CLUELESS – EPISODE 1
Sharon woke up on her new year feeling a little less clueless than the last one. It was not as though she had everything all figured out this year…the truth is, she never had anything figured out and that did make her quite the ‘most-clueless-25-year-old-of-the-year’. She slipped into her slippers that always sat pretty by her bedside; that was one thing she could always rely on to be there for her. She took in the calm breeze that sieved into the room through the window and smiled. It was going to be a good day. She could feel it in her bones. It was a new year for her and it was going to be the start of new things in her life; this she knew…or better still, she hoped for.
“Happy birthday, Princess!” Her Mother and Grandmother chorused in unison as they flung the bedroom door open.
She smiled at the loveliest women she had known all her life; she had indeed met many women and if she were to choose the women who would play a role in her life again, it would be her mother and her grandmother. Her Grandmother practically raised her from when she was five. Her parents were diplomats who worked for the Government in different countries as ambassadors; so she barely knew them. On her twentieth birthday, her mother had resigned to spend ‘some time with family’. Such good timing. Her father, on the other hand, had taken up another job which took him farther away than when he was a diplomat. Technically, her grandmother was the only parent she knew. Still, she loved her mother. She was a workaholic whose success inspired her. This was not because of the wealth she had amassed down the years but because she found fulfilment in what she did. But who wouldn’t find fulfilment in travelling the world in a private jet?
Sharon was searching for fulfilment. She was not sure it was in her Architecture Degree and it definitely wasn’t in sleeping and waking up in her parents’ Asokoro mansion until she found someone to marry and whisk her away from that life. She had decided to do something different that year and when her father made the ‘King Herod mistake’ of telling her to ask for anything she wanted for her 25th birthday, she played the prodigal son’s script and requested to leave home and start her life elsewhere. Today was the day she had waited for, she was going to start her life all over…in Lagos.
Mama watched her granddaughter pack her bags with so much enthusiasm. She was on the fifth bag and wasn’t looking to stop. She was cleaning out her wardrobe, squeaky clean. Maybe Ifesinachi, as she loved to call her, was right about never coming back. Sharon never liked being called Ifesinachi and that made Mama love the name more. She had given her the name during her christening as it was one very dear to her. The name had been passed in their family. Sharon Ifesinachi Amadi was not going to be the exception.
“You still have to come back, you know?” Mama started, breaking the silence between them. Sharon had found joy in cleaning out her closet while the older woman was becoming bored with everything around her…maybe even the air she did breathe. She found purpose in Sharon – she had spent the last twenty years watching her grow from a girl into a woman. She had not changed much. As beautiful and adventurous as ever; By God, she loved Sharon as though she had carried her in her own womb. She was sad to see her leave and was afraid that her life would be purposeless without her. Sharon was not only her granddaughter, she was her closest friend. Both women spent time at the salon together, fixing their hair and gossipping about other women in their lane. They went to the mall together, picking out groceries and checking out the cute men in the stores. They went to church together and carried on with their petty talk about pastors’ wives and their ‘hats’. Mama was not going to be fine without Sharon. She didn’t even have this bond with her own daughter!
“Mama, I don’t want to come back here.” Sharon replied as she folded a gown. She settled the cloth into her box and stared at her grandmother whose evergreen smile had started to fade since the day she told her that she was leaving. It came as a rude shock to the one woman she had told all her secrets but she had managed to keep this one away from her. Mama was one person who had a hold on her; she knew telling her about her plans could only mean that she wasn’t serious about ever getting to know Lagos. She had read about the town. She had seen pictures. She was fascinated by it; but she had never been there. Since her twenty-fifth year on earth was all about new beginnings, there was no better place to start over.
“How could you be so insensitive?” Mama asked as a tear broke down her left eye. She had promised herself that she wouldn’t attack Sharon for wanting to leave but now she couldn’t help it. She had to play the blackmail card. “Who is going to do your ponytail? Who is going to go with me to the mall? Who is going to write letters with me to your grandfather? Who is going to play with me?” she continued as the tears flowed freely, now from both eyes. “Who are you going to tell about a new boy? And maybe your first job? Who is going to cry with me?” She asked.
Sharon looked away as Mama’s nostalgia got to her. She hated seeing tears fall from her eyes but her grandmother knew how to melt her heart and she did it effortlessly too. She ran into Mama’s arms and hugged her tight. “It’s okay, Mama.” She whispered softly as she stroked her hair.
“No, it’s not.” Mama replied as she pulled away from the hug. “Stay.”
Sharon shook her head. “I want to go away…far away.”
Mama smiled. “Lagos is not so far.”
“Traffic makes it far.” Sharon said.
Mama chuckled. “Traffic in the air?”
“You have been to Lagos before, Mama. The traffic is not a myth. You’ll get tired before you find me.” Sharon replied.
Mama took a deep breath. “I am not going to be able to make you stay. But can I come and play with your kids once you start having them?”
“You’ll have to kill me first.” Jane Amadi said as she joined them in the room, her eyes firmly fixed to her tab as she typed on it. Her daughter and mother were not going to be thrilled to have her around but she was Sharon’s mother and didn’t enjoy her mother playing that role. “I’ll just send this mail.” She said to herself as she pushed the send option. She dropped her tab on the side table and pulled out one of the folded gowns from the box. “If you take all your clothes with you, which one would you wear when you come home for weekends?” she asked, staring at Sharon.
“It seems you didn’t get the full part of the memo, Ifesinachi is not coming back.” Mama said, yanking the gown from her daughter and tucking it into the box.
“It’s Sharon.” Sharon corrected. Mama grinned back at her. She knew it was pointless correcting her grandmother but still she would try. Someday, she had to call her Sharon. Was she ashamed of her roots? No. Or maybe she was just overtly colonized and loved her foreign name. Why couldn’t Mama understand that?
“Is it true that you wouldn’t be coming home for weekends?” Jane asked her daughter.
Sharon chuckled. “Of course. I am not going to a boarding house where I get to come home on weekends.”
“Don’t get married without telling us.” Mama said, rising to her feet. “I have to go and take my drugs now.”
Sharon blinked. Mama took the drugs whenever she wanted to sleep for hours. “Mama, aren’t you coming with me to the airport?” she asked, her voice trembling.
“No. I can’t. Do you want me crying my eyes out there?” she asked. “My heart can only take so much. I can’t watch you leave.” She added and then stopped at the door. “Have a good life, Sharon. I’d probably be dead before you are back.”
Sharon swallowed. “Mama.” She mouthed softly as she watched Mama walk out of the room.
“I guess this is a sign that Lagos isn’t for you.” Her mother said, picking her tab from the side table. “I don’t know what your father was thinking when he gave you that option.” She continued as she focused on her tab. “You’ll be back in no time, I’m sure.” She added.
“I am not so sure.” Sharon replied.
Jane smiled. “A mother knows these things, Sharon. We always do.”
Sharon couldn’t wait for seven p.m. Her flight was for seven p.m and that meant she still had another couple of hours in Abuja before heading to the airport. Was she nervous about her new adventure? Yes. But it was one worth taking. She had studied Architecture just to get a degree and several attempts at stability in a firm had proved abortive; not like she couldn’t have stayed but she knew she wasn’t made for it. But what was she made for? That, she had no clue about and that was what the journey to Lagos was all about…rediscovering herself. She hoped to find something there. Hopefully something much bigger than her.
Luckily, she had few friends in the Nation’s Capital city. They were just buddies she downed Vodka over some fish with. No attachments. She had no need to say her goodbyes. It was not as though they added value to her. They only enjoyed maxing out her credit card; she had no problem with that. Money was not a problem. She wanted something much more than money. Of course, that’s easy for a girl who has had a lot of money…try telling that to a broke man.
She absorbed her empty bedroom and exhaled. Her bags had been carried downstairs by the stewards. She would try again to have a conversation with Mama who was making a fuss about her going away. She drummed lightly on the door and waited for Mama to tell her to come in. No response. Maybe Mama was right about using those pills after all. Still, she would check. She turned the door knob and stared at Mama sitting in her chair with the Television on. She walked over to her and took her seat at her feet. “My ponytail, please.”
Mama scoffed. “It’s Brazilian weave, child.”
“It can do a pony, Mama.” Sharon protested. “Please.”
Mama nodded and started to weave the pony as she hummed to one of her favourite tunes. “Remember when we used to think your Mom was uptight?” she said, starting a conversation.
“I still think she is.” Sharon replied with a laugh. Her mother went about the house in tailored skirts and chiffon tops and her tab as she controlled her other businesses. Sharon often did wonder what lightning of conscience struck her mother and forced her back to Abuja five years ago. She loved her but didn’t miss having her around because she never had the feeling of what it was to have her around.
“I think you are going to be just like your mother if you go to Lagos.” Mama continued. “You are going to start wearing those silly skirts and white shirts and maybe a ribbon around your hair.” Mama scoffed. “A ribbon. Maybe polka dotted.”
Sharon rolled her eyes. Her Grandmother was not going to stop. It was so typical of her to go on and on about a topic until she had the last say. Sharon’s chest thumped. She was beginning to reconsider her trip after all. Grandma did tell her that her daughter, Jane, used to be so free spirited until she met her husband in Lagos; both decided to create a dynasty that would outlive them and unfortunately they forgot how to live. Lagos made them. And eventually, the Government asked for their contribution nationally which rewarded them with appointments that further enriched them with better connections. Sharon loved life. She loved Friday night fun and she had heard Lagos was better in that aspect. She was going to see that for herself and draw a conclusion. She wanted to go horseback riding and listen to good Jazz music while she figured her life out. That was her great Lagos plan!
“Your Lagos plan is quite dumb!” Mama said as though she had read her thoughts. “Everything you want there is here.”
“I want a fresh start.” She said, turning towards Mama sharply. “I love you so much and I am going to miss you but don’t make me feel bad for my choices. I want this. I don’t know what I am going to meet on the other side, but I want to try something out for me. I just want to do something different.”
“What is it?” Mama asked calmly.
Sharon shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“You are really clueless, Ifesinachi.” Mama said with a soft laugh. “But it’s alright. You are daring, I have to give you that. So I am sure you are going to figure things out.” She added. “I hope it’s not when you are forty.”
Sharon chuckled. “I hope it’s a little earlier than that. Maybe thirty nine?” she asked with an eyebrow raised.
Mama nodded. “Thirty nine sounds just right. And, I hope you meet a man that you won’t end things with you six months after.”
“It’s three months.” Sharon replied with a smug look. “Three months tops.”
Mama smiled. “I don’t understand how anyone dates for three months and ends things.”
“Mama, we are not talking about my love life.” Sharon replied. “Let’s just leave my love life out of everything.”
“You don’t even have one!” Mama retorted and then took a deep breath. “Alright, let’s get you set for your rediscovery mission.” Mama continued as she finished the ponytail. “You look absolutely beautiful.”
“I am absolutely beautiful.” Sharon replied.
Mama nodded. “You are vain and clueless about a new life you are about to start. What a combo!”
Sharon laughed. Her Grandmother had quite the sense of humour. It was quite a marvel why she never passed any of those traits to her own daughter who, on the other hand, was stoic and could hardly force a laugh…except of course, it was something cynical.
“You are going to do just great, Ifesinachi.” Mama said.
Sharon exhaled. “Thanks, Grandma!” she replied, hugging her. “Now would you please come with me to the airport?”
“No. I have seen too many goodbyes.” Mama replied and planted a kiss on her granddaughter’s forehead. “Now, run along.”
There’s always that airline that cancels on you the last minute! Sharon stared at her wristwatch as she wondered why she had not further exercised her rights as an only child to ask for the private jet. Well, that would be overdoing it. She tapped her feet nervously as she watched the hour mark approach eight. The new flight had been rescheduled for nine pm. She was sitting in the airport alone as Mama had made good on her threat not to go with her to the airport. She knew her mother wouldn’t be coming with her anyway, so she didn’t ask. She had more important things to do. Quite frankly, she couldn’t guilt trip anyone for not coming with her to the airport. She wanted to start her new adventure alone and this was the right way to start. She looked around her and hoped for something familiar. There was the want for something that filled her soul; it was the want that had made her leave Abuja. She wanted to be something more than what she was. The same girl she had been in the last years stressed her. She had a routine. Wake up, eat, take a drive to the mall, receive monthly allowances from her faraway father, take Mama to the salon, weekend getaways, date and break up with men, party till she was stoned, the list was endless. She quit every job she got after six months and eventually decided that Architecture was not for her. It was not as though she hated Architecture, maybe if her father didn’t think she could do better as an Architect than an Artist, she could have found some more joy. Maybe if she started off elsewhere without much, she’d understand what it was to have a drive and own a dream. Yes, that was it. She wanted a dream of her own.
Two hours later, Sharon was standing on Lagos soil. She pushed the trolley carrying her bags out of the airport. She was approached by several taxi drivers and eventually had to go with one who promised her a space bus which could accommodate all her baggage. “Woworx Hotel and Suites” she said with a smile. It was the most successful hotel business in Nigeria, and she was sure that even though she had not booked a reservation, she would have a suite to sleep in regardless of the time. She settled into the back seat and pulled out her phone, she sent a message to her grandmother and mother informing them of her safe arrival to Lagos. She would send the next message on arrival at the hotel, that way, her folks could rest easy.
“Ma’am.” The driver started.
She looked up from her phone into the rear mirror. “Yes?”
“I would like to take a leak, please.”
She exhaled. “Of course.” She replied as the car pulled up by the side walk. She focused on her phone as the driver went to the back of the vehicle. She looked around and absorbed the city she was going to live in for the next year. It looked beautiful from her view. She tapped on her phone and checked for the direction to the hotel. From her navigation system, they were only ten minutes away from the hotel. She couldn’t wait to get into her room, take a shower and sleep. She had plans for the next day. It was a Saturday and she was going to attend a music fest and on Sunday, she’d just sleep in and make calls to a realtor. By Monday, she would be sleeping in her own apartment. The plan was sleek. The driver’s door opened simultaneously with her door and the passenger’s door. Her heart raced fast. She was joined by the driver and two other men. Everything was happening so fast. This was looking dangerous.
“Can we have your phone?” The driver said. “Do it fast.” He added.
She assessed the situation as a gun was pointed at her head. “Sir, what is going on?” she asked, trying to remain calm.
The man who was in the passenger’s seat laughed. “What did you think this is? A party? You are getting robbed.”
As the man by her side cocked the gun, she immediately passed the phone to him. “Y…Yes, Sir.” She said, stuttering.
The driver started the car. “Get out.” He said.
She blinked. “Wh–what?” she said, without thinking. She swallowed as the driver’s cold eyes met hers.
The man who had settled in beside her didn’t do much talking. He grabbed her by the hand and tossed her out of the car into the road. She watched the door of the space bus close and the car speed off raising dust in her face.
She looked around her. She had no idea where she was and no clue on how to get to her intended destination. Her handbag was taken from her along with her phone and the luggage in the trunk. “Savages!” she hurled as she picked herself up from the floor, examining the bruise to her hand from the fall. Thankfully, it was just a scratch.
Maybe her mother and Grandma were right after all. Maybe she would be going back to Abuja sooner than she thought. She ran her fingers through her hair as a thought resonated through her mind. The thought that she would never be able to figure out what she truly wanted from life. Maybe she was silly for even thinking Lagos held the answers to her questions. Much ado about it! She walked back and forth, trying to get a grasp of the situation and eventually took her seat on the sidewalk. Lagos hasn’t especially been welcoming.
She looked into the city ahead of her and cried.
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