Series, The Other Side of Nothing

The Other Side of Nothing (Week Two)

By Aderomola Adeola, Nigeria:

This was how it all started. On a cold Friday even though it was in the middle of a warm August in 2004 as I sat on the wood of our bamboo house and flapped my legs in the water, my childhood friend, Ebiere Ziworitin came to visit. Ebiere was dressed in a yellow gown, one that looked like what rich people with cars wore and on her face were over-sized sunglasses that almost made her eyes appear as if they were no more.

At first I didn't even know it was her, though I had very good eyesight. Her father was illiterate, her mother smoked fish and it was beyond me to think that the only daughter of these peasants could even ride a motorcycle let alone come to my house with a car, almost the size of an elephant.

“Tari,” she called, removing her glasses.

“Ebiere,” I gaped, brushing my palm over my face to be certain that I wasn't seeing a ghost.

“Yes, it is me,” she smiled, “why are you opening your mouth like you want to swallow food?”

“Ebiere!” I said again, staring at the car behind her, “You brought a jeep car!!”

“Girl, there ain't nothing like a jeep car, it is called S-U-V,” she splayed her fingers and clicked on a small rectangular device that made the jeep go piu-piu.

“Where did you get this big thing from?” I asked not even minding that now my wrapper was loosening from my waist.

“I bought it,” she chuckled with an insolent smile.

“How did it come about that you this girl that used to tie wrapper and walk with barefoot would have this type of oyinbo car, this car that belongs in the garage of the Governor of this State.”

“I told you I bought it with my own money,” she began to frown.

“Are you working?”

“Do I have to work before I earn money? I use what I have to get what I want.”

“What do you have?”

“Stop asking me all these questions please,” She hissed and moved towards the car, “do you want me to give you a ride or not?”

I was still amazed, still shocked and did not even know when I walked towards the car, entered and eventually felt a cold rush of breeze that made me shiver.

“Bush girl, you are shaking because of air conditioner.”

“Please put it off, it is too cold,” I requested, rubbing my palms on arms. She laughed hard instead.

“I cannot put it off, you have to get used to it, don't you know that London is always cold and I am trying to get used to the cold now so that when I go there I will not be shivering like you.” She said as she began to drive.

I watched her mouth as it moved and could not help but wonder how so different she had suddenly become. Though her face was painted like that of a masquerade, it looked fashionable and I knew the paints she had used must have been very expensive. Not like the one uncle John gave me years ago or the one I used to steal from my mother. Her dress was short, as short as those rags I used to clean the floor at home but it was finer, cleaner and perfectly cut. Her breasts were almost popping out from beneath her cloths and when I asked her to correct it she responded that it was called cleavage: fashionable cleavage.

“It is what big girls in Lagos do. No one ties wrapper anymore,” she said.

“This big girl life is something strange,” I observed.

She guffawed and said, “You need to leave this heaven forsaken purlieu and come and roll with the big girls.”

My mouth discreetly repeated the word: purlieu. How had Ebiere come across that word? I wondered what it meant but did not ask as even her eyes already ridiculed me.

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