She stood in front of the door waiting for Chidinma to come and open it, she had so much to tell her! Unfortunately it was her roommate Bisi who opened the door.
"Hey, whats up? Chidinma dey?" she inquired and tried too look through the gap in the door
"No, I never see am since morning" Bisi rolled her eyes at the mess behind her " E be like say she dey rush when she commot, u wan wait am? she asked
"Yeah" she replied as she walked into the messy room
She hated coming to Chidinma's room when she wasn't around, her roommate Bisi was just not the friendliest person on earth but she decided to stay anyways.

Bisi was sitting on her bed with books all around her, madly scribbling formulas into a worn-out notebook. As far as Nneka was concerned, thats the only thing Bisi and Chidinma had in common, they were both efikos.

After waiting for more than an hour, Chidinma walked in the room.
"Ah Nneka whats up? Bisi how far?" she asked breathless from the long walk from the gate.
"hey" Bisi replied barely looking up from her books.

Nneka eyed her friend as she walked across the room, there was something quite different about her, for one thing she wouldn't look up. Although Chidinma wasn't that "bubbly-always-full-of excitement-type" she seemed down cast. Nneka decided that they needed to leave the room to talk.

"Chidinma lets go and get Sharwarma, hunger dey waya me!" As if she knew what she would say next she quicky told her that she would be paying. Chidinma changed into a pair of jeans and flip-flops and they left...

As they walked down the road, Nneka began to talk about what was going on with her. The thing was you could never directly probe into Chidinma's life, you had to open up to her, and then she might let you in. Nneka babbled on about how her boyfriend Chuks was beginning to get on her nerves with his constant nagging about how she dressed. Through out the conversation Chidinma inserted "oh's" and "Eyah's" where appropriate, it was obvious she wasn't paying much attention.
"Nneka" Chidinma said, with her voice dropping slightly at the end. "I have a problem, you know things have been rough for us since my father died" she looked at her friend square in the eye which was very unusual for chidinma
"We have used up all the money he left us and my mother's business is slow. My younger brother Junior is going to write his JSCE soon and i have used all my money to pay for his school things. I'm fed up, worried and I just dont know..."
She looked up at her friend and sighed.
Nneka did not know what to say to her friend so she opened up her arms and just gave her a hug, right in the middle of the street. And there they were, two young women embracing and crying and laughing like only adults can in the hope that maybe it would get better...


As they sat down to eat the sharwarma they had waited an hour for Chidinma began to tell Nneka her story.
"I don't think I have told you this before, I had a very happy childhood infact I was very content. My father was a civil servant and my mother had a provisions store, everyday after school I would go to the store and do my homework and then help my mother out. Life was simple, after my father closed work he would go and pick my brothers up from lesson and then pick me and my mother from the shop. My mother would make us dinner and we would all watch the seven o'clock news"she smiled as she said this and she seemed lost in her reminiscing.
Chidinma paused...and then her voice became choked up but it seemed like she felt a pressing need to continue, so she did. "I was in SS2 when my father died, when i got to the shop that afternoon my mother was not there, the shop wasn't even locked. I knew something was wrong. I walked from my mothers shop all the way home it took me about two hours and thirty minutes. When I got home our neighbor Alhaja as we all called her rushed up to embrace me. I was confused. She began to mumble some prayers in arabic, she was crying, I was still confused. so I started crying too. Then she said "your brothers are inside I brought them home but you must go to the hospital immediately your mother is still there, Bayo will take you."

Alhaja's oldest son Bayo, my very good friend and sort of older brother did not say a word, he did not look me in the eye as he drove fast to the teaching hospital. I felt like jumping out of the car and running, like it would get me there faster.The old daewoo was going as fast as it could go but it would never be fast enough.
When we got to the hospital the receptionist began to mumble something to me. I couldnt understand her, there was a woman wailing in the hallway, she sounded familiar yet really strange. As if in a trance I followed the sound to an open door.And there she was, my mother being held up by two nurses. Why was she screaming? "Mummy!" I shouted at her! "mummy what happened?" She looked up at me but it seemed she was looking through me and all she kept screaming was "My husband, my husband". It wasn't only my father who died that day a part of my mother died too.


"I've been sleeping with another woman." Emeka finally said. His voice was so low, it was barely audible and his words came out so fast, they bumped into each other, the last ones beginning before the first words finished. So his statement came out like one long word "I'vebeensleepingwithanotherwoman." But she heard, because he spoke in his sleep, and they had been married long enough that she could decipher the meanings or at least the words of his mindless mumbles. So she heard.
The number 19 was reflecting the light that spilled in form the big arched window in the hallway. It was sparkling and the familiarity of the place startled her. She had not been back in so long, after she got married and moved out she had come to visit Anu a few times, but not recently. She looked around the hallway while she waited for Anu to open the door, she had rung the door bell twice but... she turned to face the window, the glass was spotless and she could see the palm trees across the road, swaying, swaying. She began to move her head slowly from side to side, mimicking the movement of the trees. She imagined that there was a soft breeze rushing past her ears, her eyes, bidding her head to sway like the trees. She was a palm tree, tall, untouchable...well except by palm wine tappers. Palm wine tappers could touch her and they did and lizards too, lizards and birds. So she was not untouchable. She was fooli-

"Rose?" Anu asked, shattering Roseline's reverie. Roseline faced her sister slowly and saw the puzzled expression on her face. Something must have been wrong with her face, because Anu nearly jumped when she looked at her, her eyes moved down to the suitcase and up again to Roseline's face and she moved closer to cover her sister with herself and she embraced her and comforted her until Mr.Manesh from flat 18 walked out, the smell of incense wafted out behind him. He walked to the lift with his head turned the opposite way, towards them, staring, he nearly walked into the wall.