Seventy-five year old Lolly made her way into her grand-daughter’s bedroom. Everything was topsy-turvy. The bed was not made. The pillows were scattered about on the tiled floor, the bed sheet was in a heap at the edge of the bed, the wardrobe was wide opened, and clothes were hanging in a big mess. There were lingerie hanging on the chairs, empty plates of food on the table, used cups, glasses and cutleries were under the table. It was a total chaos. A scowl appeared on her dark round face. She couldn’t understand why the room was no different from a pig sty. She didn’t bring her grand-daughter up that way, but the girl refused to be tutored. She grew up strong-willed, stubborn, and undomesticated. Most times, she feared for her. She noticed that the dark chocolate skin girl was fast asleep. She lay on her tummy; head rested on her arms.
She kicked a pillow away from her path and walked towards the bed, “Bina… Bina…” she bent down and shook her by the shoulders.
Bina groaned and turned on her side.
“Wake up. It is already ten o’clock,” Lolly spoke harshly.
“What has that got to do with me?” she raised her head and lay back on her tummy.
Lolly frowned, bent down and smacked her on the buttocks.
“Granny!” she glared at her.
“Don’t you know that you are a woman?” Lolly eyed her.
“Please don’t hit me again, ah-han… what is it?” Bina hissed and rubbed the painful spot.
She settled at the side of the bed, “You are thirty years old for heaven’s sake,” there was a note of disappointment in her voice.
Bina rolled her coffee coloured eyes. She was in no mood for the old woman’s nagging lecture.
“Look at the state of this room, what happens when you get married?”
She flashed a smile, “Till then.”
Her defiance attitude enraged the elderly woman, “This is one of your many problems. You don’t take these things seriously.”
She hissed again and laid her head on her arms.
She didn’t respond.
What am I going to do with you?
She bit at her lower lip, “Tjay is in the sitting room.”
“I will see him later,” Bina turned on her side.
She hit her on the buttocks, “Get your bum out of that bed this minute!”
“Oh-oooooh! Leave me alone now, ah-han… Granny you have started o, I don’t like this, I don’t like this at all. I am being maltreated in my own house,” she sat up and eyed her.
They heard a knock. They turned and looked towards the door. It opened and a black head peeped through it.
“My God! This room is worse than the ruins under Oshodi Bridge,” his dark eyes darted around the room.
Lolly got up, “Talk to your friend,” she looked back at her and navigated her way out of the room.
“Young woman, why do you live like this?” the dark skinned, broad shouldered, five feet seven inches tall young man with a round face and full black lips walked into the room.
Bina reached out for the closest pillow to the bed and flung it at him. He dodged it and joined her on the bed.
“Seriously, you need help,” Tjay eyed her.
“Whatever,” she yawned and stretched out her hands.
He gave a shake of head and noticed that she was still in her night-wear. A sleeveless satin lace mini gown which barely covered her soft pear shaped bosom. He dropped his gaze and it fell on her glowing smooth dark chocolate thighs. He swallowed spittle and tore his eyes away. He wished he had waited for her in the sitting room.
“What are you doing here anyway?” she lay on her back and covered her body with a wrapper.
He exhaled with relief, “I… I… Joy, Charles and Nneka came to see me last night.”
She hissed and turned her face away.
“Ibinabo,” his disapproving look seized her up.
A smile spread on her lips. Aside from her grandmother, he was the only one that called her by her full name. Everyone else called her Bina.
“They are supposed to be your friends,” his voice turned sour.
“Good luck with that,” she closed her eyes.
“I don’t like your nonchalant attitude. I don’t support the way you have been treating them, no wonder they have all decided to keep you at arm’s length.”
She flung the wrapper away and sat up, “They can go to blazes for all I care!” her coffee coloured eyes shone with fury.
Tjay looked her up and down. He wasn’t deterred by her annoyance. He needed to tell her the undiluted truth.
“Who does Joy think she is? Ehn? Answer me?”
“She is your friend,” he crossed his arms.
“What friend? She thinks she is the Queen of England because she lends me money once in a while. She wants me to worship the ground she walks on, abi?”
“The same money you refuse to pay back each time and every time,” he stressed the last word.
She hissed and turned her head.
“Do you want to render her penniless? Why don’t you pay her back the money she lent you in the past?”
“When did you become her advocate?” she eyed him.
“She is my friend too. She doesn’t have a wealthy grandmother like you. She works and earns her money. I don’t understand why you borrow money from people in the first place.”
“What, what, what? Is it because you lend me money too? Abeg park well.”
He stared at her with a sad expression on his face. They had known each other for more than a decade. His parents had relocated to the area the same period he gained admission into the university at eighteen. She had just completed her Senior Secondary School examination then, even though she was three years younger, they became fast friends. He had also grown feelings for her over time and had been unable to express it. He watched her date several people over the years and had stood by her side as a confidant. Now that she was single again, he had better sum up the courage and open up to her. The matter on ground saddened him. She treated people badly. He feared she might end up alone and bitter.
“They came to report me to you, abi? Mr. Counselor,” she vented.
He blinked, “You know you need to change,” he was beginning to get upset.
“Oh-oooh is that what Nneka told you?” she pointed a finger at him.
“She mentioned that amongst other things, but…”
“Ah-ha!” she jumped down from the bed, “That Ibo girl, Miss. Einstein, she thinks she knows everything and feels she can advice me at will.”
He placed a hand on his forehead, closed his eyes and gave a shake of head.
“Charles or whatever he calls himself, I just asked him to look for another job for me and he went ballistic. What sort of a friend is that? Ehn?” she placed her hands on her hips and drilled him with her raging eyes.
He raised his head, “How many jobs has he helped you to get?”
“How many did you retain?” he pointed a finger at her.
“What sort of a question is that?”
“What is wrong with you?” he got up, “Don’t you think that something is seriously wrong with you?” he confronted her.
“You are the one that something is wrong with,” her voice rose a pitch, “If you are here to insult me, you better go home, that is the door,” she pointed at the open door.
“You have a problem, a very big problem. You can’t keep a single job, it is one complain or the other.”
“And so?” she clapped her hands, “What is your business?”
“Why do you think all the guys you were supposed to marry left you?”
“You are mad!” his words hurt her, “You are crazy!” she gave him a push.
He backed away. He could see the pain in her eyes. He didn’t mean to hurt her.
“How dare you come to my house and start vomiting rubbish!?
Someone hurried into the room. They both turned towards the door and saw Lolly. She had a worried look on her face.
“Granny, I don’t ever want to see this young man in this house again,” she glanced at her.
Lolly frowned and shook her head, “This is my house. I decide who goes and who stays.”
“Fine, fine, well played,” she clapped her hands and paced the room, “Do whatever you like. But you,” she met his pale gaze, “Don’t come here looking for me. Stay away from me, you hear!”
He sighed heavily. Their fights and quarrels were always heated, although she was always remorseful afterwards. Nneka, Joy, and Charles had probably gotten tired of her and stayed away. Maybe he should do the same. He wished it was that easy.
“What are you waiting for? Go way! Leave me alone!” she pushed him towards the door.
“Ibinabo stop it! What has come over you?” her grandmother glared at her.
“Please stay out of this,” she eyed the elderly woman.
“Not this time. Do you want to chase all your friends away?” Lolly stood, akimbo.
“It is my decision.”
Tjay turned around and headed out.
“Tjay,” Lolly held him by the hand, “I am sorry.”
He met her saddened stare, “It is okay ma. Your grand-daughter needs help.”
Ibinabo marched towards the doorway, “You are very, very stupid for saying that!”
Lolly stared back at her in shock. Amongst her friends, Tijani was the closest. Why was she so angry with him?
Tjay caught a glimpse of her and walked out.
She hissed and returned to bed. She lay on her side and covered her body with a wrapper.
Lolly looked heavenwards. She had been taking care of Ibinabo since she was five. Her son and his wife abandoned her and went in search of wealth and fame many years ago. They bought a house for her and sent her monthly allowance so that she could take care of the girl. Money wasn’t everything. She had decided to send the girl back to her parents in Europe when she completed her Secondary school education, but, the couple died in a plane crash on one of their numerous journeys. Their entire wealth was in a Swiss account in the girl’s name. She had not been able to tell her, fearing that she might squander it all. She had hoped that she would change, but, had worsened over the years. She was at her wits end.
God what am I going to do with her?
She sighed heavily.
“Granny please shut the door. I want to sleep.”
She dropped her head and glanced at the figure on the bed, “It is almost noon dear.”
“Just go away!” Bina pulled the wrapper over her head.
The seventy-five year old woman sighed again and backed out of the room.