Anybody home? 👀 I saw all the messages and emails checking in to see if I was okay because Room 1045 and the blog for that matter had no activity for the longest time. The reasons are many but I won’t bore you with them. One highlight during this absence is that I got married in August this year to CPR. Marriage is interesting and I imagine that I will draw quite a bit of Kenikodjo inspiration from it. Enough about me. You didn’t wait this long for me to write a diary entry. 😆
At this year’s meetup, we read Episode 9 and threw round ideas for the rest of the series. Since it’s been so long, I feel like it is only fair to start with a recap. Basically, Room 1045 covers the lives of 3 (well 4) very different girls- Kesewa, who has just broken up with her abusive boyfriend; Salamatu who is doing everything she can to enter medical school and make her mother proud; and the life of the party Joan who has recently broken up with her sugar daddy and is enjoying being in love with a church boy, Nii Okai. Before we left off, we were just getting to know Stacy/Enyonam who had woken up in a room that could very well have been a crime scene and our lover boy Dean of Students was trying to keep his complicated love life in order. Let’s see where the story takes us this time.
‘Say in the name of Jesus!’
‘In the name of Jesus’
‘of the enemy meant to steal my joy’
‘of the enemy meant to steal my joy’
Kossi slightly cocked his head to the left and waited until every eye was opened and staring at him. He then adjusted his blue hand towel on his shoulder and positioned himself in a ‘about to run a race’ position. Pausing to look at his congregation who were now hanging on to his every word, he shook his head, like a disapproving mother.
‘Listen- we are not here to play. Don’t get tired. Abonsam works double shifts- both when you are asleep and when you are awake. Some of you, this is the first time you are praying this week. Pray it well. You must stand in your authority as a child of God and send that excuse of a devil running like a disgraced dog. Macho your voice and declare the things I am saying. Have you seen a commander giving instructions in soprano before? Who would listen to you? Macho your voice! Turn to your neighbour and say ‘Macho your voice!’ ‘
They excitedly looked at one another and repeated his words.
‘Macho your voice!’
‘Good! Now as you begin to clap and declare with authority, the devil and his fianga fianga assistants will have no choice than to obey. The witches that are holding a conference in your hometown because of your shining star, they will catch fire. They will scatter. It will be a missed call. Turn to your neighbour and say ‘Issa missed call!’
With renewed energy, they started clapping with new strength. It was almost as if someone had passed cups of Lucozade around, in the short while that he was speaking. The tongues filled the air, so did the sweat induced stench of the prayer warriors.
That was his gift. He could get up any crowd worked up. He could get anyone to do anything. If he had had the right name and connections, he could have become the Youth Organizer for the political party that caught his fancy. All he needed was ears to listen, and he found many of those in this church. That was how he paid his school fees for the last 2 years of his degree, fed himself, paid his hostel fees and took his younger twin brothers through primary school. Every time he saw someone do a double take and look at him, he was sure they were old students who couldn’t believe he was still on campus.
Over here, nobody cared or even knew that he had never graduated because of those two Geography papers that he could never seem to pass. The ladies were eager to cook for him. The gentlemen were willing to do his bidding. He was fine with this life. Next move was to buy a piece of land and start building his church, so that his church members could transition naturally when they graduated. He could already see it in his mind’s eye- the signboard leading to the plot of land.
Redeemer Evangelistic Ministries.
Very soon, they’d graduate to putting it on a bus, on T-shirts, car bumper stickers. Who knows, they could even have a jet one day. Jesus was his only retirement plan and like the saying goes, Jesus never fails.
From the corner of his eye, he could see her, stomping towards them.
The tomboy who hid her curves underneath round neck shirts and jerseys and oversized hoodies, the one everyone assumed was a lesbian. She had the (un)fortunate lot of having the room at the end of the first floor of JB Danquah Hall. That also made her a permanent and unwilling participant in their prayer meetings, because the portion of the field they met on was right beneath her window. He walked up to her, after signalling one of his Junior Pastors to take over.
‘Do you get a kick out of having these weekly conversations with me? You know, the ones where I climb down the stairs to remind you that this is a university and this hotel is for residential purposes, not for a re-enactment of the tower of Babel story?’
‘You know the Tower of Babel story?’
‘That’s beside the point. If you need to pray, by all means, pray. It is bad enough that you swindle these people with your ‘sow’ and ‘give to God’ gimmicks. You don’t need to rob me of my sleep. If the laws in this damn country worked, I could have you hurled before a court and fined for noise making. I won’t have this conversation with you ever again. The repetitive nature of it annoys me. Try whispering. God is not deaf!’
‘Ma guy, your phone dey vibrate oo.’
Nii shut his eyes and turned his head in the direction of the ceiling fan. He already knew who was calling. He just wasn’t ready to talk to her yet. The phone vibrated again. This time he picked it up. It was the latest Whatsapp message.
I am going to text you and call you until you respond. I know this is not what you had in mind when we first spoke and I am sorry, but I won’t just move on because things seem messy. People don’t run into a guy like you everyday. I have never met a man who hesitates and asks God for permission before he puts his hand around my shoulder. I don’t know anyone else who makes this Jesus thing look so cool. That is why I am not giving up. I am going to keep fighting for you, Nii Okai, until the day you look me in the eye and tell me to stop.
Dang, this girl.
He pulled the shirt he wore to lectures over his head and dabbed behind his ears with his cologne. He opened the door and found Joan standing outside his door. She grinned when her eyes met his. He pulled her into his arms and just stood there, saying nothing.
‘That cologne is working for you.’
‘I missed you too, Sparkle.’
‘Sparkle? Is that my new name?’, Joan asked, with a smile playing around her lips.
‘Just hold still and let me enjoy my hug.’, he rebutted.
‘So you know you wanted to hug me and you were blue ticking me? I am rolling my eyes at you right now.’
‘For the record, I wasn’t deliberately blue ticking you.’
‘Please, please. Let’s make up first so that I can laugh at you for avoiding my calls for one week. Did anyone steal your heart in the one week I was off duty?’
‘I don’t think anyone stands a chance around you, Joan. They wouldn’t dare, not if they want to stay alive.’
‘I will take that as proof of me marking my territory well and ignore the subliminal messages you are throwing me. Well, I also have a lot to tell you about. It is like all the action happened when you started avoiding me. So remember when-‘
He could not hear a word she was saying. Her face was lit up as she talked excitedly about what she had been up to and the streetlight behind them was casting her shadow on the pavement they were walking on. Her eyes told him that she was glad that they were okay. She had laced her fingers with his and her palms were slightly sweaty.
‘Are you listening to me?’
‘Sorry, I was storing up this memory in my Favourite Memories folder. It is perfect. You are perfect. I am sorry for blue ticking you, Sparkle. You don’t deserve that.’
Joan looked up at him and blinked back the tears.
‘Nobody has ever called me perfect before. You are the cheesiest guy I know but I love it.’
‘Oh so it’s the cheesiness. And here I was thinking it was because of my killer looks and my sense of humour.’
‘Can someone get the door please?!’, Ohemaa yelled out to nobody in particular.
When the bell rang again, she grumbled her way off her bed, down the two flights of stairs to the front door.
What is the point of having such a huge house with so many workers if nobody can answer the door? The weird part is it is always someone from Mummy’s bible class group or yet another person coming to kiss Daddy’s ass for one favour or another. And yet here I am, ascending and descending stairs like the angels in Jacob’s dream. Mtchew!
The smirk on Ibrahim’s face when he saw that she was the one who had opened the door reeked of mischief.
‘What are you doing here? I thought I made it clear that you were not welcome here.’, she said without as much as a smirk.
‘I am here to change your mind.’
‘Don’t bother trying. Goodbye Ibrahim.’
She tried to shut the door but his foot stood in her way.
‘Ohemaa, listen. Please. I know that when my mum died, I became a jerk. I couldn’t handle being vulnerable. I was afraid that if I allowed myself to feel affection, I would lose the people I loved and I didn’t think I could deal with that a second time. But you know how I was, before that. We had too many good times together. That has to count for something.’
‘Those time should have counted for something. Listen, I have moved on. I am not interested in this kind of telenovela behaviour. If you suddenly have a conscience, good for you, but use it to woo some other girl. I am not 14 years old anymore with pigtails, waiting for you to notice me. Now move. I’d like to close my front door and go back to binge watching my favourite web series.’
‘Is it because of that Dean of Students guy? Rumour has it that he sleeps with whoever is open to it. You deserve better.’
Ohemaa smiled dryly and tilted her head to the side.
‘My mother sent you, didn’t she?’
‘Why would you say that?’
‘Because you have been away for some time and there is no way you could have known about Paapa. Plus, she has always been in love with the idea of us being in love. Oh, and nobody is as manipulative as you two. Goodbye Ibrahim. I am impressed at ‘how much you have changed.’
That being said, she swung the door shut with such force that he had no choice than to take his foot out of the way.
Mother. What game are you up to this time? What is the end game?
‘Stacy. Stacy. We brought you some food.’
She looked up to see her roommates, with a pack of Papaye.
Sala continued in a soft voice.
‘I remember you saying that you liked Papaye, so I thought it would be a nice touch.’
She smiled in gratitude.
‘Thanks guys. You’ve been pretty cool about all this.’
Her roommates had been more helpful than she had expected them to be. The last two weeks had been crazy. There had been loads of disciplinary committee meetings, trips to the lab for testing, meetings with the school counsellors; and they were there for almost every part of it. Today was the day when she was going to sign the bond of good behaviour. The disciplinary committee had decided against expelling her, which meant she didn’t have to tell her mother about all this. Not that it would have made a difference. Nothing she ever did got her mother’s attention these days.
Kesewa’s phone buzzed. It was Marcia.
‘Why is Marcia calling me?’, she asked, staring at the phone screen.
‘Maybe Chukwuma has finally beaten the love out of her.’, Joan responded dryly.
When the phone rang again, Kess walked away from them before picking up the call.
The voice that followed the panicky breathing at the other end of the line was one that was drenched in fear.
‘Kesewa, it’s Chukwuma. His body is jerking and he is foaming at the mouth. I- I- I don’t know what to do.’
‘Okay, relax. He is having a seizure. Where are you?’
‘We are in his room. We were having sex and then- Oh God! Is this my fault?’
‘Make sure he is lying on his back and make sure there is nothing near him that he can grab onto and harm himself with. Just be there with him until he calms down. I am on my way. Just be calm okay? Otherwise you might make things worse.’
She hung up to see three sets of curious eyes staring at her.
‘Chukwuma is having a seizure. I need to go and see him.’
‘Okay, so I am going to do what I typically do and say what everyone else is thinking but probably won’t say. Kess, you were in an abusive relationship with this guy. Don’t put yourself in a position where you are pulled back into this unhealthy cycle. You might just become some Florence Nightingale. You have given Marcia first aid advice. We can call the hospital. There is really no need to go there.’
‘Listen, I am tired of your need to always give me advice. You are in no place to give me life hacks. Your life is as messed up as it gets. For all we know, Barima might come back tonight and cause yet another scene. You don’t own me. I am not your project. Chukwuma needs me. I am going to be there for him and that is the end of the discussion.’
See you next week!