How does one write an article on Thistles? After surfing the Internet for over an hour and jotting down incomprehensible things that even she knew nothing of, Uju got weary. She always knew that Botany was not her calling. Thank God she had declined the admission to study the course a year ago. Now, she was a proud Medical student at the University of Ibadan. Someone shout hallelujah! Back to business.
“Thistle is the common name of a group of flowering plants characterized by leaves with sharp prickles on the margins…blah, blah, blah…thistle is defined as both flower and weed, bleh, bleh, bleh”. Moving to another part of her jotting, she continued, “France associates thistle as a weapon against witches and bad doers”. Interesting! “…like its rough exterior, the meaning of the flower is associated with aggressiveness, pain, protection and pride”, on reading this part, something gnawed at her. It reminded her of the life of her old-time friend, Rose. Funny how it also was a plant’s name. Suddenly, Uju finally had what, rather who, to write about.
She began, “It was the year 2011. I was on the way home from a friend’s place and that was when I met Rose. Ahead of me, I saw that there was a road block because a group of thugs had cornered her and were harassing her. That path was usually lonely at evenings so no one could come to her rescue. I was no Jackie Chan so I quickly hid in one of the empty stalls and prayed for a better saviour. But what I witnessed made my jaw drop. One of the men made a nasty comment and the others laughed. Smacking his lips loudly, he edged closer to her. Before he could grab her, Rose’s fists connected with his nose and even from the distance, I could swear I heard a bone crack. While the others were paralysed with shock, she used a wooden slab that had appeared from nowhere to hit him on the leg. This time, I was sure of bones breaking. She moved so fast, that she was so no longer standing in their circle but few feet away. One of them ran towards her and I watched stunned, as she overpowered the man, by throwing sand into his eyes and hitting him hard in the groin. Before I could utter a word, she was in front of me, dragging my hand and running for our lives. How she was aware of my presence, I never knew. We were saved that day because she had defeated the nimble ones. The rest who looked like twenty metres jog was a feat for them finally gave up on the pursuit.
Like Thistles that survived in dry, hard soil, where few plants fail to thrive, Rose had survived harsh conditions. She was an orphan who had grown up shabbily. Rumors had it that she was molested by her uncle several times when she was young and then abandoned on the streets. Her endless tribulations made her develop a tough skin. In fact, she had gone back to that uncle and given him the beating of his life. She became a thorn in the flesh of those who dared her. Beneath that rough exterior lay a beautiful heart, but no one knew, because she always put up an aggressive and proud front, and pushed everyone away. She claimed she did this so that no one gets hurt. Her story was the embodiment of those words; aggressiveness, pain, protection and pride. My dear Rose protected herself like a thistle, because even roses prickles. Nemo me impune lacesset!!”.
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