Night had taken full control and crept deeper along its path. Lights out while darkness cast a blanket over the world. Smoothness of the time also had clamped all eyes with sleep as silence held the entire surface in cold grips. Whispers at this hour could speak loudly to ears. Peace mounted upon the room by night pushed eyes farther with the spell. The entire human body as well was drugged with loads of it that only a strong stir would wake it. And like in death, the pairing between body and spirit was ruptured_ the body rested while the spirit wandered.
I saw myself in a place other than the four-walled shelter. In another world relatively with a promising outlook_ Day eclipsed every shade, stretching light over a vast land that opened arms to emptiness. Herein, buildings made marks at fewer spots. Grasses raised themselves uniformly into carpet and decorated the space unoccupied with green looks. Length and breadth respected this pattern and more obvious when air visited them. Above their heads stood ears dancing along with waves to carve themselves as treat before watchful eyes. The light wind played a song known to them alone. From midriff, they bent over and halfway to the earth, shook the beads round their tiny necks but returned to their feet the next moment.
I was dazed with the understanding between them; current would not push them to breaking point and they would stand for another round just as it left them. They moved the way of sea waters against wavelength. Eyes busied at them and the dance went on to hold them spellbound. A tree which supported my weight with trunk soon joined me. Leaves sewed up with webs which covered some naked branches waved and clapped each time the light wind combed through the grasses. A hand of applause it seemed.
Gazes ignored passers-by, glued at the demonstration.
Later, a voice approached me from behind and called my attention and broke the cord held by tight hands. ‘Hello’, it greeted and went dead thereafter. A familiar undertone followed the voice, lifted the being in me. I must have heard it before. But ears now in u-curves tried to shun it. ‘Hello’, it rose again for a response. A shrilling whisper ran through my hearing down to the spine.
First, the movement touched me wakefully then daunted my spirit. The caller was not unknown. My heart quaked terribly inside as his steps grew bolder, seemed to have been in slumber for long and now awake. It thrust its beats ahead of my breadth. My lips lost their waters as the rising tension had its way. I felt sweats forming ridges on my brow then tore a line down in chains. A quick rub of hand cleared the face.
Getting closer, the footfalls ceased the air and resounded to my heart with thuds. Inch by inch, the steps came over and erected his manly posture before me and a slant shadow across the grasses. A sudden rush of air filled me up to the throat, choking and grasping words about to leave me. They had hovered and packed themselves at the rim within my mouth but found the gateway shut. I could not vomit them. Feelings which overwhelmed me scolded them back.
His eyes against mine, I threw glances around and later stuck them at his black shoes. A well-polished pair of shoes tells how much a man is refined. He was full of it. Arrested by his bearing, pressure underneath broke the earthly screed on which the grasses planted themselves and forced them inside. And he cared less as the land he stood upon protested. I would have intervened or rather said something but had just lost the will. Tempest inside denied me the power. Secondly, in another thought, it was needless to offer a word on their behalf since they were no humans. Though they shared our existence, our humanity was not extended to them. I could be declared insane doing so. Will I tell him to stand in the air?
His next word as I guessed was to seek for my name. I smelled it from his eager-ravished voice or maybe from mind vetting mind. He did so once, the first time he came to me, with a tone rich in splendour, warmth and fragility. But I left him surprised, with nothing to tame his desires. A sense, the sixth one I guessed admonished me to flee, away from ‘the path whose end is destructive’. I defeated the urge roaring to reply him. Silence the moment assisted me to overcome his dilemma. Impulses with unseen hands and strength as tough as a hurricane lifted me to my feet and scooped me away.
After, inner trouble kept me restive. I lost count the number of times I relived this encounter before day clocked to an end. I had kept things about me from inquisitive ones like him many times but his case seemed very strange. It made a sticking mark that was hard to erase by events that came after. Why hold on to thoughts about him? That night, I could not sleep. His face came alive like stars to sky before the eyes of my mind to keep me awake. Sleep plodded to my rescue hours after being wearied with wakefulness.
Currently I was passing through those disturbances again. I had the same twitches like before, persuading me to leave the scene. ‘Flee, flee’, my heart thumped. But he blocked the exit. Will he stop me when I jump to my feet and make a way beside him? I lost clue on what to do. Silence broke out to keep me in suspense.
‘Nkeiru, what are you doing here alone?’ He defied my guess. Who told him my name? The name punctured the air and visited me with a tickling sensation, cutting down the indifference housed by me. Smiles slithered through my lips, saturated the heart and summoned another spirit, a benign one. I raised a look, climbed to his face (an act hard to explain how it happened) and as if a cowl was removed over him and a strap over my eyes, his broad face descended convincingly on me. He was very familiar but totally different from whom I thought him to be. It was my course mate, Jude. Sanity then embraced me since it was not him.
‘Jude, what are you doing here?’ My eyes hopped at him and the rush woke me up before he could respond.
Day had broken out from tail of the night and prodded eyes with its significance. Gradually, it unrolled tales gathered by it to my feeble mind. The room now wore a bright look as events of the night passed by one after another like pages flipped before vigilant glares. Muscles of the eyes now jolted out of concern than reflex. What does this mean? What the dream portended was very uncertain and sapped more of my energy while thinking in the direction. Thoughts rendered help, overhauled themselves still no satisfactory answer doused the hunger within.
Fully awake, I lay on the bed with weight of a log sat beside a smouldering coal and beaten with moisture from heat. I was ridden with sweats definitely generated during night hours and the part under collected to its fill. If said to be a child, she would race down at first sight to change her wet pants. Everyone treats bedwetting with hate. A long time ago when I found myself in such a mess, I quickly changed the underwear and buried it among cloths piled in a basket. But days after, a peculiar and breath-stifling odour emerged to announce my sin. Mama then took over_ lashing with me with words and prodding cheeks with fingers for a cease fire. She spared no time trailing the underwear with stretched nose and throwing it above land. A fan in sentry position went into business after a tap from a finger and strangled the old ventilation and supported life with a fresh one.
But here I was staring at the one above. Hung by the neck, it returned my weak stares and remained unmoved by my agony. If it was not so, it should have spun generously with the three flat arms to dry me up. I was supine on the bed, hands woven together rested on my chest, effortlessly taking counts of rhythms from chambers beneath. ‘Nkeruika (future begets greatness)’, I drew my name to length in a subtle tone. And as I did, the meaning highlighted gently inwards to reinforce the belief that future was packed with great treats. I shall see what tomorrow has in storage. Hopefully it was a desire. A nod of head agreed to it. An attempt to overcome worries of the unknown rooted in the dream.
Shortly after, a doubting spirit in a grain size rose to smudge the expectation. I was drawn fro and to between faith and fear. And both disagreed with their propositions about my dream, ended up inviting me to make a choice. I was taken into a distance for an insightful collation of meaning to the dream to assuage the strained mind. My eyes must have travelled along with me that I almost lost grab of events nearby. Movement on this path was solitary and calm.
And she barked and brought me back. ‘Haaa, haaa, haaa’, a voice fired like a gunshot and walls diffused it into din to catch its target. It had me withdrawn from the edge where awareness was created half-wholly. Next, I heard a brisk-rough grin touring over me. And as I turned, it was not a grin but laughter, shrieking down to earth like from a hilltop. She stood close enough to coil a hand over shoulders of the bedstead. Her head tipped forward, zealously into the space between us. Shade from her posture intervened, merged with brightness on corners to make a silhouette. It looked as if the room was closing in on me and gradually ceasing life out of me.
‘Please, allow me breathe’.
I knew she would make some derogatory comments. Already, her eyes were persuading her lips dithering. She discontinued but the eyes pestered for more. Bags under them could not bear the weight and hence, let it out. She winked at me smilingly.
‘Your bed is lonely’, I spoke first to stall the thoughts in her head.
‘And yours is getting warmer’.
A twin-iron bed, one built on another for two students had enough room for each. The one above was hers. School made it a rule. While the ‘seniors’ stay up, the ‘juniors’ stay below.
‘How long has she been around’, my mind trotted.
She was up very early in the morning and slunk away like a snake through a slit. I had opened my drowsy eyes lopsidedly when she made a jump down but fixed them back after. She must have noticed those mutters.
‘You finally caved in’, she blinked with a sly.
‘Gave in?’ I rejoined.
‘No, c-a-v-e-d in’, she handed out a correction note.
Most times, her sentences were shrouded in mystery. She is fast with speech and bites of phonetics, strong to ear like teeth on a barely-cooked meat made it worse. She plunged a look at me then strained it to warm the mind with the subject. Still it was a blind spot. I broadened the flesh round the eyes to say, ‘Eehee?’ That was asking her to say something, one she prepared herself for.
Her stares now would have driven in to pierce through my skull if to say they were built with pointed ends. Though lighted up with smiles, I found them boring. She persisted and soon they started to have heavy impact on me. Cables in my head suddenly tightened up like nuts to bolts and hastened their breaths. The drive created imbalance throughout the entire region to sting me. I slowed down thoughts which streamed and twisted into loops to guess what her next words would be. And knocks in my head shielded their swords and relieved me of load.
I watched on in silence, honing my blunt mouth for an immediate offensive. It would be my words against hers. A woman’s strength is her utterances as people say.
Suddenly, she lowered a hand towards me, to the backside and strummed my ribs proficiently as if they were twines on a guitar. Music played out and the part danced to the tunes and littered sparks across my face. But the strokes continued.
‘Cynthia, ooohhhmmm’, I struggled as the whole body squirmed with dancing steps.
‘Don’t worry…’she paused. Continuing, she stuttered with the start, ‘He-e-h-e will soon take over from me’.
Her stammer was deliberate, meant to make an emphasis. She followed it with a grabbing look. I muted every feeling inside and ignored what she intended.
‘Nkeiru, you shouldn’t hide a thing like this from me. I was there a long time ago’.
‘What is it?’
‘What is his name, the guy who cleft to your thoughts?’
‘Hmmm’, I heaved surprisingly. ‘A guy (nwoke kwa)? I gulped in air. ‘I won’t do relationship on a campus’.
My pulse flared with the air that left the nostrils. Part of me doubted me.
‘Okay, at home. Now you are talking’.
She has a quick way of turning one’s words against oneself. It works like magic for her. She deserves a degree there