The sitting room was dim, with novels strewn on the floor. It served as a setting for the young lady seated on the love seat. Petite in build, with hazel eyes and margarine-coloured skin, she could easily pass for a mulatto. The curtain rustled and she looked up. It was her aunt Chiazor.
“Hey, you!” called her aunty. “What is Deborah doing all by herself this evening? Were you sacked? I feel astonished to see you seated all alone at this time of the day.”
The lady called Deborah looked at the speaker for a few seconds before replying.
“I had a headache this afternoon, so I left work early. Those customers in the office won’t drive me crazy! What do they think I am, a robot?”
Chiazor snapped her fingers in her niece’s face. “Enough of your complaints, please! I am not the cause of your problems o.” She walked to the dining table and set her purse on it gingerly. With a frown, she lifted her fingers and held them to her face. There was dust on them.
“Now, what’s this?” She asked harshly. “I really don’t understand how you can be such a lazybones! Don’t you want to get married, that you can’t even cook and keep house?”
Deborah could already feel her heart beating faster and her voice escape from her throat. “I… Erm, I was about to get dinner ready. What would you like to eat?”
Chiazor dropped into an armchair and lifted her feet onto the stool. She closed her eyes for a few moments and grimaced before she realized Deborah was waiting for a reply. With a sigh, she decided to respond.
“Anything apart from jollof rice! If I have one more spoonful of that food, I swear it will grow on my body!” She chuckled to herself as she spoke.
“OK, your wish is my command.”
Frances walked into her younger daughter’s bedroom as she cradled the landline under her arm. She was a middle-aged woman with graying hair at her temples, which she brushed carefully. Today, she was not in a good mood and this showed in her pursed lips.
“Diedre, I need you to come out of the bathroom this very minute!” She called as one might to a small child. Her daughter came out obediently.
“What is it this time, Mum? The last time I heard you call me like that, you had something bad to tell me.” Diedre said as she wrapped a white towel around her head.
“Your aunt Ozioma is in trouble! I am scared for her. She’s so far away. And I told that woman to not travel to the end of the earth.” Her mother said as she looked at Diedre sadly. Diedre shook her head as she sat on the bed beside Frances.
“Whatever.” She muttered under her breath before she caught her mother giving her a dark look from the corner of her eye. Diedre bit her lip before she held her mother’s hand and patted it reassuringly.
“I’m sorry to hear that.” She said regretfully. “But the thing is I don’t have all day to listen to you. Will you be willing to tell me what exactly Aunt Ozioma is up to this time around?” Frances nodded.
“Ozioma’s driving license has been taken away. She didn’t show up in court after a judge sentenced her to 100 hours of community service in Auckland.”
Diedre rolled her eyes. “I think Aunty brought it upon herself. What was she doing this time around that she couldn’t even show up in court? Was she high on her grape juice?’
Her mother glared at her. “Don’t be silly, Diedre. Grape juice can’t make one drunk.” She explained in her slow, sweet voice.
“I know that, and there’s no need to go into teacher mode with me, Mum.” She smiled to herself. “Anyway, I got to get dressed for my appointment. I won’t be returning this night, so don’t wait up for me.”
Frances looked up, alarm written on her features. “I don’t understand what youths of nowadays are turning into.” She complained. “Appointment, sleeping out, what’s next? I want to brace myself for the next bombshell.”
“You’re being dramatic, Mum. It’s not like I won’t ever return.” She patted her mother on the shoulder. “Now, will please you excuse me?” Her mother stood up and left the room, muttering to herself.
The middle-aged woman with cropped hair seated at her desk sighed as she heard her phone ring. She was not in the mood to speak with anybody this sultry afternoon. The ringing stopped and she snuggled into her chair, West of Shoshone by William Ackerman playing in the background.
Her office was painted in a rich shade of pink, as befitting her vibrant personality. A painting hung on the wall opposite her desk and a water dispenser stood to her right. The papers on her desk fluttered and she put a mug on top of them to prevent their flying about.
Her secretary walked into the small office as she held her phone.
“Mrs. Wigwe, it’s your cousin on the line. I told her you weren’t taking any calls but she said it’s urgent.” She shrugged.
“Pass me the phone, Amanda.” She leaned over her desk and collected the handset from her secretary. “You can leave now, thank you.” Amanda walked out of the office as she tossed her weave.
“Now, what is it, Olaedo?” she spoke into the receiver with barely concealed irritation in her voice.
“Efulu, I just had a fantastic offer for you! It’s business related, so it’s something you will love.” The voice at the other end of the line responded cheerfully.
“I’m with you.”
“Remember when I told you about producing a TV commercial? I got you an opportunity to do so!” Olaedo tittered to herself.
“I’m not a producer; I’m a director, Dear Cousin.” Efulu scolded her.
“All join! I want you to produce this commercial as I think it will be great for your career.”
“All I want to do is direct movies, not go into advertisement.” Efulu complained. “Don’t you have something else to say? I’m tired.”
“Do you want my help or not?” Olaedo snapped. Without waiting for a reply, she went on. “Just do it. I believe in you.” Efulu made a small sound.
“Or do you think you have so much money that you don’t need other sources of income?”
“OK, I will do it! Anything to get you off my case.” Efulu agreed.
“Good. Send me your email so that I can forward the details to you.” The line dropped.
Efulu shook her head at the handset as she dropped it on her desk. She leaned back into her chair and closed her eyes, as she wondered at the fate that made Olaedo her cousin.
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