Chidera had innately nursed the idea that her roommate was related to the gods. Maybe Beth was indeed a goddess.
Chidera recalled their first month together in their overpriced apartment. The taps leaked, and the corridors were so narrow, she had often brushed her shoulders against the roughly painted walls. It was dark. The rats arrogantly scratched against the walls, making shrill noises that chased away all notions of sleep. Beth’s things were comfortably tucked around the space, Chidera’s carton boxes sat sloppily in a moldy corner. Beth took a long look at her boxes. There was no point in trying to unpack them anyway. She ran off for karaoke night at D-Times.
Beth kept a diary—a curious notebook that she always left lying open on her table, by her candle holder. The book looked old and had the lingering scent of a little girl’s dreams. Chidera read it occasionally when Beth wasn’t home:
When Mummy wakes us, it is still dark. The big hen in Mama Tayo’s cage is still sleeping and crowing. It’s the same time everyday, with the loud tambourines and the slurry praise and worship songs in the sitting room. After prayers, it’s house chores.
Bro Tolu and I are to fill the big drum in the corner of the kitchen— quickly, so mommy won’t beat us. I hate fetching water in metal buckets, but Mommy doesn’t like it when I break plastic buckets. So I don’t use them.
When we’re done with the drum, I go outside to the kitchen shed to wash last night’s dishes while Bro Tolu sweeps the compound and the space near Baba’s kernel. By then mummy has bathed and is dressed for the market, wearing her work iro in the beautiful way only she can tie it looking like an Olori.
On the days we’re sent from school for fees, I follow mummy to the cloth market where she sells Adire materials. The crowded market is always exciting because of all the people. The brisk walking and talking of thousand people there leaves the air filled with a sense of busyness.”
Chuckling at the thought of tough Beth using heart shapes for titles in ‘i’ and printing all her letters with an extra curl, Chidera sat on the floor under the window, thinking about her own childhood experiences. The power had been cut again leaving her in a dark room with grotesque shadows plastered onto the wall.
Her phone rang. There wasn’t even enough time to read this, she thought as she tucked the book under her pillow to read at an opportune time.