The Drive


Previously on 88,000 Acres Of Bad Shit.

It was a warm early Saturday morning. The roads were almost empty. It had rained during the night and the area was muddy. The sun was beginning to emerge from behind the clouds. The sunshine reminded her of how they used to be a huge happy family back then when they’d do long drives to the upcountry and back. As they drove along the village feeder roads they passed by a few people and farmers who were taking their wares into the market. Every Saturday was a market day in Ichijoji village. They stopped and greeted some folks, while others they just simply honked and drove on.

Ofcourse you couldn’t miss the occasional villager who would be asking for a lift from point A to B. Each was in their own far away thoughts. Ophelia was excited alot. The sole purpose being close to her brother who really never was tough on her but showed his love in a different light. On the other hand sticking around with the snake – Nneka always seemed to be a futile exercise. She’d always sulk on how the snake would burden her with numerous housework or threaten to send her home if she felt she had overstayed. She hoped to find her brother home.

Francesca motioned Ophelia to open the glove compartment and hand her a packet of cigarettes. Ophelia was used to her mother chewing tobacco but this smoking thing was a new one to her.

Francesca lit up a stick and took a long deep drag as she drove. By then they had joined the murram road that would lead to the highway. All windows were rolled down to let the fresh air flow in and the cigarette smoke out. She knew Ophelia loathed her secretly. It wasn’t really a problem to her. She was looking forward to see both her son and daughter in law. She would cook for them chicken with some egusi soup and jollof rice. One of her son’s favorite dish. She smiled in her head on how her daughter in law would spoil her with gifts and various new accessories. She loved money more than anything. She and her daughter never spoke to each other frequently. It was only on a need to know spoken basis or speak when spoken to.

As they drove she noticed that Ophelia who had fallen asleep, was a ripe mature young woman ready for plucking. She reminded her of when she met her then runaway husband. How he would sneak to their homestead and whisper sweet nothings or how he would look clueless with his black mamba bicycle as he whistled and whistled signalling me to come out. At such moments she wouldn’t go out and meet Ifuen for fear of being thrashed by papa. The mere sight of someone from the village seeing her standing close to a man would ensure that the whole village would know that someone was trying to pregnant her. News travelled very fast in the village, where everybody knew everybody. All manner of theories would begin to cook up. Any slight change in your physical shape and you’d be the talk of it. She had tried to coax Ophelia a couple of times to get married but she always stuck to her guns. There’s no convincing this campus ladies to get married. Unlike her other daughters who were gullible and easy to manipulate, her last born was a hard head.

Ophelia was always fascinated by the big city and the allure that came with it. Being from the village didn’t mean she was daft. She was very fashionable and knowledgeable thanks to her brother. She always envied her brother who had a good job in the tech field and decided to pursue the same course his brother did in campus. Her mother made sure she flung her off to the farthest university available in the country, one not close to any big city. Evil woman she was. She rarely saw her father. Nobody explained why he didn’t comeback home. Whenever she’d try to bring up that topic she would be met with hostility. She was more of an observer and would question various ways of life. She wanted to be independent and run away from home. She often enjoyed going to his brother’s place alone, but this time her mother had insisted.

She knew they were halfway when they left the murram road and joined the tarmacked highway. Her mother tried to initiate some small talk.

Francesca: It’s been a while since I last drove for a long time or rather have company with me.

Ophelia: Yeah sure.

Francesca: I’m sure there are ways on how you and Nneka would get along well.

Ophelia: Yeah maybe. I don’t know.

Francesca: What’s with the one replies?

Ophelia: I’m trying to enjoy the scenery in peace without necessary small talk. Only thing I’m interested is seeing my brother. There are things I need to talk to him about.

Francesca: Which things won’t you tell me yet I’m your mother?
Ophelia: Not anything that concerns you. I know your only concerned after your glamorous lifestyle, money, cars and trips abroad.

Francesca: That’s not true.

Ophelia: Mother you lost when two of your children drifted off along time ago. They have to look after their own self psychologically.

Francesca could tell that the remaining half of the journey would be a long drive since she never expected her quiet, obedient daughter to open up a can of worms. The road seemed longer and it felt like the cows were coming back home to roost.

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