, ,

The stubborn smell of young children and morning rituals clung to the air. A pink rubber elephant squeaked in pain as Sandhya climbed onto the step-stool to tackle a toothpaste splatter.

Through the blur of foam and fluoride was Shamuna, tossing her hair before a table-fan wedged between sombre Ghanaian masks. Its clickety-whir freed her knotted blues to tickle those bare, childlike shoulders.

Shamuna slipped into her father’s old trousers that skimmed her hip bones like a fourteen year old at his first school dance. She buttoned a loose flannel shirt over varying chocolates of skin and lace.

The bathroom mirror cringed as Sandhya fiddled with the straps of a white cotton bra. No amount of reshuffling was going to encourage the girls out of retirement. A pressure cooker whistle startled them into attention, but Sandhya shut them up with an AIDS walk t-shirt and dashed out.

A belligerent smell of burning pigeon peas entered the air. Shamuna slid on top of the cold kitchen granite and began crushing two packets of Maggi.