The music blasted in her ears, as she lay on the bed. It was twelve in the morning, and she couldn’t sleep. Maybe she was waiting for that shadow to sneak in again. Maybe she wanted to catch whoever it was, she couldn’t tell. Two hours ago, she had forced herself to sleep, but after 10 minutes, she had woken up again bright-eyed. She had flitted with the idea of going downstairs to watch TV, but shoved the idea away. She didn’t want anything to do with going down the stairs on her own. Amidst the blast of the reggae pop song, she heard a loud thump. Quickly, she removed her headphones and looked around. Her mouth went dry, the phone slipped out of her hands falling softly on the duvet. In the bright lantern light which she hung from her dresser, she saw it. Her dumbbells magically appearing next to her closet.
That’s impossible, she shook her head. They were not there for two days. They had gone missing. The thought that someone was inside her room minutes ago was terrifying. But how? She’d turned immediately she heard the thump. No, no, this was very strange. Were her younger ones playing a prank on her? She really hoped so. Slowly, she swung her feet to the floor, and tiptoed across the room. Her mind was jumbled with thoughts. Her window was slightly ajar, cool breeze rushing in. What if someone was watching her right at that moment? She felt cold all of the sudden. As soon as she was at the door, she swung it open and ran out. She slammed the nearest door open and locked behind her. Madina and Hauwa startled awake, eyes wide.
“Lafiya? What happened?” Madina ran towards her. Hauwa however, shrank in her blanket, on the far end.
“Something was in my room.” She managed to blurt.
“Like a cockroach?” Madina’s eyes widened, fear seeping through her enlarged eyes.
Ameena gave her a ‘we all know who’s afraid like that’ look.
“Oh, Thank God. Then what?” Madina was known as the most fearful one in the family. Tiny insects, large ones - it didn’t matter the size. They all scared her.
“There’s something in this house. Something’s wrong, I’m telling you. Remember my dumbbells that were missing?” Madina frantically shook her head. “Well, they appeared moments ago.”
Madina looked confused, her head tilted, eyes now narrowed. Ameena felt the need to explain further before her cousin thought the worst. “It magically appeared, I don’t know. One moment I was lying down, the next I heard this sound, this thud and there it was, near my wardrobe on the floor. I don’t know what the hell is going on here. But something is definitely wrong.”
“Ugh. You scared me. Interrupting my sleep like that is horrible. Not cool. You probably didn’t check well.” She flopped on her bed, turning off the side lamp.
Ameena shook her head, feeling stupid for telling Madina what had happened. It was all the same. She wouldn’t believe her too. “And I’m supposed to stay here watching you sleep or what. Abeg move.” She hopped on the bed, slightly pushing Madina to the edge. “Ah ha, me don’t push me o. This is my room, don’t forget.”
Ameena ignored her. These strange sightings were starting to get on her nerves. She loved the house. She had no reason to claim something she didn’t see. Besides, she knew changing houses would not be an option. No one would listen to her ‘theories’. She slept off, skimming various ways to figure out what it was that she was seeing.
Bright rays of sunlight woke her up. It was already 8, but she didn’t worry about waking up late. She had no classes that day. It took a few seconds before she realised she was not in her room. And of course, yesterday nights events dawned on her. What would today bring?
Stretching, she muttered a silent morning prayer and stood up. Instantly, a hazy feeling took over and she slumped back on the bed. She felt dizzy, shutting her eyes tightly. Few seconds later she opened them slowly, only to shut them tighter. The world was spinning right before her eyes.
She felt something trickle down her legs. She didn’t need to check. Her period was due five days ago. Crawling on the floor, she managed to open the door back to her room. Oh God, I really hope I didn’t make a mess of Madina’s white bedsheet. Right now, she couldn’t even bring herself to check. This time around, her period brought tremendous dizziness. It sometimes happened. In a way, she preferred it to the gnawing, stabbing, dull ache in her pelvic region, sides, and lower back. With the dizziness, headache would soon set in. And she was right. Less than 10 minutes later, curled up on her bed, a spluttering headache emerged.
Normally, her period was a mess. Well, that’s usually the case for everyone. However, hers came with either dizziness and headache… or the pelvic pain. On some unlucky days, she experienced them all. Though for some months now, the pain had miraculously subsided.
She took some painkillers and shut her eyes, trying to sleep. Except, she couldn’t sleep. Ugh.
Hajiya Fatima came in to ask why she wasn’t up and saw her condition. “I’m so sorry. I’ll bring you your breakfast, sweetie. You have to eat.” She pecked her cheek and left, coming back few minutes later with a rich breakfast of toast, sandwich, waffles and tea balanced on a tray. “Now, get up sweetie.”
“Thanks Mom. But I really don’t feel like eating anything.” Mom gave her a ‘are you kidding me’ look. “No way. You’re sick and weak. You can’t stay like this. It’s unhealthy. Besides, you’re losing a lot of blood.”
After much persuasion, Ameena gulped half the tea, and a waffle before Hajiya Fatima left promising to check up on her again.
Ya Allah, I pray this food wouldn’t be the start of a dreadful pain. She lay on her side, feeling every rumble and low ache in her stomach. She heard a soft knock. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Grandma Shafa with a cup of tea. Her special green tea laced with honey on a saucer. She set it carefully on a side table and sat on the end of the bed.
Oh no. No again. In as much as she loved grandma’s tea, she had just been forced to drink half a cup of tea few moments ago.
“Ameena dear,” she soothingly called. “I made a tea specially for you.
She turned, her face wrinkled in pain. “I I can’t...”
Suddenly she swung her legs over the bed and ran to the bathroom. When she returned, Grandma was still waiting. “How’re you feeling? You’ll feel better now that you’ve vomited everything.”
“I think so.” She sat and sipped her tea. As she was used to this, she knew vomiting was coming along. In a way she preferred that, it made her feel much better. The surrounding was quiet, making Ameena wonder where everyone was. Probably still eating breakfast.
Now, it seemed they were the only two people in the house. The doors could be soundproof, she thought, making a mental check to ask Sadiq.
Grandma laughed, startling Ameena.
“Granny, what’s so funny. You’ve been on your phone since you came in.”
“It’s Kulu. She’s saying she wants to come over. I’m telling her that would be during the holidays.”
“Ohh,” She breathe in her tea again, savouring the honey flavour. “Grandma, have you been feeling weird about this house? Like noises. Anything?”
Grandma swiftly turned to her. “Yes, yes of course. I even told your mom about it. At the exact same time every day, I hear sounds, like water gushing coming from the bathroom. I checked but nothing. At first, I even thought it was raining.”
Ameena froze. How could they be experiencing these weird occurrences. Now that must mean something. She never changed houses in her life but she was certain this wasn’t normal to new houses.
“Exact same time? And you haven’t told anyone except mom?”
Grandma huffed, “and risk being called senile? No my darling. Your mom thought it’s probably because it’s an old place. I simply shrugged it off as some mechanical malfunction too.”
“But that is weird.”
“Yes, especially because at 3:15 it starts. But I don’t bother anymore. You know this house is old even though it has been renovated, looking sparkly and all. But it an old soul.”
Ameena had her hand on her forehead, trying to make sense of this. She looked back at Grandma, deciding to tell her everything.
“Even though I’ve experienced something?”
Grandma clocked her head, feigning interest. She didn’t believe something was going on, but for the sake of her sick granddaughter, she tried to listen. “Hmm. experienced something. Like?”
Ameena bit her lower lip. She hoped grandma wouldn’t think she had lost it. Or worse, tell Mom. “I-I think I saw a ghost.”
“What? A ghost?” Her eyes widened, a faint smile tugging at the corners of her lips.
“I’m serious, granny. It’s a long story.”
She narrated what she heard from the day she began hearing strange sounds, to the shadow they saw in the kitchen, to her dumbbells disappearing and mysteriously appearing.
Ameena couldn’t tell what did it, but grandma’s features changed. Her brow knit in worry, for a second, she thought grandma would say she’d gone loca. But what she said surprised her. “Now that’s strange. Do you think someone is playing a trick on you?”
“I thought so too but who? We’re practically strangers here. And who would go to the extent of leaving the comfort of their beds in the middle of the night, and drive out here just to scare us? Something’s happening but I don’t know what it is.”
“Hmm. There’s nothing we can do for now. No one’s going to believe us with no evidence. You be careful, dearie and next time you hear that sound, holla at me.”
Ameena cracked a laugh. “Grandma what have you been watching!”
“No I’m serious girl. Grandma’s still got it you know. Imma kick out whoever is causing this.”
“Okay. I hear you. Next time I’ll tell you and not go trying to find out myself.” They were silent for a while before Ameena glanced at her, “thank you.”
“For believing in me.”
“I know you’re telling the truth. You wouldn’t create something like this. Besides, I just want you to be safe. All of you. Now finish your tea and rest. I’ll be back later.”
Ameena couldn’t help but feel better. She gulped her tea, and set it on the saucer. Then lay back, her mind whirling with different possibilities of what grandma told her. What if they weren’t the only ones that experienced these strange things? She made a mental note to ask others later on. Her phone vibrated on the table but she was too weak to turn. She had found a good position, her cramps were subsiding, she couldn’t risk them rushing back with full force.
She closed her eyes and slept for most of the day.