Who are you, Joanna? Part II

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Very short story, part II

Joanna walked home in the crisp air of January. Her scalp enjoyed a cool massage as it was newly exposed to the wind. The peppermint and castor oil soothed and made her feel decongested for a moment, even though she still had a cold.

Inside, she made herself a cup of tea with evaporated milk and cut a piece of hard dough bread. For the past six years, you’d be hard pressed to get hold of Joanna on a Saturday. The day was strictly for herself and she had lost a few friends who couldn’t understand this. Weddings and funerals for close family members were the only exceptions. She switched on the T.V. to Judge Judy and relaxed on the sofa. Her whole being always fully engaged with the show. She was there in the courtroom, giving her opinion and verdict. She laughed mockingly at audacious cases and agreed with Judge Judy on most matters. The plaintiff and defendant were sisters this time, and black. Joanna always felt acutely embarrassed when she saw black folk on the show, even more so when they sued their own kin.

The landline rang and Joanna didn’t pick up. Then straight away her mobile buzzed. It was her niece. She picked up the phone the second time it rang.

“Hello Cassandra”

“Aunty, I know you don’t pick your phone on Saturd-“

“It’s alright, how are you?”

Cassie was thirty-five years old and held the smile of a winner. She looked uncannily like Joanna and people often mistook her for her daughter at family functions. Joanna had a soft spot for her but despised the chaotic mess that followed her so resiliently. Sometimes she would simply tell Cassie that she was beyond the scope of effective advice.

“Aunty…” She sounded uneasy. Joanna braced herself.

“What is it, dear?”

“Tunji is going back to Nigeria.” She released the sentence from her mouth with heaviness.

“Is that what he says now?” Joanna sniggered, but half regretted it.

“Aunty, I didn’t call for you to vent your opinion on him” She said flatly. Joanna was offended, but held her calm.

Unfortunately, things often ended badly for Cassie and her choice of men. Joanna had warned her: “you never truly know a man until you’ve seen him angry.”

The problem was, Cassie was attracted to the introverted type, the kind of man that held anger in a simmering malaise for months at a time. Anger in those men was often mistaken for laziness or depression. They held Cassie by the hand, led her to a fairground of self-loathing and ended things abruptly.

“Well, tell him he can’t go back, that he has an eleven-month-old son now. Tell him plainly he can’t go.”

“Aunty, don’t you think I’ve tried? He said money won’t be a problem, that he’ll take care of that.”

“TELL HIM HE’S NOT RAISING A DOG!” Joanna was shouting now, and the strength of her Jamaican accent returned.

Cassie fell silent and Joanna knew that tears were falling silently into her lap.

Leeza AwojobiComment