ELPIS

The couple in the house in the far right corner of the compound were being outdoored after they lost their young son to the ravaging outbreak that had plagued the region for months. Awuranaa stood on her porch, elbows resting on the railing and watched them, clothed in white, dancing, and all smiles, full of hope. Barely two days before their only son had been buried by the quarantine officers, buried like a fowl. She shuddered and swallowed the bile that was rising up her sore throat. Why were they about to party when he’d been shoved into the earth like he hadn’t been the one running around the compound full of energy till the shameless infection struck? They had come in dressed like astronauts, momentarily turning the compound to a scene from the moon, spraying chemicals, burning clothes. Disrespectful invasion, yet they were the ones who buried him without allowing for humane rites. She couldn’t bring herself to grasp the hope the couple had held on to so well, they could afford to let go and move one. It was that…the strength to move on that Awuranaa didn’t have, couldn’t muster. She stood and stared, the anger bubbling.

 

It was past 6pm and the sun was almost in its bed. She tuned off from the mini party in that side of the compound and heard Ruki’s retching. She had been at it since before 5 pm, pushing her entire fist down her throat because she had accidentally eaten pork. Awuranaa was sure she had thrown up her very guts yet this young woman was still bent over by the tap retching. It’s the compulsiveness that will kill her she thought and turned to spit. Her saliva had turned acidic. There it was again; faith, before her eyes. Ruki had held on so strongly to her beliefs, even when it hurt as bad as giving yourself a sore throat and a possible ulcer, she would, for faith….for faith. It was hard not to be angry. Angry at something, anything…the sun had slipped away without her noticing. But it was good. She needed the moon for what she was bent on doing. It was the main reason why she had stepped out of her apartment.

 

The party had ended, Ruki had dragged her unbelievable self, wrapped in her mayaafi back to her apartment, and Awuranaa, gripped by the pain that shot through her side, winced in slow steps back inside. She went in to the bedroom, stripped down, avoided the full length mirror, she did not want to see her distended stomach and the uncertainties it held with its taut anomaly. She shivered when the cold breeze hit her naked body and she slipped into a ghost white cotton night dress. It had to come to an end somehow, her thoughts formed. Like a zombie, she walked through the entire house; round her bedroom, out to the bathroom, then to the other bedroom which had been her mom’s. The anger had boiled up to rage and it was simmering in a pot of skin and bones over the fire of bitter memories that rushed in as she walked stonily through the house.

As she inched slowly toward the front door, with a stool held firmly before her with both hands her scattered thoughts knocked around in her emptying insides…

You sit down one day and admit it…life has been all sorts of shit for a really long time now – A series of solid shit.

I could cry till a blue moon but to what end?

I am a bundle of exposed nerves

Please oh please stop aching

Interspersed with moments when u can afford to pretend all’s good

Don’t tell me it’s gonna be fine…cut those used up lines out n let’s be brutally honest. tired of lines i can recite to myself

Why can’t we all agree that “hell yes, it is fucked up”?

We grew up responding “I’m fine” to “How are you?” like why the fuck are you asking then? I am not fine!

Come for my heart. Open up my brain, shove it there and run off with it, let me be empty just once.

It is what is killing me. “It is well” is killing me.

And sad songs become monotonous u see..                         

 

She had walked out her apartment, out the main gate, to a baobab that sat in its kingly ambiance silently in the chilly night. She planted the stool firmly in the soft earth and sat, her back stiff…staring ahead at the large silver moon specked with shadows that held her answers. They said if you sat on a full moon till midnight wishing to meet him you would. He will come sailing on the darkest cloud from the door of the glowing moon and will snuff it out…the life that had become a burden; death, riding pass, will end it all. She sat, not moving, hardly blinking, and waited. It was almost 8pm…she still had hours ahead to sit and wait but she was determined. The thoughts had died down and all was silent. Her mind was writhing under the weight of the silence and she struggled to breathe but nothing stirred.

 

Hours passed and she had turned pale. The cold had left her trembling violently, her teeth clattering, heartbeat slowing. It was midnight and she felt it when the hour struck. A cock strangely crowed from the distance and she thought she heard what could be an owl. Then the breeze turned heavy and warm. Startled, she looked up and the moon was completely engulfed in dark clouds. They said death came in an icy blast. Maybe they lied. She couldn’t explain the warmth. It broke apart in tiny particles, some of which settled without permission on her eyelids, making them heavy. She strained to keep them open but death is strong she thought, and succumbed to the weight. Then many more of the particles fell on each fold of her dew dampened night dress, warming her through it, she slipped of the stool, down to her knees, and gently lied down in a foetal position, controlled completely by the warm mystery.

 

The chorus to Twista’s ‘Hope’ floated from next door, into her room and Awuranaa’s eyes fluttered opened. It was morning. She sat up and the mirror was right there, the stool, soiled with red earth at the feet sat next to the mirror. She felt strangely rested and she got out of the bed. She walked over and stood straight before the mirror, pulled the nightdress over her head and stared. Nothing had changed. It was her same frail body, and growing tummy, with the scars from surgeries, and biopsies, and treatments – they were all there. But something, something had changed and she knew it as the voices from the song on her neighbor’s playlist seeped in through the walls. She had gone out to meet death the night before and had encountered hope. It must have been faith that carried her back to bed. She looked up on the calendar above her mirror and saw the mark on that day’s date. It was time to see the doctor again. She stared hard at the alien smile that had formed on her lips and joined in the chorus, her arms raised, tears bathing her drawn face, she swayed…

“Cause I’m hopeful, yes I am, hopeful for today,

Take this music and use it

Let it take you away,

And be hopeful, hopeful, and he’ll make a way

I know it ain’t easy but that’s okay.

cause we hopeful.”

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13 thoughts on “ELPIS

  1. They say hope breeds eternal misery; certainly not in this case. Stay positive no matter how constipated life may be – “life has been all sorts of shit for a really long time now-a series of solid shit.”

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  2. First of all that song is my favourite and secondly you should be a published writer. I love the suspense in the story and how you move from narration phase to a poetry phase and managed to combine both so beautifully. Great work!!!!

    Like

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