She shut the door behind her and stared at the room. It was a regular style four-corner bedroom, a few meters on each side.
Back at home she never spoke of such topics or named problems but Peace had always suspected she had a case of claustrophobia. Her eyes darted to the two windows in the room. Even if they were big enough to let in air sufficient for breathing, there couldn’t be ventilation with the wardrobe which stood in the middle of the room. It faced the bed in the middle, the one the land lord has said was hers. She drew herself to the bed. The mattress had brown map stains all over it, she held it gingerly, swapping it for one that seemed slightly better. She was used to this. Boarding school life; it entailed quickly changing all bad things allotted to you before your roommates resumed. She remembered her graduation morning when all of them had stayed up still giddy. Neither of her friends had slept at night. They had had conversations of everything under the sun. they had drank lacasara to toast to never living in boarding school again.
Now, Peace looked around her, at the two other beds in the little room and pictured just how much more it could look like a boarding house. Perhaps if the beds were bunk.
She wondered what kind of houses her friends back then were now living in, those same ones who had drank Lacasera with her. she wondered what kind of jobs her classmates from university had taken up. Even for her, computer science was the magnet.
As the familiar thoughts swirled in her head, drawing her into a pond of despondency, she knelt by the bed which smelt of dust and staleness, careful that her elbows would not touch a dead fly smashed to the bed, she prayed. She thanked God for her life, for her fiancé’s, for the opportunity to serve, and wondered about other causes to give thanks. She sanctified the land with the blood of Jesus. When her thoughts started to run in the place of prayer again, she stood up and slapped away the dust from her knees.
Getting to work, she dusted her mattress, sprinkled the floor with water from a bottle in her bag and swept. She left the door ajar for air to come in. she mentally noted fan to be one of the priorities under luxury. There was no way she could handle the heat and stuffiness here, she eyed the windows distastefully. Peace sighed and proceeded to open the wardrobe door which creaked, letting some part of the wood chirp off. Dear lord!
By the time she was remotely satisfied, having dusted the cobwebs, she squatted, still unread to sit on the mattress until it was laid with a sheet. Perhaps she would get a chair too. She checked her bag for her phone, wishing to call Tomiwa. Three missed calls from him already. She dialled his number repeatedly, and listened to the dial tone endlessly.
She glanced around the room wondering how long she could stay before resting her back after the day’s job. Hissing, she got up quickly. Lord, don’t let me grow biter. Grant me the grace to work She left for his apartment in the other part of town. There was the offer of a room like hers but he had chosen one with four housemates. Truthfully, Peace wondered how he would have his privacy to pray, study the Bible. She wondered how several things would work. She took note of various spots along the way; the woman with the grinding machine three houses down, the brightly painted yet masquerade looking house at the end of the street with taps in front of it where she would have to fetch water from. The abandoned land where everyone dumped refuse, the mosques at short intervals, built finer than the houses of those who worshipped there. By the time she got to Tomiwa’s apartment, she was winded. He wasn’t in. Instead she met a bitter looking man who barely allowed her inside before banging the door after her. He remained sullen in his own part of the room. When Tomiwa came back, he came bearing his bag and hers.
”oh, you’re already here. I called you” he said edging his way through the door with the bags.
”and I called you too. Have you seen it?” she asked before he fished his phone out of his bag.
”ehh. It was in silent mode. Sorry. So you’ve walked down on your own.”
”the town was worth seeing. I see our bags have arrived” she gave a small smile
”yes the bus driver called me. Other things we packed at home, Jare would bring it for us himself”
”he still drives that his toyota?”
” yes he hasn’t found a buyer yet” he sat with her on the bed. ”you’re hungry? I saw one buka on the way”
Peace’s stomach coiled at the thought. Yes, she was hungry. No, she didn’t want to eat from an unhygienic canteen. This would definitely be worse than any other canteen she had ever eaten in. She couldn’t wait to start cooking her own food here. Somehow she hadn’t considered her options if she didn’t cook in this village. She knew better than to complain yet she did
”but Tomiwa, how long will this last? How long?”
His composure changed, putting on the face he used to deal with what he termed her childishness” when will we stop going over this, P? when?”
”okay I know. I know.” she sighed ” goodnight” she walked out with her own travel bag before he could say anything past the feelings wanting to choke him. Soon she doubted he even wanted to say anything as she walked alone to her apartment.
what a short visit.
Wishing her house mates will never come and she would dwell in her misery alone, she laid her bed sheet on the mattress. She drifted to sleep hours later quietly muttering God, help me support him, help me.