In this imaginative, stage-played story, we see what life is, a combination of unfortunate and fortunate events and then we see the morning sun coming with hope.
Drum beats fill the air waking me from sleep. I rub my eyes open listening to the high notes and low notes. The rhythm pierces my insides but it means nothing but confusion to my ignorant ears. It perfectly mimicks the tone patterns of speech but my brain wouldn’t understand it. Why am I listening to the “dindindin” of talking drums? My eyes awake themselves to pitch blackness. I try to think of where I am but a splitting headache breaks out in my head which waltzes with the beat of the drums. I have a hangover. I stare out the window, my eyeballs immediately adjusting to the wild fire growing and smoldering the earth before me, an ungodly chaos breaking out with people screaming and shouting. Naked women run for their lives leaving their little children crying for help. I am in a state of utter confusion. I run my left hand into my Bantu nuts and with my right, hit my forehead.
Oh memory, I pray,
Awake from the dead and tell me
how I got to hell.
Last thing I remember is, I had had one too many drinks and was on my way home. Last night wasn’t it? I sit up and fumble for my wrapper to hide my nakedness, despite the darkness as if a stranger lurks. As my leg hits the floor, I feel a cold liquid, vomit. It comes back to me again that I’d lost my job yesterday. I worked as an intern in a law firm in Ikoyi. A top law firm. I’d blabbed some innocent truth to a client and I’d gotten the sack for it. Then I’d gone to down myself with alcohol in misery. What is going to pay the bills now?
I had taken a year off school to raise money to pay my school fees. A friend had suggested the labor market wasn’t in want of my kind and selling my body was the only way out. But no, no way, I wasn’t going to sell my body.
I slip on my bathroom slippers and walk briskly to the door despite the pain throbbing through my thighs. I long for a bottle of cold water. I reach the door in no time and the noise of the world envelopes me in an embrace. There are screams of terror, sounds of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. I sight the drummers, old men dressed in Ankara green patterned agbada. Their noise is distinct above the din. Old women dance to the beat and this strikes me as odd considering that not too far off men and women are wailing and crying.
I study the whole Bariga area, it is a state of pandemonium. Near the famous Igunnuko festival house, men clad in suits are reporting the news. Their voice is inaudible but it seems clear enough that their work is not disrupted by the war. I cringe, the confusion is frustrating my bones. I run towards the drumming men, my face grief stricken but they take no notice of me. They continue to drum and the women continue to dance.
The confusion dancing naked in my heart does a somersault. Fear creeps through me. Has the Devil taken over Nigeria I ask myself? I retie my wrapper against my chest and ask the women in green-white adire as they dance, “What is going on?”. But they take no notice of me. Their buttocks continue to move from side to side in traditional dancing. It’s a mournful dance, I can tell that much.
I notice a prestigious grand white house where some men are making merry. My eyes before studying them rivets to a woman whose scream lingers and pierces the air, an arrow. She stands before a smoldering house that I had never seen before. She screams “first my daughter, then my husband, now my home”
She pulls at her clothing and when she’s completely naked runs around the street with tears in her eyes. Only a few spectators take notice of her, shaking their head in pity but going about exquisitely dressed in their business and work attires. I wonder who they are and I wonder why they are not running from the unknown.
The woman hits a car window and begs the man to help “You this Ibo woman,’ he remarks loudly “I cant help you”
She runs in front of commercial buses, the yellow ones called danfos and okadas, but they all reign insults on her.
There are tears beginning to well up in my eyes. I turn back to men sitting in front of the white house. They are not just making merry, they spending without a care in the world. I strain my eyes to study them.
I bite my lips in surprise. I recognize these gluttony men. The president and his men are there! I see the minister of finance too, drinking without a care. I feel nauseated. I just want to run to them and hold their necks and ask if they are blind not to see the occurrence. Are they blind not to see that Boko haram has taken over the country? Are they blind to see that people are losing their lives at the snap of fingers? That they are having fun, is what hurts me.
I walk towards the men in camera. I ask, “what are we doing to help this people?”
No answer is given back to me.
I ask the men in suits and women in beautiful attires as they go about their businesses; I knock at doors where everything is peaceful and normal. I am not given an answer.
I go back to the front of my house and I sit by the steps. I listen to the drumming and watch the dancers. I observe the stage that is my mother land and shed tears for my own helplessness and nothing else. I stare at the moon for long and watch as day begins to creep in on the earth.
The shooting stops, fires are extinguished. The smoke lingers but I see change is coming. A new cloud wafts over us. It smells of a new day. I stare curiously as the men and women who had closed their doors and had hidden from the world earlier on, came out, ready. For what? I was only about to know. They all march out to the beer parlor where the men in power celebrate.
I stand and move a little further to get a better view.
A banner that read Elections is flung up on a billboard. I watch keenly as men from different tribes, men in kaftans and agbadas, women in wrappers and abayas walk over to the white building on the east. They tell Mr. President that they no longer want him.
I see Mr. President laugh and search his pocket. When he can’t find what he is looking for, he gesticulates for someone, whispers some words in his ears. The man, most likely assistant runs off and leaves the president and his men, smiling nervously trying to calm the angry civilians. The assistant comes back with a Ghana must go bag which he opens. Mr. President bends and reaches out for crisp naira notes in bundles which he showed off waving it in their faces. They are stone cold, not willing to collect the money, not willing to be bribed
They match him off afterwards, to the bottomless pit, I hope. Afterwards, the civilians all came together and start picking themselves up, clearing the debris.
A neutral man is elected president. And peace seems to return.
The men playing the talking drums turned their note to a joyful one which everyone dances to.
Then I wake up and it is all a dream.
A dream that will come true if we work together.
Written by Jesufemi