“I want to capture everything she says. Not just her words, but the rythm in her voice, the liquid expressions of her face, just to keep a moment of her. Fuck. I think I`m in love. This is stupid. As if I`m the first person in the world to think that, this is so stupid, my arrogance astounds me.” Milo says suddenly, filling the languid silence that they have found so rarely in Mumbai.

“Are those song lyrics?” Felix asks

“No. Okay, death by Scaphism or being quartered" Milo continues his stripped green shirt is wrapped around his head like a turban and his slick red curls are plastered on the side of his wet face.

"What the hell are you talking about?" Rashida’s heavy voice floats from the edge of the pool where she lays lazily tracing her fingers on the surface of the water.

"I`m just saying, we`re drunk enough that we just went skinny dipping after breaking into a private pool, I think we can have this conversation." he responds his words traced with laughter.

"It’s a bit of a morbid topic though, don`t you think?" Felix throws in; the light from the red hot tip of the cigarette between his lips illuminates his narrow face.

"What do you think Aisha?" Milo asks flinging his arm sideways so that it rests on her back where she lays face down beside him "Do you think we`re ready for this conversation?" He says everything with laughter in his voice, everything in jest so that when he laced his fingers with hers and asked if he could kiss her a few weeks a ago she had been too startled by his seriousness to think and she had nodded, nodded yes. So there it was.

"I don`t know what you`re talking about Milo, you dey craze"

They all laugh and it’s easy, the space between them, the air between them is always easy and light.

Its times like this that she wonders what they hell she`s doing in Mumbai. She knows well how she got there and why, but when she`s engulfed in intoxicating hazy moments like this with her oddball group of exotic weirdoes, she wonders how it can be that she has lived both her life in Lagos in her father`s compound in Surulere; where she spent most days navigating her way between three step mothers and eleven step siblings and her life in Mumbai, where besides being low on cash and having living conditions reminiscent of the all girls federally run boarding school she had attended for three years; she was as free as a butterfly or balloon, whatever.

In Lagos she had done everything to avoid any attention that could get her in trouble with her father, biding her time till she finally went away to university in Edinburgh. So heavens help her if she didn’t grab every opportunity that would keep her from going back home. The three month volunteer program in India was one of those opportunities she would take and milk for everything it was worth. So even before the program she had sent in her application, she managed to sweet talk enough money for the plane ticket from her father. Travel expenses was the only thing the volunteers were required to take care of, everything else was provided, room; which wasn`t the most luxurious living situation Aisha had ever experienced, but it wasn`t terrible either and board which was simply the local food was usually quite delicious.

In terms of the culture shock the program brochure had mentioned, Aisha figured it couldn`t be that different from Lagos, she had survived Surulere for nineteen years; she was sure she could manage Mumbai.

She was wrong. It was incredibly hard. The responsibilities of the volunteers included various responsibilities that changed every day, from volunteering in local poorly equipped hospitals to setting up and running temporary soup kitchens in different locations each week to transporting basic medicines to the surrounding rural villages.

So no, it wasn`t even the least bit luxurious, especially since she had had to call brother Banji; one of the step siblings to whom she felt the closest and to whom she looked the most similar, to send her some money through Western Union more than twice in the past five weeks.

But there is nothing she would trade for this experience.

She sits up, her wet braids pulling heavily at her scalp. Milo mirrors her, pulls the T-shirt off of his head and wraps it around hers to soak up some of the pool water from her hair. He kisses her on the fore head before he lays back down,

The whole thing with Milo, well that`s a whole other story.


Myne Whitman said...

This is nice!

Are you guys back?

Jaycee said...

Very interesting. The "whole thing with Milo" and how both of them came to be in Mumbai at the same time is what is making me curious now.

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