‘Madam that’s how you just left us; well done o. Bros good evening o’ a female voice said
‘I’m sorry Esther; I lost track of time. Wait for me now’ Anaya said. She turned to Abel. ‘Where are you headed?’
‘School area. But you don’t mind if I walk you?’
‘No I don’t. But, I stay at Benue road; not far from here. Won’t it be an inconvenience finding your way?’
‘No. Besides it isn’t that late and I don’t think we are done talking’
‘True. Any other guesses on who I might be?’
‘I’m out of guesses. Do you also plan on leaving the country?’
‘I fear that is best option these days. Everyone I know is leaving and I won’t be doing it because they are, I just feel their reasons will become mine soon enough.’
‘You don’t believe things might change?’
‘I don’t know. Hope is a dangerous thing for someone like me to have’
‘That’s enough revealing for first times don’t you think?
‘We haven’t even started’
‘oshey, Badass’ she said smiling.
Darkness enveloped their surroundings with the moon shining in its half form. It reflected a faint light that cast shadows for a long stretch of the road. They switched on lights on their phones to make out the road in front of them. Chatter from people ahead of them echoed through the night. They approached a bend that snaked to a road swallowed by darkness. The moon shone on the silhouettes of houses shaded by the trees. It was their compass, reflecting on their long shadows as they approached a block of flat close to the road
‘So, what matters to you?’ he asked
‘I don’t know I’m redefining it; you?’
‘Family, good friends and money. Money is beginning to matter to me.’
‘How do you mean?’
‘Don’t you see how it is the only thing we truly worship?’
‘And in finding it you want to lose yourself?’
‘I need it to survive, live, whichever.’
‘You decide what matters to you. Of course money matters; I’m just saying don’t lose yourself finding it. And we miss something vital too; good health. It’s crazy how we go about not taking a moment to be grateful. Counting your blessings is not a myth you know?’
‘Sure, one minute you’re counting your blessings, the next minute they decide to be poison.’
She let out a deep guffaw. Her cackle echoed through the night and it rang in his ears. He chuckled as his face flushed.
‘Your obviousness is so cute.’ She said
He hissed. ‘I didn’t think it was so funny’
‘Lemme guess, that has to do with a lady.’ She said tugging at his rib
‘That too shall pass. I promise. I’m meant to take notes but I’ll have to reschedule another session because we’re in front of my house.’
‘Let’s take a walk.’ He said
‘I’m tired. Maybe some other time’
They crossed the gutters and stood close to the block of flats. The footpath that led to her house could be seen faintly; the moon doing them justice.
‘I feel I should tell you this. Sometimes it’s what is in front of us that matters. Sure, we get carried away but we have to remind ourselves or be around people who will. Other times, we are all we need. I think knowing that is when our journey truly begins; because we get to see clearly and find those who are on the same path. Our time is too short not to live the best way we can, and the least you can do is be happy along the ride.’
‘I haven’t said wow this much in a while.’
‘I’m wondering where that came from because that wasn’t me’ she said and they laughed
‘I really wish you love and light. Light to guide your path and love to make the journey worthwhile’
‘I am not saying wow again’ he said ‘I definitely have to see you again. Please give me your number. Wait, what’s your name?’
‘Anaya’ she said
‘What does it mean?’
‘Wow. I imagine you have questions for him’
‘You have no idea’
She typed her digits on his phone as he looked at her. It seemed to him that she was a different person than when he first saw her. He couldn’t wait to delve into her mind imagining it will be borderless.
‘That’s it. I had a good time talking to you.’ She said
‘You have no idea. You made my week’
‘Bobo’ she said smiling
‘A hug wouldn’t be bad’ he said
‘I was hoping you would ask’ she said putting her arms around him
As their bodies touched, he felt free from everything that clogged his thoughts. He closed his eyes taking in the air around her. She smelled like a host of fragrances he knew his mind made up. She pulled from the embrace and he held her arms looking in her eyes. He pulled her in for another hug and she laughed as she collapsed on his shoulder.
‘Wow, someone is needy. Goodnight’ she said
‘Sleep well’ he said
Abel felt a bounce in his steps as he strolled from his lecture hall. His mind swam in a different ocean, one that let him breathe again. The bubbles in his mind filled his vocal chords and for the first time in a while he sang, belting out notes he didn’t think his vocal range could carry.
He was almost at his room when he heard a loud scream two rooms away from his. He heard voices in the room trying to calm the aggrieved person to no avail. He was curious, but urgent matters demanded his attention. He sat at the table by his bedside, switching on his laptop. He typed frantically, consulting books from his shelf and those strewn around him. He was on the final paragraph when someone barged into his room.
‘You no sabi knock abi?’ he said looking up from his computer. Rotimi stepped in, dragging his feet like he carried a load.
‘Wetin happen? Kazeem don kpokpo you again abi. You no sabi play anything. Sha Keep up the form make I come beat you too.’
Rotimi let out a loud hiss as he slumped to the bed, stretching out his legs in front of him.
‘What’s up?’ Abel asked, pushing his chair away from the table.
Rotimi rested his jaw on his palms and the tears in his eyes began to show. His mouth trembled as he attempted to speak. Abel moved closer to pick his words as they dropped.
‘You remember…’ he said in a whisper. His words hung in the air as he sighed. He swallowed, looking into space as if he might find the right air to mix with his words. Abel moved to hug him but stopped midway, patting his shoulder. Rotimi sniffed and cleansed his wet face with the back of his hands.
‘I no know if you- wait- you been follow her talk last night na’ Rotimi said
Abel’s eyes widened as his mind put things together. The puzzle didn’t fit and it was scrambled before it even formed.
‘Na Anaya. Ehen, the one wey you give lap dance. She killed herself last night. Wait, you follow….’
Abel saw Rotimi’s mouth move but he heard nothing. His skin crawled with something he could not place. He stood abruptly and punched the wall so hard he heard his bones crack.
‘Fuck!’ he screamed
‘Apparently, she mixed sniper with fanta. Her roommate found her early this morning when it was too late to save her.’
Abel slumped to the floor as questions stormed his mind. How could he not see it? What was he meant to see? Something, anything should have given her away.
‘She leave note or anything?’ Abel asked
‘To my knowledge; none. As per suicide, people just dey talk plenty’
‘Wetin you hear?’
‘Some people say she get extra year but na lie. Other people dey talk say her boyfriend break up with am but I still hear again say no be so. But pesin for my room come dey give me another level say na rape been cause am. Omo nobody sabi the real deal’
Abel wondered if he could ever understand what his ears picked up. He imagined the turmoil that polluted her mind as she contemplated drinking the poison. Suddenly, something riled in him. He thought she was selfish and hated her; how self absorbing it was to think only of herself. But he stopped his thoughts in its tracks. He imagined how lonely she felt among people, picturing her face as she drank the poison; the death she preferred to the life she lived.
He lay on the floor and sobbed loudly.
To be continued….