Copyright © Lydia Jonathan
The evening was chilly and eerily calm. I walked the compound of this huge mansion as the wind blew swiftly scattering the leaves in its path. Whilst the flowers danced to the tune of the cold evening breeze
I shivered, regretting wearing only a thin piece of clothing out. Even as it was just four o’ clock in the evening, I looked up and dark clouds had covered the once clear sky. Crossing my hand on my chest, I walked down the flowery path leading to the garden. It was the only thing in this Gód forsaken place that gave me joy.
I casted my hand upon the flowers, admiring it’s beautiful pattern, even though it can barely be seen, cause of the sudden darkness, but I knew it at heart how beautiful they looked, because I made sure they looked that way. I walked on slowly caressing the flowers in my path with my hand but stopped short when I heard something drop from far behind me. I turned immediately searching for the source of the disturbance. This is my daily routine in this house and we lived alone,so the thought of someone else here with me this late is strange, as the security man is usually in his quarters or by the gate at this time
“Who’s there? I called walking slowly towards the source of the sound but was stopped due to a light blinding my sight. I squinted from the sudden brightness using one of my hand as a shield from the light
“I’m sorry madam, I no know say na you” he lowered his torchlight.
“its fine, I replied putting my hand down, my sight no longer evaded by the light
“ I think say you no go come out today, since weather no good and place dey dark. He walked up to me
“ I’m sorry, did I scare you? I looked at him
Hahahaha, he laughed. No o, I no sure say I fit scare o, because things wey my eye don see no be here o. He laughed more
“ Is that so? I snickered
“ Yes o. I don carry my eye see plenty things for this my life because of this my job. Infact the things wey I don take eye see sef don dey make my fear say they fit vex one day
“Wow, I crossed my hands, intrigued by the discovery.
I don’t really know for how long John had been our gate man for, cause when I got married in, he came with the house. He is this cheerful middle aged man, whose smile is contagious. I get to see him every morning and evening as those are the time I usually come out of the house. We don’t get to talk much except for the occasional “hellos and how are yous”
“Yes o, he continued, na so one day this spirit just see me begin dey ask me whether I don see her apple for ground wey she keep. Come see fear wey hook me, I just ignore waka comot before she vex come touch me
This was hard to believe for me, my eyes widened not really a fan of ghost stories or the existence of spirits except for the existence of Gód and hell.
“So they don’t try to harm you? I asked peering into his eyes
“No o. If you no get there time, them self no get your time, he nodded as if asserting is theory. Just then a chilly breeze blew and I shivered crossing both my hands for warmth
“Madam, cold dey catch you? He looked at my frame with concern and care in his eyes, something I haven’t seen in a while. Why you no wear something wey thick na, weather cold. You want wrapper or something, he turned to go get it I assumed but I stopped him
“No,no, I’m fine now, I dropped my hands. I think it’s refreshing now, I walked to the garden’s pavement and sat and he came and sat close to me but making sure to give reasonable space between us while we sat in silence as I gazed upon the cloudy sky
“Do you have a family? I finally broke the silence and turned to him
He was a tad bit taken aback by my question as I have never tried to strike a conversation with him, and one as personal as that, but he quickly composed himself and cleared his throat. He smiled and turned back to stare at nothing in particular while I sat staring intently at him, wondering what was going on in his mind
“ I get one daughter, he finally spoke out and brought out a photo from his pocket and handed it over to me
“Do you always carry this around, I furrowed my brows but he smiled and nodded
“She be my motivation, na him make I dey always carry am around.
I took the photo from him and saw a beautiful young girl, who looked in her late teens
“Her name na Rachel, he said and I looked up to him and then to the photo. She had his eyes I thought
“She’s beautiful, I whispered not sure if he heard or not
“ She be my pride as a man. He said and I smiled at him and looked back at the photo. Next month go make her twenty and she dey university
“How come I’ve never seen her around, I questioned looking up from the photo
“She dey stay with my mama, but now she dey school
“What about your wife, I pried, knowing fully well I’m crossing a boundary but was too curious to back out now
“She leave us when Rachel be one year old. She say she don tire, say she no fit dey suffer again with me since I no get better job, he spoke, sadness lacing his tone and a little bit of anger in between
“I’m so sorry, I handed him the photo, feeling sympathetic towards him and how he raised a child on his own
“Thank you, but I no too blame her, who go wan stay with poor, old and ugly man like me, his face contoured to one of pure sadness
“Are you kidding, you’re daughter would be so proud of you, and I don’t know about others but you’re easy in the eyes and could easily pass for a 30 year old gentleman I nudged him. And I wasn’t kidding, he looked young for his age. He smiled and I smiled right back, cause like I said he’s smile is contagious but sooner than it came, my smile disappeared and I was now spotting a sad frown and we both went back to staring away in silence
“You must think I’m pathetic right? I didn’t turn to look at him but felt his gaze boring into me
“I no think say you dey pathetic. If anything, I think say you dey strong and patient, and that na very nice quality he patted my back. I turned to look at him but tears clouded my view as they threatened to spill at the slightest blink. I just wish things go dey different he added and the tears rolled down my cheek dropping off my chin to my lap.
He raised his hand and wiped the tears with his thumb. “No cry, he said staring intently at me. I just wish say…. he trailed and looked away then back to me. He opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted by the sound of my husband’s car, honking.
“Thank you, I stood up and smiled and he did same. I better go inside now I pointed and he nodded as I went in and he ran towards the gate as my husband honked continuously lacking no patience at all. From inside I could hear John saying “Sorry sir” over and over while I shook my head and headed straight to the kitchen
“Food is ready, I called for him and he looked up from the sitting room where he was with his computer on his lap. He closed the computer, sighed and walked up to the dinning and sat while I sat opposite him. He took a morsel of semovita and dipped it in the egusi soup I served and into his mouth then swallowed. He looked up almost immediately spotting a scowl.
“Can’t you do something right for once in your life woman! He yelled
Woman? I thought, whenever he calls me that, it’s evident he’s having a bad day and it probably won’t end well if I so much as open my mouth to say a word
“Is it bland? I took a morsel, but it tasted okay. I looked up to him and saw the anger now visible in his eyes
“Is it bland? He repeated my question. Are you mad.
…To be continued