They said speak, speak up. I tried so hard to speak, I tried so hard to express myself. But those years of anger, oppression, bitter emotions, and manipulations had left me with so much pain in my heart that I chose to be silent with the mutness of my mouth.
It was a Saturday morning, a fresh day to begin the morning chores. I had piled my unwashed clothes and left it in the laundry; waiting for the water to come on to start my laundry. I started re-selecting my clothes and found out that there were a few more clothes added which wasn’t mine. I sighed. This wasn’t the first time I found Juli-Ray clothes in my pile of unwashed clothes. As usual, I sighed again and began washing including her undies.
‘Hey girl, I am off to go do some shopping‘ A voice over me said.
I forced a smile ‘Go well‘.
‘You don’t need anything?‘ She said with a twinkle in her eyes.
She shrugged ‘Okay. See you later. And I finished the leftover rice, you can cook another one‘
I watched her as she walked past the room, looking expensive in her designer wear on her calculated gait. I ran into Juli-Ray when I just came into town newly and was having accommodation problems. I had just graduated in Public Administration and had left the rural life hoping for a better future in the civilized town. Juli-Ray had a rented two bedroom apartment and was living alone; A graduate of Sociology and working in one of the finest consultant agency in town. She was glad to find a good and less-trouble roommate and promised to help me get a job. We connected immediately and I moved in. She was independent and always stocked the kitchen with foodstuffs (I was the one always doing the food shopping) and doing the house chores; she had offered to get a cleaner to clean the house but I told her not to worry. She changes her wardrobe every three months; most times she offered to give me some of the clothes but I kindly rejected them. She was light-skinned, tall, intelligent with a nice accent.
I was almost done with the laundry and I thought of the rice that was to be boiled for a pot of two.
I set out the table for four; Juli-Ray was inviting her girlfriends over to the house, I had prepared peppered chicken for them. I was washing the utensils in the kitchen when Juli-Ray came over to me.
‘Do you know what I do for a living?‘
I was taken with shock. ‘What kind of question is that?‘ I asked her.
‘A good question that needs an answer’ she replied smiling.
‘You are a certified consultant’
‘Hmmmm. I like that word certified but what do you think puts food on our table? The money I get from the firm? You are smart aren’t you? I am saying if you want to earn more money and have your own apartment, then you need to do what you have to do. Your marketing job isn’t helping you in anyway. You are allowed to roll with big girls like us. There’s an invite to an opening of a lounge tonight; one of the richest business man in town is the owner of the lounge and he would be coming. You are coming or not, your stay here is limited. Its time you work too.’
I was all moping at her all the time she was talking. A strange urge was driving through me to take the kitchen knife and stab her to death; that was the kind of rage I was feeling. Being her house keeper wasn’t enough, now she wanted me to work for her. I swallowed.
‘Okay. I will think about it.‘
She grinned and walked away.
Juli-Ray had taken sick leave from the office; she almost fainted at the office. She was complaining of feeling dizzy and weak and lost appetite for food. Her skin was becoming pale and rashes were all over her body. I offered her water to drink.
‘Maybe, you should go to the clinic‘ I suggested.
‘Yes. I would do so later in the evening. I just called the doctor, I have done some tests.’
‘That’s better. Don’t worry, you would be fine.’ I smiled.
‘Thank you. Are you going to see Chief tonight?‘
‘Yes, I am. Since I am taking your car, I could drop you at the clinic from there.’
‘Oh okay. That would be nice of you.‘
I patted her shoulders and watched her fall into deep sleep.
I was ready for my outing and peeped into Juli-Ray’s room, she was still sleeping soundly and I felt it was okay to let her sleep. I could take her to the clinic tomorrow.
My outing went very well. I got a brand new car, a new apartment and a new office. This was like a dream come true, I was way richer than Juli-Ray who was battling with illness. The disease had eaten deep into her system and she was even finding it hard to breathe that she had to be placed on oxygen. It had infected her blood and she was battling for survival. Poor Juli.
I had gotten a call earlier that one of our neighbours was the one who drove her to the clinic after he heard her shouts and cry for help; the neighbour told me she was fighting for her breathe when she found her. I explained to her that Juli-Ray only complained of being dizzy and went to bed and I never thought it was that severe.
The doctor walked in.
‘Good morning doctor. How is she? What is really happening?’ I wanted to know.
‘The tests shows food poisoning. And obviously she has been poisoned for months now. Her body system couldnt take it any longer.‘
The doctor said.
‘What? Food poisoning? Could it be at her office? I and Juli basically eat together.’ I was shocked
The doctor wrote some prescriptions ‘She would need to answer that when she is up. I have prescribed some drugs for her. Hopefully, she would get better.’
Juli-Ray was discharged from the clinic days later. I had moved into my new apartment but offered to get someone who would stay and clean the house. She had refused my offer and said she wanted to be alone and congratulated me on my latest achievements. I knew she wouldn’t resume work anytime soonest, she was pale and needed to get back herself. Her chief had footed her medical bills all through her stay at the clinic but she knew she had to pay him back but she wasn’t ready now and she knew she would go broke.
‘I can give you some money to help you. . . .’
She smiled ‘No, never mind Lola. I would be fine.‘
I sighed and looked at her. ‘Let me get you water.’
I got a call at the clinic that Juli-Ray collapsed again. I rushed to the hospital immediately and found her laying almost lifeless. I wanted to see the doctor but was approached by our neighbours. Their faces looking stern.
A tape was played right in front of me.
‘Why? Why? Why did you do this to your friend?‘
I was calm and quiet.
I wanted to but I couldn’t. How would I tell them that I felt like a slave to Juli-Ray, how I watched her have the finest clothes and bags in town and get those loaded cash in her bank account. I wanted to be like her too; more like her. But I couldn’t act it. She was comfortable the way I was bit I wasn’t.
‘Speak. Speak. We have called the police to get you arrested. You just committed a grave offence. Your friend is lying lifeless and to think you could have escaped with this if not for me that put a camera, I suspected you that very first day the doctor said food poisoning which you denied knowing anything about.’
I tried so hard to speak. I really wanted to but couldn’t. All those emotions were boiling in my head. Why did I poison her in the first place? There were other ways to go about this? I wasn’t thinking then and I wasn’t thinking now. I chose to be silent. I wanted to take over Juli-Ray’s all perfect world. Slowly, I picked up my bag and with a calculated gait, I walked out of the hospital while being protected by my two body-guards.
This article was written by Sandra Okenwa; connect with her on IG here