The glistening sun waned into a big, yellow, lusterless dome. It was half steeped into the clouds, and its other half peeped above the horizon. Cool breeze swung my velvety, brown curtains in a monotonous rhythm like a pendulum ball about a command a stand.
Steve Crown’s ‘You’re Yahweh’ played soulfully in my apartment. I love soulful songs. They have a way of taming my mind and numbing it from the stress of the office and courtrooms.
A thought strayed into my head and snatched me from humming the lyrics of the song. I reached for my Gionee phone, unplugged the charging cord from it, swiped its screen open and from the gate to my apartment, I bent it to capture the beauteous sunset. I browsed through the pictures, each looked very great that I became confused and didn’t know which to keep in my gallery.
I began to soliloquize. ‘Which should I pick please?’ I smiled at my phone’s broken screen and then selected the second photo. I sent it to Mayokun through WhatsApp, and added, “Evening is all cool here,” my fingers are typing slower than my mind. I read again and slotted a blushing smiley against the chat before sending it.
He will read my chat when he comes online. He would be interested in the source of the picture and I can tell the shock he will feel in his spine when I tell him who the photographer is. I swayed back to my bed with the slow rhythm of the music.
I picked up a copy of Libretto print magazine to enjoy. I have been nursing an addiction for the magazine since it when it only an online publication. I flipped its pages searching for a poem that would match the soulfulness reigning in my house, before the thought of Mayokun tilted my mind back into his WhatsApp page. These words slid by; “last seen today at 5:22 PM”. Chat and picture were doubly checked, but unmarked. True to the meaning of his name—Mayokun—there is always a weird way that thinking of him serenades my heart with joy.
My eyes sprung to the clock hung on the wall, a calendar below it swung as I tried to deduce how long my chat has been there on his WhatsApp without being read. I discovered that the second’s hand of the clock was struggling to move; it was merely making lame clicks about the same point. The battery was dying. The clock was Dele’s wedding souvenir. He was Mark’s friend from childhood. Dele and his wife posed on Facebook a fortnight ago, celebrating their two years wedding anniversary. Mayokun commented on the post and Dele’s reply made me breathe in heavily. He was daring Mayokun to pick a wedding date before the end of the year. I flared my nose, gave Mayokun’s reply a ‘Haha’ reaction and typed my hilarious, controversial comment: “The date will be in either of our birth months, and obviously, it can’t be this year again. It’s already October. Our birth months are long gone!”
This wall clock is the one sedative I know; its ticks miraculously and lull me to sleep every evening. This night, I will miss my fond lullaby, I had thought. Surprisingly, I didn’t. I slept every bit of laziness into my bones. Whether the bed or me, I can’t tell which or who enjoyed each other’s comfort the most, which or who was not willing to let go of the other.
I permutated different possibilities: he could be sleeping, studying the weekly law journal in his library, out of data, busy writing his entry for the essay contest he told me about last night, or having a flat battery. The scary thoughts started thronging my mind and his phone was not going through also. I prayed meditatively against the dread in my heart, because I just couldn’t bring myself to tell what was not making him to check on me as he usually did, or on his WhatsApp.
Reluctantly, I pulled the cover cloth over my rumbling head.
Mayokun sprouted from my mind again like a plant from a well-watered, loamy soil. This time, it was vivid. His right hand held tightly my left thumb, as we took a slow procession out of the church after the wedding service, re-assuring me with his nods each time our eyes locked.
Sleep stole the remaining moments from me.
My hand was in Dad’s armpit, he marched me to the altar on a solemn, breezeless wedding morning, in company of my mummy. Moments later, I stood beside Mayokun at the ageless altar of our church.
‘If anyone here knows any reason why Mayokun and Cynthia should not be joined together as husband and wife,’ he said and surveyed the church simultaneously before continuing, ‘such individual should speak now or hold his or her peace forever,’ the reverend’s baritone voice finally died in the solemn air.
Silence. Screeches. Silence again.
Mayokun gave me an assuring wink. I blushed slightly.
Sluggishly, three hands danced into the air.
I woke up, gripped my pounding chest, shivering and sweating. ‘It was a dream, a dream, dream,’ I panted and heaved to the bittersweet reality. It was sweet because it was a dream and bitter because this could go for a bad omen; my marriage seemed to be standing on a weak precipice.
Put a call through to Mayokun? No, in the dead of the night, that’s absurd? Pray? All the prayers I could say have betrayed my mind. Wash your face? Read your Bible? Call Daddy or Mummy? Okay, call your pastor? Seas of thoughts rumbled in my mind. I was confused.
I felt tears trooped into the corners of my eyes. Am I crying? I asked myself in unbelief. I’m crying, God. I sobbed as I repeated those words. I turned on the wall clock again. Its second’s hand is now fixed. The battery was now flat. I had to peep at my wrist watch. “Thirty minutes past three o’clock,” it said. I stopped the song that had been playing in my house since evening. Initially, I thought of tuning the volume down. On a second thought, I felt I needed nothing, but silence.
I sat on the bed with legs drawn and knees knocked together. I put my chin on my folded knees and fixed my gaze on the window, waiting for the sun to beam its face again. It was the longest night of my life. It was similar to the night I waited for my twin sister to come out of the labour room, after the sweet cries of her baby had doused my anxiety for a while. She never came out. I meant she was brought out interred in her own wrapper. Lifeless. Mummy’s eyes were red and funerary. Daddy walked solemnly to my side and patted my broken self on the back without saying what I already understood.
Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, a cock crowed from my backyard. I’m dead! I crept out of my bed into the terror of the daybreak, poor me.
Aren’t there knocks on my door? I waited and listened with rapt attention, made sure my mind was not playing tricks on me. I heard the knocks again. This time, they were harder. I hastened to the door, parted the curtains and opened.
Mayokun was at the door. One hand in his pocket, the other scratched his head nervously. My tongue felt tied, my breath became very heavy, and my vision went blurred.
‘5% DEXTROSE AND NORMAL SALINE INFUSION B.P’ was printed in green on the plastic bottle hanging upside down from a silvery metal stand beside me. My exhausted body lay frail on the bed. My eyes parted wearily and followed the thin, long tube from the end of the plastic to my right hand, where a piece of plastic was plastered to my elbow. I later understood the plastered plastic to be a cannula. I noticed Mum sat beside my feet, face buried in my bed; fast asleep.
The serenity of the hospital ward sharply contrasted my previous frightening and chaotic moment. I had been unconscious; that was the only explanation my mind could make.
Mummy woke shockingly, burst into praises to God, shouting: ‘Doctor! Cynthia is back! Doctor, come!’ Tears washed her face. Memories rose like phoenixes inside me. I began to shed tears. The instant I began to cry, she started to break her own into soft groans. ‘No. Darling, I won’t make you cry,’ she kept re-assuring me, untied her headgear and wiped my face, chanting panegyrics to console me. She thought my tears were in sympathy with hers. She was wrong.
I sat in the bed, leaned my left side against the wall. ‘Mum,’ I paused to hear her respond, ‘did you see Mayokun? Did he come here?’
‘Cynthia,’ Mummy sighed and heaved heavily.
‘Ma,’ I patiently listened to her.
‘Forget about Mayokun for now, concentrate on your recovery. That’s the most important thing now.’
‘See,’ I followed the gesture of her hand, ‘that man cannot marry you. I won’t say more than that for…’
‘You won’t say more than that for now,’ I cut in, ‘our wedding is barely two weeks away,’ I looked helpless.
Confusion swirled round me again, like after that dreaded dream that led me into this hospital. I knew Mum; she doesn’t mince with her words. I slowly allowed her words numbed my nerves, ‘Daddy will tell you in details when you get discharged. He would leave office for this place soon.’
Tears retreated into my eyes. I already had enough, so I clutched the brakes on my eyes with all the courage left within me. The dream of that fateful night jabbed my emotions. Mummy’s words stung me as if they lost their venom the first time she uttered them.
Mayokun is no longer marrying me when I have not even disclosed what I fear to him? What could be the reason behind this irrational action? What exactly has he told my parents behind me that made my Mummy pronounced our relationship dead? Has he come to tell me he won’t be marrying me again that morning when he was scratching his head at my door? I continued in my hopeless interrogations.
Daddy has the details? Mayokun loves me, doesn’t he?
I shrugged, even in a law suit, there is room for fair hearing, I clapped my palms over each other and then cupped my left palm round my cheek. No hearing at all in this case, and Mayokun knows that from our civil litigation class.
Emotions conquered my courage. I let loose. I sobbed. I cried. Daddy returned, paid the bill and soon we were in his car.
‘Sir,’ I responded to Daddy as brave as I could be.
‘You’ve been through a hard time. When the day breaks tomorrow, we would discuss something very crucial. But it’s not a problem, okay?’
I nodded into the empty air. I was not sure whether he saw it in the mirror or he just assumed the silence that greeted his words was my assent.
The daybreak was sluggish, but it came. Mummy called me into their bed room. Dad was still in his pajamas. I was sandwiched between them. We were at the edge of the bed. Daddy played a voice note from his phone. I knew Mayokun’s voice. I listened till I could no longer continue again.
‘So, this is what Mayokun did to me. He got a lady pregnant. The lady was sent abroad by her own parent so that she could cope well with the shame. She gave birth, raised the son for months and now Mayokun has left to be with her. Mummy, imagine?’ I repeated my woe to myself; that terror of another daybreak.
Ajala trained in Medicine and Surgery from Ladoke Akintola
University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo state, Nigeria. With prose and poems in
anthologies, magazines and other places, Adesina prides as a shooting writer,
who aspires to grow root in the loam of words and the stethoscope and scalpel.
His short story was a joint winner for the first place of the 2018 The Shade of
Women Foundation Writers Prize. He may be caught writing to a metaphorical
character, Gloret, on the social media at facebook.com/adesina.ajala. He
lives in Gusau, the capital place of Zamfara state.
Contact Details: E-mail: email@example.com Phone: +2347039535077 =l:�����