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Farewell to Dreams

 By Gabriel Bamgbose

 Wednesday, December 25, 2013.

 

The day had just stepped out of his cubicle with the yellow sun looking down upon the earth from the sky with a blurred sight. Everywhere was hazy and cold; one could hardly see what was ahead.

Akin was driving on the Igboro Road leading to the campus, University of Ile, where he was studying Law. He was moving the car at a very slow speed. All of a sudden, he caught the sight of a barrier on the road. Since it was very early in the morning, the road was not busy; he had been the only one driving on the road; he had left his home because he had a 6:00am lecture. As the class representative, he had to be in class before the lecture commenced. He matched the brake suddenly, the tyres hissed and the car came to a halt. A young fellow emerged amidst the thick mist dressed in black overcoat and a black hat stood atop his head. Akin could not make out the face of the fellow neither could he decipher if the fellow was a male or a female. The black-attired fellow pointed a pistol at him and gestured with that crazy metal that knows not his maker that he should get off his much adored and adorned Toyota Corolla. Akin was so shocked that no rescue measures came to his empty mind, blanked by fear. He sprang up in his smart black pencil jeans and anorak as fast as he could. The follow ordered him to the bush edging the roadside. Still pointing the pistol at him, the fellow roared, ‘Kneel down and close your eyes…abi you wan make I …’ The fellow clicked its tongue with a gesture interpreted as ‘kill you!’ in Akin’s brain.

The tall, fair-complexioned, machoed, Afro-haired Akin knelt down on the dusty filthy ground eyes shut, shaking violently with fear, facing the thick bush like Moses facing the burning bush on the holy ground. He heard his metallic mate zoom off behind him. After some seconds, he turned his head slightly to that direction and opened his eyes slightly only to find his sight momentarily dazed by the rays of the mild sun piercing through the chink in the window blind. He sprang up as if he wanted to run after the stolen car, when he discovered that he was on the bed. He erected himself on the bed brooding and wondering.  Chuks, Akin’s roommate, who had been studying at the reading table, saw his sudden reaction; he asked, ‘Akin, what’s wrong with you?’

       ‘I… just had a dream’

       ‘Sooo are you fighting again this time...? I’ve been watching you since; you are just turning you head and moving yourself on the bed in a very strange manner.’

       ‘Do you -’

       ‘Ok! What does the dreamer have for us this time?’ Chuks asked sarcastically grinning like a strangled fish.

       ‘Are you trying to -?’

       ‘Hmmm! You know say na so you dream last week say thieves come rob City Bank. Enh? You talk say you dey hear gunshots as the police dey pursue the thieves. Dem fire you gun hundred times but na so you dey dudge dem. As dem enter car say make dem dey go, na him you turn Jet Li begin fight champanchun with dem, but … na me you dey blow for bed!’

       ’Enh enh? Shey the thieves no come as I dream am?’

       ‘Dem come…but you no wait fight dem like Jet Li! Na you first come hide under bed begin call JESUS de sweat like Christmas goat.’ Chuks burst into laughter.

       Akin apparently unscathed by Chuks sarcasms replied, ‘You know dreams can be foolish at times, but -’

       ‘Akinnn …what do you see this time?’

       ‘I dreamt I’m robbed of my car by an unidentified young fellow.’

       Chuks burst into roaring laughter and said, ‘Akin! … You! … Car! Ooo, you really make me laugh?’

       ‘Is this one funny again?’

       ‘You wey be say na by force you take come school come study Law! You never buy bicycle, not even the tyre of car, you dey dream of car. No be say you even buy am, dem steal am from you! Guy, forget that thing. Wetin we go chop?’

       ‘I no say Onitsha boys no know which kind talk dem no dey talk. You no see my head? Come chop am. Bumbaclark!’

       ‘Abeg!’

       Akin got out of the bed. As he made his way to the door to get himself eased at the backyard, where their toilet was located, he heard a great noise rushing in from the street.

       ‘Chuks, can you hear that?’

       ‘What’s wrong out there?’

       Both of them rushed out of the room only to see a crowd of people flood the street. A naked man was running at the fore-front and two heavy men were chasing after him. Suddenly the naked man paused.  He held his man-rod as If he wanted to urinate. He began to shout: ‘Bone…skull…skeleton, please leave me alone ooooo!’ As he made his way into the crowd still holding his ‘nozzle’ as if he wanted to fuel a car, all the women took their flight out of fright; they feared he might pounce on them.

       The naked man was a famous butcher in Ifake, the students’ residential area, where Akin and Chuks lived. The night before, he had given a sweet young lady a lift. The man being a flirt chatted the lady up whispering his lustful desires into her ears incessantly, while on the wheel. The lady gave in. They drove down to his house after rocking the bars. They did the act and slept off nude. When the cock crowed the butcher rolled over to his whore for a romantic morning duty. As he landed his palm on the point he calculated to have been the lady’s breast, he discovered his hand hit a hard substance instead of that soft fatty thing. He opened his eyes with a flash and what he saw was a skeleton lying romantically by his side. Too shocked by the sight of that dreadful frame beside him, he flew out of the bed. He attempted to shout, but he felt some phalanges holding his larynx. He could not shout. He tried hard to make his way out of the room and run out madly, naked.

       As the butcher burst into the crowd, the men after him ceased him. One of the men shouted, ‘Please help us hold him; we don’t want him to go this way into the market square!’ With all efforts and with the hands given them by other men at the scene, they tied him up and carted him away.

       ‘Hey! God have mercy o,’ Akin said with heavy a heave.

       ‘Why dat man talk say him no wan make him enter market?’

       ‘In this part of the world, we  believe that  once a mad man enters the market square, he would  never  recover from his insanity no matter the treatment given him’, Akin responded.

       ‘So…asylum straight!’

       ‘God have mercy!’

       After few minutes, the street restored its normalcy. Immediately Akin and Chuks returned to their room, a voice rang in Akin’s brain: “You know I admire you…I promise I’d pay you a visit on Saturday; trust me for love is built on trust!”

       Although it was the voice Akin had heard on Wednesday evening, the voice came to him at that moment with freshness, fancies and fantasies. Sake had told him that. Three days before, Akin met this black beauty in the Faculty of Sciences, when he went to see one of his friends there.

       The beauty of the lady was worth Akin’s freak. She was tall and ‘spaghettiously’ slim. She did braid hair style. She was dressed in slim fitted wears that structurally and aesthetically exposed the fine frame of her ‘dangerous curve’ and ‘mighty guts’. She had a beautiful spotless smiling face and her smile was usually graced with the diastema in her sparkling set of teeth.

       Akin saw Sake’s back-view, while she was standing beside the mango tree in front of the Science Complex. He was on the third floor; with the speed of a thunder flash, he descended the flight of stairs and approached her. When he gazed at her face, she was weeping. Akin felt sorry. He calmed her down and inquired what the matter was. As she opened her mouth to speak, Akin re-cast his gaze on the face of this Angel. ‘She looks very familiar,’ he thought. He thought hard: ‘She really looks like…is she the girl? She? Secondarr...my classmate in secondary school?’

       Sake still sobbing like a child denied of its food, had begun to operate on Akin’s inquiry: ‘One of my lecturers wants to get down with me…he has always troubled me that he wants a bite of my beauty but -’ she burst into cry again, apparently uncontrollable for her now. Akin was moved.

       ‘Please, I don’t want to see you cry, Okay? Jussst calm down, okay?’

       ‘Since I was in 100 level I’d been having a carry-over in his course just for this reason. Now that I’m in my final year he promised to make me have a spill-over if I don’t -’

       She sobbed even more and more.  Akin emotionally moved came close to her and cuddled her.

       ‘It’s okay. Now tell me the name of that foolish man!’

       ‘Dr Avovo. Biology -’

       ‘Oook, I’ve heard so much about that man. You just wait here and promise me you’d stop crying. Everything would be taken care of.’

       Akin stormed into the complex and came out after five minutes. Sake saw him coming out heroically as if he were a Daniel from the lion’s den and wondered what the young man had gone in there to do on her behalf.

       ‘Young lady, everything has been taken care of, okay? He will release your result this time. You know law students are feared in this Unile. So don’t worry, okay?’

       ‘Oh, you’re a law student?

       ‘Yeah,’ Akin answered with the pride of a barrister.

       ‘Oh, a Daniel has come to my case!’ Sake said with the tone of happiness sharply replacing her gloomy state. ‘I’m very grateful. Thank you very much!’

       ‘You’re welcome. Anyway, I’m Akin Olowo and you?’

       ‘Sake Fidipe.’

       ‘Sake? Yes, I knew it! Did you attend Idera High School?’

       She then inspected the face very well; she knew it was an old friend. She recollected without much effort. Immediately she hugged him passionately. Akin clutched her to his chest like an award gained in public. She is a bosom friend he had always admired in school. After the exchange of pleasantries, Akin inquired:

‘Why did you just disappear in school when we were in S.S. 2 without noting me?’

       ‘Hmm, that’s a long story. So many things happened. I lost my parents then. So I decided to go back to the village since I have no one to sponsor my education. But I thank God; He has restored balance now,’ she said smiling coyly.

       ‘Oh! I’m very sorry for that. How is your sister?’

       ‘My sister,’ she sighed heavily wearing a piteous look, ‘was kidnapped a year after we lost our parents…. Please don’t let me recall that again; I’m just getting out of those horrible experiences.’

       ‘I’m very sorry.’ he said apparently immersed in emotion.

       ‘So…in what level are you now?’ She asked in an attempt to change the subject matter. 

       ‘I’m a finalist too.’

       ‘Lawyer, Lawyer!’ she pronounced humorously. Both parties burst into laughter.

       As they stood, a man ran through them madly. He headed for the wall of the fence behind the Science Complex. Hurriedly, he zipped down his trouser, brought out his ‘hose’ and began to wet the inscription on the wall:

                                   DO NOT URINATE ON THIS WALL

                                   IT IS HIGHLY PROHIBITED!

 

Akin, sighting the man, went straight for him and challenged him.

       ‘Hey, young man, can’t you see the inscription on the wall?’

       ‘Bros, forget dat insikirip…or wetin you call am? Abeg no commot my teeth. No so dem dey write am everywhere and na so we dey do our thing. This is Igboro; who send?’

       Akin was repulsed by the man’s act but before he could say another word, the man had already zipped up and taken his flight in the like manner he came. Akin was apparently hurt but what could he do to that ‘anarchious’ beast! Sake moved closer to him and patted him on the shoulder, curing his irritation with her angelic smile.

       ‘Just let go that fool, lawyer boy?’ Akin was involuntarily beaming then; the smile was so pleasing that Akin lost his foothold in its therapeutic torrent. He let himself flow freely, unobstructed to the heart of the damsel.

       ‘Do you still have a class today?’

       ‘Absolutely no’

       ‘Aaannd…do you mind knowing my place?’

       ‘Apparently no,’ Akin replied without hesitation, with the coolest voice accompanied with a smile. ‘Oh, what a lucky day!’ he whispered softly in his mind and off they went!

       Akin came home that day a different person. Everything about him seemed to have turned around. Perhaps he had had a glorious encounter he had long been waiting for. He came in whispering the song, ‘All my life I pray for someone like you,’ smiling and looking up as if remembering the experience that activated the nerves of cheers in his system. Chuks was taken aback; It had been long he had seen his friend in this kind of state. Chuks broke his song-whispering merriment with a question.

       ‘My friend, you’re lively today. You win lottery?’

       ‘Chuks, this one pass lottery o; na visa direct to the city of the Angels,’

       Akin recounted everything that happened that day, his amorous and glamorous adventure with Miss Ebony, to his roommate. They talked lousily singing different Kegit songs of gyration, picking one after the other. ‘Yeah, this really calls for celebration,’ Chuks said bringing out a keg of palm-wine he bought, while coming from school. They drank, merried, gyrated until they were lulled to bed by the soothing hands of sleep.

       In the middle of the night, Akin rose from the bed. He is apparently in the coma of love; the enchantment was so strong that he still found himself dulcified in the ring of the thought of that heroic moment of his life. ‘Yeah, I’m a real man,’ he thought. He let himself free in that memory.  After a while, some poetic lines began to roam in his brain. He made conscious efforts to trap them down in ink and paper. There is the end-product of the roaming aesthetic thoughts he was able to catch on paper.

       TULIP

       Tulip in hands for my heart

       Utterances sweetened and jellied follow with a flight

       Let love leap on our red lips

       Intimacy and warmth bearing our witness

       Professing the oath that will hold us bound till night

 

       When he finished and re-examined what he had written, he alarmed, ‘Me! In the ‘mesh’ Kwesi Brew was talking about? So…is this how it comes? If it is, let me not and never recover from this state forever!’ He clenched his teeth and banged the reading table with his clenched fist inadvertently. He had migrated from the bed to the table, when he wanted to capture his thoughts. Chuks raised his head slightly sleepily and let out a long fricative hiss. He reposed his head on the pillow and continued his snore like a pig, whose respiratory system was blocked with fats.

       ‘What shall I do with this?’ he thought for a while. ‘She must see it…Tulip! I guess, I can get one… with this I’d make a love card and send both to her. I know she’d be coming on Saturday but … I’d get this to her in the morning.’ He was very pleased with that thought.

       At 9:00am Akin was already at Sake’s hostel. Her door was locked; a placard on the door showed that she had gone for lectures. Akin was glad it happened that way; he never wanted her to see him with those items anyway. He wanted it to be a surprise package. He hung the ‘surprise bag’ on the door using the nail holding the placard. Off course, the source of the package is already inscribed on the self-designed love card. Sake would instantly know where it came from. Akin set out for school immediately he left the shrine of his heart. As he was passing through the Jambites queuing at the admission office, a young lady covered his eyes from behind in a bojuboju manner; she had not forgotten that child’s play. When Akin eventually managed to wring free, the face before his was Lara’s, Sake’s ‘kidnapped’ sister! He was surprised she could still recognise him easily. He hid his awe and reciprocated the greeting heartily.

       ‘Hey Lara, you’re now a big girl; I guess you a fresher on this campus.’

       ‘Yes o, I’d soon be a staylite, an Economist!’

       ‘It’s just a matter of time; you’d soon become a finalist like me and a graduate some day. Do you know your sister is here too? I’m sure you’d be glad to meet her again after these long years of separation.’

       ‘My sister? No…no…no! Did I just hear you say my sister? Where! How?’

       Lara was just too shocked to say anything further; she opened her mouth as if the muscles in her lips are too weak to control it. The ‘surprise packager’ was then thinking of another surprise package. ‘It’d be good if they meet each other; I don’t need to say everything here to maintain the suspense,’ he thought chuckling. Lara too was immersed in her thought: ‘Does he really know what he’s saying? My Sisss…haa!’ she sighed. Akin told her that he would like Lara to meet her sister at his place on Saturday for their re-union. He gave her the description of his place. ‘When you get to Bishop’s Court, just call me or ask anyone you’re asking for “Akin de Law”; that’s me,’ he said. Lara shrugged and promised she’d be there.

 

It was Saturday morning; the day was laced with series of weird incidents. But mirth encroached into Akin’s heart again, when he remembered that day was really a ‘Saturn Day’.

       He could hear the illusionary voice of Sake whispering to his hear to be prepared for the romantic reception. The flood of ecstasy overflowed his face giving way to the pressure of haste, when he discovered that their bachelor’s court was not yet prepared for this august visitor.

       ‘Chuks, abeg let’s clean up this room sharp sharp. Today is Saturday, you remember?’

       ‘Oh yes yes! Your parole day,’ Chuks responded chuckling.

       Oya oya oya! Hope the air-freshener still dey?’

       ‘Yeah. Here is the new bed sheet.’

       ‘Your head dey there! Now back to that your question:

Wetin we go cook?’ He checked his pocket. ‘I get N1000.00 here; just add anything make we cook vegetable soup and get some fufu or what do you think?’ he asked persuasively.

       ‘Nothing do you Mr Lover,’ Chuks replied laughing boisterously.

       The whole assignments had been successfully completed; their room wore its courtly physiognomy and the radiance of love had already filled that place. Chuks would have to vapourise himself for that day and leave the perfect sets for the love-intoxicated duo. Akin sat anxiously gazing at the wall clock like the serpent hung on the rod in the wilderness. Those who looked it then were saved and rid of their anxiety but the reverse were Akins’s case - the more he gazed, the more anxious he became. He could not withstand the sight of the clock any more. So he decided to go outside the veranda waiting for his Angel.

       The Angel finally came covering him in the wings of love in appreciation for the ‘surprise bag’. With an expression of love clearly written on her fine face, she said, ‘Thank you for those gifts. Those words I read make me drown in passion for you and wait for this day. I place that card on my heart every time I miss you; I can see you in it.’ She followed those kind words with hugs and kisses. Akin could vividly see the handwriting boldly written on the wall of her face. ‘Oh, this is THE DAY THE LORD HAS MADE. I will rejoice and be glad in it.’ That was all on Akin’s mind as he stayed in the warmth of those broad wings.

        A feeble knock was heard on the door. The duo adjusted swiftly. Akin moved to the door, he opened it slightly. A boy delivered a message to him. Immediately he excused himself from the room. After some minutes, he came back. He met Sake sitting on the reading table feeding her eyes on some pictures in the album. Akin stood at the centre of the room; like a town-crier he announced, ‘Sake, I have a surprise for you!’

        ‘I know you’re always full of surprises. How do you want to awe me this time?’ she asked with her face lit up with a colourful smile.

       ‘May the honourable out there step in please?’ Lara entered as fast as a flash of thunder. It was true her sister was sitting on the table in blood and flesh. She grew pale with fear and exclaimed, ‘Sake!’ Her hand bag fell out of her arm; she was shaking visibly. Sake lifted herself up immediately she heard that voice; it was as if she was catapulted off the table. Akin was astounded at the ‘reuniting’ sisters’ reactions. He turned his head from the sight of the fear-soaked Lara to the table side, where Sake was….He saw nothing! Lara was weeping profusely. The revelation came when she mumble out some incoherent  words blunt by the howling of cry, ‘ Sa-sa-kee d-d-d-i-e-d  f-o-u-r  y-e-a-r- s  a –g-o -’ When Akin was able to make a thesis from the scenario, he felt a heavy wind blowing past pulling his legs and dragging him along with force.

       Suddenly, Akin found himself on a valley by a river. At the other side of the river was a mountain. He heard his name echoed from the mountain top. He looked up and what greeted his sight was the image of Sake standing on the peak of the mountain. She waved her hands slowly with balls of tears rolling down freely, speedily from her eyes as if in a haste to meet the river below. She continued waving compassionately in a ‘goodbye’ gesture. Akin felt like diving into the river and climbing the mountain to meet her on the other side of the river but he felt a hand holding his hands firmly. He turned around to see who that could be…

       They have been waiting for him to open his eyes for the past four days in the hospital. He had collapsed since that mysterious event occurred. Akin shook his body for the first time since he had been on the sick bed. He opened his eyes slightly thereafter and what he saw with his sight dazed by the light of this world was Lara holding his hands firmly, sitting by his side.

       ‘What am I doing here,’ he asked in a fragile voice.

       ‘Ssshh… just have your rest.’ Feeling his neck with the back of her hand, Lara said calmly, ‘You’re back now….You’re better now.’

       She patted him on his arm. Akin looked up and saw his friend, Chuks and his parents gazing at his forehead as if he were an Abiku on the probation of death. He turned his head to the left side of the bed and saw a small refrigerator on which drugs and beverages stood. Amidst these items was a ‘surprise pack’ – a card and a tulip stood at its middle. He inspected it closely; it looked exactly like the poetic love card and the tulip he sent to Sake to seal their love. Tears welled up his dazzling eyes, involuntarily and continuously forming a stream from the corners of his eyes to the pillow on which his head rested weakly. He thought and wondered:

       ‘Perhaps…she returned my gift to me like propitiation rejected by the gods on the crossroads….Perhaps…she simply wanted to say, “Good bye my love; I love you still…’

He closed his tears-filled eyes again dazedly as if he wanted to re-sleep. Perhaps he could see her again for the last time to say the ‘Good-bye’ he failed to reciprocate in his last dream.  

Gabriel Bamgbose is a Nigerian writer and critic. He is currently teaching in the Department of English, Tai Solarin University of Education, Nigeria. He is the founder and editor of Ijagun Poetry Journal. He is widely published in different academic journals, local and international. Some of his literary works have appeared in Sankofa Magazine, The Literary Yard, BareBack Magazine, Online Nigeria and Ijagun. Also, one of his poems is longlisted for the 2013 Ghana Poetry Prize. His collection of poetry, Something Happened after the Rain, is forthcoming. 

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