Saturday, 10 September 2016

How a Chicken Bone Changed My Life

The weather report on my new phone read 16 degrees. The rain had fallen for days unending, so going out would need me a boat, but I was already in the coziest room afloat in a sophisticated Yacht. I was exhausted with the payment procedure; with 2 days gone, I still had 24 hours to clear off my commitment.
A quick rewind to how I got here!

Life was as fair as I was; I had a figure Nicki Minaj wished she had, a bed I shared with my mom and younger sister, a menial job that assured us one meal per day, and a responsible boyfriend who was not in a hurry to break my hymen. 

Dad had absconded since I was 11, (a week after my younger sister was born) and 10 years down the line, he never cared to look back.

"Eh hen, Chi baby, that offer is still open o!" My friend informed over the phone.

"I am not interested," I replied sternly. Sonia would not let me be since the day one of her father's friends saw my picture on her WhatsApp profile.

She told me he wanted a date with me even when she knew my answer would be negative. After several unfruitful cajoles, Sonia tricked me and took me to big uncle's office. I was shocked when I realized where I was and although I was angry too, it all subsided when the visit paid off.

"God is really good, your name has favored us. Thank God for sending us this manna," my mom said, happily crushing a chicken bone with her teeth. I had branched the market and bought foodstuff from the 20, 000 naira transport fare Sonia's big uncle gave me and I told my mom I just got a raise in the office. If only she knew the source of the 'manna,' she would have spat out every single grain of rice and vomited the chicken in admonishment.

Nonetheless, she was excited about tasting chicken again after two years. As I watched her crush the chicken bones and suck on the marrows, the unexplainable joy she expelled reformed my decision of being celibate until marriage.

I accepted Sonia's big uncle's offer and after him, that of his friend, then his other friend's, then the friend's sister's husband's, then my boss', then our landlord's, then my cab man's, then Sonia's boyfriend's, then that of every rich guy who flashed a smile at me . . . between the time Apple released IPhone 6 and IPhone 7, I had slept with every man I knew except my father and my boyfriend.

Back to today: I reluctantly stood up from the soft Yacht bed. My skills on it the previous day finally won me the most recent and most talked about I-series. I heard the features of the gadget were awesome so I had to get one, the same way I moved my family from a one-room apartment in Agege to a two bedroom flat in Lekki and also opened a shop for at Balogun Market.

I needed to get out from the boat to get some medications then rush back before my host woke up - a deal is a deal; he delivered so I too must deliver even if my whole body shivered like a railway.

At the pharmacy, the Nurse gave me an anti-malaria tablet and something for pain relief and flu. I swiped my card through their POS and headed back as fast as I could.

It was a semi-quiet road and a long walk to the boat house. I tried calling an Uber cab but the network was crappy as hell, so I strolled down, listening to AJ's 'Mon Ami' on my headphone.

Halfway down, I tried calling mom to check her up, but still, the network was bad. I sighed, "so what's the hype about when I can't make simple calls with the phone?"

I brought out my ever faithful old phone, no network still. This was quite unusual cos I could make or receive calls with that phone even with the tiniest network bar.

I shrugged it off, "it's probably the weather." Suddenly, a message alert came in through the new phone. I looked at the screen there was no network still, "hmm, this phone ain't bad after all."

My thoughts were, however, interrupted by a few rain drops. The ground was still wet from the previous showers and the weather was dull and unsatisfied. I looked up to check how much time I had to get back to the boat before the rain caught up with me.

Lo! The sky was red, red as in 'bloody red.' Fear enveloped me immediately; the last time I saw red was on Sonia's big uncle's bed sheets.

I wanted to call mom to ask if the sky was red at home too, still no network! Then I opened the unread message, which was from my younger sister, who was still trying to understand how to use the new phone I got her.

"Dey Ar Cuming," was all she typed.

Just as I was trying to analyse who Chisom was referring to, a little boy of about 10 years old, ran past me screaming "They are coming o, they are coming, "They are coming with him, they are coming."

Instantly, I started running; not towards the boat but after the boy. It had started raining already and the little boy's scream in addition to the reddish drops from the sky brought other people to their heels. In less than 20 seconds the road was flooded with people running in different directions through multiple pools of blood.

I managed to get to the bus stop by a major road, after missing track of the little boy. The scenario before me made me understand why there was always stampede in Mecca; people running on foot, people struggling out of their car, some rushing into their cars, traffic-stuck cars honking endlessly, street hawkers contemplating whether to save their goods or run without it, a mad man loitering confidently unperturbed, a confused me trying to wrap my head around what was going on, but in all the chaos . . . a school girl of about Chisom's age stood a stone throw away from me, alone, clinging to her school bag, looking lost, yet happy.

Within seconds, I was by her side and grabbed her by the hand, "run with me," I said. By now the rain drops were increasing and each felt like a stone hailed down by an angry person, there were flashes of lightening too accompanied by ear-blocking thunderclaps.

"I will protect you," I continued, "come with me."

She shook her head sideways and smiled, "No, I will wait here, they are coming for me."
"Who are they?" I shouted at the top of my voice.
"His people, he is coming with them," she replied and then started humming . . .

The tune sounded familiar, a song I have heard severally. I ran a quick scan through the memory card in my head to find the words to that tune, but it only came in flashes.

There was no time to worry about a song and/or the child as the rain and thunder intensified. I ran off quickly, leaving her at the bus stop to wait for whoever was coming to pick her.

Few steps away, the ground began to shake like a train was approaching. The jigijigi of the supposed train vibrated the whole place and the sound made my head spin. I reached for my medication as I raced on and threw the tablets into my mouth.

It must have been the bitterness of the tablets because the moment I started chewing, the words of the girl's song came to my lips . . . "he's coming back again, my lord is coming back again . . ."

© Ajumoke Nwaeze, 10th September 2016.

The above story was inspired by the picture below:

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