*the sound of a woman sobbing loudly can be heard a few blocks away*
Emem had been crying for about three hours now and walking aimlessly. Her landlord had thrown her out of her house that morning because a company wanted to rent the house for their staff and they were willing to pay the ridiculous amount he had increased the rent to. Their conversation came back to her:
Landlord: Madam, please stop wasting my time. If you don’t have the new rent, ABEG pack your things and leave my house.
Emem: Oga I need more time. What you have just done is really unfair. You can’t raise the rent just like that and expect me to meet up. At least a month’s notice should have been given to me. This would never hold in a court of law.
Landlord: Court of law ke. This is my house madam and I can do with it as I please. Wo all this english is too much. If you no get my complete money abeg start to dey commot. Ahn ahn! Begging no be money. As you see me so, one company don already pay for this your house so abeg dey commot.
Her belongings had all been removed from the house by the boys that had under the landlord’s instruction, come back to evict her. All she needed right now was a place to sleep for the night while she tried to sort herself out. She stretched out her right arm to stop an approaching bike. Where she was going was still a mystery to her.
“Henry can you believe mother says I have to go with her to Nigeria? This is so unfair. No one asked me if I wanted to go. Yea I know grandpops is dead and all but what good would I be to anyone in Nigeria. I’m sure if he were alive he woulda told us not to come. Gosh! This is sooooo unfair. On tv the place looks like its still trying to figure out what civilisation is. OMG! Henry let’s run away together” said Precious as she stared at the screen of her ipad.
She was skyping with her boyfriend of three years, Henry. She called him her husband but that was usually said when he was way out of earshot. Precious was Mr and Mrs Ephraim’s second daughter and she was none too pleased about the idea of her parents taking them to their village for their grandfather’s burial. None of the Ephraim kids had been to Nigeria and it wasn’t because they hadn’t wanted to go, but grandfather had told them not to.
He’d always visited them in the States. “When are you supposed to leave and when will you be back?” asked Henry. “Dunno…..they are all acting so mysterious. Ini asked mum and she just said we’ll be back when we’re back whatever that means. Arrrgggghhhh! I feel like pulling her hair out. I CAN’T miss the prom and your football game. We’ve got so many plans for the summer. Let’s runaway! We’ll come back when they get back from Nigeria” replied Precious dejectedly.
Just then, her door opened and Tracy came into the room. “Can’t you see I’m busy? What do you want?” Yelled Precious. “Sheesh! Cool your horses. I obviously couldn’t see through your door. Ud says to tell you dinner’s ready” replied Tracy before slamming the door behind her. “Can you believe her? Calling my mother Ud. I’ve got half the mind of suffocating her while she’s sleeping. Ungrateful bitch. I’ll be back after dinner. Miss me ok!” said Precious as she stood up from her bed.
In a certain house a few miles from where Emem had stood to stop the motorcycle, a man stood in front of a long mirror. He admired his body in the black suit he wore. A hint of a smile could be seen as he approved of what he saw. He stared at his face for a few seconds, gave it a sound slap, grinned and left the house.
Mfon sat in the bus at the park waiting for it to move. In her hand she held her cousin, Matthew’s book, ‘The Way’. Frankly, she thought it was a bunch of crap but Matthew was going to ask her if she’d read it and she wasn’t ready for his drama. She was going to Akwa-Ibom for Papa’s burial. It’d been over three years since she’d seen him last. The guilt ate at her as she remembered their last conversation. It hadn’t been a good one….
Papa: Mfon aniewo unam mkpom?(who did this to you?) Answer me now before I add my own slap to all the ones you’ve already collected. Who beat you like this?
Papa: I can’t help you if you lie to me
Mfon: Papa mkpong(leave me). I said nobody touched me. What is it? Ami ndogo etok eyin aba o(I am not a child anymore). I can see whoever and do whatever I want
Papa: *slap* watch your tone young lady. I am your father so you will always be a child to me. You have till tomorrow to tell me who did this to you.
She’d runaway that night after going to ask Etim to marry her and him refusing. She thought about the baby she’d had removed because she didn’t have the means to take care of him. At the time, she thought her father would kill her if he found out Etim had gotten her pregnant. Etim …the bastard.
He’d pushed her around when she’d gone to tell him she was pregnant. That was the day she’d grown up. After watching the man who’d promised her the galaxy just so she would let him sleep with her beat her because she was carrying his child, she’d lost all her “fairy tale” notions. The world was a hard and terrible place and in a way, she envied Papa. She felt the bus start as the door was closed. She closed her eyes wishing sleep would come her way. It was going to be a long journey and she meant that in more ways than one.
…to be continued