Story: Elastic Limit 1 (by Aisha Oredola)

Some years back, Olivia moved a huge pink trolley bag, and two fat brown leather bags into her room located on the third floor of Kofo Ademola Hall, one of the prestigious hostels in The University of Lagos, without lifting a finger nor her perfectly manicured nails. Memories.

The China saucer fumbled in her right hand. Minutes away, it was minding its business beneath the tea-cup holding decaffeinated coffee and lots of cream milk. She rubbed her left thumb across her other fingers continuously in a cyclic motion, eyes glued to her nails. Well manicured, as usual. The rubbing on her left hand seized with a jerk of converging thoughts. Her breathing grew intense, carrying a burning rage.

Olivia never participated in outdoor sports when she attended Corona High School, Lagos but her swift fling of the saucer across the tremendously spacious living room would've broken a record in discus throw, if the saucer were a heavy disc. The crash was new to Olivia's eyes. She wasn't used to destruction, seeing things scatter into pieces. Every detail of her life, was tailored to perfection. The view of the crash was terrifying. It was as if someone, somewhere, had tampered with her wardrobe, changed the position of her shoes, sat on her bed, leaving the bedspread rumpled. She wanted an explanation! She demanded it! But this was her doing. What in the world was happening to her?

"You're a perfect woman." Christopher Alozie had said. "I've never seen a strand of your hair go astray. You fascinate me Olivia. You drive me crazy."

"You're a freak!" Arewa had yelled. "A psycho on the loose! So what if I moved your shoes? My God! Get some help." Olivia gave her a laudable slap and a comeback she couldn't remember now.

"You've become the woman I trained you to be." She was impressed when she learnt the news from her daughter's red lips. Even more impressed than Olivia herself that Olivia bagged a first class from Law school. "Barrister Olivia. You've made me proud." She caressed her permed hair. "Good girl."

Her eyes twitched with disgust as she tried to focus them on the broken pieces. Now possessed, Olivia ran to her kitchen, lifted a mop - yanking the stick from its head. On getting to her living room, In a flash, she smashed the flower vase off the center table, smashed the glass surface of the table, smashed the aquarium, smashed every lightbulb she could sight, smashed the chandelier. No glassware went scot-free. She furthered her rage into the corridor. The energy in Olivia was demonic. Several glass splinters had their revenge by penetrating her skin, but she didn't flinch. Her kitchen was next, every ceramic plate had to taste her fury. She needed this mess, after suffering under the hands of perfection for way too long.


Three years ago, Olivia's countenance was in dismay when she saw a girl from her window, drag her one box. The girl approached her room. "Hi. Is this Room 318?" She asked in a rather fake manner. Wasn't the room number boldly written on the door? What a poorly constructed question. Olivia was sick to her stomach. She turned the volume of her music, inserted her ear pods deeper and shut her eyes.

"Yes, it is. Girls, New roommate!" Screamed Arewa, who held the door open.

Hadiza had yawned, said hi, and rolled back to her side. Other girls chorused different greetings. The new girl saw that there were seven girls in total and she, made up the eighth and final roommate. "Thanks for the warm welcome." She smiled wickedly as she dragged her only box in.

Olivia was the sixth occupant to move into room 318. In less than a week, they learnt a handful about her and were glad they weren't her bunkmate. Each anticipated who would be extremely unfortunate to share a bunk with her, until Arewa moved in, a big grin glued on her face like a tourniquet wrapped around an injured head. Olivia was asleep, a heavy textbook lay face open, on her chest.

It took Arewa seven days after she moved in to be safe from the calamity to come. She had heard all sorts about Olivia from Yvonne and Tope but dusted it off. "You never really know someone until you experience them yourself." But the two girls knew better and were thankful their double bunk was far away from Olivia’s. Olivia's bed was the lower one which made things a tad more complicated as Arewa had to climb up to get to her bed often.

The new girl moved in a day before the incident. Destiny had waited for her to meet the whole fun.

"Do you know how many times I have to lay my bed because of your dirty feet? Can't you get a chair to lift you a bit before you climb? My goodness!" Olivia stormed as she yanked her bedspread, dusted it to lay again. "You make me sick."

"Sorry." Arewa sighed. "I'll get a chair."

Olivia hissed, slipped her feet into her crocs and stepped outside the room for fresh air. She did that to calm her nerves.

Arewa saw a free chair - standing near their one table in the room - dragged and placed it near their bunk and climbed but her left foot hit the chair in the process. The force of its fall, upturned one of the black suede shoes Olivia planned to wear to class soon.

Arewa prepared to get down, to put things in place, but it was late.

"My shoes!" Olivia yelled. "I just cleaned these. Can't you just be collected you clumsy thing?"

Every other girl knew better than to say a word.

"It was a mistake." Arewa jumped down.

"You know what else is a mistake? You!"


Olivia pushed her aside. "Get out of my way."

"You're unbelievable."

"You move my shoes, make them dirty and call me unbelievable? Stupid bitch."

She had had enough. "You're a freak!" Arewa yelled. "A psycho on the loose! So what if I moved your shoes? My God! Get some help."

The next thing Olivia did was slap her and tell her she was only envious and had no right to call her a psycho. Arewa held her right cheek in total shock, as Olivia cleaned her shoes, picked her bag and stormed out of the room.

The coast was clear now. The other girls dashed at her and said words of comfort or otherwise.

"I'm so sorry Arewa."

"I knew it. That girl is insane."

"You should've slapped her back."

"If it were I..."

Hadiza was mute. She felt more sorry for Olivia.


Hadiza Sulaiman was born in Kano to Dr. Sulaiman, the one Senator in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. His family moved to Abuja thanks to his career. When Hadiza's older sister, Yasmin chose to school in the University of Abuja, two years before Hadiza graduated from a private secondary school, she rose a brow. "Why UniAbuja? Don't you want to explore?"

Yasmin had laughed and said most of her friends were going to the same University and she didn't want to miss them. Dr. Sulaiman asked his second daughter where she wanted to study and Hadiza shrugged and chose the University of Lagos. "I've heard a lot about that school. I want to meet new people." Her father laughed and promised that if she did well, he'd send her off to England for her Masters. He was the type that gave his children the independence they craved. He trusted them with his life.

Hadiza lacked nothing. She had wealth, beauty, good character and an enviable intellect. Whenever she missed home, she flew to Abuja like she was going to her lecture hall.

Her father married Farida, and never married again. Theirs was a love so beautiful, it bloomed every second and they married very young. Farida had four children for her husband and he was satisfied at the gender balance. Hadiza's older brothers - Hassan and Nasr - were outside the country, furthering their studies.

Olivia's issue was no news to her. She had read a lot of books and was well vast in knowledge to know her beautiful Igbo roommate suffered from severe OCD. Always, she prayed for an opportunity to speak with her. One day, a door opened. Hadiza turned in her room key and pushed the door to see Olivia sniffing and wheezing, a box of tissues stood on her neat bed. She was the only one in the room.


Quickly Olivia wiped her face dry and rolled to her side.

"What's wrong?" Hadiza stepped closer, placed a hand on Olivia's neck. "Are you well?"

"Please..." She fumbled for words. "Don't bother. I'm fine."

"No, you're not." Hadiza insisted. "No one is here. We can talk."

"I don't want to talk. Go away." Her back was all Hadiza could see but she didn't falter.

"I won't. I see it Olivia, you're hurting. Talk to me, please."

Olivia turned, her face, a mess. Tears, dried and fresh, squeezed her fair skin in a rude way, making her almost red and very swollen. Mucus fought its way out of her nostrils. Hadiza threw her bag on her bed and walked closer to Olivia. "May I sit?"

"Uhm. Sure." Olivia lowered her gaze, embarrassment all over her. "Why do you care? I've not been nice to anyone in this room for months since we moved in."

"That doesn't matter."

Olivia let her walls down, melted her heart in Hadiza's hands. "I can't do this anymore. I just want to die!" She groaned. It was then Hadiza saw the unopened bottle of sniper tucked under Olivia's pillow. Impulsively, she pulled it out and her eyes knew horror. "Olivia! Why?"

"I told you! I want to die!" And she buried her head in her sweaty palms and cried for a long period. Hadiza said nothing. She waited. Soon, Olivia let it out.

She narrated how terrible her childhood was. At two, she knew never to make a mistake with folding her clothes. One rumpled one, and a heavy palm would land on her little back. "You bastard. Do you want a disheveled life? Fold properly!"

When she drew a cat with a red crayon on the white walls of her mother's room at the age of three, she nearly died as discipline met fury in her mother's hands.

"You will not end up a loser in life. Only losers are second place. Does the first have two heads?" Adanna questioned her seven year old daughter.

"Mummy but my teacher said I did well." In some seconds, Olivia found herself on the sofa adjacent to her. Her mother had lifted and thrown her there before rushing to land slaps on her face, back and legs.

"She once poured hot oil on my thigh for burning plantain." She whispered to Hadiza.

It was a Saturday noon and Olivia was cooking rice. On frying plantain, some pieces stayed a bit too long that they turned black. That was the last set, she thought. Surely, she could discard them without her mother knowing. As Olivia turned the gas cooker off and raised her head, she saw her mother there, hands folded, each palm cradling each elbow. "Your father was a failure." She began. "He was a rapist and armed robber too. I never planned to have you, you this girl, never." Olivia's heart thumped. She was in trouble again. "All my life, I've known pain. My parents died in a car crash, long before I turned seventeen, after my secondary school education. The landlord threw me out. I lived on the streets. I was fine until you decided to ruin me completely."

Olivia shook with fear. She had heard those lines several times. It reverberated in her head since childhood.

"Whatever we eat is by my sweat and endurance under filthy men who mishandle me because I want to feed you. Yet you waste my food. Right?"

"Mum please. I'm so sorry." She lifted a bowl. "All pieces here are perfect. I'll discard the burnt ones."

"You'll discard the burnt ones..." She smirked. "I am raising you to be a perfect woman. There's no room for mistakes. I groom you and make sure you taste the life wealthy children taste. I open my legs everyday to ensure you get a good education, a roof over your head. Other women would've pushed you into prostitution but did I do that?"

"No mum. I'm sorry."

"Did I?"

"No mum...please..."

She carried the fry pan (burnt plantain still in it) with a napkin and poured the hot oil on Olivia's exposed thigh.

Hadiza had never heard such malicious things. How could a mother do that to her child? She embraced Olivia. "You're going to be fine. It's okay. Cry, cry all you want."

Hadiza learnt Olivia also wanted to commit suicide because her boyfriend just broke up with her. The reason being Olivia didn't want to have sex with him. "I told him my mother would kill me should I get pregnant without being a successful career woman and out of wedlock. He laughed hard and insulted me." She sobbed. "I felt like the only virgin on earth. Damn, I love him. He understands me." She held Hadiza's palms. "I never tell anyone about myself but Chidozie knows it all and now? He's going to leave me because I can't sleep with him, yet?" She started crying again. "I'm really scared of upsetting my mother."

Hadiza smiled. "Olivia, apart from upsetting your mother, no offense but Chidozie will wait if he truly loves you. This isn't just about not committing fornication but self worth too."

To be continued...

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About The Author

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Trust me you don't want to miss out on her stories.

Aisha Oredola is an Author, Creative Writer, Artist and Public Health Enthusiast. She has a Bsc in Cell Biology & Genetics. Her works have been published in Kalahari Review, Freedom Magazine – online & in print, Brigitte Poirson Poetry Chap book, Fitrah Review and Mixsie Audiobooks. She was longlisted for her fiction in the Collins Elesiro Prize, 2019 & Shortlisted for her poetry in the Ramadan Writing Contest 2019. 


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