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Friday, 7 September 2018

RECOGNIZING THE FAKE CHAPTER 1

Nnenne and her mum lived in a small, one-bedroom flat. It was an old generational flat, passed down from father to son and now—belonged to her father. The flat suffered—dead bulbs, cracked ceiling, floors and peeled walls.
Her parents managed to cover up the walls with some old fashioned floral patterned wallpapers, patched the holes in the floor and ceiling with little cement mixture. Black floor carpeting disguised the patched up floor.
However, that didn't stop the cockroaches and rats from sneaking in. The sixteen squared meters living room furnishings, which were a long time ago selected with so much care and arranged with so much taste had grown tired.
Fatigue cried in the flat. Everything had been brushed, dusted, cleaned, sat on, laid on, scrubbed and washed too often. The louvered windows and almost unhinged doors were covered with short and long curtain fabrics that hung on a rod attached above them respectively.
She had written her Joint Admission Matriculation Board Examinations, successful, with a 350 score. Her success didn't come as a surprise to her parents or classmates—as she was popularly known in secondary school as " onye na gu
akwukwo "—someone who reads a lot.
A name she earned, because she was always seen—if not studying, reading a novel. She was uncomfortable with idleness. She got admission into the University of Lagos, right before her father died in an accident—putting everything on hold, including her education.
By the end of February, over a month had passed since his unexpected death and Mrs George had not said a thing about her husband. Nnenne took the clue and resigned herself to just thinking of him. The way she thought of him was the way a broke man thought of money: he was always on her mind. Each time she heard a male voice or saw his radio laying around, her thoughts traveled back to her father.
In the weeks following Mr George's death, things became worse for Nnenne and her mother. Her father's brothers sold his last farmland to give him a befitting send-off, so that he would find peace with his ancestors. The burial left them with nothing, so Nnenne took a routine job—carrying goods for people with a wheelbarrow at the near by market—so that she could take care of herself and her mother.
One afternoon, she returned home, wearing an oversized top and black knee leveled short. She saw her mum peeling oranges and placing them on a tray filled with bananas, mangoes and cut up watermelons wrapped in tight transparent waterproof.
She approached her, a black nylon hanging on her shoulder with her index finger hanging on to it like a key holder, to avoid it from falling.
"Mama, what are you doing?" She asked, her eyes staring around, blankly as she sat down beside her.
"I just came back from the market. Sales were so good today, I ran out of fruits. I'm preparing some to take back. Customers are waiting" Mrs George replied as she peeled. With every word Nnenne heard, her face squeezed like a rumpled formal cotton t-shirt.
"Mama, I thought we talked about this and agreed you won't hawk. This isn't right, you're not getting any younger—"
"—besides what would people say when they see you trekking under sun, knowing fully well you have a daughter" she protested, the words rushing out her mouth. Her mother snapped, her head whipping up with an unexpected annoyance in her voice.
"Firstly, you agreed. I didn't" She pointed the knife in different directions as she explained further.
"Secondly, those people's thoughts won't put food on our table. You cannot handle the expenses alone."
Her voice mellowed as she concluded
"I'm only helping you, they usually say two heads are better than one"
"It doesn't matter Mama, I still don't agree" Nnenne said, shaking her head adamantly.
Mrs George was devastated after her husband's death, it seemed she could no longer tell left from right, she was like a walking corpse. Nnenne wanted nothing more but to see her mother get back to her normal active and jovial self but not like this.
" Oya! Come! let's calculate what you and I made today. Maybe you'd understand better" Her mum said, untying the knotted tip of the wrapper tied around her waist, releasing some naira notes.
Nnenne watched, her lips puckered out in annoyance. She grumbled as she emptied the black nylon, releasing naira notes of fifties and hundreds on the bench. Mrs George counted the money to a sum of eight thousand naira
"Can you see how much we made working together?." She asked expectantly, like her daughter would finally agree, but to her dismay Nnenne wasn't ready to comply:
" Mbanu —no Mama, I'm supposed to be looking after you. What if you fall sick from stress? What will I do? you're all I have left" She whined, wobbling her head in disapproval. Her mum gazed, with sympathy in her eyes.
She placed the tray on the bench and turned completely to face her, she breathed softly and persisted, holding up Nnenne's chin and placing her other hand on her daughter's.
"I'm lucky to have a daughter like you, but you're my responsibility dear"
"Mama I ca—" she grumbled, looking away.
"Ohhhm! Gini mere i ji were isi ike?! —Why are you so stubborn?!—" her mum retorted, exasperated. The words tumbling out her mouth, Nnenne cut in immediately like she knew where her mum was going with this.
"—Okay Mama! I'd only agree if you sell in a corner under an umbrella. I can't allow you to be trekking and carrying trey on your head while I'm still alive." she suggested
"Ohhh!" her mum purred, pushing the corners of her lips downward.
" Anụla m gị —I've heard you"
Nnenne kept her face stiff. She wanted her mum to notice—that though she had agreed with her, she wasn't comfortable with it. Her mum teased her, which is what she always did when she got things her own way.
"Nnenne!" Her mother grinned at her as she stroke Nnenne's chin. The curves of Nnenne's mouth soon gave up and spread wide, pleasantly .
Her mum often said, when she laid eyes on her daughter for the first time—she believed she was a reincarnation of her mother—hence the name "Nnenne".
She had rich brown complexion with big upturned eyes, a delicate cinnamon with a deep brown rim around the iris and round lips.
"You are my mother's carbon copy, from her looks to her innocent character" Her mum often mentioned while growing up.
Her grandmother was a beautiful, full and curvy lady when she was Nnenne's age. It was often said that she had childlike innocence.
Her mum sliced the top of the oranges, handed one to her and sucked the other
"Mhm! No wonder they rushed it in the market..it's very sweet" she said, her eyes shut tight as she savoured the taste.
"Hmm! It's true oh Mama" Nnenne complied, nodding her head vigorously.

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