The tunnel

 

We thought we could escape our troubles. We thought if we climbed the ladder fast enough, no one would stop us.

 

Across the bed from him, I sat.

“I like you, I really do.”

He blushed, licked his lips and placed a palm on my thigh. I liked that. I shut my eyes and allowed myself to dwell on this simple pleasure. His hands lingered from my thighs up to my waist before grazing my cheeks. I opened my eyes to meet his pearly hazel ones. It was the first time I permitted myself to look so closely into someone’s eyes. It was intriguing to see them dilate. He parted his lips and I listened to the words that fumbled out….

A Volcano erupted in my heart. My being was shaking; like an earthquake, like an explosion went off in my head. My ears could bleed, my voice was gone, My lips were quivering from the horror when he said, “I trust you”.

I jumped up, and for a second or five, I was patting myself as if searching for something. His face grew worrisome and he constantly asked me what was wrong.

“I have to get out of here”

“Where to? this is your house”.

“Nowhere,” I replied, “Just need a walk.”

I sprinted out the room into the night. My legs were moving, one after the next. The people I walked past were staring at me, as if in shock or sheer curiosity. Maybe I have something on my face but I’m acting as normal as I possibly can. My mind is a war zone, the more I try to focus, the more nothing seems to make sense. All I see is a tunnel of darkness that I’ve never been brave enough to walk through to the other side. But now, it beckons me and right there in the park, I could make something out of the rusty air. A tunnel.

“Idara,” I heard a voice call from within the tunnel. It sounded like a child with a thick accent, Western African perhaps, “come”.

“Why” I muttered hesitantly

“Because you will never be able to face your truth if you don’t”.

I heard the fluttering of wings, and seconds later a butterfly was in front of me, so close it could perch on my nose. In a blink of an eye, it’s wings would change from violet polka dot to black with white streaks then to brown and white with blue streaks then again, and again, each time, a unique blend of colors. I was too mesmerized that I almost didn’t notice that now there were two of them, and in a millisecond five, then twelve and they just kept multiplying. They formed a line before me and begun flying into the tunnel. I pushed some air down my lungs, took a step and then another and I was inside the tunnel.

My mind was simmering with thoughts and they were chaotic but with the light from the butterflies illuminating my path, I felt less anxious. I noticed the walls had phrases and sentences inscribed on it and there was a sense of familiarity I had when I read them, I remember them because I lived them.

At the tunnel entrance, I read:   “you were always there for me.’ I recall smiling when I wrote that. I recall feeling lonely afterward.

“when I count my friends, I count 1 person 10 times”.  I know who that was for, it came from a sincere place.

the next one read; “you’re the bitchiest bitch out there, but you’re also the only person that piggybacks me home when I’m drunk”. Actually now I just think she’s a bitch.

The farther I got into the tunnel, the more cynical the phrases were. “This may probably be the last time you see me, I’m not going anywhere but I can’t promise I won’t wander off.”

The other read: “I can’t stand the pain, it makes me cry. I want people to care, I want things to work out”.

At this point, I noticed that the butterflies were reducing, disappearing. I was feeling unsure again, anxious. In an attempt to forge on, I staggered through the never-ending corridor with my resilient companions.

The next I saw went thus; “it’s not in my nature to express myself so wouldn’t it be weird, stupid to people if I started expressing myself? wouldn’t it seem like I was impersonating someone I’m not?” 

I sidled on like a lummox drunk in a grave-yard, I refused to look at the walls any further. I tried focusing on making it to the end, but my mind wouldn’t stop buzzing and I kept on wishing I was out of there, I’ve never been more restless.

My gaze settled on one final inscription on the wall and I couldn’t help but read it through; “so once again I was alone staring at the walls as it were empty like my soul.”

I stopped. Thrusting my back against the wall, I read the phrase again as I slowly sank to the ground. The lights fluttered around me urging me to rise to my feet. I couldn’t move, I’d lost all my strength.

“I was alone…the walls…empty like my soul, alone…walls..empty, empty….

The butterflies wouldn’t stop but I ignored them whilst they continued to vanish.

“Get up,” the voice was back. “Come Idara”

“I can’t,” I yelled, my voice resounded through the walls. I watched the butterflies fade until the last resilient wings were flapping right before my nose. Its light began to flicker and went dim until it was gone. Everything went silent and cold. No insects. No buzzing. No light. Just me alone in the dark tunnel.

“I can’t,” I whispered. “I can’t”

 

Neither Here nor There: Nigeria

I want to go to Nigeria, where the sun stays high and proud beaming down as palm trees morph into shadows pasted across our faces and the evening breeze sweeps fine sand beneath your slippers as we saunter into a supermarket in search of palm wine and ice-cream.

I want to go Nigeria where the houses in the city are made from bricks walls and aluminum rooftops, bearing no semblance whatsoever to historical buildings and mud huts with thatched roofs adorn the villages, creating better insulation than modern cooling units.

 

ccae807de5c6be5aa6125d7220b48c56.jpg

I want to go to Nigeria where Jazz infused with beats from African Fuji drum feels the atmosphere, where culture fills the street, forcing us to groove. One of a kind.

I want to go to Nigeria where the granite kisses our feet in the safety of our abode sending chills through our spine.

I want to go to Nigeria where undiscovered talent roams the streets, raw and unrefined, savants fill the public school systems. Undiscovered. Lost.

I want to go to Nigeria where the sun scorches our skin; concentrating our melanin, where warm air intrudes our space, messages our skin as salty vapor diffuses to the surface.

I want to go to Nigeria where the traffic is as psychotic as the nation’s economy, where the rules to driving are non-existent and drivers have got no respect for the road and road side sellers barely respect their lives or anybody’s personal space.
Screenshot_20170714-211954

 

I want to go to Nigeria where Saturdays are for house chores and football games and Sundays, for church but the best part is anticipating the Jollof rice. Our so-called Sunday rice ritual.

I want to go to Nigeria where fear is frequently mistaken as respect and respect is perhaps misinterpreted as foolishness, where people heed to the rich for some bewildering reason and balding politicians run the nations meant for the youths.

I want to go to Nigeria where powdered milk, garri, groundnut and iced water is perhaps the most cherished dessert and Suya is the first course meal.

I want to go to Nigeria, where the market is big, variable and torturous to maneuver. The women echo in harmonious tunes wearing colorful materials whilst showcasing their products. The sound of bargains resounds in the air which is also saturated with different kinds of scents. The women gossip on ends about each passing consumer.

IMG_20160217_090327.jpg

I want to be in Nigeria, where one man struggles from five to eleven to make minimum wage. His two kids and pregnant wife smile regardless when he comes home and a frail stench of kerosene lingers in their environ. They sit together under the moonlight and he tells the tales his father told him of him about their forefather’s British colonization while flies buzz in their air. I want to be in Nigeria because this scenario depicts a typical day in their world,  an oil on canvas painting mixing green and white representing only one thing, Hope.

Unashamed. Hopeful— though  I’m neither here, neither there.