Judith opened her eyes puzzled. Who was shouting her name and for what reason? She stomped out of the bedroom, the only bedroom of course in her chamber and hall rented apartment. She came to a jolting halt by her centre table. No it was not someone. It was people, screaming her name. She did a little quick brain scan to see if she has done anything worth trouble and slipped her feet into her blue charlewote. Her alarm clock buzzed the 5:30am waking up call. How dare them wake her up earlier than her waking time for no good reason. They will have their share of her bad breath.
Judith slammed her door and shut the other house occupants up. Her slim 5 feet, 8 inches body stood above most, thanks to the very thick cemented floor at the front of her door. She had some makeup from last night, her lipstick glaring. The sun was starting to rise, casting little light on the compound. The four bulbs that constituted the outside light were all off. No one was expecting them to be on for a while, two months at least, till Mr. Croffet finally accepted they really aren’t working and needed replacement. He was such a handful to live with once the subject of conversation is maintenance.
She put her left hand on her waist, slanted herself and used her right hand in the faces of the furious house mates.
“Why is my beauty sleep being disturbed?”
“Your beauty sleep indeed. Is that why you have all this makeup on?”
Stella Dufie, the University graduate daughter of the landlord walked up front, put one foot on the cemented doorstep of Judith and spoke, almost hitting her with her head.
“It’s alright Dufie.”
Asabea Croffet, her mum drew her back and with her hand in the air like taking a pledge calmed the eleven house occupants down.
“Judith please. My name is Judith.”
Judith pulled the spaghetti sleeping wear onto her shoulders.
“Okay Judith. Christy here…” Asabea pointed to a plump size 10, very fair woman in a long sleeping coat. “… says you slept with her husband.”
“No Efiewura.” A woman in her mid-fifties, Mrs. Benjamin shouted from the back of the little crowd. “Christy told me it was a rape. She raped Mr. Aboagye after giving him alcohol and an aphrodisiac to drug him and prepare him.”
Some giggles mixed with laughter broke out from the people. A loud mocking laughter resounded from Judith.
“See. I don’t have time to waste on unproductive, irresponsible, eat, sleep, gossip people like all of you.”
She stressed on the all, intending to aggravate the so-called bankers, Oforiwa and Aishatu.
That was Oforiwa, dramatically holding her heart. She lurched at Judith but was pulled back by her roommate, Aishatu. Judith smirked at her and resumed talking. She stood as though making a speech.
“I never hid what I do from your husband, Madam Asabea, when I was moving in here. In fact I explained to detail what will be going on in my bedroom and what will not. You all better get used to the fact that I’ll be staying here as long as comfortable till I hear any complaints from my clients. As at now there’s none.”
“Ashawo. Leave our husbands alone oh.”
An angry voice erupted from the middle. Judith stretched her neck. Ashawo never angered her. She wasn’t Ashawo. She was running a home call for men.
“Agyeiwaah. You’re very bold calling me Ashawo when Mensah is someone else’s husband you’re perching on.”
Eyes turned on Agyeiwaah.
“Yes. You all heard me right.”
Judith raised her voice.
“See I know the tiniest littlest secrets you have pushed back under your beds hidden. Let’s not talk about the for boys and girls in some university so – called graduates pockets.”
Asabea shot Dufie a look. She shrugged and walked away.
Judith said with triumph in her voice.
“You can all follow suit.”
“You are warned for the very last time Judith. The next will be with your Efiewura Suame following you.”
Asabea went after Dufie. Is it true her daughter was doing for boys? Is 24 years worth prayer going to just go down the gutters. She bypassed Derrick, the pastor occupying their only one bedroom self contain. She stared him down. She didn’t trust him.
He kept bushy beard, listened to those jumpy songs and seemed to have some interest in Ako that baffled her. They were like two sides of two very different coins – an Osofo and an Ashawo.
He said and put his elbows on the porch’s wall. He knew Mrs. Croffet will ignore him. She wasn’t his problem. Judith was. He’s had two very uneasy conversations with her the two times he decided to throw the rumors caution in the air. He couldn’t get the details off his mind. Besides the chirping of the birds whose nest were beautifully woven with dried straws behind his window, her voice resonated in his room throughout his prayer time this morning. She is quarrelsome or very good at feigning to be. If only these people knew who she was and why she was doing this.
He passed his thumb and middle finger up his nose, under his eyes and removed the eye gunk. He yawned. His sleep wasn’t enough. The church board’s meeting ate deep into the night. Judith met with his eyes and hurried to her room. Derrick saw her hurry but waved nonetheless. Oforiwa and Aishatu looked at him and turned to catch sight of whoever the very fresh single gentleman in their compound was waving to. Aishatu leaned towards Oforiwa and whispered into her ears.
Derrick pretended he was looking away. He didn’t have to read their lips to know what their small talk will be about. It would be a miracle if it didn’t go like he thought. Something like this.
“Is it true what my eyes seem to have seen?”
Oforiwa chortled. Aisahtu shoved her.
“What are you afraid of?” Oforiwa peeked at Derrick. “If what we all saw is true then I’m not moving out to that bungalow any longer.”
“You’ll be content here because of a love story that will never unfold. You’re aware he’s a pastor of a very high class church I believe.”
Oforiwa shot a leering look at Derrick. She waved at a smiling Derrick and followed Aishatu.
The compound was clear of the little crowd now. Brooms were held in the hands of young females gathering fallen leaves, or just making the dust nicer, leaving patterns of beautiful lines all over.
Judith locked her door and threw herself on her bed. These people have brought her yet another embarrassment before Derrick. She didn’t give thought to the fact that he might be awake.
The new pastor of Central Community Church moved in a little over two months. She was by the roadside trying to get a taxi when the truck came in. She had chuckled. That church changed pastors like she did men. The thought shamed her when she hopped out of an ugly yellow and red taxi, the only one willing to go up her street that late in the night, and realised the pastor was the new resident in the compound house she lived in.
It bothered her, that he’ll be living in the house. She made up her mind to toughen up, not to allow guilt choke her.
Judith never avoided him. She did a good job at handing folks the ignore card. So she decided to just use that. She wouldn’t look at his face, greet him, or respond to his.
She covered her twist braids, already rolled up, with her black self-sown satin turban. She took exceptional care of her hair. Even when she was on treks and couldn’t pack heavy, her hair products will go before anything makeup. Moreover her face wasn’t oily so she had no breakouts to hide. And she was very satisfied with her features. Makeup only bathed her face on few occasions like yesterday’s.
When Derrick spoke to her the first time last week, it shocked everything out of her, ego and all. For starters, she found out he didn’t like being called Osofo or Mr. Asamoah. It made her glad. He wasn’t too uptight. And he liked rap too. The ones he listened to were however Christ – centered. He wouldn’t call them christian rap.
Imagine everything done by a christian is tagged christian.
He did make sense to her. Truth is, the just rap tag made it easy on her conscience. She took a few from him. They weren’t bad. They pressed her harder to think.
Their second conversation took her unwilling self down a road she’s dreaded traveling for 10 years. It felt like being dragged under the shower by her mum after Fridays when she was in lower primary 5. Fridays in British National School was the play till dirty day.
She smiled and covered her legs with her brother’s high school cloth, Botwe’s, and set her alarm for seven. She was sleeping in today. She was also avoiding Derrick. He’ll be out in his church office by 7. She hit the pillow with her fists. Her eyes fell on the black hard cover bible. The purple ribbon on the bookmark Derrick put where she should be reading swung. Air was rushing inside the room. She closed her eyes. The weirdest thing about her new acquaintance is how he neither had that look of judgement nor lust nor disgust in his eyes – all the two times they talked.
Ashawo: A prostitute
Botwe: The short name for Mfantsipim Boys Senior High School
Charlewote: Slipper made from rubber. It mostly serves as a bathroom slipper, worn during baths.
Efiewura Suame: The local slang for Jute bag.
For boys and girls: A spiritual enchantment acquired from spiritualists to be used on people of the opposite sex so as to coerce them into a love affair.
Osofo: Twi word for Pastor.
W’akumi: Twi word that translates as You’ve killed me.
© 2016 M’afua Awo Twumwaah