(An excerpt from the novel AFTER THESE EERIE DAYS by Abiose A. Adams… continued from last week)
I was out of touch with reality because I couldn’t accept or believe what I was seeing. I was losing it. I was denying it. It must be some nightmare or perhaps I was under a spell.
Khalil was still in his black-white striped, Adidas tracksuit he had worn the night before; lying on the floor by the dining, hands splayed, head bleeding.
Hamil was stumbling against the pouffe, the centre table and the couch, all at once, confused and restless like the troubled sea.
It was still around 10am.
Suddenly, sense jumped at me and I jumped at Khalil. With quick, intense but fretful movements, I rubbed my hands over his hair, eyes, nose and mouth.
“Khalil,” I whispered.
“Get the fuck outta here, you whore,” Hamil barked and yanked me up with the collar of my t-shirt. I recoiled and fell back on Khalil’s chest.
“Oh no Khalil,” I sobbed. I lifted his hands, and they fell back to the ground. I put my ear on his chest to listen to his heartbeat. But I couldn’t hear those beats- those beat, the live wire.
Trembling greatly, hoping against hope, I opened and closed his eyelid, tickled his armpit, kissed his mouth, touched him everywhere, all in quick movements, and then shouted in hysteria, “Let’s rush him to the hospital….he needs a doctor!”
Hamil creaked his boots towards me, gave me the crook eye and said; “You see what you have caused you, bitch! Intruder! Turd! Go ahead and fuck him now. I should have known that you’re so worthless. I should have never allowed you to stay in this house. Now you see? Do you see??? He widened his hands and eyes at me. “I am going to call the cops and you’ll be charged for murder,” he said pointing and shaking his finger vigorously.
“Whaaat????!!! I suddenly rose to my feet with some supernormal, grief energy that mounted me. I was ready to fight for the man I love. “You will call the what??……the cops?…. don’t you dare,” I yelled, jabbing my finger in his face. And the next thing I saw were stars, as numerous as the sand at the seashore. Hamil slapped me so hard, my neck turned rightwards and stuck rightwards.
“I DON’T GIVE A HOOT ABOUT YOU HAMIL,” I cried in anguish. “You can only kill the body, you can’t kill the soul,” I shouted even louder. I was going crazy…. I was losing my mind in real time. I was about to take off my clothes and run down the streets, when he suddenly yanked me up again, grabbing me by the throat.
“YOU ARE EVIL, HAMIL. YOU ARE EVIL. YOU’RE A MONSTER. I’VE ALWAYS KNOWN IT,” I yelled through clenched teeth. And then another slap and blood spurted from my ears. My goodness! His hands were like steel.
He relaxed his grip on my throat, held me by the shoulders and pinned me to the wall.
“If I ever hear your voice again. If you dare say a word. “I will” …..He made a sign of his hand crossing his neck—– “I will kill you.” He picked up a smelly boxer of his, from the dirty laundry, and stuffed it into my mouth.
“I will call the cops, you will be charged for murder and jailed for life,” he said. He must have been as scared as I was for sweat streamed from his forehead, covering his face and soaked the white shirt he was wearing.
Paroxysms of grief gripped me again. I shook from head to foot, sweating profusely. My heart skipped its beat as though I was about to have a cardiac arrest. I thought it was even better to die. Sobs tried to escape but were muffled by the clothes. I cried internally, tear streaming my eyes. I kept staring at Khalil, hoping he would just rise from the floor, beat up this monster and deliver me, but he lay helpless and still. Was it possible that he was dead or he had just passed out. Khalil!!!Khalil!! I called from within, but the sound wasn’t getting out. I couldn’t and would never adjust to the reality that Khalil was no more. No! He just needed medical attention. How could it be possible? A few moments ago, we were looking at the catalogue, trying to choose our wedding attire. It was going to be world-acclaim, royal, magical, and set in a wood-and-forest theme. I had been overjoyed at the prospect of meeting his mom, of carrying his child, of being a proud holder of an American passport, that blue passport with the insignia of the great seal.
I wept at the ephemerality of life- fleeting, shadowy, vain, vaporous. Life that intangible essence- of beauty and ashes, of love and hate, of melodies and threnodies, of laughters and wails, of odes and dirges, of springing ups and shrinking downs, of war and peace, of fright and faith, of altruism and covetousness, of brightness and darkness- day and night.
Life and its transient, insatiable appetite for power, the unquenchable thirst for self-aggrandizement, the overkill desire to vaunt and flaunt and daunt others- all a fare in vanity.
Here lies Khalil, one of Italy’s finest footballers, dashing, smart and at the apotheosis of his career struck by his own identical twin brother. Khalil, the symbol of laughter and sunshine. At that moment, I suddenly remembered my dad, mom, brothers and only sister. I remembered Uju and Somto and Chelsea.
After all my eerie experiences, I should have understood, as Jesus said, that human life does not consist in the abundance of material possessions. There is more to me than the pride of holding a blue passport. Owning the world is good, but being owned by the author of the world is better.
And suddenly, Hamil, ran down the stairs, with a knife and a rope. I thought, finally he was going to kill me. Fear so gripped my heart that I heard its thug at my rib cage. But he began to cut several yards of rope and tied my hands and feet. I thought if Hamil calls the police, then I was finished for life. And then I thought again of the vanity of it all, of what use is living a fake life in Europe?
Of what use is the vaunting for daunting, the emptiness of a foreign passport, the citizenship of a transient city? I kept looking at Khalil, still hoping he would rise. And then with sudden rage, I shouted from my soul; won’t you rise? Aren’t you physically fit? Aren’t you a sportsman? How could you allow this one hit, snuff the life out of you? Khalil” Khalil! I so screamed, this time, the force pushed out the clothes.
And then he strutted out from the kitchen where he had gone to get a cup of wine. Dropped his cup, took a black scarf and tied it across my eyes. Blindfold. He commandeered me to his room, whose floor was covered with pieces of broken glasses.
He brought out chains and cuffs, trussed me to the window. He locked the doors behind me and went downstairs. I sat in hand and feet cuffs, my face to the wall, saying nothing and seeing nothing. All I did was just weep. I wept and wept till I had a migraine and all strength to weep was no more.
Though I couldn’t see or touch, I could still hear because I heard him drive out of the yard. My mind wandered. Was he going to call the police to arrest me? Or was he taking his brother Khalil to the hospital? Or some other place, I couldn’t imagine?
My heart rang with a threnody for him whom I have come to love so much. A million and one questions inundated my mind. How could you give up just so, Khalil? Was this why you said you were going to give me some damn good memories? Where was the fight in you, Khalil? I sought for a metaphor to describe my sorrow but found none. Sorrow to deep to describe, too punitive to experience.
He returned some hours later, and then removed the muffle and the blindfold.
“I’m removing this because I want you to say yes.” His eyes were flaming red, his hands were tremulous, as well as his voice. He smelt of concentrated sweat, beer and weed.
I nodded, looking at him, my eyes swollen, catarrh running down my nose.
“You killed him, okay?” he said, pointing a voice recorder to my mouth.
“Killed who?”I said, my voice trembling.
“You killed your lover, Khalil.”
“Noooooo,” I shouted…. “I didn’t kill him…he’s not dead.”
“Sharrap!!!!” He slapped me again. This time, I saw the sun, the moon and the 12 stars. I gritted my teeth in anguish.
“Khalil’s not dead…NO…He’s not dead. He’s alive. He just needs to doctor, and he will be fine.”
He grinned, and laughed wickedly, “…lover girl……go flaunt yourself at him…cheap slut…gutter girl..…”
“Noooo…Noooo. Noo,” I wailed, in a very loud voice… like someone just awake from a nightmare. “This is not fair, Khalil is your blood brother, your twin, don’t you have a conscience?!”
“Fair…conscience???! He laughed devilishly…. “leave me and my brother alone…you’re an intruder and you’ll always remain one.” Then he hit a club on my head, stuffed more clothes into my mouth.
“Since you don’t want to agree, and cooperate with me… you will remain my slave. Now, I’m ready to really show you who I am….” He put back the blindfold.
So I was there with my mind, my thoughts, my spirit, my God.
I thought about the premonition I had after the quarrel with Khalil. I said it. This wasn’t going to be good. But I loved Khalil so much, I wouldn’t listen to my intuition. God knows I love Khalil. I love Khalil. I love you, Khalil… I began to sob and shiver, again, tears flowing freely down my cheeks. My t-shirt, torn by Hamil, was soaked in tears.
“If I ever hear from your lips anything about what happened today, I will personally strangle you to death,” he warned with a jab of his finger.
My hands and legs remained in stocks all night long. Sleep? Who sleeps when her house is on fire? The pieces of my mind that were left to me the following day as a Saturday. He placed some meagre dry crust bread in front of me and loosened one of my hands, so I could eat. But I could not. All I thought about was Khalil. He was at the centre of my imagination. He reappeared, more charming and caring. The walls breathed his presence. The air smelt of him. I heard his laughter in the wind. I heard the voice in the echoes. He was my daylight and the warmth of the sun.
I remembered the first day we spoke. That day he stood on the patio, legs crossed, a bottle of red drink in his right hand and the world in his left hand. Now I don’t even know where he is. I remembered the day at the spa, he slept in my hands, while I was braiding his hair. I remembered the first kiss at the dining. And the first time he told me he loved me.
I remembered the day I told him about Hamil and his fierce reaction. I remembered the day I went to look for him at St Francesco Avenue, and the day he slipped the ring into my hand. “Save my life,” he had told me that day at the pool. Oh, Khalil. This memory is torture, please come back to me, or I die. But thank God for memories. They helped me cope a bit.
The more I thought of him, the more his presence engulfed me. I reached out to hold him and he was gone again. In my mind, I sat on his favourite chair, stood where he stood, ate with his plates, drank with his cup.
In my mind, I replayed just yesterday morning when we made love and for the first time without protection. I had wondered why he threw caution to the wind, contrary to his very disciplined use of it, and he told me he was ready to be the father of my child. Was I going to have his child? That would be a near-consolation. But for now, I’m totally shattered, scattered and ripped apart, if not to pieces.
With tear-filled eyes, still, in cuffs and blindfold, I held him close to my heart, in memorial.
And then I said to Hamil, in my heart, even if you take Khalil away from me, you cannot take his memory from me, those sweet and precious memories, will forever remain in my innermost sanctuary, untainted by time, nor space, nor your cruelty.
And to you Mr Killer, live to die no more, in fact, possess all his possessions and continue in your vanity fare.
Abiose A. Adams is a novelist, investigative journalist and programme officer at TheCable Newspaper Journalism Foundation. She can be reached on [email protected], @abioseadams, 08174217144(WhatsApp only).
Synopsis (After these eerie days)
She is ambitious but unschooled in street-wiseness. Seventeen-year-old Funto Colesworth did not know the trip to study her dream course, Medicine, in France, is one to nowhere until she finds herself in a brothel in Cotonou.
Rather than remain there to hawk sex which she is mandated to do, she escapes and joins another set of human traffickers to cross the ghoulish Sahara Desert with ten other trafficked girls. On surviving, she continues her flirtations with danger; gets into a close-shave with death in the Mediterranean Sea, where she is the only survivor amongst the girls. Arriving Italy breathless, Funto is introduced to Rome’s red-light district, where she subsequently meets a rich and snazzy footballer, Khalil.
Their whirlwind romance would have resulted in marriage and landed her a fortune, but her hopes went up in flames again when he is killed by his irascible, psychotic twin brother Hamil. Then she realises the more ruinous cost of naivety when Hamil implicates her, leading to her imprisonment in Germany. Thrown in gaol, and with no clemency in sight, Funto felt defeated until she meets a Ghanaian missionary, Duncan Mellanby, whose romance with her leads to the fence-mending between father and daughter, after twelve eerie years.
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