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Yellow Tales of a Nigerian Housemaid by Marian Onukwufor

Chapter Ten
I felt taps on my shoulder, a pull and a vigorous shake
“Wake up! ” the voice screamed.
I jumped up in a flash shouting”Good morning ma”. I tried to open my eyes but they were firmly shut. I was still feeling very sleepy. I rubbed my eyes for few seconds and then gently pulled on the  upper lid. The bright light from the window shone on them and I shut them immediately.
Then came the witty laughter “kikikikikiki”
“Who are you greeting good morning ma?
It was my cousin Ify. She kept laughing at my silliness. I wasn’t fully awake as I kept rubbing my eyes. Then she held my hands and began pulling me to the door.
“Come out and stay by the fire, you are very cold. Everyone is out and you are still sleeping!” she said while dragging me. Then my eyes gradually opened and for a second I had no idea where I was. I shut my eyes again and took a deep breath. I opened them to a new environment. There was a wide camp fire outside, surrounded by my cousins, siblings, uncles, aunts and grandma. It was like a ritual at home. Every dirt that was swept out from the houses and compound will be heaped together and then set on fire. This raging fire helps send cold and boredom away.
Still staring at the smiley faces beckoning on me to come over, I felt a cold gush of freedom breeze brush over my face. At first it felt like I was in my dreamland, I had always dreamt about this day but now I was sure I am living in reality.
“You shouldn’t have woken her up” that was my elder and only sister’s voice. She was standing behind me. I smiled at her concern. I couldn’t remember the last time someone cared that much about me.
“it’s alright! I will join them” I replied. My cousin had already left to join the camp.
“You need to go back to sleep. You look so weak” Ada, my sister advised. I smiled.
I looked around the room and saw a beautiful ancient wall clock hanging and spinning on the wall. I was admiring it’s cuteness when the alarm went off. It was already nine a.m.
“Wow! Such luxury! ” I exclaimed in my heart. I stepped outside and could instantly feel the cold breeze chill all my outer layers and into my bones. I ran off and joined the camp.
Staying by the fire was a beautiful experience especially when you are surrounded by people who love and care for you.
Then grandma began her tales…..
For my first two weeks at home, every morning seemed the same. Sometimes I would wake up by four a.m to start off my chores before realizing I was in my freedom land. Most times I unintentionally greeted everyone “goodmorning ma”, sometimes when I mistakenly do something wrong, I will weep until I am reassured that no one will beat me. Most times, I would wake up before anyone and would want to do all the chores. These uncontrollable characters worried my sister as she kept stopping and advising me to act like a part of the home and never like a stranger or housemaid. I deeply felt like it was my duty to clean up after everyone and to ensure our home was neat. But thankfully my sister was there to do her bit.
As if the holiday was against me, it raced like a hungry lion and within a blink of an eye, it ushered in a new term. Then my reality began to gradually set in. I suddenly lost interest in some, if not all of the activities I initially enjoyed. I stopped playing with my cousins as well as searching for and picking up ripe fallen udara fruits from the nearby bushes. I saw no fun in going in groups to fetch firewood and water. I lost total interest in my new freedom land. I was worried!
I was worried that I might be sent back to my strange land. I was beginning to get used to my new found freedom but sadly, plans to take it away from me was seriously on the way. I didn’t know what to do.
I would most times hide in a corner to cry my eyes out. Most times I would refuse to stand up from the bed. I would refuse to have any meal for the day, I would even refuse to join the grandchildren to swim in our native stream. And like a streak of luck against me, no one actually took notice, or so I thought. I began losing the enormous weight I’ve gained this past few weeks. I wasn’t myself, I wanted someone to look deep into my eyes and read the words embedded in my heart. I was losing sleep and my eyes began sinking in grief. Gradually the house began emptying as my  cousins went back to their various base. And then I knew my turn would soon come. They were lucky they get to live with their parents and siblings, but I?
Then I heard from my sister that my dad will be coming in few days time to take me back to Mama’s place. Our school had reopened and I needed to start classes. I instantly lost all hope. I felt lonely physically and emotionally. I hated myself, my family and the world. I wished I would die and be buried in my father’s land. My soul would at least get rest.
Then I thought of suicide…..

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