Mum: Now listen both of you, I’m glad you’re throu-gh with registration. You’ll both go to school from here. I want to keep my eyes on the both of you.
Nenye: But mum, all my friends live around the campus. What if we have morning clas-ses? Mummy plea-se let me stay off campus with my friends.
Mum: The driver will always take you to school. I want to keep my eyes on you two.
Mum: Don’t argue now. Chimamanda, hope I’m clear?
Me: Yes mummy.
Its being four months since Emeka was buried. Everyone at the village had called it a taboo. They thought it was daddy’s spirit who took Emeka. We didn’t tell them that it was mum who killed her only son. We mourned Emeka like he was our god. After the mourning period was over, we went back to Enugu. Mum agreed that both Nenye and I attend Esut, because Nenye’s friends were jambites there. I got my admission on merit and I’m sure Nenye got hers with connection. It doesn’t matter to me one bit as long as I went to school. Every night while I sle-pt alone at the BQ, I would keep seeing Emeka’s face, the way he stared at me even at death. Memories of our last discussion would always fill my head, worst still, the accident had occurred in my room and there was no way it would leave my head.
After that discussion, sorry, what should I call it? After that “talking to” with mum, I left the main house and walked to the BQ. I had become the lonely girl who always hid behind closed doors. The only person who was my friend in that compound was Chekwube, our driver.
I walked into my room and sat down on the be-d. We had earlier had lunch and I had just one hour to rest before going to make dinner. I suddenly felt a knot ti-ght£ñ in my stomach and I quic-kly rushed to my calendar. Jesus! My period. I checked my wardrobe and thankfully, I just had one sanitary pad which I would use at that moment.
I made my way to the bathroom, took a warm bath and padded myself. I knew I was going to be in pain for the rest of the day and in order to prevent that on time, I made my way to the main house and into the sitting room. Mum was still in the position where I left her but Nenye was nowhere to be found.
Me: Excuse me mum.
She looked at me and returned to her phone. I wouldn’t dare say anything so I waited. Five minutes later, she looked up.
Mum: What is it?
Me: I’m sorry to disturb you mum but my period just started and I don’t have any sanitary pad to use. I would like you to give me some money so I can rush down the street and get one.
She gave me this wicked stare and dropped her phone.
Mum: Is that how ungrateful you are?
Ungrateful? What have I done? I thought.
Mum: Some minutes ago, I just gave you the license to further your education and now you’re coming to me for just sanitary pad. Must I see to all your necessary expenses? Be grateful for once Chimamanda. Don’t you have savings at all?
Tears dropped from my eyes. Did I mention that mum always gave Nenye #5000 weekly but never gave me even a hundred naira? Where then was she expecting me to get my savings from?
Mum: I’m very well aware that you buy the foodstuffs for this house. I give you more than enough money to get them. At least, you should save from there. What am I even saying? Your miserable mother doesn’t know how to manage so how will you learn that? If you don’t have sanitary pad, tear your towel into shreds and use them. I’ve got better things to think of than a stupid teenager who wants to announce to the whole world that she’s menstruating.
My tears ran down in full speed as I watched her climb the stairs without looking back. I sat down on the floor and cried bitterly. This was not life. If only my parents, daddy or Emeka were still alive. Why was life so cruel? The burning in my lower abd0m£n started adding with each second so I stood up and left for the kitchen. I quic-kly got h0t water from the flask and started mas-saging my stomach with it. I also drank some before settling down to cook egusi soup and pounded yam. Everything I knew about reducing menstrual cramps were taught to me by daddy Alex and today, I missed him a lot.
True to her words, mum didn’t give me money to buy sanitary pad. I took her advice and tore one of my towels into pieces, cutting it in a way that it would fit like pads. I had never felt so much discomfort in my life. Two days later, we had some guests. The Kalu’s family [email protected]£ to see us. They’ve being family friends right from when we were still kids. They had a daughter and two boys. The girl, Kamsi was my friend. The two boys, Kenneth and Gospel were Emeka’s friends. I also knew that Kenneth and Nenye were [email protected]!ng. Gospel was older than Kenneth and Gospel. There father was also late.
I woke up that morning, did my morning ritual of praying, washing up and sweeping before I went into the kitchen to prepare different varieties of food as the Kalus’ would come for lunch and leave after dinner. I made a simple breakfast of bre-ad, egg and tea and served mum and Nenye before going to the kitchen to have mine. Mum was never stingy with food. I always ate to my satisfaction and shed wouldn’t scream or beat me. I was almost throu-gh with my breakfast when she [email protected]£ into the kitchen.
Mum: Bia, you’ve not finished?
I shook my head and she hissed.
Mum: Vegetable soup with eba for lunch, it’ll go with goat meat pepper soup, then fried rice and chicken for dinner, it’ll go with salad. I’ll come and inspect you to make sure the meats are cooked and fried properly. Be careful while you make them because I won’t forgive any mistake from your path.
Me: Yes mummy.
She left the kitchen and I hurriedly finished my breakfast before swinging into action. Mum had turned cooking into my hobby and I was always happy anytime I was cooking.
I was putting down the peppersoup from the cooker when I heard a honk at the gate. I smiled as I was pretty sure it was the Kalu family. I didn’t bother coming out, instead, i turned the peppersoup into a cooler and started parboiling the rice. I looked at the table clock in the kitchen, it re-ad 12:05pm. They were early and I was glad that I was at least throu-gh with lunch and everything that will go with it. I had put the coolers containing the food away when I heard chattering in the sitting room so I guessed they were alre-ady in. I heard Nenye laugh so ha-rd and I smiled. Our house has never seen laughter since Emeka left. I sat down on the kitchen stool and waited for Kamsi to come and join me. I was still trying to remember the last time they visited when I heard her voice coming towards the kitchen.
Kamsi: Where is she? My nostrils surely ain’t lying to me.
I smiled and stood up. She appeared at the door and we enveloped ourselves into a ti-ght hvg.
Kamsi: Look at you. You sure look like a chef, with your apron and…..
Me: You’re looking very gorgeous.
Kamsi was a very beautiful girl. She had always being. She was the one of my friends who I trusted with my life. She wasn’t there when Emeka was buried but she had always called me. Today, with her pink t©p that st©pped just on t©p of her belly bu-tton, her rugged jean and pink snicker with little make up, Kamsi looked just like barbie.
Kamsi: I know. So what are you cooking?
Me: Rice. Its for dinner.
Kamsi: Oh! Come and greet mummy and the boys then we’ll come back here and finish the cooking.
I nodded and followed her into the sitting room. Mrs. Kalu was looking as beautiful as I had always known her to be, Gospel and Kenneth looked bigger than I had seen them and they were very handsome as well. Nenye was alre-ady sitting beside Kenneth and her face was glowing.
Me: Good morning ma.
Mrs. Kalu: Good morning my dear. How’re you?
Me: I’m fine ma. How’s business?
She laughed. She was a very easy woman.
Mrs. K: Business is fine my dear. Hope you’re fine?
Me: Yes ma.
I looked at Gospel and Kenneth and waved my hands. They smiled.
Me: I’ll get you all something to drink.
Mrs. K: That’ll be nice. jui-ce plea-se.
I smiled and left while Kamsi followed. She had never being in good terms with Nenye. She always called Nenye a flir-t and I was sure they hadn’t spoken to each other.
She helped me serve jui-ce to everyone including Nenye. I turned and Gospel was looking at me with a smile on his face. I returned the smile and we went back to the kitchen.
Kamsi: I think you should take down that rice. Its burning.
I quic-kly checked it and put it down, pouring water inside so I can wash it.
Kamsi: But why is she not here to help you out.
Kamsi: Your sister of course.
I smiled, praying that she drops the t©pic, at least for now.
Kamsi: You people are spoiling that girl. Look how she’s sitting down there, enjoying s£nior jokes.
Me: Kamsi, help me transfer those basins to the counter.
She stood up and started doing as I said, chewing the carrots I had earlier sliced.
Gospel: I’m trying to believe you won’t finish the carrots before they’re put into use.
We turned and looked at Gospel. He was smiling so wi-de.
Kamsi: What brings you to the kitchen?
Gospel: Exactly what brings you.
Kamsi: I see, but you won’t enter the kitchen at home.
Gospel: Why should I? When there is no Amanda in that kitchen.
We all laughed. I wished it would remain like that forever. Wish I had company in this house.
Gospel: Yes dear. How are you?
I shrugged my shoulders and showed him my palms.
Me: God has being faithful.
He looked at Kamsi and shook his head.
Gospel: Let me not waste your time. We will talk later.
I nodded and he left while I continued with what I was doing.
I served lunch and returned to the kitchen to put some finishing t©uçhes to my food. Mrs Kalu called me so I went back to the dinning to answer her.
Mrs k: Why are you not here?
I looked down immediately to avoid cold stares from mum and Nenye.
Me: sorry ma. I’ll eat later.
Mrs k: I won’t take that. You should come and join us. You did the cooking right?
Me: Yes ma.
Mrs k: Its delicious. Come and sit.
Me: I still have something on fire. I’ll eat later ma.
Kamsi: Look, everyone is here. Don’t be a spoiler.
Nenye: She’s still busy okay. Besides, you don’t expect her to leave what she’s doing in the kitchen.
Kamsi: If she leaves it, you’ll finish it nau.
Nenye: Imagine. In my house?.
I quic-kly walked away but there word exchanged increa-sed. I knew I was in h0t soup. Mum would finish me for whatever is happening there. I started scooping the rice into another cooler, praying silently that today should just start all over. I carried the cooler to a corner and started packing up the utensils I used when I heard Kamsi’s voice approaching.
Kamsi: Spoilt [email protected] You should be thankful I don’t live here if not, you’ll cry everyday of your life till you change. Shameless flir-t.
Her words stung into my heart and I thought about how Nenye will feel. If only I could be that tough. But Emeka’s words [email protected]£ coming to my head, “never you fight them”. Kamsi [email protected]£ into the kitchen and sat down.
Kamsi: Is that what you see in this house.
Me: Kamsi calm down. You’re…..
Kamsi: That girl is so mean and arrogant. I’ll start visiting frequently to teach her some manners.
Me: But you know things are not done that way. Things will change with time. We don’t have to fight cause of the things that happen in our lives. Nenye is who she is and its better for her to be like that than to carry a fake personality. Trust me Kamsi, she’ll change.
Kamsi: You and this your preaching.
I laughed. But my laughter was cut short when I heard footsteps approaching. I turned to look at the door and I saw Mrs Kalu.
Mrs k: Kammy what was that for? Do you know you’re a guest in this house?
Kamsi: Mummy I’m sorry.
Mrs k: Don’t apologise to me. Go to your aunt. You shouldn’t have spoken at the first place let alone exchanging words with that girl. That’s not how I raised you.
Kamsi: I’m sorry mum. Let me go to mummy Joy now.
Kamsi stepped out of the kitchen and I turned to continue with doing the dishes.
Mrs k: Amanda
I turned to her immediately.
Me: Yes aunt.
Mrs k: Ain’t you done?
Me; I’m done. Just nee-d to wash this things immediately.
Mrs k: Then hurry up with that so you can go shower and we’ll all sit down and talk. That is, after you must have eaten.
Me: Okay ma.
She gave me a smile and walked out and I started wishing that she was my mum.
Kamsi didn’t return till I finished the dishes and sat down to eat.
She kept my company while I ate. When I was done, she asked to follow me upstairs to my room but when I told her that I no longer stay upstairs but at the BQ, she wanted to make an issue out of it. I had to beg her to calm down at least till we get to the BQ.
We walked into the sitting room on our way out. Mum, Gospel and Mrs Kalu were engrossed in a conversation. When we made to walk past them, Gospel st©pped us.
Gospel: So where are you two going?
I bent my head immediately. I was so not used to looking up whenever a t©pic that concerns my mummy was raised up in her pres£nce.
Kamsi: We’re going to her room. She nee-ds to shower and change into another clothe so she can join us
Mrs k: Beautiful. But how come you both are headed out?
Kamsi: Mummy cause that’s the direction to where she now stays. The boys quarter.
Everywhere went still. I couldn’t look at there faces to know there facial reaction but I knew they were staring at mummy and she in turn was conjuring ways to punish me in her mind.
Mrs k: Joyce, how come? What happened?
I knew she wasn’t going to answer that so I just walked out before she would direct the question to me. I got to the BQ and cried bitterly. Don’t know if its because of the punishment I was yet to receive or because everything reminded me of how inferior I was. I felt a hand hold my shoulders. It was masculine and yet very tender. It s£nt shivers down my spine and I j£rked. I turned and it was Gospel. Behind him was Kamsi. He hvgged me and I cried the more, holding him so ti-ght, the way I would hold Emeka if he were here. Even in my tears, I could still perceive his perfume. It was so lovely and it filled my nostrils. I looked at Kamsi and she was crying too. I had to re-lease myself from Gospel and led them inside the room where I told them everything excluding how Emeka died. Gospel looked so angry and Kamsi wouldn’t st©p crying.
Kamsi. This is wickedness.
Me: Its okay. St©p crying. At least, I’m glad that I’ve got where to [email protected] head, feeding and also going to school.
Gospel: Its not enough. Its not. You nee-d more, you deserve more. I bet if Ken finds out what this people do to you, he won’t be with that girl. She……
Me: No plea-se. Don’t talk like that. I’m okay. its just for a while and things will be fine. I’m very sure of that.
Gospel [email protected]£ close to me and hvgged me. We wra-pped our arms around each other and I felt safe.
Gospel: Don’t worry. Just give me sometime and all this things will end.
Gospel was between 24-25. A graduate of John Hopkins university. He was now the one managing his late father’s mas-s of wealth. He was just the perfect guy. He was handsome, intelligent and a humanitarian. I was lost in thoughts, thinking of what he meant by giving him sometime that I didn’t notice when Kamsi left the room. Gospel pu-ll-ed away from me and cu-mpped my chin.
Gospel: You’re a beautiful girl, do you know that?
I bent my head. I knew I was good looking but beautiful? I doubt that. With the oversized t©ps and jeans I always wear? With a b©dy that had never seen any b©dy cream or makeup? Tears welled up at the corners of my eyes.
Gospel: I suggested this visit because I wanted to see you. Kamsi knows how much I feel about you. I’ve lived with it for years, before I travelled out to school. I love you so very much Amanda and I promise to take you away from here.
I looked up at him and let the tears fall. What was he saying? How can he love me? Nob©dy loves me. Everyone who had always loved me ended up dying. My mum, daddy Alex and Emeka and no, I was not willing to have Gospel on the list. He’s too good to end up dying for my sake, for loving me.
Me: Gospel plea-se don’t say it anymore.
Gospel: Why? Are you also afraid to tell me you feel the same way about me? I saw it in your eyes back at the main house. Don’t deny it. plea-se don’t.
I stood up immediately. How do I tell him that I may be cursed? How?
He stood up and [email protected]£ to me. He held my hands and looked into my eyes.
Gospel: Let me love you. Don’t push me away plea-se.
He re-leased one of my hand and pu-ll-ed me into himself. Our faces were very close and hisl-ips were slowly coming down to mine. I looked steadily at his eyes, loving this guy whose pres£nce made me feel safe. Hisl-ips [email protected]£ crushing into mine and the journey into my first k!ssbegan. He used his ton-gue to open my mouth and I repeated whatever it was he was doing to me and I loved it. I loved every bit of it……….then I heard a [email protected] coming from the door and I pu-ll-ed away from Gospel and looked at the door.
Mummy Joy. With the meanest look ever. Gospel saw the fright on my face and turned to the door. He didn’t look shaken.
Gospel: I’ll be in the main house. Take your bath and come join us.
WATCHOUT FOR EPISODE 7
Being alone Episode 5 & 6