(An excerpt from the novel AFTER THESE EERIE DAYS by Abiose A.Adams… continued from last week)
On a somnolent Sunday afternoon, I was in the kitchen scooping cakes and cubes, when a tornado burst open, the metal doors.
“Hi,” he said, and at the speed of light, went up the stairs in a flight.
The saucer in my hand fell to the marble floor, broke in pieces. I took trembling steps out of the kitchen towards the dining. For twenty-one days and night, I had been hemmed in, in the graveyard quietude of the house, and no one had entered. And just as I was recovering from the shock, he flew down the stairs with a bowl of crackers and a bottle of soda.
“Where’s ma brother?” He said, crunching the crackers and gulping loudly. He threw himself into the sofa and began to undo the lace of his white trainers. He sipped from an Adidas vacuum bottle, picked the TV remote control from the cowrie center table, ran his hands on it, scanning channels, crunching and talking at the same time, not even looking at the person he was talking to.
“Where’s ma brother,” he asked again.
“I don’t know,” I answered slowly, pretending I wasn’t pleasantly surprised to see him again.
“So wha you’re still doing in my house,! he turned at me, finally.
“I’m actually glad you came, because I am on my way out”
I was done being imprisoned. I was done being star-struck. I had lost my values, anyway. I could as well head to the streets and make my new status official. After all, he that is down needs fear no fall.
But to my biggest surprise, he stood up. His countenance towards me, sort of softened, and he inched in my direction.
“Oh..no, no, no,didnt mean it tha way.just curious…did my brother bea you?”
“Does he beat?”
“Oo..hooo..oh…don’ worry, he waved, as though trying to stop himself from revealing a secret.
“…help yourself,” he stretched the bowl of crackers towards me, and whizzed like breeze to the kitchen, brought out a bottle of soda from the fridge and thrust it into my hands. I refused it. I didn’t want. I was upset with him. There was no reason to, but I felt betrayed by him. If he had been here, Hamil wouldn’t have had a chance into my life. I began heading to my room. He began climbing the stairs to the upper floor. He leaned on the balustrade that led to the upper chambers, and tossed at me, a box of chocolate.
Catcha, he yelled, as one calling his playmate. And then the sun did set, wrapping up the day.
The following day was a Monday: A memorable Monday. In the morning, I was in the dining, eating chocolate and crunching ice cubes. I had a pen and paper, where I scribbled. Again, the door suddenly burst open, and he emerged in a blue, Adidas three-stripes jog suit and a red baseball-cap, which he rebelliously wore backwards. He had sweated so much and the wetness glued the suit to his body, pencilling out what looked like a well-chiseled six-pack abs. Sashaying towards me with an impish grin, laughing eyes, he gazed into my notes. I quickly placed both palms across the notes. He plucked the pen out of my hands; nodding gently, winking and stamping his right foot, as though to the beat of music.
“Catch it, if you can,” he smirked.
I stared at him, not showing any willingness to wrestle it out of his hands. I wanted to ask him if he thought we were on the football field where all you do is throw, dribble and catch. But I refrained. So he picked my glass of cubes and hid it behind his back. Sigh! I said in my mind, this guy is just an insuperable tease!
“What do you want?” I asked, shoulders falling.
“Wha you want?” he asked too.
“…a job just get me a job and I will quit.”
“I won’t get you a jaab, so you quit. I would get you a jaab, so you won’t.”
I was thinking of laughing, when he laughed.
There was this special alchemy, transforming us from strangers to friends; words long unexpressed, feelings long suppressed. It was quite fast, and I didn’t know whether to play his game or rebuff. And this electrifying personality of his, wasn’t making things drag any slower. The following day was a Tuesday, a thankful Tuesday. It was the day he introduced me to Ruth, a Kenyan, a former Mrs of an Italian, but dating one of the footballers. Her salon was as exquisite as the Christian Dior, Salvatore Ferragamo on the streets of Via Condotti in Rome, where you only find celebrities hobnobbing at Expresso shops. I worked as a braider, along with Laura, a Ghanian stylist.
On one friendly Friday, Khalil came into the salon with three friends. He came to my station, opened his palm and whispered. “See, I just got this African juju.”
It was a slithering black python! I screamed my head off. Fake snake. In the process, I accidentally pricked the scalp of the customer, whose hair I was fixing.
“Ouch, she cried. Tha hurts.”
“Sorry madam.” The African American customer kept freaking out. Ruth and Laura, spent the entire afternoon pacifying her.
Meanwhile Khalil kept a straight face, maintained an easy banter with his friends, feigning pretense.
When she left, Khalil sat on the swivel chair in front of me, waiting for me to loosen his hair. It was my turn to revenge. I thought to prick his hair, as payback for the prank.
I laid my hands on his hair. It felt so soft and innocent. I changed my mind. I shampooed, steamed and dried before applying hair extensions for the braids he requested for. By the time I was done, I noticed he had dozed.
“Wake up,” I tapped.
“Bellissimo, what a beauty!” cried Ruth and Laura, blowing a kiss with the tip of their fingers.
“Grazias,” he smiled, touching his hair with his two hands. The other players were screaming praises too. He admired himself in the mirror, turned to me, opened my palm and tucked in crisp euro notes.
When he had left, I quickly went to the toilet, and counted the money. 1000euros? Speechless!
On a superlative Saturday night, Khalil and his friend were eating pizza at the dining, and talking with a lot of pizzazz. I had just returned from the salon when he called out in his usual high spirited way. Everything about him was breezy, fast-paced and with so much energy.
“Come hang with me.”
“No thanks. I need to get some sleep,” I said, looking at the wall clock which said 9pm. I was already in my nightgown, my hair packed in a net and my face covered with anti-acne ointment.
“Oh no, com’on,” he coaxed. You did a good jaab on me, you deserve a..
“Yeah, yeah…you are right,” chipped in, his friends, who wore a dreadlock.
So I sat with them at the dining.
He pushed the carton of fish pizza towards me, tossed the fork and knife. The transparent tumbler suddenly turned pale yellow with orange juice bubbles as he hurriedly poured it in.
“If I may ask,” he began with a mouthful of food, which stuck out of his cheek like growth, “You’ve got the midas touch on your fingertips?” He gazed at me, his eyes delightfully glinting with flashes of light from the chandelier. Your fingerscan I see them, he leaned forward over the bottles and silver goblets to see my hands.
It reminded me of the first day we met; when he asked me to show him my hands. Following his gesture, I looked at my hand, the only thing I saw was nothing spectacular.
“You’ve got amazing sensory touch there I mean you took me back to my childhood days when my mama used to massage my head to get me to sleep. I was completely lulled by your touch,” he laughed.
Seth cleared his throat three times, laughed loudly as he excused himself from the table.
“Really? Is that why you pranked me at the saloon?”
“It’s no biggie,” he dismissed with a wave of hand. “…just a toy python under your skin,” he laughed loudly. I laughed in sympathy.
“But you are such a fantastically fabulous stylist,” he said through chewing and gulping, gazing between me and the empty carton. He spoke with a musical accent, raising his brows, as though asking questions and punctuating every sentence with throaty laughs.
“So tell me, you still wanna study medicine?”
“Are you telling me not to return to school?”
“Oh, no, no, no, I’m a huge fan of education, but seriously, you got talent, he reached out for my hands again, this time stroking it with the back of his whitish pale palms. “this is good, it will fetch you money. I tell you I discovered football by accident. Someone had to tell me when I was in high school that I could. I shrugged it off, and then, I represented my school in a competition and ever since I have been doing that. Then a coach trained me and now I do this professionally.”
“Do you also soothsay professionally?”
“You are so cheeky,” he pulled my cheek.”…my gut feeling just tells me, we seek what we think is lost, from without, meanwhile, the gold is actually within.
“But seriously, I had been suffering from insomnia, but I slept in your arms,” he whispered.
I looked into his eyes, to check if he was truly serious or it was one of his pranks. But what confronted me in them? Could this be real? This player who opens doors with the force of a tornado, moves at the speed of light. This player who eats fish pizza everyday and plays pranks more than he plays football?
“What else are you talented at?”
“Write? Write what?”
“Poems, short stories, stage plays. I believe I will be a great writer someday.”
“Poems, short stories, stage play. Wow. Aint I so lucky to meet this soon-to-be famous writer, who loves pen and paper.” The smirk on his face confused me and I wasn’t sure.
“Is that a tease or a compliment?”
“I write too. A compliment,” he squinted.
“You write football,???”
“What’s the connect?”
“Music inspires me, it puts a spring in my step and makes me wanna play.”
As though the thought of music brought springs to his feet, he jumped out of his chair and sat on the table right in front of me;his feet resting at the edge of my chair. He drew me up to his full length and turned me so my back leant on his chest and then placed his hands round my eyes in a blindfold.
“Okay close your eyes.open them now, he said musically. Can you see the orchestra over there?”
I nodded slowly. His palm, across my face, was soft and moist. Did I make him sweat this much? I expanded my nose to inhale the fragrance of his perfume. I loved the scent of his hair cream.I lay relaxed in his hold. I felt goose bumps cover my flesh. He relaxed his grip and let go of me. I pushed aside the cheese-stained wrappers of the pizza and sat beside him on the table.
He went to the kitchen, got some cubes, returned, with a cheekful.
We stood in hypnotizing silence, picking our thoughts only by telepathy. He heard him say he liked my mettle. I said I liked his humour.
And suddenly he broke the ice.
“You want some ice?” I nodded. He leaned his face towards mine. The ice was at the tip of his tongue. He stuck it out, inviting me,with a nod, to pick it. I moved closer and before I could gainsay, our tongues touched, lips locked, the clock ticked. And I became instantly paralyzed. On a free fall. Happiness! Serendipity!
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 Melanby, whose romance with her leads to the fence-mending between father and daughter, after twelve eerie years.
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