A Bit On The SIDE

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Chapter 3

The only way Ujunwa could express the pain that ceased her waist were in her hot silent tears as she laid still on her bed. It would slice through her very sharply and hold her by her spine, then it would drag along her legs till it settled in her heels only to repeat itself again. When it comes, she would bite down on her lips to stop herself from screaming.

Somadina had come to her at night to know how she was feeling. Maybe if she had not lied, he would have atleast left her alone. By morning he was back again and she had to just tell him that her cramps were terrible and had freezed her legs. He had only sighed and walked away without a word.

She reached for the hem of her blanket to vigorously wipe her eyes when she heard the soft knock on the door. "It's open!" She voiced out coarsely. Nene walked in first before ushering in a slimmer maid. The girl held a long broom and a pan on one hand, and with the other, she tried to brush off the wrinkles from skirt half of her blue uniform.

"Good morning ma!" Nene said as she took a brisk walk across the room to divide the curtains for the radiant beam of the risen sun.

"Good morning mah!" The other maid followed with an awkward bow. Ujunwa nodded. She was looking as the new girl from the corners of her eyes. She was average in height, probably as tall as Ada and a few inches above Nene and Olaedo. Her uniform hugged her bust very tightly and had made a straight divide across it. She was light and looked frantic in the face, watery eyes, bushy brows, small nose and kissy lips heavy with gloss. Her hair stood out neatly. It was cornrowed up into a flat bun that made Ujunwa think of the base of Father Peter's wine chalice back home at Nnewi.

Her father would always tell them to make short silent prayer during his concentrations as that was the only time it was guaranteed that God came down in person to be present on their alter. Even her mother had believed it with her heart until Chioma asked how it was possible for God to descend on all the alters in Nnewi whose consecrations were happening at the same time. In her confusion, she had suggested, "maybe God would come here first when father raises our bread, He can now go to Umudim for the wine and if He is fast enough, He can make it to St. James for the sharing." Their father had given her a hard knock on the head for such blasphemy. Time later taught them that their father did not have all the answers. It took him one visit to their Cathecist to get an explanation and he said, "Our God is Omni-present."

Still lost in thoughts, Ujunwa realized Nene had said something to her but she had not heard.

"We are serving Porridge this morning ma, do you need me to bring yours here later?" She asked again. Ujunwa sighed. "That's okay, but first let your master know." Nene nodded then walked to the other girl, pointing and whispering into her ears some instructions.

Ujunwa was glad Nene was there to give her some guide. She felt a little cruel for letting the girl set their table yesterday without any corrections. She had placed two forks and a tea spoon beside their plates even though it was a tea-less breakfast. At least she had not let Somadina meet the table like that, if not the girl would have been fired. Nene and Okpataku had really helped her wen she first moved in, the same help she should have offered the new girl who just resumed. Her cramps pulled her suddenly and she clenched her teeth. It reminded her that she was good person only that yesterday had been a bad day as she had her pregnancy had clouded her mind, a pregnancy she finally failed to protect.

As soon as Nene left them, she watched the girl's eyes run across her room. It ran over her table on the right were her mirror stood and lingered below on her black furry floor mat, then it swept above her side drawers by the left, over her flower vase and bed lamp and began to crawl up on her colourful patterned blanket until it accidentally fell on her gaze. Immediately, the girl regained her stance and walked over to the other side of the room where she was going to start her sweeping.

"Madam!" She bowed again awkwardly.


"How are you mah?" She asked with the same awkwardness.

"I am fine, any problem?" Ujunwa's forehead creased with lines.

"No mah! Nothing oh. Is just that you don't look fine" the girl replied shyly.

"What is your name?" Ujunwa managed to turn.

"Ifedi mah! My name is ifedi!"

"Well Ifedi, I am fine. You should worry more about the floor, it needs to be swept." Ujunwa said. The girl genuflected quickly and began to test her grip on the broom's stick.

"Have you used that type of broom before?" Ujunwa had to ask.

"No mah! But I've seen them use it there," she pointed out, in the direction of the quarters, "I can use it mah. I learn very very fast."

Ujunwa nearly laughed when she took the first swipe on the floor. She did so with a lot of force that it sent the broom flying off her hands. She picked it up quickly and was about to take a second when the door flung open. Somadina had walked in with Doctor Amadi. "You, leave!" He ordered. The girl sprang up and down and for a brief moment was in confusion before running out.
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