‘Annie Shapiro?’ Dare muttered to himself almost in anger. He couldn’t believe this was all he had been excited about. Rushing home like his life depended on it. Taking the words of a senile old man seriously was a record low in his gullibility scale.
He tossed the paper away.
Why don’t you google it? A voice prodded him as his fingers immediately started tapping on his phone like it was on auto-response to the voice’s instruction.
He would not be too surprised if the search generated some results, as it seemed like every search generated results on google. he had one time mischievously searched for babantin, a word he just cooked up but was thoroughly shocked and amused to see results for babantin.
Just like he envisaged, google had results for Annie Shapiro.
He scrolled on the search results spread out on his phone screen, moving the cursor to the first result and tapping on the touch-pad.
He was held spell-bound by the story of the woman so named, who had been in coma for thirty years.
So the old man wasn’t senile afterall, he thought to himself as he eyes ran down the length of the story.
Was his grandpa ever in a coma?
He rolled restlessly on the bed, the question gnawing at his heart. He tried to kill it by replacing it with thoughts about his days’ tasks but the question just wouldn’t die. It was as stubborn as a cockroach.
Dare shot up from his bed, the question burning him up to his feet. He had to get answers.
He had an option to wait for his parents to come back from their outing and ask them if grandpa had ever been in a coma but something he couldn’t place a finger on caused an urgency in his spirit.
He was restless.
He grabbed the keys to the car and made out of his room.
‘Going somewhere bro?’
‘Yeah, I forgot something at grandpa’s place,’ he replied his younger brother, Kunle, who was feasting so early on a Saturday morning.
‘This peanut butter is super!’ He heard Kunle say, not sure if it was a dialogue with him or the bread. That boy likes food, he thought to himself as he drove out of the house.
Saturday morning was not such a bad time to drive as traffic was light on both his side of the road and on the return journey, even though his speed accounted mainly for his quick arrival at his grandparents place.
‘Dare, you’re here,’ the old woman said, momentarily taking a break from her survey of the ankara prints littered on the floor.
‘Yes ma,’ he answered. She didn’t look surprised seeing him. ‘This one is much finer grandma,’ he said picking up one of the more colourfully designed ankara prints from the floor.
‘That’s the same thing your grandfather chose but I don’t trust his eyes anymore,’ she said grinning mischievously. ‘Especially when he’s not wearing his glasses.’
‘He says you forgot something and that you should meet him at the garden when you come back,’ the old lady said, almost hurrying him away with her words. ‘I wonder what you two are up to?’
Dare’s smile was still plastered on his face, but his eyes bore some bit of shock and surprise.
How did his grandpa know he would come back?
The day was becoming really interesting.
‘Sit down,’ the old man said.
The words sounded rehearsed.
Dare sat down, ‘how did you know I would come back?’ He asked when he finally found his voice.
‘Make that the last question,’ the old man said, his eyes twinkling with excitement again as his face creased into a smile.
‘Grandpa, were you ever in a coma?’
‘Yes…and no’ the gravelly voice replied. The old man settled into his chair and cleared his voice.
Dare sat still, staring at his grandpa with rapt attention like his life depended on it. Unlike the first visit, he was in no hurry to leave until his curiosity was satisfied.
‘I became an urban and regional planner because that was the course I could get in the university,’ the old man started. ‘Graduated with a fantastic grade and got employed in the ministry of lands and survey, where I grew to be the permanent secretary, having a successful career in quotes.’ The old man continued, his eyes painted in the colours of sorrow.
Dare was quiet, paying full attention to every word being spoken by his grandpa.
‘I never learnt to fly a plane,’ the old man said with a full dose of regret. ‘I have never even seen a cockpit in all of my eighty years on earth. As an old man, I don’t seem to know what I did with my life, I can’t find a similarity between who I am now and who I dreamt to be. I didn’t play the guitar for my children because I never learnt how to play and I didn’t play for my grandchildren either.’
‘It makes sense to me right now that all the busy-ness of life doesn’t matter if we’re not living in our purpose. I woke up old and I don’t want the same thing happening to my grandson.’
‘Its not that bad, is it?’ Dare asked, in a weak attempt at consoling the old man.
‘Its the worst thing that can happen to a human being,’ the old man replied, a tear rolling down his cheek. ‘The only way I could recognise I was the same person was by the unchanging love for my wife, your grandmother.’ He said almost tearfully but with a smile on his face. ‘Find your purpose and live it my boy, don’t wake up old.’
Hmmn, Dare breathed almost too loudly. Annie Shapiro made sense to him now. His life opened up before his own eyes. He was tottering on the edge of a coma. ‘So how did you know I would come back? What if I didn’t come back, would you have let me miss such a valuable lesson?’ He asked with eyes filled with worry and concern.
The old man smiled. He was obviously pleased to have touched the heart of his grandson. ‘These days everything has a sequel…every movie has a part two. You heard about my dreams in part one, I just knew you would come back for the part two. I know technology is very advanced now but I still don’t think google can tell you what’s on my mind yet…I’ll be dead and gone before that happens.’ The old man laughed, his voice dry but happy.
Dare laughed too. ‘Grandpa, some movie franchises have part three and others even stretch to six, where does this end?’
The old man reached to the side of his chair and picked up a guitar dressed in a jacket, unzipped the jacket, and took out the guitar.
Dare watched as he plucked on the strings, his fingers surprisingly firm on the instrument.
His eyes closed, with a smile on his face as his fingers seduced the music out from the guitar. It was an expression of bliss.
The music sounded familiar, but Dare couldn’t place a finger on it, and just then it clicked, just at the point the melody went, you may sa.ay I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…
John Lennon’s ‘Imagine.’
The old man finally learnt how to play the guitar and here he was playing a tune for his grandchild.
‘Dreams do come true,’ Dare muttered to himself.
‘When you’re awake,’ the old man replied, his concentration still locked on his music.
Dare was caught off guard by his grandpa’s response as he didn’t know he had spoken loud enough to another’s hearing.
‘Stay awake my boy,’ the old man said as he struck the last note of the song. ‘Dreams only come true when you’re awake.’
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