Let me sing you a lullaby
Of words that smoothen every terrain
That caress every plain
Make history of all the pain
One composed only by one such as I
As we lie
And I watch the lights in your eyes
A Lull. A. By.
A moment. Of Peace and Clarity
Such time – A Rarity
Motion in the midst of fuel scarcity
Let Me Write You
A lullaby – baby…
Frank refused Efe’s offer of a towel, sat on the easy chair and stretched out his legs on the tiled floor in front of him. Sleep hugged him with heavy arms and he struggled valiantly, fighting off the cold and the drugs and the warmth of the room –
He started awake.
At some point in his doze he had slumped in the sofa, half-sitting half-lying. Now he struggled up – and swallowed a yell as he bumped his hurt finger. Choking on the pain, he sat up straighter and cradled his hurt hand, staring at the sore appendage – at the blood-soaked plaster that wrapped it.
“What is it? Is that the – the accident you were talking about?”
His gracious host Efe swept into the room, holding her voluminous boubou against her body with one hand, steaming cup in the other. Moving quickly but not hastily, she placed the cup on the table beside the sofa and knelt in front of Frank.
“Let me see,” she said softly.
They presented a cozy picture; Efe holding Frank’s hand gently and staring at the red-spotted plaster, Frank looking at her bent head, all kinds of emotion at war on his face. A standing lamp wrapped both of them in its warm glow – and the unrelenting sound of the rain slapping various surfaces gave theme music. For some reason, Frank’s mouth was dry and he swallowed softly hoping Efe wouldn’t hear. He knew he was staring holes through the back of her head; he knew he should just look away –
But to his horror, he couldn’t.
“You’re bleeding,” Efe said, eyes still on his finger. “I think we should take away the plaster. At least we can then know what to do.” She finally raised her head and met his eyes. “Okay?”
Frank nodded. Okay.
Smiling reassuringly, she cradled his hand in both of hers – and then she placed it, palm facing up in her thigh. Slowly, she gently unwrapped the plaster – sucking air through her teeth as Frank’s wound appeared; a red and angry line.
“Fr – Frank! Jesus! Wha – how did this happen?” But before he could say anything she placed his hand back on his thigh, stood up and said “Don’t move.”
There was a swish and she was gone.
The rain did not let up on its insistent pounding.
Frank’s eyes were closed – his head was back against the sofa but he wasn’t asleep. Efe had washed the finger in warm disinfected water and replaced the plaster.
The fiery pain was gone out of it too – it just throbbed dully.
He’d just finished telling her how it happened and was resting. His head was clearer and he was feeling a lot warmer than before. His mind kept drifting back to Fola’s house and the noise he’d heard. Before long he began to feel responsible.
I should have interfered; he thought.
“Hope you like foo-foo,” Efe’s sing-song tone preceded her into the living room – about the same time the heady aroma of steaming afang soup invaded his nostrils and upended his inner calm.
“You cheat,” Frank said with a half-smile. “Of course you know I love foo-foo. And afang?!”
Efe smiled as she gently placed the tray on a table on the other side of the room. And then, waving Frank into his seat, she carried the table and brought it to him. Frank’s mouth watered as he shifted and looked into the plates. Two wraps of foo-foo eyed him with disdain; two wraps of foo-foo that looked as big as a baby’s head each. Chunks of meat and fish hugged the vegetable in the soup as though for dear life. He looked up and into Efe’s face – and she held out a bowl with water.
“Dig in, Mister man.”
Sighing in contentment, Frank leaned back and patted his stomach. “That was really good, Efe. Thanks.”
She didn’t say anything – but he knew she’d heard him as she moved around softly, clearing the plates. He looked at the ceiling – stared at the patterns in the woodwork and itched for a cigarette.
“You can smoke if you want.”
At the same time, a weight came down on the sofa beside him and he turned to look at Efe who was sipping from a cup. Freshly-brewed coffee stank.
“Why isn’t your husband around?”
Efe smiled – a smile that had nothing to do with happy. “He’s hardly ever around. Business trips around the world – this time he won’t be back before Christmas. Packs condoms too.”
Frank cleared his throat. “Haba. That’s – that’s – “ he couldn’t quite find the words.
“ ‘Sad? Shameful? Embarrassing’?” She shrugged round bou-bou-covered shoulders. “I’m pretty much used to it – or used to ignoring it.” She shrugged again. “That’s how it is in marriages these days.”
Frank wanted to disagree – and then he remembered Fola’s jab that morning. So instead he said, “And your children?”
Her eyes met his over the rim of her coffee cup. It stayed there as she drank – then she put the cup down. “They’re asleep – so you can smoke if you want. It’s fine.”
He held the stare a little longer – before moving his head back and forth. “No o, I can manage.” He rose, suddenly aware of his proximity to Efe.
“Is this rain ever going to let up?” he asked as he wandered over to the widest of the sitting room windows. He looked down into the streets, marveling at the rain determined to give it a thorough washing. The rain, the thunder and lightning flashing combined with hazy security lights barely penetrating the curtain of rain combined to make him feel as though he was looking into a scene from a horror movie.
He knew when Efe arrived beside him – but he refused to acknowledge her presence; instead choosing to continue staring out the window as though there was a hidden message on there somewhere he was trying to decipher.
“Nights like this – nights like this can really be hard on me. I just sit and stare at the rain outside while ignoring the one on my face. So you will understand how thankful I am to have you here. Now. With me.”
The hair on Frank’s arms began to rise – and as he turned towards Efe, she pressed her mouth against his.
Almost immediately, it seemed to him that the rain stopped falling. The electricity in the house became brighter – so bright – then bulbs started to explode, setting off sparks – sparks he saw even through closed eyes. Efe drank her coffee straight, no milk or cream; that much he could tell as she softly caressed his upper mouth with her tongue – mashing her breasts against his chest and drawing her nails along his scalp. The blood sang exultantly in his body; his nether regions began to grow warm, eagerly jumping to life, dancing and rejoicing at coming alive again after so long.
I haven’t done this in a while…
Suddenly Efe pulled away and smiled in his eyes. “Come Frank,” she said softly, eyes glowing with new life. “Come lie with me.”
Only then did he realize the rain was still falling as heavily as before; the power was still on and all the bulbs were glowing as they should. Efe tugged at his hand and he followed on watery legs. They made it to the couch before she fell in his arms and searched out his mouth with hers.
Oh God; Frank thought. She can kiss.
She could too; really kiss. Without taking her mouth away from his she pushed him till he was lying against the arm of the sofa, and then she put her weight on him, tucking her feet underneath her as she curled up against his body. She kissed like his mouth was ice cream and hers was the scoop, making love to his tongue with every trick in the book and more than a few from the internet.
Frank’s head was screaming in a collage of sounds that made it almost impossible for him to hear anything – anything apart from the blood that pulsed and pounded somewhere in his lower body. He wanted to touch her – touch her breasts – breasts he unconsciously stared at every time she came around the house back then. But her voluminous bou-bou kept getting in the way. He reached towards her thigh and tried to pull it up – and then, she must have sensed his distress because she leaned away from him, and with a half-smile said, “Here, let me help.”
Kissing him with her eyes, she reached towards her ankles. There was a moment in which her face disappeared – a moment that would have allowed for second thoughts had it been longer – but that was all it was.
He blinked – and the bou-bou was gone. She opened her arms to him, light-skinned arms and thighs robbing him of all will. He leaned forward and the assault on his mouth continued, heat from hers enveloping and burning him up. His hands wandered around her shoulders, down her back – and then right up again in the other direction. Efe chuckled softly and whispered, “I wanted this – I’ve wanted you for so long…”
She grabbed the back of his neck – and something cold and hard scratched him there – scratched him so hard his eyes watered –
Something cold and hard. Something; like a wedding ring.
Sanity returned to Frank – sanity with the effectiveness of a cold-water ducking and he pushed away from Efe. He pushed so hard he nearly sent her off the sofa. As it was, he quickly grabbed her arm – and that was what saved her.
“Wha – what is it?” she asked, desire sitting in her throat like thick phlegm.
Frank shook his head. “I don’t want – I’m not sure we should be doing this. You have a husband…and I – “ he shook his head some more, feeling miserable. “I just don’t think we should be doing this. My wife – “
“Your ex-wife. And what do you care, Frank?” Efe righted herself and leaned back into him, placing a warm hand somewhere out of sight. Frank jumped, swallowing spit and trembling from something that wasn’t the cold.
In fact, he was trembling from heat.
“I don’t know. It just doesn’t – “ he stopped. “Twelve years and we never stepped out on each other. Not once. I feel – “ he paused. ”Look, I know this sounds crazy, but I really feel I shouldn’t be doing this. Especially not with you.”
Efe’s laughter rang loud and hollow – echoing the empty feeling in his belly. “Why are you laughing, Efe?”
She shook her head. “Never mind, Frank. My husband does not give a hoot what I do or don’t – and before you go around proclaiming how faithful you and your wife were to each other – “ she hesitated and Frank couldn’t take his eyes away from the generous swell on her chest as she inhaled, “ask her about that. Ask her about a guy named Dapo.”
“What?” He grabbed her shoulders roughly. “What are you talking about – who the hell is Dapo?”
“You men,” Efe began, bitter smile lighting her features, “walk around as though you’re God’s gift to us females. You like to think you’re the bomb – you treat women anyhow and when you hear she’s unfaithful you start huffing and puffing. Your self-righteousness irritates me.”
Frank’s hands fell off her shoulders and onto the sofa between them. “But I never…I wouldn’t…”
Efe pushed her hair out of her eyes. “What does it matter? I’m here now – she’s not. Nothing matters – nothing other than right here, right now.” She posed, arms on hips – managing to look somewhat exciting in her awkward position on the sofa. “What are you going to do about that?”
Frank inhaled, stood up – and almost fell. Somehow, his trousers had made its way around his thighs. He fell back to the sofa, intending to put them back on properly – and then he turned and faced Efe, taking in her heaving breasts, swollen lips – desire a fire that had set her eyes ablaze.
What was he going to do about that indeed?
These guys are family.
And in the way of family – we don’t always call or text. We hardly stay in touch.
But I got them. And they can say the same of me.
So there’s this thing they’re doing…
Make I no too talk. Read poster for details.
Lets Go There.
I love my wife. Don’t ever get that confused.
Now that’s out of the way – there are a couple of other things you need to know. They say marriage is like night market – you never actually know what you bought – till it’s the morning after. Or better still; they also say marriage is like a race in which you close one eye before you get in – and close both once you’re in.
I agree. To have a peaceful home, you have to master the art of looking the other way.
But there are some things you cannot just look away for. No sir.
Like this one instance.
Due to the nature of our jobs we leave the house as early five – latest six am. She drives off, I drive after. She works on the island, I work on the mainland. No kids yet – maybe not ever; so it’s pretty much work and us. Sometimes we cook dinner together; sometimes we eat out. It’s been a little over a year; and we’ve pretty much settled in. We still love each other very much – so we’re happy.
One morning however; everything changed.
I was wearing my shirt and waiting for her to come knot my tie as she does when suddenly; “Hey darling! take off your shirt – you’re not going to work yet.”
“I’m not? It’s Thursday o,” I said.
“When then? Take off that shirt and come here jo!”
It didn’t occur to me that she wanted sex; she would have asked me to take off more than my shirt. But I was curious so I did as she asked and walked to where her voice was coming from. When I arrived the living room, there was a spread of breakfast – the likes I haven’t seen in a while. It was eba and efo riro – steaming efo with ponmo, shaki and panla pieces that seemed to be winking at me.
I forgot all my protestations. I forgot about the traffic – forgot everything except the rumbling in my stomach. Kissing her quickly and briefly I washed my hands in the bowl she held out and dug in. Ol’ boy, my tummy worms did a perfect rendition of Handel’s Messiah, segued into Tu Face’s E Be Like Say and finished with Fela’s Basketmouth. I was exultant.
Topped the whole thing with fresh, cold water – and I was on fire.
“Baby,” I began, standing up, the day I married you is the day I made a choice to come alive. I will love you till I die – I will never leave you. Iyawo mi, ah – what do you want? Anything – just say it and it is yours.”
She smiled – and when she smiles the skies acknowledge that indeed; this is a smile. “I am pleased to do for you, my love.”
I swear if she told me to bring her Zuma rock I would have boarded the next flight to Abuja and dug in with both hands rather than tell her I couldn’t. I kissed her and she helped me with my shirt and tie – and was knotting the tie when I realized she was still in her negligee. “Baby, what’s with the outfit? No work?”
She dimpled again. “No honey. Leave begins today.”
“Lucky you,” I said and bolted through the door.
I made it to work in time and the day; of course having started well was looking quite rosy. My world was perfect – until I suddenly started to feel sleepy.
That was unusual.
I actually never fell asleep at work – if you understand my job you’ll understand that it’s a luxury I cannot afford. So it was worrisome. I went to wash my face in the restroom – and that made me feel better. I went to my desk and continued to work.
Next thing I knew, I was woken up by the noise of my own snoring.
You know how you wake up – maybe in church, and you’re awake but you’ll still hide your face away because you’re embarrassed to have fallen asleep in the first place, so you maintain that same posture as though you intentionally sat like that?
Yeah. That was me that day at work. I thought and thought about how I could have fallen asleep – and then it occurred to me that my wife drugged me.
Not ‘drugged’ as in slipped me a mickey – but ‘drugged’ as in gave me eba in the morning intentionally. Right then and there I started plotting my revenge.
“Hello baby,” she said sweetly – a bit too sweetly. “Shey you didn’t sleep at work today?”
“At all,” I answered. “The eba was energizer – I couldn’t stop working. In fact, I’m on fire now sef.” To emphasize my words, I lifted her and raced into the bedroom. She was happy, I was happier.
But I had decided to get my own back.
On the day she was going to resume, I spent half the night pounding yam and cooking efo elegunsi with shaki and obokun fish. I was tired – but when I woke her up to wash that morning, I was happy. Oh, I was the gentleman! I carried her to the bathroom, washed her tenderly from head to toe – never mind what that did to me. Washed her, toweled her and rubbed cream for her. After then, I put her underwear on her and carried her to the table.
“A ‘welcome back to work’ something,” I said.
She ate with gusto – and I was happy watching her eat; despite the mischief behind it. My wife is a beautiful woman and I can watch her for hours.
Sha, we finished and left for work.
It was almost noon when a number I didn’t know called. “Hello?” I said.
“Yes please, is this Mr – ?”
I said it was.
“This is your wife’s boss. Could you please come to the office right away?”
I said I would and hung up.
I was a bit worried but I figured whatever it was, I’d know once I got there. I drove quickly – and when I arrived the place I was shown into one office like that. The man who called me stood from behind the desk, introduced himself and shook my hand.
“Mrs. – is my best staff, I must admit even though I’ve never told her. Therefore you can imagine my consternation when I got to work today and saw her sleeping.”
I wanted to burst into laughter for two reasons. That was the first time I’ve heard that word used in a conversation and I told him so.
Second reason was my revenge was now complete – but I didn’t tell him that.
“Where is she?” I asked, injecting the right balance of worry into my voice.
“Right this way,” he said and preceded me out of the office. “I even though maybe she is…you know…” I know what he meant but I wasn’t going to make it easy for him. “Sick?” I asked.
He shook his head. “Been having sex?”
The man waved his hands in front of him – as though he impregnated his wife by speaking the word. “No…ah…I mean I was wondering maybe she’s expecting…” his voice disappeared even though his mouth was still moving.
“Ah – if she is then God is a wonderful God. You see, I’m like the reverse Caitlyn – I used to be a woman.” I patted his back familiarly – and walked past him into my wife’s office while he stood in the passage trying not to have a heart attack. My wife was wiping sleep from her eyes, looking very sweet and innocent.
“Darling,” she started when she saw me. “What are you doing here?”
I kissed her – and then kissed her again, somewhat firmer the second time. “Well, you’re sick – due to your pregnancy so you’re taking the rest of the day off.” I smiled into her shocked eyes. “Let’s go.”
I half-carried her out of the office while she blinked sleep from her eyes and said goodbyes to her colleagues. The way they all followed us to the car made me marvel – and I told myself again how lucky I am to be married to her. They waited while I let her into the car – waited for me to start the engine and only then did they go back into the office.
“I’m so sleepy,” she mumbling, head against the seat, eyes on me. “I wonder why.”
I couldn’t resist. Laughter tumbled out of my belly – like lightning from heaven. Surprise lightened her features – and then it became a frown – and then the clouds cleared. The frown receded.
“You’re evil!” she yelled, pushing me against the side of the car. “Evil!” she said again, struggling with trying not to laugh.
“I learned from the best,” I said.
Silence from her side of the car made me search her out. Her eyes were still on mine, eyes that had a look in them that made me wish I was home with her. I floored the accelerator.
Shebi marriage no sweet?
“Where were you last night?”
Fola looked up from his plate of noodles. “Are you talking to me or singing P Square’s first single?”
“Hohoho. Very funny.” Frank pulled out the chair opposite his friend on the other side of the dining table and sat down. “Where were you, Folly?”
Looking like a greedy kid in a noodle ad, Fola shoved his fork underneath a large helping of noodles and ferried same to his mouth. Keeping his eyes on Frank, his mouth worked the noodles into a finely ground paste.
And then he swallowed it. Quite loudly too.
“Oga, don’t start interrogating me. You’re not my wife.” He heaped another helping, moved the loaded cutlery towards his mouth – and paused. “You’re not going to work?”
Frank looked at Fola silently – and then rose. “If you don’t want to answer me, no wahala. But your wife is going to get tired of your behavior sooner or later – “
Fola waved his free hand. “Oga come o, if I need marriage counseling I’m too sure I won’t be asking a very recent divorcee – especially not one who gave up on a twelve-year old marriage.”
Looking like he didn’t quite know whether to be happy or sad, Frank stared at his friend, feeling as though his heart was beating in his fingers. Fola continued shoving noodles in his mouth, answering Frank stare for stare.
Frank eventually moved away from the table. “No vex.”
He was almost at the door before Fola spoke. “Where are you going?”
His answer was in the sound of the main door closing.
The first thing Frank saw as he walked outside the house was a pair of light-skinned legs on the other side of the road. The legs seemed to go on for a while – then end in a pair of short shorts. He had a moment; he was actually beginning to appreciate the legs for what they were when their owner turned away from the kiosk from which she was buying something – and their eyes met.
“Hi Frank,” Efe said.
He stood still, somewhat like a child with his hand in the proverbial cooking pot. He knew he was supposed to say something; she was staring at him with a half-smile, t-shirt and shorts making her look teenager-sweet, poly bag dangling from her left hand enhancing rather than removing from the picture –
And then an okada passed between them, breaking the spell. Frank actually blinked.
“Hold on,” he said, looking up and down the street before crossing. Efe started walking to meet him – stopping only when her chest was a few inches away from his. He looked down at her – and then abruptly shifted his gaze as he caught a small and unintended glimpse of light and round flesh.
“Is that an apology I hear, Frank?”
He cleared his throat. “Yes. I – I’m sorry I didn’t show like I promised. It was a long day – and I – I guess I got carried away.”
Her smile widened – and it was so infectious he couldn’t resist. “It’s okay. I’m just upset that my afang went to waste.”
“Haba,” Frank muttered. “I’m so sorry.” There was a bit of awkward silence – and then he spoke again. “Aren’t you going to work?”
Efe shook her short hair. “No – I’m on leave.”
“Leave?” Surprised made his voice lighter. “And you’re still in town?”
She sighed, and sadness of some sort made her look older. “I’m tired of traveling – this is actually the first leave in over eight years I’ll be spending in Lagos – and my husband isn’t home so I’m lonely.”
He was sure it wasn’t her intention but what she said only made him feel guiltier about missing on their appointment. “You know what? If you don’t mind, I can come around sometime this evening – “
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, dear. You’ve let me down once – I’m not so sure I’m willing to hang around for it to happen again.”
“But Efe, you’re not going to hold one mistake against me forever are you? Why na? I’ll come around – sometime this evening. I promise.”
Both her eyes looked into his – one after the other; and then her smile brightened. “Okay,” she said, patting his arm. “I’ll be expecting you. Call when you’re on your way, okay?”
She walked past him, moving as though she was dancing on her toes. She turned once, smiling over her shoulder – and she was gone.
Something about that smile bothered Frank.
“Afo, what exactly is the problem with my car?”
The man Frank was talking to straightened from beside the golden-brown Corolla, knees creaking. He continued to uncurl till he towered over Frank, fingers brushing sand off the chest area of the formerly-blue-now-black coverall he had on.
“Oga Frank,” Afo started to speak. “Na the whole front leg bin get problem. We dey work on am – but as e still dey make dat noise na im make we never bring am. We don change bearing, change tie rod, change shock absorber – na only this afternoon wey we look am again na im we see say the drum don bend.” He spat onto the street and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand while Frank; feeling uncomfortable, looked away.
“So – you no go vex. We dey try do confam job for you noni.”
Frank exhaled and looked around the busy mechanic workshop. “Okay – but are you – shey you sure say dat na d wahala?”
Afo smiled. “No worry. If after we change the whole front leg and e still dey make dat noise, na to buy new car.” He turned away from Frank and huddled over the wheel he was working on. “In Jesus’ name, your moto go ready tomorrow.”
Silence descended on the tailoring workshop with the suddenness of power outage – and as one, the workers turned to look in the direction from which the sound came. James came running, pushing past a few of his colleague to stand beside the man who had screamed;
“Oga, wetin happen? You dey alright?”
Frank straightened, exposing what he had been bent over. Somehow his left forefinger had become tangled in the seam of the school uniform he was working on – and he hadn’t noticed till he stitched the unfortunate digit. James watched, mesmerized as blood sluggishly pumped from the long and deep gash – along with black threading.
“Don’t we have first aid in the shop?”
The words galvanized Alhaja into action. She gathered her gown and ran to Frank’s office while James snatched up one of the many pieces of material lying around, rapidly tied a crude bandage around the wound.
And then he ran out of the shop yelling, “Nurse Joy! Nurse Joy!”
“I’ll be coming over soon – I hope that’s okay with you,” Frank said into the phone.
“Ahhh!” he yelled involuntarily – before turning towards the buxomly Nurse Joy with a frown. “Take it easy now,” he ground out from between his teeth.
“Maybe if you stopped moving around so much…” she answered, holding up the needle she was sticking in his finger. “I am putting stitches into your hand. What do you expect?”
“What is it, Frank? Are you okay?” Efe’s voice came over the phone.
“Yeah – I had a small accident at work, but it is being fixed right now. So – I’ll probably be there in – “ he looked at the time on his phone – and jumped as the nurse poked him with the needle. He took in her teasing smile and, shaking his head, turned back to his call. “ – about an hour or so.”
“Okay Frank. I’m waiting.”
“Alright. I’ll see you – “
That was as far as he got before a stabbing pain shot from the damaged finger into his brain. He jumped a few inches in the air, letting go of his phone and screaming his pain. The phone fell from his right hand, hit his right thigh –
Hit the floor and split into five distinct parts.
Frank’s behind sought out the stool again, and he sat down gingerly, favoring his finger – the finger with one thread still dangling from it – and then looked at the phone on the floor.
And then he eyed Nurse Joy, who was standing, mouth open.
“Are you done?” he asked.
He pushed his right forefinger through the debris of the phone on his table looking for his sim card. He found it – and sighed.
There was a moment of silence; one in which a quick count to three may have been completed then – “Oga!”
There was a scramble of footsteps, and the door opened.
“Oga?” James repeated, breathing slightly hard. Frank threw his wallet on the table and tried opening it with his one functional hand. James watched the silent struggle for a bit – then he took the wallet off the table and opened it.
Holding it towards Frank he asked; “wetin you need from am?”
Exhaling slowly, Frank leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes. “There’s a card in there with the number of the taxi man who carried me home yesterday,” he paused. “Call him and tell him to come get me.”
“No wahala oga, E good make you dey go house sef – as rain wan fall.” James responded as he slowly thumbed through the several cards in Frank’s wallet. He found the one he was looking for, pulled it out and held the wallet towards Frank again. “Oga, your wallet,” he said.
Frank nodded without opening his eyes. “Just put it on the table, James.”
Although it was nearly dark and his eyes were only half-open, Frank recognized the house as the cab arrived in front of it. He knew it wasn’t as late in the evening as his half-open eyes would have him believe – but his painkiller-doped body screamed for sleep nonetheless. He climbed out of the cab on trembling legs, wondering at the moisture in the air while reaching slowly in his back pocket for his wallet –
It wasn’t there.
Awkwardly, he shifted to allow his fully functional hand reach around his body to pat all his pockets.
It wasn’t in any of them.
Trying not to panic, he leaned forward and peered into the car to see if it had fallen out of his pocket somewhere along the journey.
He didn’t spot it.
“Oga Frank, wetin you dey find?” Baba Soji’s always-angry voice came from the driver’s seat.
“Na my – my wallet. I no sure where I drop am – and e no dey my hand.”
“Ehen? No wahala na. I fit come your shop tomorrow come collect my money. E jus’ be say some tins go dey inside am wey you no suppose lost – “
Frank nodded, interrupting. “I’ll find it, thank you.” He turned away from the taxi, injured limb held out in front of him like offered libation. “Tomorrow then.”
The cab zoomed away – but he didn’t register it. He barely felt his feet touch the ground as he walked through the house gate and towards the door. For an idle moment the mush he called a brain became clear enough for him to wonder if there actually were other tenants in the house and why he was yet to meet any of them –
And then, a loud crash and yell came from the house – the apartment – he was approaching.
“Fola?” he intended to yell – but what came out was more of a gargle than anything comprehensible. He tried to run towards the door – but only succeeded in stumbling forward; very much like a man in a strange room with the lights off. He made it to the door, and lifted his hand to knock when –
“ – you bastard! You’ll be going up and down, pursuing those small small girls around town! Have you no shame?!”
There was another crash – “YEEEEEEE! I will kill you today! Witch!!!!”
He lifted his hand; intending to bang on the door – and then he remember what happened that morning between Fola and him. He remembered how awkward it was for him in the house already – he thought about the fact that he was a grown man squatting with a friend…
His hand fell to his side.
Lightning flashed – and rain kissed the streets around Frank; falling heavily – the tears of a petulant child. He turned slowly, patting his pockets in the same manner the rain was drenching him; slowly but steadily.
No phone. No wallet.
What were his options?
Like the pointing finger of an okada man, his gaze bent towards the brown house on the corner down from the one he was standing in front of.
We never learn.
Or maybe I should speak for myself. I don’t know.
Have a lot of alone time these days – and with that comes reflection.
Maybe too much of that – because I used to not live with regrets; I mean when I do things they’re usually well thought out. Especially things that involve someone else. Other people.
It’s the same reason I do not ask for advice. I am responsible for my life – so I do whatever I think is best.
Let the cards fall where they may.
But it’s at that point where all I see whenever I try to take a look around are the mistakes I’ve made. Everything I’ve done wrong.
It’s becoming harder and harder to be hopeful.
The title of this piece is actually half of a Yoruba saying; ‘ori to ma jeko; to ba wo moto a yo ri sita pe olomi tutu’ which loosely translated means ‘the head that will get knocked; even in a car will poke itself out to call for cold pure water’.
In other words; karma’s a bitch. Or maybe; more specifically, fate’s a bitch.
As said before, alone time makes for a lot of reflecting. And reflecting makes for regrets nowadays. Observing past relationships (all relationships; not romantic ones alone; thank you) I observe a pattern. History keeps repeating itself because I am the one anomaly; I have that one ability to fuck things up in astronomical ways. I like to take time after the end of one such; take time and reflect on whatever I did wrong – figure out where I missed it.
But then; I end up doing the exact same thing all over again.
I never learn.
So these days I come to ask myself – ‘what’s the point?’
I mean – why bother? I know all those cliches – ‘today’s another chance to get it right’ ‘you can always do better’ and all those positive self-help bullshit lines.
I know them – and these days they don’t mean much.
Things are always going to be this bleak. I’m always going to be this incredible mess.
It is what it is. I hate pity – so spare me none.
I remember a time – not so long ago when I settled into life as an atheist. More than anything else, that perspective made me understand that I am in control of my life – whatever happens to me happens because of something I did or didn’t do. I learned to take responsibility for my actions.
I mean, Nietzsche did say ‘Christianity is a religion for the weak’.
It took a while to understand that God is not assuming responsibility for my life. He’s giving me a choice; a better way to live – but surrendering to that is up to me.
Maybe that’s why He’s been awful quiet lately – the reality that I don’t think I really want to be happy.
Sounds insane, no?
I just look at the ‘happy’ things around me – and I shake my head. Because happiness doesn’t last. There’s no such thing as a happy ending. This world is NEVER going to get better – trust me; it’ll get progressively more and more hopeless.
Sadness is a security blanket for me. I know it – it’s familiar. It fits like a perfect-sized shoe; like a surgeon’s gloves. It doesn’t come disguised as something else; it doesn’t pretend. I know it.
And because I know it; I’m comfortable with it.
Happiness? Not so much.
You see; I’ve come to come to feel that it really doesn’t last. It’s exactly like perfect weather; in Lagos – only temporary. And it comes with disguises too. Looking like it’s here to stay – and then vanishing; almost as quickly as it showed up.
It’s an illusion. I’ve come to accept that.
So, I’m no longer swimming against the tide. It is what it is; I understand that now.
Don’t worry; however. I am not going to commit suicide. Not anytime soon. There are voices in my head telling me I have nothing to live for; but I make it a point to ignore them even though I agree. Maybe I don’t have anything to live for; I do have things that live for me.
So why am I putting this out here?
Because I’m not the only who feels this way. I’m not the only who’s asking God; anyone for a reason to keep going. I’m not the only guy who scrambles for the darkest corners when the lights come on – because he is afraid that the world will see just how ugly he
And also; for all you self-righteous judgmental fucks out there;
Scratch the ‘ONLY’.
“I wonder which of us he summons now,” one of the figures – one that closely resembles what we call ‘female’ speaks.
Several other figures gather around it, looking through the same crack in the wall – a crack that widens itself as more of them try to look.
“Be ‘ware – see that you do not out-fall,” a large one cries. As though preempted, a tiny version of the same image forces its way between two bigger figures – and screams; a keening sound, as it loses its footing.
“There, there,” the large one that spoke before grabs the tiny one’s foot in time and pulls it backwards. ‘Large’ hugs ‘tiny’ to itself – and makes small cooing noises.
It’s a weird image; I know. But it’s a real one.
The object of their curiosity is one more familiar – it is a man bent over a book and writing furiously. He looks famished – like the last leaf on a dying tree; something badly in need of a lifeline; water maybe.
His clothes look slept in – very much slept in. He probably stinks; I’m not close enough to tell – but with the myriad of stains and stripes that spot his shirt, it isn’t hard to imagine that he is ripe. His painfully-thin frame folds over the back of the chair he’s sitting in – he looks limper than a used rag.
His surroundings, however tell a different story.
The book he was writing in is neat; his handwriting is clear and beautiful in an unsettling manner. The table itself looks like the survivor of a cat-fight; scratches mar its leather-bound surface. A few candle-smudged burn marks show his tendency to be absent-minded; as the neatly-stacked books and arranged biros attest his attention to detail. A few darker stains – spilled coffee and something else enhance the weather-beaten look of the table.
The only thing that seems out of place is the box of pills lying innocently beside the shut laptop. Of course, ‘out-of-place’ is relative.
Like almost everything else, really.
The room is frustratingly spotless. Clothes are properly hung or folded; shoes neatly arranged in a corner, books stacked underneath the well-laid bed. Dirty clothes make a tidy pile beside the door – the only incongruous note is struck by the pieces of ripped paper that surround the table and chair.
They stand out like rash on a baby’s ass.
The limp right hand rises slowly from the tired thigh it is lying on – and proceeds to scratch the corresponding side of the head. Heavy eyes flutter desperately – but remain closed. The hand; having concluded its mission falls to its master’s side.
And all is still for a moment.
And then – with a startling abruptness; as though attacked fiercely in the posterior by an angry needle, he jumps up. The watching figures cower – even I stumble backwards in my shock. But in his self-absorption he takes no notice.
He is; after all, a writer. Unfortunately.
His limbs straighten – a flame rouses itself in eyes that looked slumberous moments ago. Impatiently he sets himself at the table once again. Grabbing the notepad, he gives it a hurried glance – and discards it.
And then, he grabs the laptop, jabs it awake with an unkind finger – and begins pounding the keys; very much like an impatient man who does not wait for his wife to be turned on before…
“Ah,” the largest of the watching figures sighs, smiling fondly. “Alas, it is but a love story.”
The others turn – and watch; as the tiny figure the giant is still holding begins to shimmer – to glow; throwing all sorts of color all over the vacuum. ‘Tiny’ becomes blindingly bright – and then vanishes altogether, leaving behind a smell we would describe as ‘oranges’ – but is obviously foul to them as evidenced by their frowning visages; what little they have in the way of that.
And then; as one they all touch their foreheads and blink rapidly.
“So gone is love,” the female-looking one sighs. “Next is who?”
Read Tales From The Other Side. Find Out.
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