I feel the moisture crawling down my neck, slowly making its way towards my spine. The air is still, the heat hovering, suffocating. A violent kick sends the duvet flying off the bed. Even before my brain is fully alert, I know she’s been in my room. Why won’t the woman mind her damn business?! Reaching above my head, I flick the switch on the air conditioner. The low hum as it comes to life soothes my irritation. Eyes still shut, I rehearse the speech I’ll be giving that woman come the morning.
“Mum, I’ve told you to stop turning off my air conditioner. You may not like the cold but I do so please, for the zillionth time, leave it alone!”
“Your air conditioner, did you buy it with your money?”
“Whatever mum, it’s in my room so please, just leave it alone.”
“You can’t tell me what to do in my own house. If you’re tired of me, pack your load and go to your husband’s house. “
Here we go again.
“You are so unbelievably predictable! What does your turning off my a/c have to do with me getting married? Is the fact that I’m not married your only problem in life?”
“Yes, it is! How many of your mates are still living in their parents’ houses?”
“Do you think I like living here? Believe me, the minute my man appears I’m out of here.”
“That’s your problem, is it by magic he will appear? Instead of you to ask your friends how they found husbands you’re there waiting for him to appear.”
“Am I God?! Or am I supposed to parole the streets of Lagos begging men to marry me?”
“Has God not already created men? If you like don’t pick one, be waiting for heaven to deliver him to you. “
“ I’m sick of this nonsense mummy, when he comes, he comes and if he doesn’t, he doesn’t I’m not about to kill myself because I’m 35 and single. You are my mother for goodness sake, show some support!”
“Support your manlessness? Aren’t you ashamed? Your younger sister is married and you’re there chasing a career.”
“Well excuse me for wanting to make something of myself. It’s my fault for living in this house. It’s about time I got a place of my own where I don’t have to deal with this crap.”
“Over my dead body! You want to bring disgrace to this family? You will not turn into one of those wayward girl that are proud of being single. What kind of woman moves out of her father’s house before marriage?!”
“In that case feel free to drop dead. I’m getting a place of my own. I’m done tolerating your insults!”
“I should feel free to drop dead?! You are a stupid girl, that’s why you won’t find a husband. I blame your father, he is the one that sent you to England where they talk to their parents anyhow. Idiot…”
I’d had enough. Picking up my car keys I stormed out of the house, her insults trailing after me, hot tears burning my eyes.
Does she think I don’t want a husband and children? Does she think it doesn’t hurt knowing she’s ashamed of me?
I drove to the nearest estate agents to find myself a place to live and three hours and two viewings later, realised I was kidding myself. I couldn’t afford the extortionate rent on the Island, not comfortably anyway. Anger deflated, I made the journey back home and headed straight for her room. Annoying though she was, she didn’t deserve to be spoken to the way I’d done. I could just lock my bedroom door before going to bed to keep her out of my room and give us one less thing to argue about.
“Mum, are you there?”
Knocking gently, I let myself into her room. She was there, slumped against the wardrobe, inhaler lying next to her lifeless body.