Date released:
September 2, 2021
October 2, 2021
Short story
Photo credit:
Magda Ehlers


The girls milled around in various stages of undress. Ajoke was not surprised. Hostels are like that. She kept on walking, further tightening her fingers around her load. Nobody looked at her strangely; she was supposed to be here. She blended in.

She saw D205 on an ugly green door and went in. “Is this Ebun's room? ”  Only the dark girl with big eyes bothered to raise her head. Then, finally, she said yes, it was, but Ebun had gone to wash her plates. Ajoke nodded and said she would come back in twenty minutes.

She went about her regular business, and then she returned with the load in her hand. She had barely stepped over the threshold when the yelling began. She stood there and took it, attempting to look apologetic — it required effort these days, for she had deadened her sensitivities. Two minutes of "For two whole days! " later, and she left the room with a crisp one thousand naira note. She tried not to imagine what that girl might have done to get this crisp money that smelled of perfume and new cars.

Days like this, when she was harassed by girls she could easily mother, were few. Besides, she had trained herself to be consoled by the cash, crisp or no. She still thought, imagined what she would have been had life been better to her. She thought so much and so far back that when a girl called out, "Ajoke, come and... " she nearly turned around. But then she remembered that nobody knew her name. Here, she was Iya Amina, or something else. So she spent her days shouting that something else, announcing herself. She called it now, over and over. Hustle did not stop, not even for sober reflection. And so it was that she squared her shoulders, clad in the purple uniform she was required to wear, and picked up speed. “Any wash... Anywash!”

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