by Aoiri Obaigbo
If it wasn’t such an insane thought, I’d say I could feel the presence of the risen sun right between my eyes as if the window was open. A rather acute feeling. Reminded me of the day, I glanced the sun into a speedy driver’s eyes and caused him to skid off the bend.
It was rather an anti-climax when his sorry ass didn’t die because the sabotee was wearing a seat belt.
Not a huge waste of prank though. On this same bed of ours, I listened to my stupid neighbours doing their usual ignorant post-mortem on my failed attempt to cause my first death. The man did break a number of bones and spilled a pint or two of blood on the scene.
The beauty of the failure was that no one believed the man caught a well-timed reflection of the sun in his eyes. My neighbours blamed his speed, and some concluded the driver must have been high. That was hilarious and quite made up for my disappointment.
They clattered idly and made up ridiculous stories about the man’s story. Most hilarious was Mama Destiny, who said the man must have been slaughtered, fried and eaten up at night by witches in their coven.
“Many people you see mincing up and down the streets,” she declared with that shrill voice of hers, “have been cooked in deep, black pots in the coven and totally consumed. Even their marrows, all gnawed up by toothless old women who refuse to die.”
You can always bank on a quarrel on this street of mine. That last bit of the tale was a barb. And the oldest woman in the street wasn’t one to let a snide remark pass.
“Who else can tell so accurate a story of what witches do in their coven, but a witch? Mama Destiny,” the shrunken bag of bones yelled. “Start confessing. So, when you bundle your bastards to night vigil on Fridays, it’s to fry other people’s children. Confess, you witch from Igbo land.”
“Guilty conscience!” There’s always something wooden about Mama Destiny’s clapping, whether she is clapping to praise her half-deaf god or clapping to drown her neighbour’s voice. “I didn’t mention anybody’s name. All your mates are in the grave, but you’re here burying your grandchildren, you old hag!”
No use trying to make sense of my neighbours most of the time. Especially when they quarrel. They are dramatic, episodic and brutal with their tongues.
To my surprise — no, shock — the morning was rather silent. If it wasn’t so insane, I’d imagine I’d lost my ears. I’ve been wondering just that. It’s impossible to imagine our folks have suddenly decided there’s nothing worth quarrelling about this morning. If nothing else, there should be combative traders and megaphone preachers cursing the hell out of their presumed enemies.
The silence was the first indication something was amiss. Could everyone have been raptured? Hahaha. Even if there were such a thing as rapture, most of my neighbours would be left behind, I’m sure. Didn’t they say folks needed to be loving, just and truthful? Well, you’d be a fool to be truthful here. You’d be insane to be just or loving.
Our heroes here are the violent and the crooked. Those who brought home money from God knows where, squandered it, got broke and gambled until they robbed again.
Anyway, the entire street wouldn’t just get caught up in the air, just like that. I mean, I didn’t just learn wickedness from myself. I took a leaf from several neighbours to become the book of evil that folks say I am.
About time, I rose to investigate what’s causing the weirdness around me. Why am I finding it impossible to close my eyes? Why can’t I seem to feel my hands and legs and can’t take my favourite positions on the bed?
Wait a moment. Was I sensing thermal radiation between my eyes or what? Intuitively, I stuck out my tongue and could’ve sworn I tasted the scent of Mother’s egusi soup approaching. That doesn’t even make sense. Since when? I mean, tasting smell doesn’t add up, does it?
Placing my jaw against the bed, I felt the vibration of someone approaching, and that saved my life. I saw my brother enter the room. For no reason known to me, his eyes widened in terror, he screamed, tossed the pot of egusi at me and bolted away.
I can’t fathom how I mustered the agility to evade the flying hot pot of soup and why my own goody two-shoes brother could suddenly turn murderous.
My problems had only just began. I could feel several feet pounding against the floor, getting closer, those inexplicable thermal signals striking me around my third eye.
This has got to be a dream, I concluded. How else can I explain being unable to find my feet? I mean...
Hold on, folks! They are throwing things at me, obviously aiming to kill me. Wow, I’ve got to wake up now. Why am I feeling so comfortable slithering around in the clustered space under the bed?
I can see their feet. My mother’s feet included. Can’t she recognise her own son? Wow! WHAT HAPPENED TO MY VOICE? I can't speak.
Missiles came flying blindly under the bed. Sticks, poles, machetes, these people weren’t joking with me. I had to wake up from this nightmare or, at least, stay alive. I sneaked behind Mother’s “chop cupboard.” That worked.
They were still focused on the space under the bed. My situation was totally bewildering. I sneaked behind the curtain and climbed with unfamiliar agility to the window.
My neighbours must have seen the curtain move, because I sensed danger at once and became desperate. Yes, I would bite if anyone got in my way. I sallied forth towards my only option. My neighbours all panicked and got in each other’s way, and I slipped out.
Our corridor was rather long, so I slid into Mama Destiny’s room. I panicked. There was a mirror. I saw a snake in the mirror and tried to retreat from it. That’s when it stuck me: snakie and I were one and the same.
I regretted at once the life I had lived since turning thirteen. But regret was rather secondary at that moment. My neighbours had worked out where I was; my life was on the line. I had to find my path to the nearest bush. And I had no idea what gods snakes prayed to.
Copyright © 2020 by Aoiri Obaigbo