Fidelia turned back after getting to the estate gate. She walked slowly, enjoying the cool breeze that caressed her face and played with the trees that lined the tarred road in the estate. First semester exams were around the corner. She was still asking herself what she was doing in the English Department. The plan had been Law. It had always been Law until Aunty Antonia came with her big mouth and started dishing out opinions like it was poorly cooked jollof rice at a badly planned wedding reception. “Who asked for her opinion? Who? Aproko!” she thought to herself “go for a course in the arts faculty first then take law as a second degree.” She mimicked the woman’s voice in annoyance. Someone chuckled. She turned quickly in surprise and saw a boy about her age, walking towards her out of a side street with his hands in his pocket.
Brukeme: “you must really hate the English department and whoever made the suggestion that you should take English as a first course.” He said, his eyes twinkling with merriment.
Fidelia felt heat rush into her face. She looked at the boy but she could not see him clearly. She had left her glasses at home. She smiled
Fidelia: “you must have really sharp ears. I was just thinking out loud, that’s all.” She said, staring at her sandals.
Brukeme: “why did you go for English as a course when your mind was on Law?” he asked, his eyes roving over her beautiful figure.
Fidelia: “how does one avoid an irritating aunt when one’s father takes her opinions as fact?” she asked, sighing sadly.
Brukeme: “I can understand. I call them relatives from hell.” He replied, smiling.
Fidelia nodded then she looked at her wristwatch. It read 09:15 pm. She gasped at how time had flown. She immediately turned and started hurrying down the road. Brukeme, surprised, rushed forward after her.
Brukeme: “wait a minute. Did I say something to offend you?” he asked, grabbing her right arm from behind.
Fidelia looked at his hand then looked at him; her eyes cold. He quickly dropped his hand and placed them behind him. She looked at him and sighed
Fidelia: “my mother does not like her children coming home late. I have to hurry or I will have some explaining to do. Good night.” She said abruptly then she turned to go.
Brukeme: “let me at least, walk you to your door.” He said, looking at her with a plea in his eyes.
Fidelia started to shake her head then she chuckled and looked at him speculatively. She shrugged and started walking again, this time with Brukeme by her side.
Brukeme admired Fidelia curves and long legs as she walked. He loved the way she bounced on the balls of her feet as if she was about to jump. She wasn’t really beautiful and deepness of her eye socket, probably caused by wearing glasses, made it worse but she attracted him. She attracted him very much.
They soon got to her area and Fidelia slowed down her speed. She turned to Brukeme and smiled, then stretched her hand for a handshake
Fidelia: “thank you for walking with me.” She said.
Brukeme smiled and shrugged. He shook her hands and felt the warm softness of her palm in his rough palm. Fidelia turned and walked to her door. As she raised her hand to knock, she noticed that the door was open. She stood unsure of what to do. She could not hear any sound in the house and that was unusual. She turned to see Brukeme still standing where she had left him. She beckoned to him.
Brukeme: “what is the problem?” he asked as soon as he got to where she stood.
Fidelia: “the door is open and the house is silent.” She said, her shaky voice showing her fear.
Brukeme looked at her and walked to the door. He pushed it and the door swung open, its hinges squealing in the quiet night. He looked at Fidelia; her eyes were big as an owl’s in the moonlight. He smiled and stepped into the house. She followed and she switched on the light.
The room was covered in the darkness, spared by the light of a red bulb hanging over a picture of Jesus. The glass frame of the picture was broken, the paper picture rose out of the carton back of the picture frame like a pregnancy. Directly opposite the picture, on the other wall was a poster of Rihanna, staring seductively at whoever cared to look. The walls of the room was once blue but the blue was now stained with scratches of charcoal, brown stains of dripping water from the leaking roof and the impression of oily heads. The floor was no better, as the cracked concrete could be seen through the torn carpet that was supposedly covering it.
The bed groaned again and again as a hairy and badly bleached buttocks slammed between a pair of wrinkled laps, covered with stretch marks and other age markers. The obese man with the bleached buttocks grunted as he pumped in and out of the bored woman underneath him. She just stared at the eyes of a rat who was eavesdropping on the sordid scene from a hole in the ceiling. “I go come go buy ota-pia-pia for dis rats dem. Make dem no come drive my customers.” She thought to herself as she jerked beneath the excited customer. The man grunted and grimaced as if in pain as he climaxed. He rolled off her and Ashley took her first full breath of air since he climbed on top of her.
The man removed the condom from his manhood and threw towards a yellow waste basket kept close to the bed for that purpose. He missed it and the condom fell to the carpet, spilling its contents to the concrete. Ashley turned to her side, picked a packet of cigarette, slid one out of it and lit it. The man dropped a five hundred naira note on the bed beside her, picked his trouser from a chair and struggled into it. His hefty stomach struggled with him as he tried to zip the trouser close. Ashley stared at him with disinterest; smoke curling from her lips to the hole in the ceiling, where the rat choked and ran away, his whiskers shaking wildly. It had seen enough. The man left and Ashley was alone with her thoughts.
But her thoughts were not let to drift out before an authoritative knock sounded on her door. She was not expecting any further customer that night. It was the middle of the week. Only drivers, conductors, agberos and trash collectors had time in the middle of the week to come for a quick romp on her bed before going home. She struggled up from the sagging bed, lit another cigarette with the still glowing butt of the first one and dragged the smoke in. she exhaled then walked to the door and pulled it open. Framed in the light of the bright moon was Dele. She hissed and returned back to her bed, leaving the door open.
Dele entered the room, like a hunter entering a haunted forest filled with wild animals as well. He tiptoed through the clothes scattered all over the room then stopped before the condom still releasing its contents to the floor. Dele looked at it then he looked at the wrinkled maps of stretch marks that covered Ashley’s skin, then he quickly moved his eyes to a poster of Rihanna, gummed with eba to the wall.
Dele: “Ashley how you dey?” he asked, staring at Rihanna’s face.
Ashley: “I bam. Wetin sup? You wan rush one?” she asked, blowing smoke into the air.
Dele: “No o. Na boss send me.” He replied, blowing the air with his hands, a futile attempt at blowing away the cloud of smoke that filled the tiny room.
Ashley: “E no still matter, I go gi you for free. You fit pay later.” She said, smiling cruelly.
Dele swallowed back the bile that had rushed to his throat on hearing her words. He placed a picture of naked Chinelo, the new girl whose room was four rooms away, in his head to keep from throwing up.
Dele: “Oga say your rent don due.” He replied, his eyes on Rihanna.
Ashley: “tell Tega say make e put e mind down o. Na me and am start dis level. Make e no dey ginger anyhow o.” she replied, angrily.
Dele: “he say make I tell you say one new girl dey come from Owerri.” He replied, ignoring her outburst.
Ashley: “how dat one take concern me? Na me be manager?” she asked, getting up from the bed and walking to the other side, her breast swinging from side to side with her loose stomach mimicking it.
Dele: “Na this room, she go dey stay.” He said; staring at the ceiling.
Ashley paused with her back to Dele, a new stick of cigarette on her lips. She turned to Dele suddenly
Ashley: “from the very beginning when me and Tega start this level, the agreement na say I no go share my room with anybody. In fact, na two bedroom flat we be plan before, if no be say money finish as we dey build this place.” She replied, poking the cigarette at Dele with each statement.
Dele: “no be you and the girl go stay here o. na only the girl.” He replied, moving backwards in worry.
Ashley: “ehen…Tega don see better place for me finally. Thank God for the fool.” She said, relaxing on the edge of the bed and lighting another cigarette.
Dele: “he say make you pack your things comot and make I gi you dis twenty thousand Naira. He say time don reach for you to move on to oda tins.” He said; stretching a wad of Naira notes at her.
Ashley stared at Dele through the haze of cigarette smoke. She looked from the money to Dele then she burst into laughter
Mama Friday: “Tega funny well well. My life savings when I bring when I return from Italy na we take build this place. Na me get the place. Wetin Tega dey talk?” as she spoke her voice increased in volume.
Dele: “he say if you try anything make I no hesitate to use them Oscar take throw you out.” He replied; shifting quickly to the door.
As he moved, he stepped on the condom and slipped. He staggered into a rope piled with clothes and he held on to them. After regaining his balance, he rubbed the condom and its contents into the carpet then walked to the door. He opened it and called out. Two heavily built men entered the room and methodically threw Ashley out into the night. She did not go quietly. She fought with everything she had but she ended up, seated on a sewer, her meager property scattered all over the place. She sat there under the bright evening moon, stark naked.
Question: Ashley has been used and dumped. Do you think she will let go quietly or she will fight for what is rightfully hers? What do you think has happened in Fidelia’s house?
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