Ashanti stepped out of the bathroom and inhaled deeply, she had just had a very warm bath and she was feeling so good.
“This is life!” She said smiling to herself.
The door opened and she yelped.
“Lois, its time for prayers.” Lois’s mother said.
“Can’t you knock?” Ashanti yelled wondering why Lois’s mother hadn’t bothered to knock.
“Knock? I’ve never knocked at your bedroom door before.” Lois’s mother said, sounding surprised.
“Well, I’m growing up and I can’t have anyone barge in just like that…” Ashanti said, forcing herself to speak cordially.
“I’m sorry dear…” Lois’s mother said. “Change into your night wear and come to our bedroom so that we can pray.”
As soon as Lois’s mother shut the door, Ashanti gritted her teeth in fury. She stared at her reflection in the full length mirror. The ‘Tweety bird’ towel she’d tied above her chest made her look funny.
“Who’s this girl anyway and what’s her deal? First her mother doesn’t even knock before entering her bedroom and now, she has the ugliest towel in the history of the world.”
She turned to regard Lois’s bedroom.
“She even has a book shelf in her room, what is she? A librarian?” She muttered.
She threw open the wardrobe and began to search for a nightwear. All she saw were ugly clothing which comprised of mostly wide-leg trousers and boring T-shirts.
“This girl is so stupid! Look at all these ugly clothing…urrrgh! How can her family have so much money than mine and I have a better taste in fashion than she does? I know what I’d do, I’ll ask her dad for money and tomorrow, I’ll go shopping with Amelia…or Jeff…yes, Jeff cos he’s my boyfriend and he’ll have extra money to add to my shopping money.”
She scattered the neatly arranged wardrobe and walked over to the drawers beside the wardrobe and pulled them open. She finally found Lois’s nightwears after scattering and flinging away most of the clothing within.
Fifteen minutes later, she was out of her bedroom and opening all the other bedrooms on the floor in search of Lois’s parents’ bedroom.
“She’s acting strange…I tell you…” Lois’s mother was saying to her father. “Now, I think we made a wrong decision bringing her to Nigeria. We haven’t even paid a visit to your family yet and she’s started misbehaving. This is a different Lois from the one I know.”
“You’re just imagining things. I feel that Lois is going through a rough stage and she’ll overcome.” Lois’s father said.
Ashanti heard Lois’s parents’ conversation as she neared their bedroom door. Her heart started racing. She couldn’t risk them finding out, at least not yet. She needed to buy enough things with their money to last her a lifetime and if they find out that she’s not their daughter, then, she would miss out on the jackpot. She raised her hand on the door and knocked.
“Come on in…” Lois’s father’s voice rang out.
Ashanti pushed open the door and walked in with a small smile.
“Hi mom, dad…” She said walking to sit beside them on the bed.
“Lois darling, are you okay? I saw the maid bring up food to your bedroom…are you alright?” Lois’s father asks.
“Yes, why do you ask daddy?” Ashanti said.
“Well…we’re just a bit concerned. You’d eaten dinner already and I know that you don’t eat a lot. Your mom and I think that you’re hanging out too much with the neighbours. Perhaps it will be better if we enrolled you in a summer lesson. It doesn’t have to be for academic reasons since you’re so brilliant and you always ace your grades. Perhaps you could enrol in a catering summer school or a fashion school.”
Ashanti’s eyes widened, she loved fashion.
“Fashion sounds great dad.” She said with a smile.
“Fashion? Lois, you are not keen on fashion…” Lois’s mother said.
“Well, I am now…” Ashanti said, wondering why the woman was trying to poke her nose into her business.
“Dear, you love to bake…just like me.”
“Oh…really? Well, since you bake and I learn from you at home, don’t you think it would be a waste of money to go to a catering school for the summer?”
“Lois is right.” Lois’s father said pulling her close to him for a half-hug.
“Okay then…let’s pray so that we can go to bed. Lois and I have to go to the market for foodstuff tomorrow. It will be fun exploring the market in Nigeria.” Lois’s mother said.
“Market ke? Me? No way ooo…lai lai…” Ashanti said quickly without thinking.
Lois’s parents turned to stare at her, they looked stunned.
Lois was able to get a rechargeable light from Ashanti’s aunt Rebecca who had stared at her wordlessly when she had knocked at her door asking for a light.
“Please can I borrow a light? The house is dark.” Lois said in her Ghanaian accent.
Aunt Rebecca had wanted to fling one of her insults at her but through the aid of the torch light from Lois’s phone, she’d been able to see that the girl was scared.
“Your uncle didn’t buy any fuel for the generator besides, the gen is faulty.” Aunt Rebecca had said stiffly.
“Where are Fabian and Damien, are they asleep already?” Lois asked politely.
“Come, what’s your deal? Not only did you destroy their ball this afternoon, you and your mother insulted me when I came to your compartment. What do you want to do to them?”
Lois looked stunned.
“No, I…they are nice boys and I want to bid them goodnight…but it’s okay if they are asleep.”
Rebecca stared at the girl who looked every inch the terrorist that resided in the house with them and reaching out, she placed the back of her palms on her forehead.
“Are you ill, Ashanti?”
“No, I’m perfectly okay.” Lois replied.
“Why do you sound so different? You are even more polite and you’re also interested in the welfare of your cousins, when did that happen?”
“Errr…I…err…can I have the light?” Lois asked with a smile.
“Yes you can…it’s a rechargeable light. Please make sure you charge it when the light comes up.” Rebecca said as she entered the house and brought out the lamp which she handed over to Lois.
As soon as Lois left, Rebecca called out to Fabian who was lying on the sofa and humming a song.
The boy came running.
“Is that your cousin or someone else?”
“I don’t know mom, she changed since she entered the house this evening. Even granny noticed.” He said and walked away.
Rebecca held the door knob and stared into the darkness, something wasn’t right. Ashanti couldn’t have changed overnight. She thought.
Early the next morning, Ashanti’s household woke up to the smell of deliciously baked bread and fried eggs. Everyone was shocked including Ashanti’s maternal uncle Jacob and aunt Mabel.
“Ashanti! Did you prepare all this?” Uncle Jacob asked as he entered the formerly dusty and dirty dinning room which was already sparkling clean.
“Yup! Please, let’s eat.” Ashanti said with a smile as she placed the large loaf of bread at the center of the table. “I found some flour and some butter and milk…so, I baked.”
“Did you clean this house?” Aunt Rebecca asked in shock.
“Yes, I was up at four am.” Lois said, she was tempted to add that she normally jogs very early in the morning and that she mostly helps her mother bake in the mornings too.
“Serious? Ashanti! This is a pleasant surprise.” Aunt Mabel said, taking the bread from the table and tearing it in half then shoving the first half in her mouth.
“Mabel! Bring that bread…oshofree…” Uncle Jacob yelled.
Soon, they were running about laughing and screaming over the loaf of bread. Mama rolled into the dinning room in her wheel chair, she looked surprised.
“What is going on?” She asked in surprise.
“Ashanti surprised us. She baked and she even cleaned the house.” Aunt Rebecca said, instantly taking a liking to the new improved Ashanti.
“Are you serious? Ashanti? You did all this?” Mama asked.
“Yes mama and guess what? I reserved a special treat for you. It’s low in cholesterol and it’s very nurtrious. I’ll go get it.” Lois said and hurried out of the dinning room.
When she left, Fabian and Damien nudged each other.
“Something is wrong.” Damien said. “This is not Ashanti.”
“Who can she be then? That’s our cousin, or is she a twin just like we are?” Fabian said.
Uncle Jacob and aunt Mabel suddenly stopped their loud talks, they stared at the boys.
“What…what makes you say that?” Uncle Jacob asked his sons.
“Well, she’s very different…she speaks differently, she is polite and she doesn’t yell like that mad girl, Ashanti. Maybe she is a twin just like Damien and I but she’s an identical twin.” Fabian said.
“Yes, I know…we have identical twins in our class…their names are Taiwo and Kehinde.” Damien supplied.
Mabel and Jacob stared at each other in silence, they suddenly grew uncomfortable. Even Mama began to bite her nails. Rebecca stared at her husband and his sister, then at her mother in law.
“Could it be?” She asked.
“Could what be?” Her husband fired.
“I mean…could it be that this is Ashanti’s twin who’s well brought up and…” Rebecca started.
“Don’t be ridiculous Rebecca! Ashanti is only one person and that’s it!” Her husband glowered.
Rebecca knew her husband like the back of her palms and whenever he was nervous, he yelled. Lois chose that moment to walk into the dining room with Mama’s food.
“Ashanti, is this really you or are you Ashanti’s twin?” Fabian asked Lois.
Lois stood and stared, she was clearly caught off guard.
“Don’t mind these kids and their speculations. Come on, place the plate on the table…let’s eat.” Aunt Rebecca said quickly. “I see that you used all the foodstuff I bought from the market but never mind. I’ll err…get more foodstuff later. I had bought the flour to make chinchin for the boys and pancakes but these loaves of home made bread look tempting.”
“Well…I…err…the ingridents were not complete but I improvised.” Lois said quietly. “If you like, I’d follow you to the market to help you restock the kitchen.”
“Really? You would? That would be nice…thanks.” Aunt Rebecca said.
“Let’s eat dear…” Mama said with a smile on her face.
Just as they sat at the table to eat, they heard the door open and slam loudly.
“Oh my God! Aunt Crazy is home!” Damien said rolling his eyes.
Lois turned to stare at Damien.
“Who’s aunt Crazy?” She asked innocently.
Her question drew stares to her like magnet. Everyone even Ashanti knew that her mother was referred to as ‘Aunt Crazy’ not only by Fabian and Damien but also by some of their neighbours.
At that moment, a woman dressed like a drag queen walked into the dining room. Her eyes were red rimmed and she had a scornful smile on her lips.
“Hello family.” She said. She smelt terribly of alcohol and cheap perfume.
Lois had no idea who she was, she just sat there and stared at her.
“Aunt Crazy, is your mom.” Rebecca said to her.
Lois’s mouth hung open.
“Ashanti darling, I have good news for you.” The woman walked to hug Lois who was seated on the chair.
Lois cringed, she desperately wanted to run.
To be continued….