Please Don’t Have My Heart
Seveno clock in the morning on a Saturday was too early for someone to be knocking at our gate. Saturdays were when the whole family take their real rest. Everybody woke up late except my mother who would have woken up as early as 5am to clean the dishes, do the laundry, sweep the house and the surroundings and put the food on fire. She gave me the weekend offs considering the fact that my weeks are always crammed with activities from school . And besides, I was now in the first year of my Senior Secondary School Education and would be writing my West African Examination Council in 3 years time. On weekdays, my routines were simple: I woke up very early to wash the dishes, put the food on fire, bathed for Mary, and ensure that Khalid, and Chineye got ready for school before leaving the house. Chineye and I were going to the same school and she was in the second year of her Junior Secondary School Education. We both usually left the house at the same time until when I started leaving her behind because she took too long to dressup in the morning.My mother took the full charge of the home on weekends and allowed us to have the longest sleep of our time. I usually woke up as late as 11am and would walk straight to the kitchen to have my breakfast which my mother would have prepared.
When the banging on the gate would not stop, my mother yelled at me from the kitchen to go and open it. I rolled to and fro on my bed, fuming in the mouth, and being careful enough not to hit Chineye, before I sat up straight, yanked the duvet off my body and tossed it to the floor. I cursed under my breath. Not only had the intruder disturbed my blissful sleep but also had succeeded in giving me a nasty headache from waking me up from my deep sleep with those awful knocks. I grabbed my ankara print wrapper and tied it around my chest and it draped all the way down to below my knees. I took a glance at Chineye who was still sprawled on the bed unmoved and unperturbed by the sounds. She was a deep sleeper and could sleep even on water if situations called for it.
I reluctantly walked to the gate, dragging my feet along. When I unlatched the door, Aunty Christy burst in almost knocking me out of her way. She paused, just long enough to take in my looks: My hair was disheveled, dried crust of saliva trailed the corner of my lips and to make the view more disgusting, I kept on brushing a finger across my right eye which itched a lot and picked out a speck from the inner corner of the eye. Aunty Christy barely walked straight to the house without sparing me a second look. Normally, she would have scorned and scolded me for looking like an old woman when I was actually sixteen–and even though she knew I was not supposed to look flawless when just waking up very early on a Saturday morning.Aunty Christy was a beauty mogul, a fashion goddess and her styles were impeccable. She was obsessed about her looks and wears even makeup to bed. Many a time, she would call Chineye and me and give us her quick lecture on why we should be girly and always strive to look good.
” Life is all about packaging. Especially when you are a girl. Your styles will determine the type of person you will attract. Don you see the type of men that I date. They are men of class and high caliber. I raise the standards already, ” she would always say. But Chineye and I paid little or no heed to what she would always say. I still continued to wear my hand-me- downs from my mother while Chineye wore mine.
That morning, Christy outfit was not christy-like. She was clad in a slip gown that would pass for a maternity wear. Her feet looked like they were covered in white powder. Her visage was completely free of makeup. And fresh pimples which she would have covered with foundation broke out of her face. I wanted to laugh so badly at her but suppressed the urge to do so when I realized that her eyes had lost their sparks. Deep down, I knew something was wrong with her. She just got married two weeks ago and was back at our house when she was supposed to be away on her honeymoon. The just-married glow was not radiating from her and her charming smile had vanished from her lips. I wanted to ask her what was wrong. I wanted to tell her everything was fine ,even when I had no idea what was going on with her, but she was already gone, her steps faster than the usual.
When I walked back to the house, she was already settled on the sofa in the sitting room, her legs crossed at the ankles, her chin nestling on the palm of the hand which she braced on one arm of the sofa. Her eyes were staring into emptiness. She paid no attention to me as I hurtled across the sittingroom into the kitchen where my mother was cooking.
” Who was that? ” My mother stepped back to avoid hot oil splashing on her as a spoonful of the bean puddle she tried to put into the oil to fry made the oil sizzle and hiss. She was making akara.
” Aunty Christy. ”
” Aunty Chr.., who? ” She is shocked and all over her face are questions like, ” do you even know what you are saying? ”, ” are you sure you are fully awake? ”, ” what will Christy be doing here when she is supposed to be on a honey moon? ” My mother knew better that the house was not supposed to be quiet if Aunty Christy was around. She had the habit of calling everyones name and making silly jokes about everything.
” Ok, ” she sighed and continued frying the bean puddle. She did not bother to ask me to take over the cooking. instead, she kept murmuring words to herself questioning what brought Christy to the house. I stepped out of the kitchen and walked back to the sittingroom. I stood at the threshold of the door looking at Christy who was now all haunched up on the sofa still staring into emptiness. I was still looking at her when I felt l something tug at my wrapper. I cringed and almost jumped out of my skin. My four-year -old step sister, Mary was standing next to me. She just woke up from sleep and seemed so lost.Her night wear reeked of urine. Mary strolled into the sittingroom as she saw Christy on the couch.
” Aunty Christy, ” she screamed.
I wanted to grab her and stop her from going to her, for her own sake. First, Christy was not in a good mood and second, Mary had soiled her clothes with urine. But Christys attention was already shifted to her and she beckoned to her to sit beside her on the sofa. She was not
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