It took two hours to drive from the airport to the house. The ride was so long that the only response to Aunty Schola questions were either “yes, no or hmmm.”
“We are home now; this is Huddinge,” Aunty Schola spoke in a high pitch voice.
Efe could not understand what she was saying; it sounded like a bee buzzing in her ears. She opened the car door to step out, and as her Aunty unlocked the car trunk.
“What is the matter?” Aunty Schola asked Efe as she rubbed her cheeks.
“Am tired Aunty,” Efe replied. She could not say hungry because she did not want her aunt to see her that way. She felt tired was more appropriate for the situation.
“Osaze come down o!” Aunty Schola yelled from behind the car as she lifted one luggage from the trunk to the ground. Osaze was sleeping in the back seat; he did not notice that the car had stopped moving, and nobody noticed he was sleeping either. He looked out the window in shock and replied, “Yes ma” in a soft voice. He came out and went to get his bag.
The underground parking garage was slightly dark even if it was still morning. There was a dimmed bulb light hanging beside the wire gate. Osaze and Efe stood at the side with their bags waiting for Aunty Schola to park beside the wire gate properly. Efe leaned forward to see whose shadow was descending the staircase.
“Come inside, we can go through this place,” Aunty Schola said to them as she opened an orange door that led to the elevator. They all went into the elevator, and Aunty Schola pressed a gray button numbered three that went up to her apartment floor.
“Efe your bag is heavy o, wetin dey inside?” Aunty Schola smiled and turned to look at Efe.
Nothing special ma, it just spices and few of my clothes. Efe’s eyes opened wider as she spoke while the elevator moved from floor to floor. Osaze rested his head on the mirror at the right side of the elevator, bowing his head down.
“Clothes! You will buy new clothes here na.” She stared at Efe’s as she spoke. The elevator stopped on the third floor.
“Welcome home !” Aunt Schola stepped out from the elevator. She opened the door on the adjacent side of the elevator. Efe easily recognized the name of the food once she perceived the aroma from the front door. Nigerians are well known for their variety of traditional dishes. She knew the typical Banga soup contained four main ingredients -palm kennel fruit, bony cow meat, effirin (scent leave), and stock fish. Without these ingredients, there was no Banga Soup. The soup aroma was so strong that it did not matter if all the windows and doors were open. It took several hours before the aroma diffused properly. Her mouth was watering; she could not wait.
“You can put your bags close to that cupboard. Feel free to remove your shoes here.” Aunty Schola said to them as she unbuckled her brown leather sandals. The house was warm and so quiet that one could hear the sound of the cool breeze blowing the tree leaves outside. Osaze bent down to remove his shoes when his stomach made a growling sound. He immediately looked up and smiled at the ladies hoping that they did not hear the sound. Efe still was not making any eye contact with Osaze; she stood in front of him while resting her back on the white paper wall.
“Come in my dear, why are you standing there?”
“Where is everybody? Efe asked.”
“A beg come and eat joor, no be you talk say you dey tired just now!” Aunty Schola dragged her right hand into the kitchen.
Efe looked around as her Aunty brought out the dishes from the cupboard. The size of the kitchen could be compared to a small box jam-packed with paper, kitchen appliances and different colours of coolers arranged on top of the kitchen cupboards. The dining table and double refrigerator occupied the small space; she had to squeeze through before sitting down. Osaze walked in with a smile and sat at the opposite side of the table. Efe turned away to look at her aunty dishing out the food.
“Here you go if you want more feel free to get more.” Aunty Schola placed the plate of pounded yam and Banga soup beside them. Osaze face lit up like a Christmas tree, he immediately removed one of his top central incisors and placed it into his shirt pocket. Both ladies looked at him with disgust. He did not mind the gap when he smiled and began eating without washing his hands. Aunty Schola left the kitchen to go to the living room. She was still surprised at what she had just seen.
Efe got up to wash her hands at the sink and went back to begin eating. The food on the plane had caused her stomach to ache; she ran back and forth to use the toilet before landing. She was sure that eating something strong and warm would stop her stomach from being upset. If only she could eat in peace and not with someone that ate like he had not seen food for ages. He did not eat like this on the plane or remove anything from his mouth. She thought to herself; he ate that nasty vegetarian pasta with mushroom quietly. She was forced to look at him, saliva dripping from his mouth to the table. She cut a small portion of her pounded yam, molded it into a ball and dipped it into the soup. The taste was different but it was okay to swallow, there was enough pepper to make the swallowing easier for her. But she would have cooked the soup differently and added some other ingredients to enrich the taste more. Osaze did not waste any time, he made big balls from his pounded yam and went to get more from the pot that was sitting on the steel gas cooker.
After she was done eating, she washed her plate and placed it on the drainer. She could hear him cracking bones and sucking out the bone marrow like a small boy. “See this mugu,” she murmured. If it were in Nigeria, her mother would have chased him from the dining table. Her mother did not take any nonsense from anybody whether family or stranger, she would have taught him how to chew quietly with his mouth closed. Efe was appalled by how he ate without shame; she left the kitchen disgusted.
The living room was a bit spacious; enriched with Italian furniture. Two brown sofas were facing the TV at the front side of the white paper wall. Aunty Schola sat on the large Italian leather sofa close to the left window. The TV was turned on for the lottery show on Kanal 3. The brown curtains were hanging at the sides. The sunlight made her dark hair shine more; she spilled some red wine from her glass cup.
“Thank you ma for the food, it was delicious.” It is important that a young Nigerian showed gratitude to their elders after a meal. Na God we go thank o! Abeg sit down make I go bring these children. Aunty Schola’s children always attended summer school. It was more convenient for her to work more shifts. As a vårdbiträde, she usually worked the morning shift at the Huddinge home care.
Efe sat on the small tufted leather love-seat close the liquor cabinet. Osaze walked in with a smile, Thank you, ma! “You welcome o! Na God we go thank for providing food se person fit chop.” Aunt Schola smiled at him as she moved to the right side of the sofa to create space for him to sit down. Efe looked away to focus her eyes on the large picture frame mounted on the wall. The picture had a black background with Aunty’s Schola and her husband awkward body pose; while the three children sat on the floor with a forced cheese smile.
“Come, sit down here.” Aunty Schola stroke her finger through hair from her face to expose her neck. Efe raised her left eyebrow as Osaze walked to where Aunty Schola was sitting. Oh, make I go bring these children quickly from dagis, e dey behind here. I will be back soon! Aunty Schola got up with her glass of wine and walked slowly like someone that was not in a hurry. Osaze enjoyed looking at her walked out of the room. Then he looked at Efe and smiled.
So, what are you going to do here?
He was reluctant because his question earned a frown from Efe. Nothing, in particular, my aunty told me to come here and figure things out for myself. She spoke without making any eye contact and not interested in his question.
It is good you have someone here. I did not have anyone in Barcelona at all, e kon hard for me.
Do you have any plan to go to school or work here? Or you won do both?
Well, we will see what my aunty suggest. She looked down on the floor where a small housefly was moving in circles.
Ah, you need to figure it out earlier! Anyway, you are young, so you have time to arrange yourself.
Efe did not look up or reply him. The housefly flew into the corridor and then disappeared. A loud slam of the front door made her jerk up, and she rushed to see what was going on. Osaze smiled as she walked away, and he stayed in the parlor.
Aunt Schola and her kids were home. The smallest child had pushed the front door with force . “We are back, don’t mind Osamudiamen, she wants to break the door as small as she is.”
I got scared; I thought something had happened.
Mama, Vem är hon? Eromosele asked her mother as she dropped her school bag on the floor.
Din moster från Nigeria. Aunty Schola replied Eromosele. Men, mamma du inte berätta för mig, att vår moster kommer idag.
Eromosele said to her mother with a squeezed face. Efe face became pale because she did not understand anything they were saying. She was lost and confused while listening to them. So, she smiled at the kids with a peculiar expression on her face. The two small kids sat on the floor to remove their gladiator sandals. But Eromosele kept staring at Efe.
Efe, she dey ask who you be. You know these children want to know everything. Aunty was explaining to Efe as she helped Izebe remove her right sandal.
Ok ma, Efe walked to Eromosele and hugged her.
My name is Efe, you don turn big girl now o.
Tack! Eromosele replied.
Efe looked at her because she did not understand what she said. She did not know if it meant something else or to reply back.
What does that mean? She asked.
Do not mind her; I have taught her several times. Aunty Schola was shouting at Eromosele. They all understand English; she dey forget common thank you.
Aunty Schola walked into her bedroom in anger with Izebe. She came out with her wax wrapper tied across her chest, carrying Izebe on her right waist. She walked to the living room with her face squeezed.
Osaze! Enhee, I spoke with my husband, and he said you can stay here for now. He is currently in Nigeria for some business, and he will be back by ending of August or early September. So you are welcome to stay, let me show you where you will be sleeping for now. Osaze walked behind her; the room was close to the front door, and a small bathroom was located on the left side.
Na here ! You can relax and go baff mek you sleep. Efe go join me for my room until my husband return. Aunty Schola dropped Izebe down, walked out of the room and closed the door.