Chekwube arrived home with the bag of vegetables in her hand, she was exhausted and famished. Even though auntie Lizzie gave her a stipend to take to school, she was already used to going to school without money so, she saved the stipend instead. She stepped into the porch and removed her shoes, pushing open the door, she stepped into the large sitting room with her stockinged feet.
She saw a strange man in the sitting room, watching television and she stopped in her tracks.
The young man seemed to be about five feet seven inches tall, he was light-skinned and had a full beard. He seemed to be about twenty-five years old or a little above twenty-five.
“Good afternoon sir.” She greeted.
The young man looked at her.
“How are you?” He asked.
“I am fine.” She replied.
“Who are you looking for?” He asked.
“I live here…with auntie Lizzie.” She said.
“Oh…that’s true, she mentioned it to me. It’s only that I didn’t expect to see a big lady. She told me that a small girl lived with her and I was expecting to see a little child.” He said.
Chekwube didn’t know what to say in response. She nodded and made to walk past him.
“What’s your name?” He asked.
“Chekwube.” She answered.
“My name is Ebuka Michael but you call me EM for short.”
Chekwube nodded quickly and made her way to the kitchen. Auntie Lizzie was in the kitchen preparing lunch.
“Good afternoon auntie.”
“My dear, how was school today?” She asked.
“Fine ma…I bought the vegetables.” Chekwube said and placed the bag on the kitchen counter.
“How much did you get them for? They are in large quantity.” Auntie Lizzie said.
“I bought them for two hundred naira, I was able to persuade the seller to give me three for a hundred naira.”
“That’s a good bargaining skill you’ve got. Nice one.” Auntie Lizzie praised. “Now, go and have your bath and change out of your uniform.”
“Chekwube, did you want to go to your sister’s for the weekend?” Auntie Lizzie asked.
“Yes, ma…” Chekwube said.
“Why don’t you spend the weekend with them next week? But you can visit them today or tomorrow if you wish. I am hosting my meeting members at the house on Sunday so, I need us to go to the market tomorrow and then prepare the food after church on Sunday.”
“Okay ma, I’ll go and see my sister after eating lunch and be back before it’s late.”
“Okay…good.” Auntie Lizzie said.
“Auntie Lizzie, we are having test week, next week and two of my classmates want us to study together.” Chekwube said.
“Where are you hoping to study?” She asked. “I know you have no problem studying, you are a very bright girl. I’m sure it’s your classmates that are having trouble with their studies.”
“I want to help them.” She said.
“Later, we will discuss further in the study group. Just go and change out of your uniform.”
Chekwube nodded and quickly made her way out of the kitchen.
Gbenga walked into the house and was greeted by a weird smell, he quickly turned off the air condition and opened the windows.
“What’s that smell?” He asked himself.
He made his way towards the dinning room and stopped in his tracks. His mother and Jermia were seated at the dinning room, smoking.
“What is wrong with you people?” Gbenga shouted. “My dad is going to be pissed!”
“Hello love…back from school already?” His mother asked with a smile. “I thought your school closed for the day at three pm.”
“Today is Friday and we close at one pm on Fridays.” Gbenga spat. “Stop smoking in the house! Go outside if you want to smoke.”
“Hey Gbenga…” Jermia said with a smile as she waved at him.
Gbenga watched the two of them, they weren’t ready to leave, they ignored him and continued smoking.
“I can’t believe this.” Gbenga said incredulously.
“Don’t be a spoil sport…come and join us.” His mother said to him. “Come and have a drag, it’s the good stuff.”
Gbenga stared at her, he had been told countless times by Mummy Justina, never to join bad gangs of guys who smoked but surprisingly, it was his own mother that was doing what Mummy Justiina thought his peers would be doing.
“Where is mummy Justina?” He asked.
“Stop calling that brat, mom. She’s not your mom. I am your mom.” His mother said to him.
“Where is she? I’m sure she’s not at home or you won’t be doing all this.” Gbenga said.
“Shhh…just come and sit by us…come…let’s teach you how to have real fun.” His mother said.
Gbenga turned around and stormed off, he hurried to the kitchen and saw a maid slicing vegetables.
“Where is mummy Justina?” He asked.
“She took the day off.” The maid said sourly.
“How come I didn’t know about this?” Gbenga asked.
The maid shrugged and continued slicing the vegetables. Gbenga wanted to call his father and tell him what was going on but he knew he couldn’t. When his father had wanted to send his mother and her companion away, he’d interceded on their behalf.
He didn’t know what to do.
Chekwube wrapped the towel above her chest, pushed open the door and stepped out of the bathroom. She was shocked to see EM standing just outside the bathroom.
“Did you want to use the bathroom? I’m sorry I took so much time.” She said.
He flashed a smile.
“Oh no, you didn’t spend too much time in there.” He said.
“Okay.” She said and made her way to her bedroom.
As she walked to the room, she felt uneasy so she turned around and saw him staring at her. Chekwube felt a chill grip her heart, she quickly rushed into her room and locked the door.
A few minutes later, she stepped out of her bedroom and headed towards the kitchen. She spied her food on the kitchen counter and was about to take it when she heard a voice behind her.
“That’s my food.”
She turned around in a start and stared at EM. He seemed to like sneaking up on her and she hated it.
“I’m sorry.” She said quickly.
He smiled at her.
“I’m joking. I’ve already had my lunch.” He laughed.
Auntie Lizzie made her way into the kitchen and when she saw them, she smiled at them.
“I see you’ve met my nephew, Ebuka.” She said to Chekwube.
Chekwube nodded quickly.
“She was about to give up her food for me…” He laughed.
“You mischeviuous young man.” Auntie Lizzie said fondly. “Don’t mind Ebuka, he loves playing pranks.” She said to Chekwube.
Chekwube nodded wordlessly and picked up her plate of food.
“I don’t want you to go to your friend’s place tomorrow. I need to be sure of the kind of friends you have before letting you visit them at their homes.” Auntie Lizzie said.
“Yes ma.” Chekwube said.
“You can tell them to come here.” Auntie Lizzie said. “Do you have their phone numbers?”
“Yes ma, I have the phone number of one of them but the second one lives in the same compound with Ola.”
“Do you have a phone?” Auntie Lizzie asked.
“No ma.” Chekwube answered.
“I’ll give you my phone to call your friend.” EM quickly said.
Chekwube nodded stiffly.
“Wash the dishes before you leave. I am going to my room to rest.” Auntie Lizzie said and walked away.
“We’ve got the best aunt in the world.” EM shouted as auntie Lizzie left the kitchen.
“Stop it you silly boy!” Auntie Lizzie laughed as she left the kitchen.
Chekwube pulled out the kitchen stool and sat down to eat.
“Don’t you want to eat at the dinning?” EM asked.
“No, I eat in the kitchen or in my bedroom.” Chekwube said.
“Is that where my aunt told you to eat?”
“No, I just prefer to eat here.” She said.
Suddenly, EM slapped the top of her arm gently and Chekwube startled.
“I saw a mosquito…” He said withdrawing his hand delicately and staring at his palms. “Oops, it got away.”
Chekwube didn’t respond, she quickly said the grace and began eating. EM smiled at her and left the kitchen and as he walked away, Chekwube’s mind told her that EM had not only slapped an invisible mosquito on her arm but had incidentally brushed the side of her breast in the process.
To be continued next week….