Lois looked at her bed and sighed, she kicked a box of novels to the side and made her way to her new bed. She sat on it and cradled her face in her palms. Life was never going to be the same. Ghana would always be her home no matter what and she felt so bad that she had to leave with her family. She looked around at her new room and sighed some more. The house in Lagos was classier and a little bigger as it had everything she loved. It has a swimming pool and also a gym house-something she’d always wanted in the house in Ghana. The sitting room was so large and so was the kitchen. The house was a duplex with four bedrooms which were large and also ensuite unlike the one in Ghana where she had to use the bathroom down the hall. This house provided more privacy for her but privacy for what? She wondered. Her room was always open and she never needed her parents to knock before coming in. Her life was practically an open book and now, her parents were giving her a chance to keep secrets by furnishing her bedroom with almost everything she needed. She didn’t even need to go downstairs to watch television because her room had one in it unlike the one in Ghana. The interior designer had designed her room in a butterfly theme and she hated it. She was more the caterpillar than the butterfly. Every butterfly has beautiful patterns to display but she was boring and didn’t have anything special to display for everyone to see.

She lay on her bed and groaned, she wanted to scream in frustration.

“Hey Loisy…” Her mother’s voice floated to her through the door.

“Mom…” She said, sitting up on the bed.

Her mother gave her a reassuring smile.

“You will be fine.” She said.

Lois nodded and picked up one of her favourite novels, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and looked at it.

“We could visit the bookshop if you want…later…” Her mother said. “Your father’s company gave him a driver and he is willing to take us around.”

“Okay…” She said missing the intimate drives that she took with her parents while in Ghana.

“We’re also going to pay your grandparents a visit in a few days…they can’t wait to see you, as well as your cousins.” Her mother said.

Lois gave her a small smile. She missed Kwame and Kofi, her cousins who were her age mates and who challenged her constantly to a game of basket ball.

“We will get through this. Come to think of it. Your dad is happy and I must say that I didn’t expect such a beautiful house here in Nigeria. We also get to hire helps too and…”

“I’m fine mom, really.” She said.

Her mother leaned against the door frame and smiled at her.

“If you are fine, why aren’t you running about the house and screaming in delight. I remember how you ran about happily when we moved to our house in Ghana.”

“I was eight years old back then…I was still a child besides we moved from one house to the other within the country but this is different, we’ve moved to a new country.”

“This is your country.” Her mother said to her.

“Ghana is my country too mom…” Lois said.

“Yes it is and I promise you that we would visit from time to time.”

Lois smiled at her mother, she loved her so much.

“I will be happy, for you and for daddy.” She said.

“That’s my girl! Why don’t we step out for a walk? I’d like to explore the new neighbourhood.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Lois said standing from her bed and making her way towards her mother.

She placed her hand over her mother’s shoulders and they both made their way out of the room.

******

Jeff was bored stiff. He had hated boarding school at first when he’d been enrolled in Junior secondary one but now that he was in the senior class, he was enjoying it much better. He lay on his bed and played his games, his eyes kept glancing at the clock on the wall.

“When do I call her?” He whispered to himself.

He had been so excited when Ashanti told him that she would be glad to be his girlfriend and he had planned their whole long vacation together. He had enough pocket money to take her to the movies and also for a bit of shopping but she was taking so long in telling her mom about her new relationship. Jeff didn’t need to tell anyone that he had a girlfriend. His mother was a top investment banker and she was out of the house before six am every morning and returned when he was asleep. His father was a surgeon at one of the biggest hospitals in Lagos, he was never at home even during the dead of the night. Jeff has one sister, Amelia, and she was always holed up in her room and never ever came out to talk to him. His cousins came from time to time to spend the holiday with them but this summer, they’d travelled to Morocco with their parents. How he wished he could travel with his family on a vacation. His parents mostly sent him and his sister alone to the United States to their aunt’s place but they seldom went with them. Their family had never spent time with eachother even before the television set.

Bored out of his skin, he got off his bed, turned off his television and stepped out of his bedroom. The air was warm outside and he was soon strolling down to the gate. He had no idea of where he was headed but he knew that if he stayed inside his house a minute longer, he’d scream.

“Jeff!” His gateman called out to him.

“Yes…”

“Are you going out?” He asked.

“I’m just going to the park within the estate.” Jeff answered.

“Okay, I just want to know where you’re headed.” The gateman said.

“Okay…” Jeff said and left the compound.

He stepped out of the gate and turned right, the house next to his used to be vacant as the expartriates who lived there had relocated back to their country. A week ago, he’d seen some activity in the house as it seemed that some people had moved in. He was just about to take a step forward when a young girl walked out of the house smiling, she was holding on to a woman’s hand. Jeff froze.

“Ashanti!” He whispered.

 

*******

Ashanti was eating akara and bread and watching television with her cousins in the only sitting room of her mother’s family house. The door opened and slammed close. She turned to see who it was. It was her mother.

“Mummy…” She called out.

Her mother held up her bag to cover her face and raced upstairs. Ashanti dropped the bread she was eating on the center table and gave her cousins a warning look which said ‘don’t you dare eat it’ and hurried after her mother.

“Mummy…mummy…” She called.

This was the first time she was seeing her mother since she left for school last term.

Her mother opened the door leading to their compartment and shut it behind her, Ashanti opened the door and stepped in. Her mother dropped her bag on the sofa in the sitting room and sat down to remove her shoes.

“Mummy…” Ashanti called again.

“What is it Ashanti? What is it? Can’t I get a minute rest?”

Ashanti looked at her mother’s face that she was so desperately trying to hide from her. It was swollen and bruised.

“What happened to your face?”

“I got hit by a bus.”

“You don’t take buses…mom, tell me the truth, what happened?” Ashanti asked.

“It’s nothing, really.”

Ashanti crouched before her mother and gently placed her palm under her chin. Her mother looked at her, her left eye was red and swollen.

“Someone hit you…” Ashanti said.

“Don’t worry about it…” Her mother said.

Ashanti sighed, she knew what could have happened. She watched so many films even those she wasn’t supposed to watch because there was really no censor around the house. None of the adults in her mother’s family could ask her what she was watching and if it was appropriate for her age.

“How…how was school?” Her mother asked.

“It was fine….I came home with Lolade…” Ashanti said. “Her dad dropped me off at the bustop and I took a bus.”

“Was your pocket money enough for you?” Her mother asked.

Ashanti never lacked money, if at all there was anything good that came from her mother, it was the fact that she received more than enough money each and every week while she was in school.

“Yes mom, it was…”

“I don’t want you to lack anything…anything at all…” Her mother said.

“You look like you haven’t had enough sleep…” Ashanti said. “You should lie down.”

Her mother nodded, got off the chair and let Ashanti lead her to her bedroom where she lay on the bed and closed her eyes. Ashanti took the covers and covered her mother’s frame. Even though she sometimes hated the life her mother offered, she was all she had in the world.

******

“Ashanti!” The voice called persistently.

Lois and her mother continued to walk down the quiet street.

“Ashanti!” The voice called again.

Lois turned to look in the direction of the voice and saw a teenage boy. She didn’t know him and her name wasn’t Ashanti so she turned back and continued her stroll with her mother.

Jeff was confused, Ashanti hadn’t only ignored him, she’d stared at him as though she didn’t know him. He was so furious. He couldn’t believe that her family had moved into the house next to his and now that they were close to each other, she had ignored him like that. He took out his phone from his pocket and dialled her number.

*******

Ashanti was just stepping out of her mother’s room when her phone rang, she looked at the caller ID and almost groaned. It was her new boyfriend. He seemed to be calling or texting her every hour.

“Hello Jeff…”

“Wait…a minute…that’s not you?” He almost screamed down the receiver.

“What are you talking about?” She asked.

“I just…I just saw your splitting image next to my house…in fact she is your carbon copy.” He said breathlessly.

“You’re sick.” She said, wondering how her boyfriend had come up with such fib.

“I am not lying. I was just calling out to her a while ago but she didn’t respond to me so I called your number instead to see if she’d answer. You answered the call but she’s not even on the phone because I can see her walking down the road with a woman who should be her mother.”

Ashanti was surprised.

“She looks like me?” Ashanti asked.

“Yes…she is your mirror image.”

“That can’t be true…” Ashanti said.

“She is on a low cut like you, she has your bony stature, she has your exact face, your eyes, your nose, your lips, your everything.” Jeff said, sounding like he was in shock.

“Wait…this can’t be…I mean…I am not a twin or anything.”

“I really don’t know what to say.” He said.

“Can you…can you take her picture? I mean, if she looks like me, I’d like to see.” Ashanti said.

“What if you come to my house and see her for yourself. I don’t think she’d agree to a picture because we don’t know each other.”

“You’re right…text me your house address, I’ll be there tomorrow morning.” She said. “And Jeff, if this is a prank to get me to come to your place, it’s quite an expensive joke and I won’t tolerate it.”

“I promise it’s no prank.” He said.

When he hung up, Jeff stared at the already disappearing frame of the girl who he’d believed to be his girlfriend.

“This is unbelieveable!” He said to himself.

 

To be continued….

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