It was still March. And Ibadan hardly experiences the common changes the coastal States enjoy.
There was aridity because of the scorching sun. The well we fetched water from in the compound still suffers from drought caused by the dusty air of the dry season.
Coming back home from work isn’t something to look forward to anymore. Since the issue of power outage has made darkness a common place in my house. The tenants had a disagreement over bill payments. And we have been suffering this fate for over a month.
Bethinking the stress and hunger I might suffer when I get home, I diverted to Iya Seki’s fast-food joint for dinner. My desire to arrest the hunger and weakness troubling me, materialized with a wonderfully luscious ewedu and amala meal which made me sweat profusely after eating.
Getting home, after having my bath, I laid on the couch pressing my phone to check the post I made on Facebook earlier in the day at work. My phone just went off without notifying me that the battery was low. I suddenly became angry because of the boredom and power outage.
And then, I became nervous, sweating again as if I had just finished eating hot amala. As the heat persisted I thought of opening the window but keeping it shut was best. That’s the only way I can avoid the violence of mosquitoes. Then the cloying taste of the meal I had had on my way home from work reminded me of the experience I had with Simbi in the afternoon.
I could still picture her beguiling smiles and gestures as she offered me change after serving me bolé. She seemed not to be offended by me flirting with her carelessly.
Simbi serves arguably the best bolé in my community. People normally flock her shop even though she’s rude to customers and always talking with a haughty conviction. She doesn’t put herself to their service. Customers wash their plates themselves. She responds harshly and promptly to jokes she considers abusive.
She takes no delight in anyone who tries to calm her when tensed. Yet, people don’t seem to get over her bolé especially the stewed fish with which she served it. Even me! I don’t like her that much but maybe that’s why I admire her a lot.
But, “you need to see her shape” I thought to myself; “entirely enticing! Figure eight.” She makes my love for tall ladies fade away effortlessly when she smiled at me.
Simbi was not beautiful, but when she laughs or she’s animated with passion, her eyes open wide softly, and her face start glowing, dilating her mouth. Then, she could become irresistibly attractive. Funny enough, she was my neighbour. Even though I have had a good knack of licking half the girls in this community, my crush on Simbi was quite unusual.
At this point I was already covered in sweat. The heat had made me irritated and the couch started feeling itchy on my skin. I wondered if it was the bedbugs again. I was mad at the couch that I couldn’t continue in my fantasy. So I went on to lay on my well-dressed mattress where my fantasy could flow without intermission. It was cool at first and then the sweating made the itching smarted harder and harder. I was furious with inquisitiveness.
In that darkness, I want to find that bug that has followed me to the bed. So, I searched for my torch in the racket beside the mattress. I couldn’t find it on the first pallet where I usually kept it. Confused with anger, I swinged my arm over to the second pallet, there, I found the torch. I checked the time on the wall clock, it was 11:50 pm. Almost midnight.
My house was a “face-me I face-you” the typical commercial type of house you will find in Bodija. It was decked. The way it was, you would know it’s supposed to be a storey building but, the owner died while it was still under construction about three years ago. His family partitioned the ground floor amongst his children for rentage. Lack of maintenance and the incompletion of the house has made it suffer from deterioration sharply.
So, whenever there was heat like this, I normally go on top of the decking to relax and cool off. Mosquitoes hardly bite there because of the wave of the wind. The rooms were in pairs of two, facing each other, mine was the last pair in the passage facing an old woman abandoned by her kids.
The irritation continued this time it was as if I would suffocate. “Instead of me dying here let me go up the back stairs to the deck and relax”, I said to myself.
I opened the back passage door which my room was close to. I got out with a mat and a pillow. I stretched and yawned. I walked calmly feeling the cooling wind and the engrossing wave of air as I climbed the stairs.
I was on the second half of the stairs that led to the decking directly when I started hearing drops of water, I thought it was about to rain, but then it came with a voice. The voice seemed to be muttering some words.
I wondered, “could someone be suffering the same fate I was suffering and has decided to come out here to rest?” As I climbed higher I could see everything on the deck. I saw someone, bathing. Then the voice started muttering words again as if making incantations. It was a female voice but I couldn’t picture who it was. It was dark and the moon had been hidden by seams of clouds.
The person seemed to be bathing into a big plastic bucket. There was another bucket beside it, tide with a dark cloth around its trunk. The colour of the bucket was either white or yellow, I wasn’t sure. Though it seemed as if I had gotten to the scene late because the person had finished bathing but I was now sure that what had taken place was a ritual.
As the mystery female turned, to grabbed her wrapper the figure I saw was Simbi. I was sure, but didn’t believe what I saw. The shock left me frightened. I got cold. Freezed. It was impossible to believe my new found crush was into diabolical acts.
The she poured the bathwater into the container tied with a mantle. The bucket seems like the one Simbi used in her shop. I thought to myself in utter amazement, “could it be that, I have been eating concoction in the name of bolé?” I whispered unknowingly to myself.
As she then turn in my direction, that was when I realized she had heard me. Reflexively, I immediately skipped down the stairs in fear. I fell hard to the floor fretting and in agony.
She rushed down to where I was. I was terrified. Dumb. Helpless. And in anguish. She stood over my head, and bended. The wrapper suspended her breast from reaching my forehead. As she opened her mouth as if to chew my nose off the fear heightened. A drop of water delicately suspended above me from her jaw.
The drop was now, more terrifying than every other gesture made. The drop fattened, drawing towards my eyes. I tried to shut my eyes but it wouldn’t close.
As the water grew larger absorbing drops from the side of her ears I suddenly found courage to struggle.
And in that struggle, I opened my eyes wildly. It was then I realized it was all but a dream. I had scattered the racket with hands. The bucket of water I fetched last night to prepare early for work this morning my legs had kicked it violently. Now, there was water everywhere. I was furious. But what could I have done after seeing stranger things in my sleep.
©Simeon Elvis Dumle