I woke up startled and dazed. “Where was I and how did I get here?” Those thoughts were overthrown by a woman towering above me.
“Hello?” I murmured, my voice quaky “who’s there?”
“Get up and get out now!” she said, all while clapping her hands loudly in my face. I sprang to my feet from the inflatable bed on the floor as her granddaughter sat up, rubbing her eyes on her bed.
The grandmother was a stuffy, dark, middle-aged woman with a headwrap on who looked relatively young for “granny”. Her voice echoed, “this evil girl should leave my house!” This yanked me back to reality. Still confused as to what was going on, I realised where I was; in a stranger’s flat in southeast London and it was clear one of the occupants seemed to be upset with me. I rushed to get my things and left as fast as I could. The expression on the woman’s face was far scarier than stepping out onto the unknown; even in the dead of night.
Hesitant, I stepped into the frosty night and began my journey. The southeast London streets were dark and deserted. The chilled wind swept against my face mercilessly, but I kept walking.I felt submerged in a feeling of despair.
“She thinks I am evil,” I thought “how could I be evil?”
I proceeded towards the nearest bus stop. The night was silent except for a few cars that sped past the road occasionally. I glanced around into the darkness around me and felt somewhat comforted by the faint streetlights ahead. I looked around frantically; satisfied no one was following me. I let out a sigh which swiftly transformed into tears, and before I could stop myself, and I was sobbing uncontrollably.
The previous day, I had gone to collect flat keys from my friend Fatima (who I was squatting with) at a Nigerian restaurant where she worked.
She seemed pleased to see me and insisted I waited until she finished her shift so we could go home together. I was thrilled at the suggestion as it would save me the stress of getting lost again. Plus, the restaurant was much warmer than Fatima’s flat; even the thought of it made me shiver.
While I waited, Fatima treated me to some jollof rice and pineapple juice. After enjoying my last bite, I glanced around and realised they were closing.
The owner was in the office, counting the cash from the shift. The kitchen was dark, and only a few employees were waiting nearby to collect their wages, but no sign of Fatima.
I looked around and began to panic as the staff headed out. The owner and one girl remained.
A voice appeared from the darkness “Fatima left through the back door.” I looked and saw the Yoruba girl who welcomed me warmly earlier. She was a short, light-skinned, curvy girl with a long face who wore a curly weave that was too big for her head. She walked towards me and repeated herself all the while staring at my perplexed look.I was confused.
“She left without telling me? I don’t have keys.” I stammered as my lips felt suddenly dry.
The remaining girl offered to call her and began dialing her number as I continued to question what was going on. Why would she leave without telling me?. “She’s not answering her phone” the girl explained, “what are you going to do?” she asked as I tried to digest the news.
I sniffed, dried my wet face and runny nose with the back of my hand. I tried to speak but could only manage a strangled whisper. The gravity of the situation dawned on me; on a cold winter’s night, I was stranded.
Part two will be up on Tuesday 8th 🙂 check it out