Lois jogged down the old road leading to her house and stopped for a moment to admire the flowers which watered the roadside. It was a holiday and she was so happy to be home after spending weeks at the boarding school.
Lois was a fifteen-year-old lanky girl who could be mistaken for a boy especially whenever she wore her oversized eye-glasses. She was bony-thin and her height measured at five feet six inches. She is dark skinned with brown eyes and big lips-lips that she hated by the way. Her hair cropped was in a low cut as her school specified. Her school was one of the best missionary boarding schools around and it prouded itself in the large influx of students from different parts of the country.
It was one week after she’d returned home for vacation and she was doing her usual morning jog which started at six-thirty am and lasted till about seven-twenty am.
She continued her jog and stopped at the large dark red gate which led into the five-bedroom duplex that she shared with her parents and she pushed the gate in and entered.
“Lois, how jogging?” Her gateman, Jojo asked.
“Fine ooo…I did my usual routine…” She said with a smile.
“No wonder you nor dey ever grow.” He said. “See as all your mates put on weight but you thiny like bone.”
Lois laughed and made her way into the house. She never took offence by her gateman’s comments especially as he always meant well and sometimes, didn’t know how to filter his words.
Lois was a good girl, a very brilliant teenager and a smart-aleck. She was exceptionally good at maths and in sciences and her teachers praised her for her grades.
She walked into the large veranda of her house and opening the door, she stepped inside. She could smell freshly baked bread from the kitchen and her eyes lightened.
“Mommy!” She called out, hurrying to the kitchen.
Her mother was bent over the oven and when she straightened up, she had a fresh loaf of home made bread in her hands. Lois’s eyes almost watered.
“Loisy baby…” Her mother said calling her the nick-name she’d given her as a child.
“You baked bread…I love you for this…thank you.” She said running to pick a plate from the rack.
“The bread is still hot.”
“That’s the best part.” She said waiting for her mother to drop the bread on the counter so that she could slice in.
“You know what darling; you eat so much bread for someone so skinny.” Her mother said.
“So, where did you jog to, today?” Her mother asked.
“Well…” She started.
Her father walked in, he too had been drawn by the smell of fresh bread.
“Daddy!” She said laughingly.
“Hey…it’s not my fault, your mom makes the best bread in the world.”
Lois watched her small family and smiled, they were so little in comparism with other families but they loved one another so much. Lois was the only child of her parents as since she was born, there’s been no other children. Whenever she told people of her closeness with her both parents, they all attributed it to the fact that she was their only child. Lois was the splitting image of her father, Patrick Jameson. She had his eyes, his skin, his facial features and everything else and sometimes she laughingly joked with her mother that she’d gotten nothing from her at all.
“Hungry birds!” Her mother cautioned. “Go to the dinning room, I’ll bring the bread there.”
Lois snaked her arm around her father’s waist and they turned around to leave the kitchen.
“Well…what better way to break a piece of news to my family than while eating a delicious loaf of bread?” Her father said.
Lois stopped and looked at her dad.
“What news?” She asked.
Her father looked and her and gave her mother a knowing look.
“What news dad, mom?” She asked.
Her mother walked up to her and hugged her from behind.
“Lois dear, your dad has been transferred.” She said.
“What? Transferred? Why? Where? What for?” Lois asked.
“We’ve been in Ghana for a long time darling.” Her father started. “It’s time we return to our country, Nigeria.”
“What? Why?” Lois asked. She had never been to Nigeria except for the time she visited her paternal grandparents and that was when she was still very little. She didn’t remember it at all but her dad told her stories of their visit.
“I don’t…understand…why are we going back?” Lois asked as her heart beat franctically against her chest.
“You see, we’ve have been in Ghana for a very long time and you might not remember it but we didn’t always live here. I accepted the transfer back to Nigeria because I feel that it would be nice for you to get in touch with your roots.” Her father said.
“But my roots are in Ghana too, mummy is Ghanaian and if we leave, how do we see Kofi, Kwame and all my cousins and relations on her family side?” She asked, thinking of her mother’s family whom she loved so dearly.
“We will visit from time to time.” Her father said.
“Yes darling, we will visit from time to time. This has been a big a decision but we think it’s best. Not only for your dad who has been given a big promotion, but for you.” Her mother said.
“My school…is …here…” Lois said with a stammer.
“You will adjust…” Her father said.
“Wait, are you going to change my school?”
When her parents didn’t respond, she grew furious.
“I have been in that school for four good years. I have friends there and…”
“Darling, we have already made our decision and we are moving in a week. Don’t worry, we would come back here after some time. The house is still ours and we have capable hands to take good care of it while we are gone.” Her father said.
Lois turned to regard her mother.
“Mom, what of your bakery? What happens to it when we leave?”
Lois could see her mother struggle to smile.
“My sister, your Aunt Winifred will take care of it.” She said.
Lois nodded, her parents hugged her.
She hopped with all her heart that she would be able to adjust to her fatherland.
Ashanti looked at the half-falling, half-standing house and groaned in despair. She pushed open the gate and walked in with her back-pack on her back and her clothes box in her hand. Ashanti is a five-feet-six inches’ young girl of fifteen who is dark skinned and whose hair is on a low cut. She’s so skinny and is normally referred to as a model by most of her mates. Unlike many other girls her age, Ashanti has a very good dress sense and she’s very conscious of her appearance.
She made her way into the house she shared with her mother’s family and stepped inside. Her cousins, Fabian and Damien rushed pass her with their basket ball in their hands, they are seven years old and are fraternal twins.
Ashanti lived in an eight-bedroom old house in the heart of Lagos with her mother’s family which consisted of her mother’s brother and his family, her aunt and her family and her grandmother. The house was bequeathed to them by their grandfather who had died many years ago and had left them with so many properties but after they’d sold them all, this was all they had left.
Ashanti stepped into her grandmother’s apartment and Sheila, her grandmother’s helper, spoke to her.
“Mama is asleep, you will have to come back to see her later. She has been battling with fever.”
Ashanti rolled her eyes, no one missed her. The house was still the same way it was when she was away and now that she was back, it was still the same way. There were no ‘Welcome Home’ smiles from her family and neither had any of them picked her up from the bus park. She had taken her normal route of joining her friend, Charity, in her car and had dropped at the closest bus-stop to her house and had taken a bus to her own bus-stop. Since she was in Junior secondary two, she had never been dropped off at school and picked up, she always found her way to the school as well as her way back.
“Where is uncle Jacob?” She asked.
“I don’t know…he might have gone with his friends to watch a match or something…” Sheila said and walked away.
Ashanti sighed and made her way to the apartment she shared with her mother-whenever she was around. Her mother had left her in the care of her family for seven years of her life and had gone to work abroad but returned when she was eight years old as she had been deported. Everyone spoke in hush tones of the kind of job her mother did when she was abroad and whenever she tried to eavesdrop, they stopped speaking.
Ashanti’s mother, Leyla, was a very beautiful woman who was thirty-five years old but could pass for twenty-two or twenty-three. She was a very beautiful lady who always had friends in high places.
“One day…” She always told her daughter. “We would leave this miserly run-down house and move to the rich area…you know, places like the Banana Island, Park view, Lekki, VGC and you name it…”
Ashanti had waited all her life for that to happen but it never did. Her mother always had to end her relationship with one rich boyfriend or another because he did this or he did that and those dreams were shattered. Thankfully, she was never dragged into any of her mother’s relationships.
As she opened the door leading to the apartment she shared with her mother, Ashanti sighed. She dropped her bag at the door and walked to sit on the dusty sofa, she could tell that her house hadn’t been cleaned for weeks which meant that her mother had once again disappeared for a long time, perhaps for as long as she’d been in boarding school.
She heard her phone beep and she looked at the message. It was from Jeff, her boyfriend.
“Hey babe…home yet?” He’d texted.
Jeff was a rich boy, the kind of social strata that Ashanti loved to mix with, even though she didn’t really like him as a person. They had met during her school’s social week event as many other schools had been invited. Since Ashanti attended an all girl’s school, she as well as most of her friends had been so thrilled to see the young boys from other schools and luckily, there, she had snagged the child of a millionaire.
“Yes, I’m home.” She texted.
“So, can I come and pay you a visit sometime?” He texted back.
Ashanti sat up in fright. There was no way in the world that she could ever allow her boyfriend see her in this hell-hole.
“Not yet, my mom doesn’t know that I have a boyfriend.” She texted.
“Okay…send me your address so that when you inform your mom, I can come and pay you a visit.” He texted.
Ashanti quickly turned off her phone and placed it on the side stool.
She hated poverty and with the way her mother and her siblings had squandered the inheritance from their late father, there was no getting out of poverty. Uncle Jacob was not just a drunk, he was a habitual gambler and a professional liar, Aunty Mabel was worse, she borrowed from people and never paid back and that made the people on the street talk bad about their family. Ashanti’s mother was the icing on the cake. Her incessant night life and the different types of flashy cars that dropped her off at home night after night, made tongues wag and had parents warn their children against being friends with the children from their household.
All Ashanti’s friends were at school as no one on her street or even around her area wanted to be friends with her because of her mother’s reputation. She groaned as she wondered how she would live at home for the next two months, close to her irritanting family.
“This, is going to be a very long and boring summer holiday.” She said and walked out of the sitting room, into her bedroom.
To be continued….