A Walk in the Night

With an air of a destination in mind, I faded into the night with my touch light handy for easy movement through the darkness; but the darkness itself was so thick that even my touch light met no match in making out a reflection from the night. The moon had not shown its face, and the darkness was so intense. So I moved like a sheep lost wandering, seeking greener pastures. At a time I panicked with the reality of being unable to locate my way forward nor backwards, but then a ray of hope lay in the belief that any native of Kwari finding me would know I was the only stranger in town, and would guide me through the night’s frustrating darkness.

I had gotten used to having street lights, shop lights or traders show some light at nightfall, helping out with the blackout, but in no time had I witnessed the night pictured in its real state of thick darkness and horror, like tonight. Oh! I contemplated quietly to myself. Had I had known, I would have slept soundly like a dove and buried my eyes safely in my pillow. But then my quest for adventure even in the night time, had brought me out from my safe fortress, to the true picture of the night, previously modernized and painted like the daytime in modern day cities of the world.

Wandering into the night, I must have lost focus of my destination and tonight’s mission, with the thought of actually being lost and wandering alone down the road. For at most times, I would find myself walking through grains of groundnuts placed at the edge of the road, by some farmers awaiting tomorrow’s market day, then I would realize almost immediately that I had walked away from the pathway.

Tonight, I had stepped out from my apartment with an intention of meeting with Joe at his place. But then, a walking task I had considered no big deal had suddenly become a bigger deal. For in the brightness of daylight I would easily walk through some kilometers to Joe’s place, gazing admirably to natural sights and scenery. So now it’s beginning to dawn on me clearer. Maybe viewing nature’s natural presence in the daytime, had guided me through these parts to and fro.

Unconsciously, I gazed at the point in my right, in which I usually sighted the mountain, but then could not picture its presence in the darkness. I knew Joe’s house was somewhere along the main road, and so I journeyed through a path which I guessed might be it. I sighted something that looked like the figure of a young man, and walked straight towards him. He himself had sighted me from the close range and was waiting for me to draw near.

“Have you seen Joe?” I enquired sharply, looking at him with an eye of uncertainty, as though bewildered on if he was the right man to ask. “Just follow the sound of music over there, you’ll meet him at where it’s being played”, he replied, at almost a swift second. “Thank you very much!” I responded, much grateful as I turned.

It was at that moment I realized a gyration song had been jamming at a little distance from where I was, somewhere along the main road. So I attuned my ears forthwith, to get the exact location. I began moving very calmly, making good use of my sense of hearing in the darkness. It was almost as though I was being controlled by rhythm, and was moving uncontrollably to its wishes.

As I moved closer, the music soon became louder and clearer, making me realize I was getting closer to where its speakers were mounted and more so to the source of its echo. I finally came upon a joint where drinks and some other household items were sold. From its bright light came the music and as I walked through the open space where young men were dancing happily, I was quick to spot Joe seated in the company of a man at a bench close to the entrance. Henceforth, I walked towards him, at where he was seated.

“Ah! My good friend, I was just thinking of how to come get you before you came”, Joe said, with a smile lit all over his face as he did. “I need to charge my phone”, I informed, making my foremost intention of stepping out known to him, before it slipped away. “Let me have it then”, he beckoned, walking into the shop anon to charge the phone and coming back afterwards.

As we sat, he introduced me to the man as the visiting corper, and he in turn shared good pleasantries. And as I watched the dance floor from where the boys were catching their flexible fun in wonderful dance steps, I couldn’t help but conclude that everyone from this village was born with the invisible accompaniment of a talented dance tutor. These boys knew just how to twist their bodies to rhyme perfectly with the musical vibes blaring in from the speakers. It was indeed an open-square nightclub which I was made to understand by Joe.

“We always hangout here most nights”, he said. “They dance so well”, I followed. “You mean these boys?” “Yeah!” “Ah, they are always happy dancing away the stress of the day.”

The DJ who happened to be the shop-keeper played some good Cameroonian Makosa jams, and these boys danced so perfectly to this none traditional dance step as though they had been shipped in from Cameroon themselves. The girls in Kwari were somewhat forbidden from dancing in such public places, and so it was no surprise when only the boys were sighted dancing all over the floor of the flexible spinning.

As they danced, young men entering the open-square would stop to offer me a handshake and an ensuing greeting. “Good evening sir”, they would greet, as they offered me their handshake. “How was today?” A few were quick to ask. “Very fine, thank you!” I would stress, receiving their hands in return. In such times, I was quick to notice that men from Kwari had hands that were roughly hard. I guess it was probably because they all grew up as hardworking farmers. And it became so obvious to me because it intimidated my hands that were as soft as rubber. As they shook my hand, they would place their right fingers in their chest; a sincere sign indicating their greetings were sent forth straight from their heart.

At once, in that moment of attuned concentration, the DJ quickly changed the music to a variety usually called Warri-based, where I come from, placing upon me a sense of belonging, as though I was in my Waffi, ‘Area’, which was the popular name they called it. Then in previous like-manner of dance artistry, the young men danced in the exciting manner of this home-based trend of music, which I myself could never boast of being a skilled performer.

Watching them dance naturally, was indeed a raw powerful entertainment, which could not be sought peacefully anywhere back home. And indeed, it was so appealing seeing them twist and twirl, up and down, back and forth, and by so doing, giving the rhythm the representational perfection it solely deserved.



15 thoughts on “A Walk in the Night” by Dowell Oba (@dowell)

  1. “With an air of a destination in mind” I don’t think this sentence is correct…I think something simpler; like ‘with my destination in mind’…you dig?

    ” I faded into the night with my touch light handy for easy movement through the darkness; but the darkness itself was so thick that even my touch light met no match in making out a reflection from the night. The moon had not shown its face, and the darkness was so intense. So I moved like a sheep lost wandering, seeking greener pastures. At a time I panicked with the reality of being unable to locate my way forward nor backwards, but then a ray of hope lay in the belief that any native of Kwari finding me would know I was the only stranger in town, and would guide me through the night’s frustrating darkness.”

    This and some others are quite complex sentences. I think there was/are simpler ways you can say the exact same thing. I think you were trying to wax poetic; but it didn’t work – at least not for me.

    “He himself had sighted me from the close range and was waiting for me to draw near.” Why the use of ‘himself’…won’t it have been a lot simpler to just say ‘he had sighted me’?

    Interesting story…I think it can be a lot better sha.

    1. @Seun, something tells me you have a problem with my style and would go on quoting the entire work if given a chance. But then it remains a writing style my brother.

      The first sentence ever remains correct because it meant with a self assurance of a destination in mind. When you air, don’t you speak? I wasn’t referring to the breeze, if you think that’s the one I mean. Thanks for finding it interesting, though.

      1. @Dowell Oba, I dont see any reason to suggest that @Seun-Odukoya has a problem with this piece. He is so on point on every issue here…it is your problem if you trash it. Would always haunt your works if you throw away good reviews.
        This is not a great piece. The first four paragraphs are what? On night…darkness? What exactly?
        What was the point of the work? Okay… A walk in the night…I have read Alex La-guma and it has a real head and tail…
        And check the second dialogue in the story… all told in one line.
        Rework this piece, please.

      2. Haba @Dowell

        This I DID NOT expect from you. Seems you cannot handle honest criticism.

        I apologise. Why would I have a problem with the piece? I only mentioned things I deemed wrong with it.

        No vex o!

        Don’t worry. You don’t need me to comment on your stuff.

        1. Lol @Seun, it hasn’t come to that now! I remain humble. Just snapped in the unfamiliar. Now I’m wiser. So sorry!

  2. Personally, I don’t ‘dig’ this story. You started out with a touch of mystery and at the point when I’m waitinG for you to unveil it, I find dance. At that point, you lost me. You can work on it though.

  3. Thanks guys! I’ve taken all the points. This one was a series of adventure stories of a corper on arrival to his post. It wasn’t written with the intention of a single short story.

    I’ll work on it and do more of posting single stories with a straight forward message. Cheers!

  4. I reserve my comments. Looking at the response @Seun-Odukoya got, don’t think I need to point out same issues.
    But I will say this – it’s ‘torch light” not ‘touch light”.

    1. Error noted, @Ife!

  5. Coming from someone who keeps correcting others, your own effort is dismal.
    I expected better.
    The beauty in Achebe is the simplicity and shortness of his sentences.
    Stop trying to impress. Writing should flow,it shouldn’t be forced.

    And what exactly were you writing about?

    1. Appreciate your reference @kaycee. I’ll strive for good story telling when I have the chance to tell a good one with much simplicity. Totally not easy practically must confess.

  6. Oh dowell!!!!!. You got me lost on this one. Come on. I was expecting a reward for the suspense. Well, just take the corrections above.

    And please, don’t be in a hurry to comment or reply. Critically analyse whatever comments you get before you trash them. Sometimes, even if you don’t agree with them, just hush and agree with the ones you want to take. I think seun’s comment makes a whole lotta sense. Your reply was just too…. Damn!!

    1. @gooseberry thanks o for being patient with my wrong outburst. The bitter truth is that I was brainwashed by a white audience into believing this write-up is a hit. So that’s why I was confused at first.

      So now having analysed it deeper, I’ve come to see that @Seun was totally right, no doubt. And now I can believe the white folks were fascinated I was writing about Africa they’ve never been. lol!

      I’ve learnt a valuable lesson from all this though. And in adopting the short story genre to my gifts I’ll really have to take it one step at a time and remain a devoted pupil ever ready for his bom-bom to be smacked with honest criticism.

      Thanks everyone. And@Ife Watson, sorry for making you reserved to reveal.

  7. Honestly, I saw more errors in d first 3 lines than I would have cared to see.
    And as for the story…Meh.
    Not only did I not expect the above outburst from U, but I didn’t expect this kind of story from U.

    1. @Raymond, the story is a memoir o. I guess that’s why it’s so bad. And more so I’m not much of a story person. Just started writing stories last two years every once in a while, and this one was written in those earlier trials in 2010. I do more of poems, articles and reviews. Sorry for disappointing.

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