Living History

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Beyond what you see

Living History
Episode one
Truth

When it hits one in the face, when it comes, with a force that cannot be contained; it is the truth.

It’s like she knew what she was in for. The banging of the door left the wooden victim creaking silently on its hinges. Her mother had looked at her menacingly in the face and pronounced those words that left her shaking, her nerves trembling furiously; they were trembling still. Their impact was so intense and like an echo in the …valley, they resounded in her aural membrane, the words, those words ‘You cease to be my daughter!’

The previous day, when it all started had been fine, when she had gotten home and decided to tell Mama, was just fine for an evening meal, for a night out with Danladi, for the smile that caressed her lips, for the lonesome feeling she shared towards an unfeeling yet seemingly emotional man. He shared in her smile, his, a grimace that masked the feelings of revenge he harboured.

You can never achieve anything without tending to get in on the inside; a childhood of endless detective cartoons had enhanced that desire to avenge his father. The muse was dead, yes, but didn’t the good book say that the child would partake in the sins of the father and that vengeance will be wrought by generations after? Well, he admitted, the latter was only a fabrication to conform to this burning need his heart so feverishly hunted. He tried not to seem like Hamlet yet he knew the drive was alike. Rather than an elixir of poison in the ear, his father had been tea-poisoned.

One might wonder how Funmi had gotten entangled with a man whose face was a true reflection of his heart. His eyes seemed to search endlessly into the depths of one’s heart. At first, she had feared those huge bulging eyes until three moons after when they became a part of her: having watched them on nights of passion, ecstasy and on angry days when they nearly popped out from their sockets. His frame was the same as any man’s. It was intimidating, his arms large enough to snap a neck into two.

Why hadn’t he done so he sometimes asked himself. Why hadn’t he wrenched hers off its root and perhaps hung it to a stake, making it a premier of a collection of ornament, of the heads of a family doomed to his vengeance.

‘Do you know who his father was?’
mama waited for no answer
’… he was a pain in the neck. He had to go, had to die; for some people have to die for you to move on.’

Funmi stood still as her mother relayed Danladi’s history. Did he know? Did he not? or if he knew, was this all a pretense in order to avenge his dead father on her? Was what they ‘shared’ false? The thought of it alone would make her go insane. These questions ravaged her mind, made her begin to doubt and distant to her mother’s outbursts.

Mama continued waiting for no answer from her mute listener, ‘his father sucked at your father’s marrow. He was a pest, a pain in the ass as you would say. But then he died, he died. Yes he did and you know what? We were happy just that I didn’t know whoever it was who killed him. Otherwise, I would have thanked such a person all my life. You know why and how your father died?’ she continued in the same rage, ‘he did not die as a result of cardiac arrest as Doctor Bamiji told us, NO. His heart gave way to so much excitement at the news of the death of Mustapha. He saw this world last when he got to know that a man who had tormented his life so much, that had made him smell the other side of life was dead. You know what it’s like to be that happy at the death of someone?’ she asked then sneered
‘it’s like when Abacha died. Nigerians were happy. You know it don’t you? You must have read it in one of your books; but you didn’t learn how to be sensitive. You never learnt from history and so you bumped into this temporary façade called love.’

All these she said to a sobbing little body. A little body that harboured a bright mind but a large heart that Mama had always known would be her undoing. She was just like her father, too soft, too open and trusting people without caution. Life was hard, she, Mama was hard. To rule the world, you had to be. There were no two ways about it.

Mama’s philosophy had helped her train six children; what with the money she had fought for after her husband’s death? Relatives who had been ashamed to cross their front steps suddenly became men who ordered her out of the house her money had built its foundation.  Five sessions in court and she had won the case. The race was not to the swiftest but to the diehard man ready to bite fingers that held down his legs on the ladder of success. If possible, chop them off. Mama did not mind.

And so, it was no wonder that her daughter’s connection with  the son of a man who had made life unbearable for her father and who miraculously, had been poisoned by a Good Samaritan who was possibly one of the various victims, dazed her. Thus, she said without thinking twice,
‘I have trained you all and I expect good returns. I toiled and expect good success! But if you decide to stick to this enterprise and refuse to heed  to your mother’s warnings as your children will do to you, you cease to be my daughter!’ with that she left and slammed the door that still creaked from the impact.

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On the Journey to Self-preservation👉 The First Calling

Today, i have found what has made me boyfriendless over the years. It itches me as walk, spreads through my body like wild fire in harmatan. It has made me become more cautious, careful and prude.

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Prude is the word. I cannot look into the eyes of a man and feel at ease anymore. The heaving of my chest at the smell of masculinity lets something in me spark that i try feverishly to restrain. If i become one of those who faces stare in cold walls of dark castles; then, maybe my fight would not be in vain.
At 12, I remember running an errand for ma. She held out a note and thrust under my armpit, the already-finished customer’s cloth. I rushed off, as children were wont to do then and got to the house, few metres down the street. The young man who opened the gate, was to my eyes, an uncle as we were asked to call every older man, not old enough to be one’s father. Thus, when i saw him, i said,’Uncle, i am looking for Mrs. Eniade.’ He looked at me in a queer manner, one that gave me shivers and even as i pen this down, still does.
I was walked into the big parlour, gave the cloth to the gigantic woman slowly munching on some green apples and then, i turned my back to leave. I was almost at the gate when i hear a call from behind. Turning, it was the biggest mistake of my life as i hit my newly-grown breast-chest on the wall to which the gate was attached. ‘Kaii!’ I almost spat out. I checked myself quickly as the queer-faced young man moved towards me and i became composed. I was a lady, he was the man.
He came towards me, smiled winked and said,’ why don’t i walk you to your house?’

(“The second coming” is the next episode)

The Sister

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THE SISTER

The air was moist and momentary blasts of hot air saturated the woman. She picked up her already moist handkerchief and squeezed it before using it to mop her face. The noise playing behind the driver irritated her. She got a quick look. It was those passengers who delighted in making life miserable for their fellow man. ‘STOP PLAYING THAT SILLY MUSIC AND SWITCH OFF THE… THE (she got a closer look) UGLY LOOKING PHONE!’ Everyone stared at her but she maintained the gaze. Many thought the usual thing. It was possible she was under an intense psychological problem. They all asked the culprit to switch off his phone and with assuring eyes, a man nodded that it was okay. She rolled her eyes and looked out the window.

The bus stopped, she alighted and headed towards the train station with the burden on her head. ‘iyaibeji, careful over there, the railing is slippery.’ someone cautioned. She smiled her thanks and held onto the wooden rail then climbed the steps gingerly and sighed when she reached the platform. She collected her ticket of N150 at the ticket point and showed the ticket to the checker who must have seen it being handed over to her. ‘hanhan, move jor. No press the tin for my face’ he said. She sucked her teeth and spat into the grass then tottered towards the train. Her first impulse was to turn away and look for another alternative but she had no choice. She had no problem. Pregnant women always got a place to seat. She walked down the aisle and everywhere was full since it was occupied by tickets representing vague passengers. She was sweating heavily now and it was no use mopping her face then she heard a beckon that sent airs of relief saturating her body in the midst of the treacherous heat. ‘iyaibeji, come and sit here!’ ‘ha, thanks a lot sir. See as I’m sweating and it’s only the tickets that get to sit.’ The man nodded.’ Abi, even the heat is just unbearable. They just use these fans for decoration.’ He added and nodded towards the grease-filled fans. She hmmnned and resettled in her sit, waiting for the train to blare its horns and move towards Ebutemeta junction.

Sweaty bodies, smelly ones and injured ones were occupants of the train. A few number of clean bodies sent a faint aroma of hope and she savoured each moment passionately. Although she appreciated the kindness of the man beside her, the thick smell from his mouth made her regret accepting his invitation to sit beside. She was acquainted with it at first when he talked about the fans and she hoped he wouldn’t talk anymore but the usual discussions in the cramped train excited him and she had to endure the stiffening smell. Everything nauseated her. She wanted to throw up; the impulse was high but she checked herself. Dupe had taught her a technique she must have read from stupid books. The fear would ease away as it came. She smiled, her pretty sister with her dimpled cheeks. ‘Thank God for that job of hers. At least, our palms won’t be dry anymore’ she thought aloud. ‘What?’ the man asked. She shook her head. Her waiting was not in vain. God’s time indeed was the best. A familiar smell came from her neighbor, she averted her face. He was itching for a conversation but the feeling wasn’t mutual.

The train stopped mid-way. The news spread quickly throughout the coaches. A boy had fallen off the moving train and was chopped underneath the train. People shook with terror: women were aggrieved with maternal sorrow. Different versions sprung up but the ‘surest’ she heard from the checker walking around was that the young man had found no space and sat on the iron pedals enjoying the evening breeze. He must have been enjoying the evening breeze so much that he fell asleep and fell off. Choi! She shuddered. Just like that? Humans die just like that. She eased her stuff and squeezed herself through the mass as she got to her stop.

‘E sun fun iyabeji o. E sun o.’ people adjusted for her and she squeezed her way through the mass of humans. A boy’s elbow nudged her stomach. She opened her eyes wide. ‘ ofepamini? You want to kill yourself?’ ‘ha, sorry ma.’ ‘oloshi’ she moved away not necessarily moving, she was being pushed. She couldn’t control herself, the current of humans propelled her forward, she plunged her hand towards the bannister, it did not reach it. She was being pushed, harder this time. ‘ Let me alight carefully!’ she screamed. Her pleas fell on ears struggling to hear each other’s complaint and seeking adequate replies. She lunged forward and was caught by the granite-bed. Her frame landed gently and her stomach plummeted to the piercing made by the thick iron beside the rail tracks. Blood splashed onto the faces of the onlookers. The train moved, her legs wobbled under its bosom and every scent of life vanished from her. It moved on and carried the pieces of her body, leaving behind the trunk-less corpse of Olurombi.