Entangled episode 12
Rahila taught her how to make a bed easily and showed her how to mop the tiles with disinfectant. After washing the dishes, she used a clean dry napkin to dry the water from the dishes and arrange them on the dish stand by order of size. The louvers were cleaned five times a week and the glass decor was polished every day.
Jane got to find out that her cousin’s husband was snobbish in nature. What she thought was a friendly nature the day he had picked her at the park was just his welcome mood activated. He would only acknowledge her greeting, ask for his food, ask the whereabouts of his [i]wifey [/i]and get inside his room to study. She rarely saw him at home and when he was home he was mostly with his wife in their room.
Rahila’s disposition towards her was nice though, she spoke to her in a soft voice, brought clothes for her which she bought in shops on her way from work and called her Jane Dear.
11 p.m was the latest time she slept and this was mostly on Saturdays and Sundays when there was much work to do. There was variety of food in the house to cook and Rahila seldom gave her orders on what to prepare for lunch and dinner. She decided to make a timetable for meals and paste it in her own room. That way, she didn’t need to crack her brain on what to cook.
After she had spent four weeks in the house, she began to enjoy herself. She had adjusted perfectly to the rudiments of life under the Okafors. Work to her was not strenuous but a habit she could not do without. She took her chores as something fundamental to her existence. Being slack or negligent was not part of her personality. Her mother had built up this characteristic in her. As the only child, people had expected her mother would spoil her, but Caro was not a woman to spoil a child. She raised Jane up with a mindset to make a hard working woman out of her; she did not hesitate to beat or scold Jane when she did an offence. It was from her that Jane picked up the habit of beating a child crazy.
She only left the house to go to the local market, close by shops or supermarkets. On Sundays she followed Lancelot and his wife to the Mountain on Fire church or occasionally, the hospital chapel. Days passed and time moved glacially in small chunks. She let hard work and motivation to go to University be her driving force that propelled her to please her benefactors. Every day was a day to shine and give her best.
Her day was spent cooking, cleaning, polishing, attending to the laundry, reading a novel, doing more cooking, watching soap opera’s on Telemundo shortly before Lancelot came back from work, tidying up the dirty dishes, mopping, writing a diary entry and closing her eyes to sleep. The routine became her essence; her lifeblood. Each passing day she got something new to be fascinated about, something interesting to share in her diary. Her entries were mostly about what she observed between Rahila and Lancelot; she sometimes noticed they communicated with facial expressions and wondered when they had mastered the art and if she might be able to replicate it. At other times, Lancelot would almost bite his fingers while eating and end up thanking his wife for the delicious meal, Jane would wonder why he never made an attempt to commend her on the cooking, knowing well enough that Rahila could not cook. But it made no difference to her who got the commendation, the fact that her efforts in the house were making a difference gladdened her.
Rahila for one showed genuine gratitude for the help she was offering, when a visitor came over to the house, she would introduce Jane saying “my cousin who helps me put the house in order”, the visitor would then look, expecting to see a poorly dressed girl with a battered self esteem and will see instead a beautiful lady smartly dressed, looking like a newly designed doll.
“Jane makes the best moi moi in Gwags,” Rahila will sometimes tell the visitors who cared to stay for meals. “And her zobo drink is worth dying for,” she will add.
Over the weeks, Lancelot’s snobbish behaviour towards her gave way to a passive attitude. He would acknowledge her greetings with a brief nod and a grunt and say thank you when she served him his food. Apart from that, he stayed in his room when he was back or went to the garden to sit all by himself when his wife was not yet back. Jane, afraid that Lancelot saw her as a distraction did her best to also conceal herself from getting his attention.
One day, her menstrual cramps hit off. It was in the morning after she had finished preparing breakfast. Rahila had already left for work but Lancelot was at home in his room keeping to himself as usual. Normally, her menses came without much pains and she could still go about her normal duties, but that particular day the cramps were so bad that she had to leave the dishes half way and retire to her room. It must be all this sugar I have been taking in this house, she thought. She made a mental note to cut down her sugar intake. Slowly, she made her way to her room one step at a time, holding her aching stomach in her hands as if she were a pregnant lady due for delivery. The pains were so terrible she felt she would fall any minute.
In her room, she carefully searched for her sanitary pad and undressed, taking great care to put it in place. She hated the menstrual cycle. It always made her feel vulnerable. The sight of the blood alone would weaken her and make her feel completely hopeless. She wore a yellow gown after dumping the other dress she had pulled. Even though the dress was not stained, she would not put it on again till it was washed.
The bed felt cold when she laid down. Her mind went to all her undone work; the unwashed plates, the clothes she had to put in the washing machine and the shopping she needed to do at the local market. Rahila might be angry if she did not do them, but the pains she was going through were too much for her to forfeit. Her stomach contracted once again and she gro-ned, this time around with tears in her eyes.
Lancelot had stopped hearing the gargling of the tap in the kitchen, all seemed quiet. He knew from instincts that something had gone wrong. His instincts always turned out correct. He got up from his reading table and walked out of the room. He was wearing only a white vest with a black plain trouser, he forgot to wear his belt. He peeped in the kitchen but there was no sign of Jane there. He called her twice but there was no response. He did not want to go into her room to check but there seemed no other alternative. He walked briskly to her room and knocked.
“Come in.” Jane called.
To be continued
⬅️ PREVIOUS episode