that he was right.

After all, he was an experienced and popular artist. When the painting was finished and dry, Livi handed the painting to Mila as a parting gift for her voyage of discovery. He reminded Mila that he had chosen for her the exact colours that depict who she is. Livi told her to enjoy her travels but to also remember that he had given her the best of colours for her and she would find none to compare anywhere else.

As Mila journeys on, clouds fill her mind. Clouds produced by the words and colours that Livi had imposed on her.

Carried away by her thoughts, she jostled a fabric merchant’s cart. Initially furious at the sudden imbalance to his only means of survival, Alli tried to speak but he could mutter no speech. He had turned around to see the absent-minded fellow who ran into his wears but met with the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen.

Alli found himself helping her up, for the young lady had fallen over.

Mila was shocked, to say the least. She was expecting a torrential rain of insults and unforgettable verbal abuses. But she was met with tenderness.

Alli, immediately thinking of his harem and how it needed new adornment, asked Mila if was travelling in the company of another man.

To which Mila replied, “No. I am not from here, I am just passing by on my way to see the world. I must not tither here”.

Disappointed but still enamoured, Alli said to her,

“Wait’’. Rummaging through his baskets of fabrics. He pulled out two pieces of cloth. One, emerald and shiny, the other one as deep and as burnt as the clay from the earth. The rays of the sun made them glisten.

“You will need these. Besides, they suit you to perfection and were made for your skin.

Mila eyed another fabric in his basket, pointed to it and told Alli she thought it was finer and would rather pay for it.

Alli came against her desire, staunchly insisting that he knew better.

“I have traded in fabric for years from many different parts of the world.           I know when a fabric is right for a skin tone.

Mila, not wanting to be rude at this kind gesture, collected the fabric, bid Alli goodbye and continued her search for ‘the colour.

For many more weeks, Mila travelled. As she sojourned, she met different people with different types of colours and strong viewpoints to match. Especially when it came to the one which suited Mila the best.

Mila finally returned home. I was glad to see her and expected exhilaration as she described her journey. Instead, Mila’s face was sullen and drab. Void of any colour.

“I wasted my time travelling, seeking, and accepting the opinions of others about what my colour should be. It was inherent in me all this time. But I thought it needed to be brighter, reckoning with the other colours that were popular and more pronounced”.

I could only sigh and empathise with my friend. But I was proud of her. She had come to her own.

Mila continued, “In my travels, it did not take time to decipher that my colour was unique to me and as such it could only suit me”.

To all the Milas out there.

©Joy Akinwonmi