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Sleeping With Yesterday (Episode 3)

Posted by on September 8, 2016.

Sleeping With Yesterday

Nnafuka extends her hand towards the door knob. For a minute or two the hand hangs there, trembling as though the bones are being crushed inside. She feels her lips begin to tremble too. She throws her left hand over her mouth to steady her lips, to quiet the tears swelling her throat. When she finally touches the door knob its coldness shoots through her arm to her brain. But she does not let go. She turns it and pushes the door open. Just then something falls on her hand, forcing her to step back. When she looks it is the carcass of a wall gecko, body twisted and shriveled like sundried ginger, eyes dark as though lined with pencils. The colour of the dead eyes reminds her of Seun’s hair. She stiffens her face and brings her right foot on the carcass on the floor. She peeps into the playhouse – nothing has changed. Two weeks and nothing has changed. She breathes in deeply. Somehow there is a whiff of Seun in everything. Seun is in the white colour of the wall – her stockings were all white. Seun is in the pink colour of the cot – her nightdresses were all pink. Seun is in the green toy clock – she had green shoes. Seun is in the red heart which the teddy bear has in its hands – most of her ribbons were red. Seun is in the black hair of the dark skinned doll on the rocking chair – her hair was ebony.

As she sees all these she does not feel herself stepping back through the door slowly until she is in the hall way. She ends up with her back on the wall, her eyes still in the room. She slides down and sits on the floor, her arms around her legs, crying. The headache returns.

“Madam, madam.” It is Abdul, the gateman calling. Nnafuka does not want to respond, does not want move from where she is, does not want to be taken out of this grief that connects her with her dead child.

“Madam, e get person wey wan see you.” Abdul must know that she hears him. Like she knew he did the day after Seun was buried in the cemetery. He had somehow perceived something burning in the kitchen and had come from his post shouting “Madam, madam.” His voice had only woken her from the sleep she fell into as she hugged a pillow soaked with tears. She had gotten up from the bed, walked casually down the staircase as Abdul’s alarm rang “Madam, something dey burn for kitchen o, something dey burn.” He had started knocking as she walked into the kitchen and, in the thickness of the smoke, managed to throw the pot of dry stew on the floor and then turn off the gas. As she walked out of the kitchen, leaving the red pot on the floor, Abdul was rushing to the kitchen, having discovered that the door was not locked all the while. When he saw her walking into the sitting room, he stopped and then kept his eyes on her as she went up the staircase.

Now that he screams “Madam, e get person wey wan see you”, she does not say anything too. She knows that it must be three or four officials from the polytechnic coming to greet her, to say they heard what happened, that they were sad that it happened. One amongst them must ask, “How did it happen?” putting two hands at once into the delicate tissue that was her memory, something that the many hands that have gone in there in the past two weeks and come out have left wider, too wide open. Maybe in a bid to see how much of the memory they can close, one will say “We said let us come and sympathize with you. Your husband, Doctor Aregbesola is our friend in the polytechnic.”

She has learnt to say “Yes, thank you” once this comes because it gives her a sense of relief to know that the visitors are ready to leave.

She stands and walks down to the staircase, leaving the playhouse wide open. In the sitting room is Abdul standing close to a female figure seated on the couch. The figure rises, turns, smiles and says, “It is terrible that coming here after these five years in China this is the story that welcomes me.”

“Helen?” she manages to say and then rushes into her best friend’s arms.


“She came and she went away before my joy started,” Nnafuka moans.

“Husssh… It’s okay. It’s okay.” Helen rubs her head and her back.

Nnafuka lifts her face. “It was a girl, my child, seven years, seven years, Helen, you know how worried we were before you left for China, you know how much we wanted this.”

“Yes, I know. I know. Please stop crying.”

Someone knocks on the door. Abdul has heard it but moving to get the door feels like desecrating the grief moment, like disrespecting the one grieving. He stays put.

Helen turns to him. “Will you get the door, please?”

Abdul opens it and four elderly persons come in. Abdul keeps his eyes on the only woman amongst them. He knows her very well.

Helen looks at them and turns to Nnafuka. “There are people here to see you.”

When she lifts her face her eyes narrow, she stands, looking at that old woman. “Mama Rashidi?”

To Be Continue

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Categories: Blog Columnist

One Response

  1. Mama Rashidi Killed Seun Or So I Tut

    by VEROSHINE on May 29, 2017 at 7:50 pm

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