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Ghosts of the Past

Ghosts of the Past

He woke up with his heart racing and his singlet drenched in sweat. The sweat was not because of the poorly ventilated one room apartment he stayed in, but because of the dream he had. It had been the same dream for the past two months and sleep had become a necessary evil. He however needed sleep if he wanted to get to work in time to remain the marketing manager of the 8-man company he had been working for the past five years.

He picked up his old, battered phone and sighed, it was 2:35am, the same time he had been getting up for the past 2 months. He sighed again as he took off his singlet and wiped the beads of sweat on his forehead. It was getting alarming. The same dream and waking up at the same time was something to be worried about. There was no one to talk to. His neighbours were not friendly. Even if they were, he did not want his business to be available for public consumption. Gossip was the local currency in the compound and it was traded for almost everything with reckless abandon.

Tunde stood up from his bed and walked towards the door of his room. The rumbles of the sky accompanied by flashes of lightning was getting intense with each passing moment. He picked up the bucket by the door of the room in anticipation of collecting water from the impending rainfall. The door creaked gently as it opened and he placed the empty bucket underneath the end of the roof.

The lightning struck once again, this time it looked like it struck just close to the rickety gate of the compound and at the end of it Tunde saw a lifelike person fall to the ground. He waved it aside and concluded it was his eyes playing tricks on him. Alas, he saw the lifelike figure walking towards the compound. With a gentle sway of the figure’s left hand, the gate flung open. Tunde did not wait to see what it was as he ran into his room, locking the door with such aggression that seemed to only make it more difficult for the door to lock. Eventually, he got it locked.

The thumping of his heart was loud enough to be heard in the next room. His mouth was dry and a lump developed in his throat. He did not understand what had just happened. What flung the gate of the compound with just a wave of its hand? He pinched himself to make sure he was not dreaming. What kind of dream could this be? His mind wandered. He looked to the window of his room and rushed to lock it. He was not ready to take any chance.

He stood quietly against the door and listened. Faintly but surely, he heard it from a distance. The drums. The last time Tunde heard a Bata drum was when he was a rebellious teen before he fled to Lagos. Even though it had been ages, there was no way he could miss the rhythmic sounds that the drum produced. It was playing softly outside his door now. He pinched himself once again. It was not a dream. The beating of the drum did not cease, instead, the intensity increased and with it were the sounds of footsteps, as if they were dancing. Fear had enveloped him in his room as he could not fathom what was going on. There was no explanation for why anyone will be beating drum at almost 3am.

The beating of the drum ceased and there was a soft knock on his door.

 

To be continued…

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Posted by on March 9, 2017 in Short Story

 

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Of Love and Pain

Disclaimer: This post is purely fictional. Any resemblance to any real life situation or event is purely coincidental. It is just a work of my imagination.

He knew he loved her from the moment he saw her. The rain was heavy and there she stood at the bus stop all alone, lost. For a moment he hesitated as it was Lagos and one cannot be too sure, but he took the risk. She also hesitated, but had no choice. She had already flunked the job interview when she refused to show the manager her boobs. Adding to that experience was the rain that had started on her way to the bus stop, she was drenched by the time she got there. It seemed out of place for her to be all alone in a shed during such a heavy downpour, but it was the last thing on her mind.

It was definitely not the hard nipples prominent through her wet blouse that set his pulse racing nor was it the lips that seemed to beg to be dipped in caramel before being kissed. It was her innocent eyes and the way they shone when she said thank you. He could tell from her eyes that at every point in time, she would have something clever to say, but wouldn’t. He felt the earth move when he looked at her, her words held him in a trance when she spoke. He was lost in her presence and nothing could describe those 20 minutes they spent during that drive.
           ………………………………………………………

She gave birth to their daughter. It was a day he would never forget. Though she was born premature, he knew they will dote on her. They finally brought her home after she spent 3 weeks under intensive care, the home was filled with joy. They had a blessing for their union.

It was shocking when on the third day, she stopped breathing. They had left her in her cot and gone to bed. He woke up in the middle of the night just to check on that bundle of joy, but noticed she was not breathing. He woke his wife and like a maniac, he drove to the hospital not minding how many traffic laws he broke. All that mattered was his daughter. She was pronounced dead on arrival, there was nothing to be done. She threw herself on the floor, sprawled, rolled from left to right and cursed the day she was born. She was inconsolable.
             “Why would you let me have a child and take her away from me?” she asked.

He tried his best to hold the tears but they flowed out like a river. He could not bear to see her so distraught, sprawled on the floor and weeping like a baby who had just had their best toy taken away. Her screams could be heard from miles. She had to be sedated and kept under observation at the hospital. He drove home in silence, though he screamed on the inside.
            ………………………………………………………

It was a trial, something they would move on from. It had been six months since their daughter passed. Two months since she returned from the psychiatric hospital. The death had left her devastated. She could not cope but he stayed with her. She was back home but he could feel the distance between them.

She still looked out at the cot as if the baby would miraculously appear in it. She still held on to the clothes in the hope that she would feel her baby’s warmth. It was heart-breaking. She was emaciated. He tried his best to get her to eat but it seemed to make the situation worse. He appealed to her family, they all tried to talk to her but it fell on deaf ears.

He came back from work one day to find her naked on the floor of the kitchen. He feared the worst.

            ………………………………………………………

No news is good news he thought as he sat at the reception of the hospital. At least she had a weak pulse when she found her and there had been no suicide note. He felt relief even in that dire situation.  
    “She was just dehydrated but there will be more scans” the doctor told him.

She was out of danger, he sighed and felt an air of relief blow over him, and it calmed him. He walked into her private ward, and there she was, still with those beautiful eyes that had brought him so much joy and pain. He could remember how she brought tears to his eyes as she walked to him hand in hand with her father the day they got married. It had been a small ceremony with few friends and family.

She smiled weakly at him as she saw him enter. It was her first smile in months. His heart fluttered with joy. All he saw was his wife. The intravenous fluid hanging by her side was a blur, the tubes around her were non-existent to him. He just saw his wife.
           ………………………………………………………

She apologized. But every time she did, it annoyed him and made him die a little bit inside. It was not her fault. Yes, she could have handled it better, but how does one handle the death of an offspring? She cried. He hated to see her cry. Slowly but confidently, they made plans to try again. They would have that bundle of joy but he could tell she was still scarred. Who wouldn’t? He still had nightmares about the night but he had to stay strong for her. They felt reconnected and planned to renew their vows. They had been married for five years.

The phone lit up and her name appeared. He had just thought about her and she called. They were in sync. He would never forget the quivering in her voice that day.
             ………………………………………………………

The news left him numb. Just like that, without warning or premonition, they had to battle cancer. She had been feeling fatigued, bloated and the back pain had been unbearable. She had gone to get tested in the hope of being pregnant.

Stage ІІa ovarian cancer was what she had. The appointment with the doctor left them happy and sad. She was one in seventy-three women to have ovarian cancer, but she had a survival rate of 78%. It was the silver lining in their dark cloud. 78%. 78 became the number of hope and faith.

She started chemotherapy, and slowly, her hair began to fall off. Friends became few as they could not relate with their sufferings. She begged him to shave off her hair and save the torture of watching it fall off. He kissed her bald head when he was done. The tears streamed down their faces as they both whispered 78.
          ………………………………………………………

She had gone into remission for only 2 months before the cancer came back. Her survival rates dwindled has the cancer had spread to other parts of her system. They had weeks or months to spend together.

She had planned to visit Paris before her death, but now, it was not possible. They had depleted their funds, and she was even too weak to fly. He tried to bring Paris to her with the help of a recipe he found. Even though it was disastrous, she loved it. He tried for her. He made an effort for her. They spent each day knowing fully well it could be her last.
           ………………………………………………………

Five weeks after they renewed their vows, she passed on. The vow renewal had been another low key event, just both of them, the priest and their family. It was a preface to the funeral he thought as he stared at her lifeless body in the open casket. Her death was expected but still, he was unprepared for it.  It left him devastated. His wife was gone. His best friend was gone and had felt his world shattered. Words of encouragement flew around like airplanes at a RAF air show. Where were they when it was most needed? They did not choose the battle, it chose them. He buried her and life was never as he knew it. He struggled day in and out.

He knew what he had to do. It did not seem ideal but he had to. He had to feel the same pain she felt. It might not measure up to it, but he had to feel some pain. He went through the pictures of them as the fire he lit in the corner of the bedroom was getting wilder and closer to him. The flames engulfed him and he smiled as he felt the pain.

He was gone.

He would meet her and they would be together again.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Short Story

 

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