Short Story: END
“Ake! Ake! Hurry up now! Do you want us to miss this? It will be like missing the coming of Jesus the day he’ll be sharing some of that gold from the street of heaven o!”
Funto chuckled as her husband poured out his monologue. It won’t be the first or last time she has heard him making such statements. For the sake of indulging him, she decided to answer.
“Ah ah! Nile am I to go out looking like my face was boxed in? Me the wife of Ehiomen Adaba?”
“Er er… Well everybody already know I married the most beautiful woman and that I give all to take care of her”
“But do they know if today is the beginning of things changing?”
“Mtschew, just hurry up”
“Oh the Nile that fills me, I’ll soon be done my darling”
She heard him let out a soft moan and she smiled to herself. Funto always knew just how to get her husband in the corner where she wanted. He was not one to take his image lightly, especially the one his wife represents and that metaphoric name calling. It was something they picked up in their early days to allow them have mental orgasms when they are in public or to prepare them for a hot, fierce kicking in the bed when they got home.
Ehiomen had taken to calling her names of places that formed him, impacted him and or welcomed him. Or those places that filled or added in whatever measure to his identity. Sometimes he calls her by names of places he can’t seem to find words for. Funto was his identity, a sharp pleasant turn in his life, a spot of sweetness he can’t seem to get enough of even if he wanted to.
Funto on the other hand called him by names of all the places she knew represented pride. He was, as she was his pride. Plus it always did her well to massage his ego.
So when she stepped out of the room looking like a bad ass, hot sexy, fit coach of a winning team, he had to forgive her for making him miss the beginning of this end of seasons game. Well they weren’t late yet but 10 more minutes and they will be. It was the finals for the premier league but even that will have to wait for Nile to feel Ake.
15 minutes later when they came to a comfortable end they were ready for the beginning of their trip to the viewing center for the end of this season’s games before Funto said,
“Nile 2 minutes please, let me touch my face, clean up and recover from your waters”
He made to speak but changed his mind even before she gave the wink!
There was no need to spoil a good end, he didn’t want his next start to be hard.
The people gathered that night, it was meant to be the tradition of what was called the ‘rape festival.’ Vera had vowed to lose her virginity only on her wedding night. The doors hugged each other. The lights shut their eyes. The hands of the curtains clasped. Everyone waited as quiet entered. Trickles of sweat froze on the face of the wall. Finally, Vera screamed.
Didi was a wife without child. It was the fourteenth year and counting. Expectedly, she had become the talk of the entire town. “Empty barrel, man, fruitless”, were a few of the names she was being called behind her back and even more to her face.
She often went to the stream weary of the women she was certain to meet there and on her way from the stream. Life wasn’t worth it anymore, even she wondered with the rest of the town why her husband, Dede had stood by her all these years, why he had not taken another wife who could bear him a child.
The sun had set quite early that evening and so there was little light left for her to finish up her cooking.
Dede was patiently watching his wife cook his meal. He complimented how graceful she moved, putting a piece of her heart in the pot every time she threw some spice in there. Didi hardly noticed. All she thought of was how to finish up quickly. Then he broke the silence; “even after all these years, you still look as beautiful as you looked that evening on your way to Okoku river,” his lips parted into a big smile. He was reliving that moment, you could tell. Didi paused for a moment enough to blush hard. Then Dede threw her into a childish laughter when he said, “that smile on your face, throw a shade in there too, will you? I am sure it would taste like it was the goddess herself that came down to my house to cook my dinner”.
He had the words to make her forget her worries. He knew how to hold her hand while he wielded the sword and fought with her. “You are the horizon where my heart rises and sets, you are everything I’ll ever need until the end…” She pauses to look at him as a tear fell from her eyes. “You know, there’s something I found out about “ends,” they are the markers for new beginnings. The only end that we are allowed to know is the one that ushers us into a new beginning”. He rubs her naked belly with both his hands.
They were enjoying this moment when time suddenly started moving again, Didi tore loose from her husband to a corner in the compound as if to vomit her guts. Taken aback by both wonder and realisation, he broke into a thunderous happy laughter, “it is the end finally! A new beginning!
‘Doni, do you love me?’
He would have looked into her eyes, but there was madness in his.
In protest to their presence was the forceful hooting of owls. Reflected in the content of the calabash Doni held out to her was the light of the moon. It saved them from being wholly eaten by the darkness.
“This night does not feel right,” Chalya thought.
If at all diaries could feel, this night feels like the diary of a sixty year old barren widowed midwife.
‘Some people do not know, others will refuse to accept…’
‘Doni, listen to me, if we can’t stay in this village, then lets run away. But the only thing to accept is the fact that the child growing in my womb belongs to…’
‘And then what?’ He lashed. ‘Ostracization? To be banished from my village? My people, my life, the only world I have known?’
‘Listen to me, Doni’
‘I am done listening to you and your pathetic mimicries, it’s either me or the baby, one has to go, it’s your choice! How will I bear the look of disappointment in my father’s eyes? The shame this will bring upon my family. To think that I, against every code of honour, nobility, and good sense, will have a child not just out of wedlock, but with a woman from jagajabun!’
Trying to catch his eyes in the darkness was like catching a string of rain.
‘Some people do not know, others will refuse to accept it, the truth is, there are some ends worse than the death of a person. Some deaths preferable to life as an outcast!’
The world had become sour. The air even more sore. No more beds. No more roses! Not even a song of victory!
Soho missed his old life. He tried singing the old soldier’s song. Now that he had lost what held him tight to the future, he remembered his wife lying in her casket deep in the ground, growing into his thoughts like a dying seed. He closed his eyes to pick her face and saw darkness instead. Soho picked the rope and sighed, switched off the light and thought that the only meaning life left him with now was ‘end’.
Mr Benson sat in his exquisitely designed office and looked around as he smiled to himself. A lot has happened here, both good and bad. Wars have been fought in sweat and ink, it has been a good fight. His eyes went straight to the little black couch that looked like an altar adjacent to his desk. In its laps, so many ladies were slain. He gave a good laugh, it was a necessary sacrifice to appease his loins. Good old days, if young dumb and stupid ever counted. “Whoever told me that life begins at forty?” He shook his head.
His mind travelled back to Abike his wife. He knew how much it would break her spirit if she ever found out, although he has always suspected that somehow she knew. No one can tell perfect lies for forty years and get away with it. God bless her heart, for even he is not that good except in handling his company’s finances. He knew the worth of every penny which he painstakingly got, and that was what made him a successful businessman.
He looked around again for the last time, but this time around with a glint of sadness. He would definitely miss the corporate life. How can he trust Leon his son to guide the reigns in his stead? Every generation has a different battle to face, but his was much easier. You can hide anything on paper but not on a computer, not to say the analogue system was any better. “I hope I’ve made the right choice.” All these thoughts were beginning to depress him, and he knew he had to suppress his emotions and trust that his son will do well. After all, he has good instincts.
“This is my last day!”He exclaimed as he picked up his brown leather briefcase which he got from one of his numerous trips to Italy and packed up a few important documents. It was as though someone had died. The telephone rang and he answered. It was Abike asking him to come back on time for the family reunion dinner. As he closed the door, it was like closing old wounds.
“We will miss you sir”, he heard Chinedu the security guard say. He just smiled and waved, too nostalgic to say anything. His driver saw him and quickly backed up the car. As they were about to exit the gate, he wound down the rear window and gave the building one final glance, ‘Benson corporated’. At least it still bore his name, He knew it was the end for him, but the beginning for his son. He gave a big sigh as he felt a wave of peace settle on his moustache.
Lami shivered abruptly with every sound the night whispered in her ear. She expected him every night, but this night will be written as murderous. She was ready to make the journey to hell but she must take him with her.
Gani lost his parents to the Misa tribal war. Their death cursed him with demons that inspired perversion. The demons consumed the little good his soul had. Lami’s father, the one they called Josa was the only strong spirited relative the boy had. He agreed to have Gani under his roof. Everyone said Josa had a magic spell that kept the demons away, yet no one knew the demons grew powerful in the presence of Lami.
At night they led him to her room, tormenting her with words and force. They threatened her sanity, they forced oats from her mouth. She could tell no one, but tonight, the gods will know. His blood on the dagger beneath her bed will break the oats to an end.
Fendo, the lady with a weird sense of humour, was due to leave town for her new employment in the big city of Lagos. The news ignited the emotions that were not known to be there, like the sleeping James Bond volcano.
Sitting around a complaining table, the emotions of the fact she’ll be missed is well impressed on the faces around the table like the writing on the wall. Even the meal and drinks on the table can attest to that fact. The laughter and the smiles all around were like a cooled fire heated polytene.
Time passed like an old man on crutches, as it crawled pass, the emotion grew like a spiraling passion fruit plant. It was a mixture of sweet and bitter like a beautifully iced divorce cake, because it’s known she is moving like a fish from a lake into a sea.
The farewell hugs came with tiny tears. It felt like a goodbye to a beautiful friendship, like the handful of sand poured in the casket of our friendship.
Fendo, looking into the sad faces around the complaining table, asked if this is the end, but all tongues were strung with the string of a friend-going-away to answer the tears immersed question.