Posted by Jodekss Gloatkenf

A gripping short story by Oghenetega Emoghene, a member of the Creative Writers’ Workshop, Abraka

SHE FALLS BACK on the elegant sofa and looks around her house, absorbing its beauty, and excellent décor; it is a really magnificent, lovely house compared to the others she had lived in but it wouldn’t matter in a few hours because it would no longer be hers. She jumps out from the sofa as if a bee stung her and began to shrithe. Who would she call? She began to rummage, ruminating of who she can call to be with her so she won’t to do it. There was no one.

Life has always been unfair to her in many ways. On her 18th birthday, the people who had taken care of her as a child had told her they weren’t her parents. Her foster mother had given birth to 7 children after they adopted her due to 7 years of barrenness. A year after she was adopted, her foster mother gave birth to one, and then, another and another. They weren’t well off and she had to hawk to provide enough for the younger ones to go to school after she had dropped out at JSS3. She had always felt out of place in the family. So, she wasn’t so shocked when they told her she wasn’t their biological daughter. What shocked her was when her foster parents told her to leave because they could no longer take care of another person’s child. She began to laugh. Did they feel they took care of her? Anyway, she was grateful for the shelter and food, but she had worked for them. She decided to close that chapter of her drudgery life.

With 5000 naira squeezed into her palm by her foster father and the 120 naira little Tega had given her, she went into the street. She decided to stay far from home so she won’t be pitied. She luckily gets a job as a sales girl and sleeps in the shop. But she was sacked when her colleague stole money and blamed her for it. After so much hunger, suffering and humiliation, she becomes a prostitute. Of all shameful things she had done, she had not been abashed by her decision to become a whore, moreover she was working and providing services and she was being paid for it. Her first time as a virgin had not been so nice but then, the man who had the privilege to have taken her virginity was very nice to her and gave her tips for being a virgin. He became her regular customer, and now, they are good friends. He also happens to be a Minister in the Federal Cabinet. She smiles.

After two years of leaving her foster home and prostitution, she had saved enough money and went back to school. During holidays, she saved enough for the semesters. They were hard times when she met bestial men who treated her badly and during recessions but she was very beautiful, with sexual charm. Men always wanted her. While in school, she had few friends and was an introvert.

She’s now a barrister of the law, and a business woman; so rich and prosperous and yet she’s still as lonely as she has ever been. There had being guys who had really loved her but she couldn’t go into relationships without telling the guy what she has been into. So, while she was in school she avoided relationships. Even the few she had loved and told about her past left her. She had found out of her status 15 years ago and since then she had had just one partner who was also the same status with her but died 6 months ago.

She had tried to get pregnant on few occasions but later found out that she can’t bear children. So, she tells her cook to bring in her two grown daughters to stay with her. Now they are both graduates and married. She knows they love her and she loves them but what isn’t hers, isn’t hers. She guarded her heart from loving them so much so it wouldn’t hurt to lose them. Now the house is empty again; just her in her heaven of loneliness. But she wouldn’t have to live like this anymore. She has done nothing to deserve this kind of life. She couldn’t think of just one happy memory; a real happy memory. Not the vain grundles of vanity.

She pulls herself back to her today. She decides to start afresh, forgetting everything including her name. She believes if she does this, her new life wouldn’t be so sad. Then she prays that the Lord would have mercy on her, and not make her suffer again in this new life. She deserves such leniency. Everything is in place; there is nothing to lose. No one will be hurt; it is better this way. She drinks it.

A day after tomorrow, she looks down from the stairs and sees her six siblings, her mother old and wrinkled, the minister who had taken her virginity, few of her colleagues from work, her cook and her two daughters, a few of her clients and friends, including her two close friends while at the University, and a doctor and nurse she couldn’t recognize. These people were enough for her but why hadn’t she seen it before? Now it’s late and dead men cannot repent. It’s too late. She didn’t believe in ghosts but here she is a ghost looking at what she had left behind. But then why wasn’t anyone crying?

‘Look, mummy is awake!’, they all looked up, all eyes on her. Some smiling, some crying, others with concern. She touched herself, seems she wasn’t dead after all. Her cook must have found her before she died. Now she could feel how weak and tired she was. She smiles weakly and accepts her new life. She decides to love and be loved as her daughters help her to her room.

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