Lewis Agulue (1st place. Fiction. Spring 2010 Writing Contest)
I hope this finds you well. I don’t know what this is because I haven’t thought of it, but if you are reading this, I hope it finds you well. I am not a writer; I don’t know how best to start a story especially since I don’t know what the story is. I don’t even know how best to proceed from this point but one thing I am sure about is that it wasn’t once upon a time. It will be one upon a time when this is read—if ever it is—but it is now, and right now, I am stuck in a place where I don’t want to be, which is the past. I am hoping that as I continue to write down these words in a fashion that I hope the reader finds coherent, I might drown the assiduous contemplation of past events. Daunting memories of mishaps that plagued my childhood and the realization of things I could have avoided, but was too daft at the time to figure out.
I fight with every fiber of my being to fight memories of my childhood and adolescence because my examination of them will not make me a better person and neither will it provide an epiphany as to solve the problems I am faced with as an adult. So I think that there is no reason to examine those thoughts, but the more I try to repress them, the more persistent they become. I think of my memories as a battalion of covert ops, sneaking an attack on me, especially during my indolence when my mind is at its weakest. Having escaped the prison of repression, they have mastered techniques to battle my reinforcements and it is getting harder to maintain control of my conscious mind.
One way I liked to fight these memories was to turn on the box and watch a pseudo-reality reality show that has no base in the problems we face in life; rather, it mirrors everything we strive in our lives to avoid, which is kind of ironic. I watch these shows to feed my perversion, watching girls who are in the perfect range on the scale of the American standard of beauty, about 75% plastic, talk through their noses, and have an affinity for conflict. Their narcissistic personalities along with their firm breasts always find a way to eradicate these memories.
Sometimes, when there isn’t any show featuring girls with plastic breasts, I like to prowl the streets in search of commercial sex workers. Do not be offended as I do not solicit the services of the harlots, I just like to look at them and not in the way a serial killer would, it’s just that when I look, I try to see something other than what it is they do to survive. I try to see if they have been forced to deal with a series of unfortunate events that somehow led them to that place in time. Some of them look extremely beautiful and some of them haggard, I can tell which ones they are by a combination of assumptions made by deductive reasoning and I know just where to find them because I live near a red light district. These two activities help me escape the reality of facing my demons, but tonight, both options are not available because I sold the box after finding out that staring at it too long eats away at the brain which was the only good information I got from the same box. And as for prowling the night, that is thwarted also as there is a downpour of such ferocity, trying to wash away the sins of mankind and the filth we create, as if the blood of the lamb is not effective enough. So I sit here trying to think happy thoughts, but it is as effective as putting my fingers in my ears screaming “la la la la.”
As you read this, you might think that it is unrealistic to go out and watch street walkers everyday or watch blonde-haired, blue-eyed Anglo-Saxons every time I have to face my memories. But consider this, I only have this dilemma when I am faced with extreme torpor, and that comes by only once every quarter, so I do this four times before my ritual of celebrating “1 year closer to retirement.” This approach of putting words together to form a coherent sentence is probably the best approach I have had so far. I implore you to give me strength to explore these memories because though I was not part of any genocide, these troublesome thoughts are a source of great distress for me, as are nightmares to a six-year-old.
I am six years of age, or is it seven or eight? Either way I am stuck in my middle childhood as defined by Piaget. I had just gotten back from school, my father was a very busy man, I didn’t know what he did then, but I knew that he did it a lot. He was not home, and neither was my mother. My aunt/cousin/house-help had just relieved me from the hands of my uncle/driver/father’s employee and she was telling me that my lunch was ready but I was not going to have it yet. She said I should go to the bathroom and wait for her, and I always followed instructions like that because she was older and had authority over me. I was told to change out of my clothes first before going to the bathroom, and when I stepped into the bathroom, she followed me in.It was nothing unorthodox because she always gave me showers back then, but I never took showers in the afternoon because I just hated showers. But this was not a shower. Apparently, she wanted to tell me a secret because she told me that I should promise not to tell anyone and I did. She said that if I did, she would tell my mom that I broke some of her good china (sense of impending doom) so I gave my word—whatever it was worth then—that I would not tell. She told me that this was called “Do,” and that I would like it, but I had no objection because my mom was not to find out that I broke her china. Aunt caregiver lay down on the floor of the bathroom and told me to come closer; I remembered she had a flowery skirt on, but the only reason I remembered is because it smelled bad, not dirty or musty but unpleasant and strongly so, and something happened. I will not go into the details of my molestation, which I remember so vividly, but I will say that I know now that I should not have enjoyed “Do” back then and I certainly should not have asked Aunt caregiver to do it again. I thought it was such a fair bargain that I should keep details about my pleasant bathroom experiences to myself in exchange for not having to deal with the wrath of my mother for the loss of her china. And it only happened once because when I asked for it again, I asked in front of my dad.
I am ten years old, it is a very wonderful time, because it is Christmas and I am in my village, my father’s hometown where he is recognized as a chief. That morning, I stepped out of the house through the side entrance, the sun was shining but it was not hot, it was harmattan season and my skin had the telltale signature of someone who had not applied lotion. It looked like I had white socks on my feet, my knuckles looked like I sprinkled them with a lot of chalk dust and my elbows looked so dry that if I rubbed them together I had a good chance of starting a fire. I was walking down the side of the house when a shadow swooped over me, I looked up and saw that a vulture had just landed on the roof of my father’s house and another and then another. When this happened, it usually meant that something was being slaughtered, so I decided to walk around to the front of the house to see what it was. As I was turning the corner of the house, right by the orange tree that never bore good fruit, there was a rope, running from that tree, to something around the corner. I was looking at the rope instead of what it was meant to be restraining and I bumped into its head. I don’t know exactly what breed of cattle this was, but it was a big one and I just walked into its massive head. In the face of danger or fear (in this case a cow), the fight or flight instinct which ensures the survival of the human species kicks in. In my case, the Moro startle reflex kicked in and my bladder decided to open up.The murderous cow was watching my every move with its evil eyes as it stood there chewing the cud as if to say, “Make a move boy and I’ll be digesting you next.” I started wailing and I tried to run and just then when I had summoned up the courage to bail, the cow shook its massive head (probably to rid itself of flies), and right then, out of sheer terror, my bowels moved freely and I stood the with my arms outstretched, my underwear soaked with urine and feces, paralyzed with fear at the prospect of being eaten by a cow. Two of my big cousins stepped out of the house to see what was happening, and they started laughing and the laughter drew out more cousins and they all stood there (at a distance because they were scared of the cow too) and laughed. I haven’t really examined this thought very well so I don’t know exactly what happened, but my grandmother who was as strict a disciplinarian as Hitler himself stomped outside to see what the commotion was about.
She saw me first and thought I was the source of all the noise, so she broke a branch off a tree and started shouting at me to be a man and stop crying, but this scared me even more and I kept on crying and she started hitting me with the branch (with the leaves still attached). So this was the scene. A boy being flogged by an old woman, who was likely a Nazi general, a group of teenage boys and girls laughing by a corner where they couldn’t be seen by the general, and a cow chewing cud. Like I stated, I haven’t really examined the memory well and I don’t want to anymore because it’s not really a pleasant one so I don’t remember how everything ended. But one thing that came out of this memory is that I remember why I stopped eating beef and why I stopped liking my grandmother.
I am fourteen years of age. I am in a private boarding school on a Saturday afternoon. My friend Z—which is a short form of a name that involves vowels, consonants and sounds akin to sneezing in its pronunciation—were sitting on the steps of an uncompleted building talking about the new matron and how simply the thought of her derriere was enough to convince you that you did not have erectile dysfunction. Z and I had sneaked out of our dormitory a few minutes earlier while everyone was supposed to be observing siesta and we were supposed to meet up with a third person from another dormitory but he did not show up, so I don’t remember who he was. After waiting a few more minutes, we decided to sneak out of school without the phantom friend. So we proceeded to our fence of exit.
Climbing that fence, call it whatever you want but I was apprehensive. I have never considered myself clairvoyant, but this was one time when the forces that are were trying to deter me from some plight.I should have listened. As I was climbing over that old, hole-filled brick wall, I heard my name; it was loud but faint, like the echo of a loud whisper, and as I looked towards where I thought the sound came from in alarm, a gust of wind blew something in my eye and I simultaneously lost my grip and fell. I wasn’t hurt, but I hastily climbed over the fence to meet Z who was already waiting on the other side. We navigated our way through the shrubbery and got to the dusty unpaved road that led to a main road. As we did, Z and I talked about what we would do to the matron if she was married to either one of us, idle chatter that made no sense but now I cherish that conversation even as I try hard to repress it. We got to the main road and got on a bus that would take us to the center of the city where we would buy alcohol and food to bring back to the school.
When we got to the city, there was a riot, a clashing of tribes which resulted in unspeakable violence. I wish from the depth of my heart that this memory was false and therefore could be dismissed as a nightmare but I saw and I wish I was brave enough to punish my eyes as Oedipus did. Red water flowed in the gutter, people running and screaming, and cars were burning. The bus driver took a different turn away from the rioting and ordered everyone off the bus; people ran in search of a haven, Z was just as scared as I was and we did not know what to do, so we just ran. We spotted some members of the police force heading our way, towards the perpetrators of the conflict to “bring the peace.” As I write, I can’t help but feel sorrowful, I am angry with myself and at the circumstances, and I am shaking. I would cry but I can’t anymore. Where were the police all that time and why did they choose that time to appear? Why did they choose that route to intervene? Why didn’t they throw some sort of gas to disperse the crowd? I don’t know. What I do know is that as they approached, the people from behind started throwing stones, not stones, but rocks and one of these, thrown by someone whose existence was the result of accidental conception and who would be cursed forever, hit Z in the back of the head and he fell.
I didn’t stop running for a half mile and then I turned and waited for Z, he didn’t come. I saw the rock hit his head I saw blood spurt and I saw him fall, but I waited for him. He must have taken a different route back to school so I ran back to school, and I didn’t stop until I got to the fence and I saw Z. He was lying down next to the fence, his uniform soaked with blood that had seeped from his head, down his neck to his back and chest. I thought he was dead, I swear I thought he was dead and I stood there crying. After a while someone saw me and came over, he saw Z and stopped. He got some instructors and they rushed Z to the hospital.
Long story short, my friend died upon arrival at the hospital. I had killed my friend; I don’t need to explain how I killed him and no one can tell me that it was not my fault because you all agree that it was. It is getting incredibly difficult to think coherently and write in this fashion. My night is ruined and so is the rest of my life. Sometimes I soliloquize and say that if there is ever a way to erase these memories I would, but it isn’t true.
I probably have a masochistic desire to feel this pain but I know that to have the memories eradicated would be wrong somehow, so I just repress them content with the thought that they are there. Here I drop my golden pen because if I don’t, I will explode into insanity. Whoever you are and wherever you are, I hope this finds you well.
Archives: Spring 2010.