After Grad - Episode 3
Home Sweet Home
ARAMIDE COULD NEVER have imagined that she'd ever refer to her aunt's place as home. For fifteen years, Baami's two-bedroom flat had been home. A pleasant vicinity where a long stairway was sure to guide her to the first floor. Then there was that reddish-brown door that kept strangers away from the privacy of the occupants inside. The old ceiling fan in the living room was her father's, and so was the creamy rubber tiles cemented to the ground . That used to be home, until she got ripped of it and got offered another by her generous aunt.
Now, eight years past, and she seemed to have gotten used to the purple walls and lavender cotton that made her cozy bedroom look vibrant. The ceiling sparkled in white, whilst the cold floor was carpeted in a very light brown. Her slender figure felt warm beneath the predominately peach duvet. A standing fan was also by one corner, unplugged.
The casement window was the most expensive feature of the petite space. It was often closed, but when boredom crept in, Aramide never hesitated to click its knob open, allowing herself to surf through the world she came face-to-face with.
The sky in Ibadan had always been mysterious. Although the heart-shaped clock on the wall read 5:35 P.M., the atmosphere unsurprisingly said otherwise
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. The sun shone like noon was a minute away; there was no cloud, just the palest blue colour that nature had to display.
But still, the cool breeze blew the clothes on the loose wires with an heavy breath, perfuming the air with the aroma of cheap detergent. Sunlight detergent. Aramide was quite familiar with that smell. That was the smell she perceived when Maami soaked the dirty laundry every weekend. It was that same smell that would linger on the dry clothes when Maami folded them neatly into the wardrobe. The twenty-three year old seemed to be once again zapped back into a grieving space, as she stared deeply at mid-air.
You see, some wounds can only be treated as best as possible; they just never heal.
“Maami, where are you and Baami going to?”
“My child, it's our anniversary, and your father is taking me out for dinner.”
“So I'm going to be all alone?”
“Yes.. Well, till we get back. I promise we won't stay long.”
Naturally, Aramide revelled in their absence that night. She devoured the box of chocolates in the fridge; she flicked through every channel at its loudest tune; she wrestled with the pillow on the tiled floor like crazy; she ultimately fell asleep on the couch, hoping that her parents would return sometime later, tap her by the arm, and coax her into going to her bedroom to continue her nap. After all, Maami promised they wouldnt stay long, and Maami always fulfilled her promise.
She hadn't disappointed Aramide when she promised to get her a wristwatch a week before. It was white in colour, and gave off a silly sound at the clock of every hour.
A promise is a debt, Maami would always say. But unfortunately, the promise she made that night was a debt she would forever owe her daughter.
Aramide's eyes welled up with tears. Had she known she wouldn't get to see them again, she would've hugged Maami a little bit tighter when she was about to take her leave; the smile she threw at her father would've been the widest one ever. The police claimed Baami had somehow lost control of the brake. The car did a somersault, and so did the couple wedged inside of it. It was an accident, they said. But if only Aramide believed.
Earlier that day, Auntie Doyin had visited the house with an intrusive knock on the door.
"Who is it?" Maami's voice might've sounded calm, however, her demeanour was clouded by a justifiable irritation.
"It's me o, Doyin. I'm here to see my brother," she announced. Like that wasn't obvious already. Whenever she came over to the house, she blurred her vision away from any other person but her brother. Auntie Doyin never spared a glimpse at Maami even when she politely murmured a greeting. She would throw a dirty glare at Aramide, enough to cause her fear whilst she vanished into her bedroom. Maami blamed her lack of courtesy on sheer illiteracy. It is a dark tunnel for the men, but the darkest tunnel for women who dare to tread that path of ignorance, she added. Maami avoided the troublesome woman as much as she could. Confrontation has never been her way. Instead, she slipped into her bedroom too.
Yet, every single word echoed across the small stretch of the house. Aramide and her mother didnt have to be in the parlour to perceive all that was being discussed between the elderly siblings.
"Bamiji," Auntie Doyin began disrespectfully, despite knowing fully well that Baami was seven years her senior. " I told you the last time I called that I was in a lot of debt, and that I needed some money. Look, today is the deadline, and if I don't pay up, Im going to be in a lot of wahala.. Is that what you really want?"
"I also remember telling you that I dont have any money for now Doyin!" Baami gasped.
“Ahaa, Bamiji! I'm not surprised. Ever since you married that educated brat, your hands have become squeezed. Youve become a miser towards your true family! But let me tell you something, if I don't receive the money I asked for by the time my creditors come knocking on my door later today, you and that brat you call your wife will have to face the consequences!" She threatened, before storming off.
Baami didn't send her any money, obviouly because he didnt have it.
Read " Preordained " by the same author ( Ishola Ubaydah )
. Maami and Baami died later that night. Coincidence? Aramide begged to differ.
She never got the chance to see her parents' lifeless bodies, neither was she allowed to witness their discrete funeral. And on top of that, she literally got kicked out of her father's house barely a week later. She just couldn't seem to pass over everything despite how hard she tried to.
Moving in with Auntie Shade had been undoubtedly necessary at the time, nevertheless, that sudden change had been nothing short of overwhelming. At the beginning, it did feel kind of weird to be disturbed every morning by the loud honks of moving vehicles, rather than the beep beep sound of Baami's cheap alarm clock. She couldn't even take one step in the house without feeling under scrutiny by her aunt's overbearing husband. Sometimes, she wondered how her aunt had ended up with a man like Uncle Dele. He wasn't the most attractive man, he wasn't the nicest man either. The old man was just his grumpy, unpleasant self.
Glimpsing at the heart-shaped clock on the wall, Aramide realised it was only a matter of hours before the big elephant came barging into the house. She'd better enjoy the serenity before it got hazed by eerieness. Uncle Dele was just that good at making her feel uncomfortable...
But in the meantime, Home sweet home, she whispered.
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