A DAY AFTER 3

EPISODE THREE: GRATITUDE

Whenever I passed by Berger, I will see him, sitting at  the corner of the street with his long stick and ragged bag; His hairs were strands of dreads locked for either centuries or  God knows how long; His clothes were pieces of ragged-white turned brown by the combined effect of dust blown at him from non-challant road users and the wind itself. His skin was  dark, not the  typical complexion of a  beautiful black skin king, but from the myriads of days without water and soap to lather on the body. He knew nothing about our world or so I thought. Whenever a passerby  walked towards him, he would pose like an angry lion, waving   his  rugged stick  in the air.

On his right,  he had a packet of cigarettes with which he snapped at road users, On his left he held one of the sticks which unlit he would bask in the guise of smoking something to calm the nerves. On a good day, a jolly-good fellow would throw  a lighter at him and he would gracefully enjoy his pipemeal. A day came, I decided to throw  a candy at him, he waved his rugged stick at me, picked the candy,  placed it in his ragged and dusty bag,  looked up from the bag and grinned.  Bewildered, I wondered if he understood the language of our world- the language of  love, resentment, painful-gains  and chaotic- harmony.

I thought I could show kindness to him but didn’t know how to about it. First, if he was  psychic as he seemed then I would have to devise ways of expressing care without his marking my face; second, what on Earth  would I offer him that will be tangible and helpful to him,  considering my status in life and his condition.

An idea popped into my head, I could throw some crispy mints at him, and he would pick them and placed it in his decayed bag as he did  with the candy but what if hoodlums attack and take the little coins from him? Not even his rugged stick will save him from them.  After about thirty (30) minutes of conversing within, I made my way to the GTbank at Omole Phase two (2) inserted my Naira MasterCard  into the Automated Teller Machine, (ATM) withdrew some cash from the little savings I made during my NYSC, entered a shopping mall and got some goodies.
By the time I  was done shopping, it was already late in the evening.  Knowing I could fall into the hands of one of the hoodlums, I took my goodie bag and made for  Annie’s  house which was like a stone throw from the mall.

The next day, I woke early,  without waiting to bid farewell to Annie, I  took the bag of goodies and  I went straight to his usual spot.

Carefully I  dropped the bag filled with clothes, candy, soaps, eateries, money and what have you; They weren’t perfect but I found satisfaction dropping that goodie bag some miles away from him.
As though he knew it was for him, He carelessly dropped the unlit cigarette and made for the bag.
I watched him with so much curiosity as he seemed to count every single item on the bag; suddenly, his eyes shifted from the bag to someone across the road- me.
My heart raced as he fixed his dark- grey, sun-burned pupils on me, slowly I moved from where I stood, He rose with the bag and made towards me,  I  slowly moved from where I stood,  towards the direction of the Agberos, at least they may be kind enough to save me from him.

Without removing his gaze from mine, he crossed the road coming  towards me,  I increased my pace, but he seemed to be faster than I was. I started running  as fast as I could turning around he was running after me. Just when I thought, I would be caught up by an act of kindness to a complete stranger, he Stoped, bowed and mutterred something that seemed like gratitude.

Relieved I went back home. At least I  neither fell into his hands nor that of the hoodlums not knowing which would have posed more danger.

The day after,  I made yet a visit to his usual spot; to my surprise, he had his hair trimmed, his red  shirt sparkled in the dazzling December Sun. My cheeks fluttered as he slowly walked  towards me, though I was afraid, I at least knew he wasn’t deranged . He stoped at  a reasonable distance from where I stood, forced a smile,  with clouded eyes, he   echoed:

“Ese, Eni to Olorun ran,Oluwa maa bukun fun yin” [Thank You God-sent, God bless you]

I went back to Anie’s house smiling, grateful to God that I saved a life out of my life savings.  At least I still had to appreciate her for letting me bash into her house unannounced and leaving before She woke.

At 12:00 pm, I found myself at my sister’s house, the whole family was already celebrating the arrival of the new baby.

A DAY AFTER

EPISODE TWO: DELIVERY

After waiting for what seemed like forever, the doctor came up to me

“You’re her sister right?”

“Yes doctor, can I see her now”

“Uhm… we’re sorry Madam”

“Sorry?, Doctor what’s going on?”

My temperature had risen, my cheek flattened. I wanted to act like a matured girl, but my eyes betrayed me, the numbness in my bone found a way to express itself through the heated tears drooling down my cheeks. I was a shy girl, but this time, dragging the doctor’s Labouratory Coat was nothing compared  to how I was eager to let out my frustrations. 

My mind travelled back to the day after NYSC camp, how she had begged me to stay; I would  have stayed but Lagos was almost breaking me. I was tired of the hustle bustle, and traffic-jammed life of Lagos.
Moreover, She was having serious marital issues at the time. Emeka had turned her into an opponent in a boxing ring. Most days opened with screams, shouts and blows. Some boxing sessions landed her in the hospital and she’d come back with either a broken jaw or a torn flesh. It seemed Emeka enjoyed creating those designs on her body.  She had  real scars plastered on her shiny body. Her perfect, mirror-like skin reflected every single day of the torment. Her beautiful hair were strands he could pull anytime he was drunk, he would caress it so hard  till they pulled off, then he would break the bottles on her skull to heighten the pleasure.

A thousand times I had arrange her  escape. I wanted  her to run so far from him. On the 25th of July 2016, I went to the extent of renting an apartment from the little savings I had so we could relocate with the Children and put an end to the myriads of mishaps. But Idara was too weak, She was afraid He’d find her and her punishment would be worst. I suggested divorce several times but being a ‘Public Figure’, She was too concerned with her reputation in the eyes of the society. She wanted her marital life to seem perfect and arranged in the eyes of the Public. As a Banker who had risen to the level of a Director with Jecho Bank Plc., She’d rather die in Silence than let her marriage be a public ridicule.

I was a tough girl, I could have stood by her and support her but watching her suffer everyday was affecting me. I didn’t even realise I was getting rude towards the Kids, we had little or no time to play video games or go to our favorite shawarma spot; I remember the day  Emineimo came for the normal moonlight stories, I had shouted on him out of frustration; I never realized he was deeply hurt untill I went to the balcony and found him crying. 

There I knew I needed a break, If Emeka was a saddist and a tyrant. I didn’t need to add to the tyranny, the home was already heated and if there was anything the kids needed at the time, It was love, care and support from their ‘considerate’ Aunt. The  daily frowns on Idara’s face however  seemed like a live coal on my head. I was boiling every single moment;  I had lost the calm on the inside and I really needed it back if not for me, for the kids who at the time were helpless.

When NYSC presented itself, It was just the perfect opportunity to escape. I needed the serenity that the walls of Ibadan presented. I had to choose Ibadan over Lagos and I gracefully completed my NYSC  there. Now it seemed it was the worst decision I’d ever make in the Century.
Idara in her secretive habit had kept the pregnancy from me. When it comes to having her babies, She had her way: She’d rather keep it a secret till her tummy protrudes enough to  break the news to the world.
That was the pattern with  Emineimo and Uwemedimo. But this time around, her Surprise pack was almost destroying me.

I found out She was heavy during the  Covid-19. But that was rather late,  I was already given a Primary Place of Assignment in Ibadan.  There was little I could do, I offered all the support I could during the lockdown and left to my Primary Place of Assignment when it called. Now it was all about  the guilt that hunted me. Maybe things would have been different if I had stayed but I was scared of my attitude towards the Kids. I was becoming an angry bird and loosing my temper at the slightest provocation. Flashes of these memories added to my torment as I found myself rolling on the floor.

“Madam, you don’t have to be dramatic, Carrel Specialist Hospital would  do everything possible  to ensure that she delivers safely”

” Doctor it’s been days since we came to this hospital, Regarding these lovely kids over there, She hadn’t spend up to a day in the hospital”

” The issue  is She’s having obstructed labour and vaginal delivery might put either her or the baby at risk”

“Hmm but…”

” Ma’am all we need is your signature on this Consent form so we can proceed with the Ceaseran section…”

I scribbled my initials in the paper without bordering to read it’s content; Down in my heart, I was praying that nothing goes wrong.

A DAY AFTER

EPISODE 1: AFTER POP

The curious faces greeted me as I swayed to my desk, picking the hand over note, I placed it on Ini’s palm. He examined the paper like a frightened child, threw it on the table and made for my palm. He suddenly stopped as though he was controlled by some force. With a heive, he stretched his palms to mine, Fixing his gaze on mine . In his eyes I saw that plea but my mind was made up and he seemed to read everything single thought on my mind at the moment.

“Eddie won’t you stay?”

“I can’t Ini, I bet you’ll be fine”

He released my palm and smiled. I knew there was more to that smile. Hardly had he came than I talked of leaving. He tried a thousand times to talk me into staying, but I wanted an environment where I would feel relevant. With all support, I got from Anie and Co., I sometimes felt lost when I had issues related to my profession. They saw me as a professional and expected all my projects to be of standard; I had challenges which they couldn’t relate to, all they cared about were the results.

Mrs. Utitofon had organized a send forth party for me. In no time the table was set. Soft music played while We sat round eating Potatoes Chips with stew. It was the only day I ever received a hug from my employer. Although She seldom smiles, she smiled so much that it got me at the verge of tears. She told me I added colour to her personal life and the Company; I found it ridiculous because she never compliments my effort. She had an eagle eye with which she could picture all the mistakes in my project without even looking at it. When it comes to Mrs. Utitofon, one thing was certain: “The boss is always right”. The only option I had was to comply with her terms. On several occassions, She told me I wasn’t enough, Countless times had she told me I was Sturdy. But a girl has to keep her head high.

After the launch, I took pictures with Ini and Bolu, then I felt a pat on my shoulder,

” Edidiong I know I may have been rude to you, but your projects and ideas were perfect. I would rather you stay”

She smiled and walked away, I wondered why she kept the compliment till a day after my POP. It would have probably changed my perception about the firm. But I guess it was too late. One last look at Anie and Co. and I bidded farewell to the Bodija. My sister was heavily pregnant at the time, I had to travel next day.

The Journey to Lagos was an unpleasant one: The piercing sun seared through boiling skins which inturn dripped salty liquids generating enough heat in the sardine packed bus; The traffic partnered with the street Vendors who flung their goods at every single vehicle that afternoon; Occasionally there would be sighs from passengers, but the sighs were too low compared to the horns of Earth breaking Vehicles and other ear blocking sounds

Reality knocked at mind and took it away from the happenings around. Mmeyene, a girl I met in the Lodge took her position as the first in the list of issues my mind had to deal with. Before our POP, She had gotten a job with a top notch Accounting firm. She was married and expecting a baby in the next two months. My life on the contrary was a mess. Dad had promised a position in a manufacturing company but I had no interest in it. I guess the only attractive thing about the company was the huge pay; however, passion was my drive. I had the intension of furthering my studies, but a lady needs a job to keep up. I was in a serious relationship with Edima but I had doubts about spending my forever with him. He was nice and homely but very manipulative and controlling….
“Madam, No be for Berger you wan drop”
It was the Conductor,
“Olodo, wetin this dull face dey find for Lagos sef?”
I ignored his tantrums, paid my fare and alighted. I crossed the pedestrian bridge, and took a bike to Omole Phase 2.
It was the begginning of a new life and the fear of living up to expectation gripped me.Barely had I reached home than my phone buzzed, It was Edikan.

“Hey girl”
“Hey”
“Congrats on your POP Yay!!!”
“Thanks “
“You know we gonna pop champagne today And I’m taking my baby to Chicken Republic right away”
“Not really in the mode, I’ve got a slight headache”
“Common girl, meet me at 6:00pm, don’t keep a boo waiting… Love ya”
He hunged up…
© writingcarrel 2020

INNER PEACE

We’re all fighting for peace on the inside
And it isn’t coming
Because we’re waiting
For everyone we come across
To understand, cheer and congratulate us

We’re all fighting for peace on the inside
And it isn’t coming
Because we’re waiting
For our life to be ‘perfect’
Before we start appreciating ourselves

We’re all fighting for peace on the inside
And it’s not comming
Because we’ve closed
Our eyes to how much we’ve achieved
And we’d rather focus on how
Many times we’ve failed

We’re all fighting for inner peace
But we’d rather recount our errors in life
We’re all fighting for inner peace
Yet we’re working so hard to keep ourselves unhappy

©writingcarrel

DID WE REALLY GROW?

Times were,
When we’d rather spare the spoon
To say Hi,
So free, like children dancing at moonlight
Unafraid of darkness or snake bites

We wandered about with the purity of childhood,
Building sand castles; playing hide and seek
Then we “grew” and understood pride

Yes…We peeped at each other’s garage and fought
And held hands when  dining with apologies
Giving ourselves childish promises, 
Not to repeat the mess… 

It wouldn’t take minutes to go back the path, we vowed not to again take

This cycle continued…
Till we hit puberty, 
We no longer embraced the coziness of the moon,
We spat at the sun and it fell on us,
It gave us the mantle to spit on ourselves

Yes we “grew,”
We fought and got too busy to dine with apologies..
So we left everything in the hands of growth.
And blamed maturity for every immaturity we displayed …

The question is “Did we really grow?”

©writingcarrel  2019

Gone, episode 7

The shadow of the sun founds its way through her skull, waking up the trees of happiness that once withered away. The broken screens of her heart were  replaced by new ones, the raging sea had taught her to be the woman she deserves to be. As she walked into the class, she held her head high, she smiled at every frown, surprise and fear. It was the first time in a long while she had left her home of pain, shame and regrets. It was the first time she heard versions of laughter without letting them hunt down her soul,  It was time to let go, her parents were gone, her arms are gone, but more than that, her cravings to be accepted were gone.

She took her seat,  and opened a page to write her new life, A life unwilling to be hurt by ugly circumstances, Mary had spents lots of money in helping her get these prosthetics, and no mention of the name Robot was gonna stop her from being herself in using them.

At the end of lectures, she resumed her majestic steps, letting these words flow through her mind …

With that she closed the page of an old life to  start a new life.

THE END

Gone Episode six

Minutes into the lecture time, the front row was still not filled up. People kept whispering and directing their gaze towards her, she noticed everyone had kept their distance, but it was none of her business, after all, making friends was just a minute aspect of being a student to her,
She kept humming her favourite music… Now that she had hands, she would do all of those things she had stopped doing, her thoughts carried her to the mountains of imagination, that she barely noticed how other students reacted towards her again.

The lecturer walked into the class, his face beaming with smiles.

 “Hello, everyone, my name is John Nnanda, I will be taking you on  philosophy”

He paused as though he was expecting replies from the students, when none came, he continued 

“I would love  to know y’all by name”

The students stood up in turns to introduce themselves, some names sounded so funny forcing a comic comment from the lecturer, others were so  complicated  that futile efforts made by the lecturer to pronounce, Such names gave way to a round of unceasing laughter.

Susan  had barely mentioned her name than  Aina shouted robot. In no time, the whole class was in chaos, people running here and there. All efforts made by Mr. Nnanda to bring the class to normalcy proved abortive. In his panic, the lecturer tried to keep his calm until he saw Susan’s iron hands, his eyes widened, his  heart ready to jump out of his mouth, his heart beat  increased to almost two hundred  beats per minute, he would have retraced his steps but his feet failed, he would have knelt and begged, but the students who couldn’t run were looking up to him. 

Finally, he gathered the courage to talk to her

“Alright Miss Ro…”

With her face burning red as a wounded  lion, she  barked 

“I’m no robot”

With that she packed her books into her bag and made for the door, never in her life had she been that angry. In no time, the school security paraded her as though she were a machine…