Out Of Time

Good and evil; two sides of a coin, he reflects afterwards. Inseparable.

He sits on the pavement beside the expressway and looks at the passing cars, at the strolling workers hurrying home – to the giggling lovers hugging each other as though they were stuck at the hip. He looks – but doesn’t see.

Instead, his memory is a loop stuck on the last twenty-one minutes. He swears. Threatens. Curses. Pounds the pavement underneath him.

If you had seen him an hour before, you would have though you were looking at a groom who just lost his virginity to his wife and was being teased about it. He was all laughter and blush – swinging the yellow Shoprite bag in his left fist.

He could barely stand still.

As he walked, he hopped from foot to foot like an overeager boxer – dancing, ducking and weaving in anticipation of punches yet to come. He tap-danced, bogeyed, salsa-ed, etighi-ed sef.

All was right with his world.

People moved out of the way for him as he danced from the bus stop towards his house. They looked at him as he waltzed past – and then shared an all-knowing smile. Love; their faces said. E dey shack am like harmattan breeze.

They nodded condescendingly and followed him with their eyes, watching to see which street or house he would dance into. They saw him reach in his pocket for his phone – watched as he put said phone to his ear and dialed – saw the small confused look that appeared on his face – and then watched as he put phone back in his pocket.

And then – they collectively averted their eyes as an okada screeched, looking like it was going to knock him down –

When they looked again he was gone.

No; he didn’t disappear. He had simply swung asides to avoid the bike man – and he had turned to walk into his street.

It had been a close one – but he was okay.

He smiled again as he thought about the one he was dancing home to – the reason he was holding a Shoprite nylon in his fist. He couldn’t wait to feed her the cold Nestle Chocolate Delight; couldn’t wait to see her eyes light up at the sight of the Cadbury’s Fruit and Rum and Hershey’s.

It was his way of apologizing; you see.

Apologizing for the past four months that had been hell on them – most of all on her. He had lost his job, and being a normally expressive person had turned his anger and frustration on the nearest available target.


No; he hadn’t beat her. But he swore at her, yelled, threw tantrums and broke things. He spent hours wandering the streets, walking home dead-tired and unhappy, crawling into bed to get a few hours of sleep and then pushing her away impatiently whenever she tried to initiate intimacy.

His balls seemed to have shrunk – along with his self-esteem.

She had kept her head while he seemed to lose his – kept her head and the house together. Deep down, he was grateful for it – for her, but it kicked against everything he knew for her to take care of the house and him. And in his over-expressiveness, he resented her.

And just when it seemed all was lost – he got a new job. And with that, sanity returned. And with it came shame.

Had he not promised this women for better for worse? How bad had it gotten and he’d started behaving like a rabid dog or something – something inhuman?

Shame made him unable to look at her, the first morning of the new job, sitting at the breakfast table, eating bread and eggs she’d served. He ate without looking at her and hurried out of the house before the tears overwhelmed him. It shamed him to see how unhappiness had aged her – and he knew it was his fault.

At work he called her – and cringed at the deadness in her voice. He hurried off the phone and nearly hurled it at the wall.

What have I done?

He had been working for a week when the idea came to him. He called Jerry to ask for a loan – just ten thousand naira and Jerry; who knew his friend was working again, obliged. He went to Shoprite and bought some things…

He got to his house, amidst the roar of neighborhood gen sets and tried the front door. It was locked.

Unusually at the time of day – but he wasn’t too worried. She was probably running some errands around the neighborhood and would return soon. That would also explain why her phone was switched off.

He let himself in with his keys, and was turning to lock the door when a loud burst of laughter startled him.

It was coming from within the house.

The nylon bag slipped from stunned fingers, and on legs that had suddenly become stilts he walked deeper inside the house towards the laughter. One of the voices he recognized. It was his wife’s. It was the other, however, the voice that had the louder of the laughter, the voice that was even at that moment fading into some indistinct murmuring that was tormenting him.

It was the voice of a man.

His legs stopped being his as he willed them to not move but the ignored him, propelling him forward inspite of his fear and hesitation to see what was waiting ahead. They kept propelling him, moving him towards the sounds that had now become noises of pleasure –

For a second, his scream drowned out even the loudest of the generators.

He stopped long enough to register the panicked and frenetic movements coming from the room he was standing in front of.

And then he took off, running out of the house like it was on fire, heading for the side of the expressway we saw him for the first time.

He sits on the pavement beside the expressway and looks at the passing cars, at the strolling workers hurrying home – to the giggling lovers hugging each other as though they were stuck at the hip. He looks – but doesn’t see.

Instead, his memory is a loop stuck on the last one hour. He swears. Threatens. Curses. Pounds the pavement underneath him.

And then, finally he surrenders to the overwhelming push within his chest and eyes.

He cradles his head on his arm- and cries.

ld-promo a


4 thoughts on “Out Of Time

  1. hmmm. he looks but he doesnt see. he sees but he wasnt looking. at least not anymore. he has pushed her, farther out than he thought possible. or maybe she was out even before he pushed her. too little too late,

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