Monday, 2 October 2017

Bring Him Back

They say when something bad is about to happen to a person that he usually gets an omen, a signal, or better still an intuition of it. I stood in my son’s room, staring down at his reposed figure, wondering how I couldn’t have gotten an omen about this. How I could have spent the past hour caught up in Lagos traffic, bobbing my head to my favourite highlife music without a single inkling that life was at that very moment taking its sweetness from my mouth and replacing it with sourness?
I tried to tell myself that he couldn’t be dead; he could just be in a coma. But, no, reality would not let me find succor in wishful thinking; reality had to remind me that Dockie (my family doctor and friend), had told me with sad finality a few minutes back that Bosun, my son, is gone. Gone forever.
“Bring him back.”
The whispered words had my head whipping back to see my wife, Folake, in the room with me. I hadn’t heard her come in, but then my hearing seems to have suddenly gone bad. I hadn’t heard the words of condolence that had poured out of the mouths of family and friends that were already gathered in the house when I came in. All that had kept ringing in my head had been Folake’s welcoming accusation: “Bosun is dead. I kept calling you; I kept calling you!”
I turned around to face her now. My beautiful wife, still exquisite despite her anguish. Tall, slim and light-skinned with delicate features, a pointed nose and a lithe figure that had won her Miss Unilag when we were back in school. My Folake. How I loved her, my dream girl whom I had somehow managed to make mine despite being just a simple, small-statured dude with below average looks.
Gently, I took her into my arms and tried to comfort her, but she held back stiffly. “Did you hear what I just said?”
I had heard of course, but like many insane things she had been saying all evening, I had ignored it. She was not in her right state of mind, understandably so.
“You know you can bring him back.”
“What are you talking about, Folake?”
“I’m talking about our only child, Jide; my only child. You know I can’t have…any more children. You know…” her voice already rough and cracked from all her wailing disappeared altogether at this point. Yet her mouth kept moving.
She collapsed into sobs, shoulders hunched and trembling. She looked so fragile, so miserable. I pulled her into my arms, resting her head on my shoulder, wishing I could transfer all her pain to myself… add it to mine.
She raised her head up to speak again. Tear streaks, darkened by what used to be her eye make-up, patterned her face here and there, and her braids, usually impeccably packed at the top of her head, were now littered all over her face like the tresses of the Gorgon, with several strands missing in the front. She must have pulled them out the many times she had yanked at her hair.
“I was in the kitchen when it happened; he was in the living room playing. I don’t know if he fell, don’t know what happened to him. I was cooking… I didn’t hear anything, I didn’t hear him call out for help. Nothing. I just came back and saw him lying there. So still.”
Her voice dropped to a bemused whisper and she pulled away from me.
“If only I had been more alert. Better still, why hadn’t I stayed with him while he played? That’s a mother’s duty, to always be with her child. Instead I was in the kitchen focused on preparing your food. What kind of a mother am I, ehn, Jide? What kind of a mother am I?”
“No, no, don’t do this…”
But she went on, “You keep asking me to get a maid, but I keep refusing. You know why? I was afraid of bringing in a girl that would entice my husband. How silly, how senseless.” She gave a small, self-derisive laugh. “See me now, see what has happened to my baby?”
I went to her and forcefully gave her a little shake. “Fola, stop it! Stop blaming yourself, there is nothing anyone could have done. I know how badly you are hurting; I know how badly I am hurting. But we have to be strong. God willed it and it happened, self-flagellation cannot turn back the hands of time or bring him back…”
“But you can bring him back!”
“Bring him back, bring him. What are you talking about? Am I God!” I hadn’t realized I had shouted until I heard someone knocking on the door.
“Is everything all right in there?” my mother’s voice called out. “Why is the door locked?”
Folake must have locked the door when she had come in.
“Nothing is the problem, Mum. Folake and I just need some time alone.”
A doubting pause. “Okay o. Please you two should come out now. E ja de e.”
Folake went on with our discussion, answering the question I had asked before the interruption in an urgent whisper, “You are not God, but neither was your friend Abdul. He brought that girl back, you can bring him back too.”
My hands dropped away from her and I reeled back, as though a ray of electricity had shot itself right up my veins. I stared at her in mind-deadened shock. How could she bring up the Abdul incidence? How could she even suggest…?
“Folake, what has gotten into you?” My wife who had been mortified when she heard that ghastly thing Abdul had done, now talking about me doing the same?
For the first time in my life, I wished I did not always tell her everything. But how could I not do that? She was my wife, my soulmate, and I cherished her more than anything else in the world; how could I hide anything from her? How could I not have told her all that had happened that night when I had come home at an ungodly hour, looking like someone that had had an encounter with the devil?
The events of that horrid night, which I had managed to bury in the nadirs of my mind, came rushing back to the fore.
Abdul, my friend of over a decade, and a new friend of his from work, a junior colleague by the name Tuoyo, had taken me out on one of our usual Friday night haunts. Friday nights were hang-out nights, men’s night; and it was a ritual for us to go over to our favourite bar on the Island, have some drinks and pick up girls to spend the night with. I never picked up girls, of course, never cheated on my wife, but it was always fun to watch the other two do their thing. And once they retired with their girls, I would retire home, back to the arms of my loving wife.
That particular night, I hadn’t even wanted to hang out with the boys. I had had a particularly exhaustive day and just wanted to go home and rest. But Abdul had come looking for me at work, picked me up in his Ford Explorer and managed to convince me that time out with Tuoyo and him would gear my spirits back up.
It had been a typical night out. We met Tuoyo already waiting at our favourite place, drinks were ordered, gist and jokes flowed freely and soon my guys’ dates arrived. Abdul retired to his car with his and Tuoyo also switched his attention to his, leaving me to my beer.
I would have called it a night at that moment, but Abdul had driven me down so I was immobile. I wished I had driven myself then and was still on this thought when Abdul came rushing back in, a weird panicky look on his face. He pulled Tuoyo and I aside.
“I don’t know what’s up with Letty,” he’d whispered to us with desperate urgency. Letty was the girl he had gone out with. Her real name was actually Latifat or Lati for short, ‘funkified’ to Letty, we all knew that and had had quite a laugh about it the first time Abdul introduced her to us.
Tuoyo and I rushed out with Abdul to his SUV, and found the girl at the back. She was kneeling like one praying, head on the upholstery and naked save for her bum shorts.

The Story Continues>>>Click Here for Part 2

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