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Sleeping With Yesterday (Episode 4)

Posted by on September 8, 2016.

Sleeping With Yesterday


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

Seeing that face again after two weeks makes something in Nnafuka reel. It is as though the same womb from which Seun had come is struggling to push poison up into her mouth, willing her to spew it on her. Or maybe she does not think of the sensation this way because she turns, drags her hand from Helen’s grip and races up the staircase.

Helen turns to Mama Rashidi. “What did you do?”

The old woman looks at her, looks at Abdul who turns and leaves for his post outside. There is something brewing in her mouth. Her eyes swell with tears. She lets herself drop on the seat, her hand on her head.

Not wasting time Helen climbs the staircase, two stairs at a time, anxious and filled with a little kind of fear she cannot tell its origin until she enters Nnafuka and Dayo’s room. In there it is quiet, the air conditioner and the refrigerator sounding like a rainfall happening far away. She opens her mouth to call her name and then hears her retching in the toilet. She moves closer.

Looking in she sees her, head on the seat of the toilet.

“Why did she come back? How dare…?” These are the things she keeps saying. Helen comes closer. She sits on the edge of the bath and carries Nnafuka’s head. She places it on her laps.

“I need you to calm down and tell me who that woman is and what she did.”

“Tell you?” Nnafuka keeps her head straight, looking at Helen’s face. “Tell you? You think it is easy to go into this past and, and come out laughing about it?” She stands. “Why does everyone come here looking for a story?”

At that point Helen does not recognize her friend anymore. It seems that something, this grief of hers has taken away whatever makes them friends. What she just said to her carries deep hatred. It makes her remember eleven years ago when Dayo was courting Nnafuka and there was the issue with her being Igbo. She knew in those days that there was a certain kind of grief which was taking hold of Nnafuka. Nnafuka would come to her room to confess that she felt herself trapped by the certainty of her love for Dayo, crushed night and day by the uncertainty of Dayo’s love.

Helen does not know that what Nnafuka feels now is what she felt when she and Dayo were trying hard – a sense of helplessness. Then she felt it roped around her neck like an ugly scarf, and when four years passed without any sign she knew that it would be there for too long because the doctors had said that she and her husband were medically fine. Their use of ‘medically’ felt like a conspiracy to her, as though apart from being medically fine there was another kind of fineness that they lacked which they kept from her and Dayo. Then her need to have a child filled her like demon.

Now that demon is back with her need for that breezy distance she has been craving for. Nnafuka walks out, into the bedroom, down the staircase to the sitting room.

One of the elderly men with Mama Rashidi stands.

“My daughter,” he begins, “Mama Rashidi here has told us everything that happened. And we have come as her family members to…”

“To hear what?” There is flame in Nnafuka’s tongue. She makes three steps to where Mama Rashidi is seated, picks the old woman by her arm and throws her towards the door. The first man runs towards Mama Rashidi, holding her for balance. Helen is already at the foot of the staircase wondering what is going.

“Leave, all of you!” She is moving towards the second and third men when they all scurry out.

“What did she do to you, Nnafukamnaya? What is this?” Helen’s face is full of questions.

“If you must know, she did not do anything. She just stood there and watched her die.”

Helen looks confused. She walks up to her bag on the table and brings out a book from inside.

“This is Chinese Horoscope for this year. It helped me during my troubling times in China. Maybe it’ll help you. The year is not so far spent.” She walks out of the sitting room into the evening. Thunder crashes in the sky, shaking the electricity. Nnafuka casts her eyes on the bulb, then brings it to the book. Written on the cover in bold gold letters are: CHINESE HOROSCOPE FOR THE YEAR 1993. Then below it sprawled: Know what your future holds and make plans to maximize it. Surely, Dayo will not approve of this, yet Nnafuka picks up the book and turns to the day’s prediction. Under Cancer she reads:

30th November, 1993

Today, you will reunite with someone. But be careful. The coming of this person might lead to bad memories coming back. These memories might end up leading you down a dark path all your life. Take care not to kill the things you love.

Then a knock came on the door. “Honey, I’m home.”

To Be Continue by  8pm

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Categories: Blog Columnist

One Response

  1. this story is just like usual…. interesting!

    by nnajiofor on Sep 8, 2016 at 8:45 pm

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