Time breathes, in out
One foot ahead of the other
The foot you left behind,
You lift it
Place it ahead of the other
With life, breathe, in out
Pain, unbearable, becomes bearable
The earth, not our home
We make it homely
But sooner or later
We feel again
And the loneliness won’t leave your heart.
As Ngozi watched Ada reading some papers in front of her, she felt again the old loneliness creep back into her heart as thoughts of Tony came floating back, whisp by whisp, into her.
Since they broke up, life had seemed quietly dismal to her. Empty, barren, not so much like night – which, when clear and lit up, is beautiful – as like a sunless, hueless, dreary day. A touch, a smile, a face, a voice… oh, how these could so make a difference in one’s existence! Everything had changed after him. She needed a way out or in, she didn’t know which. Going or coming? She felt trapped in an irresolute destiny. That was when she had started reading Sylvia Plath. Only there had she found a temporary home. And temporary had been long enough. Who needs forever when temporary can do the same job in a fraction of the time?
Why waste forever on the temporary? We will live on.
But, inspite of that, without Tony, the unfriendly world had become and remained even unfriendlier. She could take it, but it was still like a slap in the face. Harsh, stunning, demoralising. But sometimes it could be a clarion-call to action.
She touched Ada resolutely a third time on the shoulder. Everybody around her secretly held their breath and guardedly watched this odd spectacle between these two young women.
Ada did not appear, for a second, to have felt the touch on her shoulder. Then she, with deliberation, turned her beautiful head to the man sitting to the right of Ngozi and spoke directly to him.
“Please, could we exchange seats.”
Clearly the man was taken by surprise. His big eyes opened wider on his lean, black, bony face and he sputtered:
“Eh… er… okay.”
Ada stood up, squeezed past the woman on her right and, as she stood in the aisle, waiting for the man to slide past her, became – or rather, her legs became – the objects of general, if mixed, attraction.
Finally, though, the switch was concluded. The woman that had been to her right and thus on the edge of her former bench, had slipped into the position she had just vacated, in the middle, leaving the man to again be on the edge, like he had been in his former bench.
Ada, meanwhile, on this bench, indicated to Ngozi that she would like to sit in the middle, and Ngozi acquiesced. Side by side, they looked at each other.
Then, with a smile, they shook hands.
This indeed seemed, to the spectators around them, like an unexpected but pleasing dramatic finale to the live-show; an unconscious tension that had lain over each person broke and lifted and suddenly everybody burst into smiles as if a bubble had burst, a cue been given, a story found a worthy, happy ending. And everybody likes to know how the story ended. When it ends well, people smile.
Even the man who had taken the seat in front to make space for Ada beside Ngozi, turning just at the right moment with a bemused look on his face, also had to smile, although (which had prompted his turning around) the two fat-bosomed, big-bottomed women to his left were now forcing him to all but perch precariously with barely half of his buttocks on the tiny space they grudgingly allowed him on the very edge of the bench. Too late he had realised that his former seat was much more comfortable, but the damage had already been all but done. He thought immediately of asking for his former seat back, but you know women; the young lady would begin to talk upside-down jargon and by the time he managed to get his seat back, if at all, they would already be at their final destination.
Such were the thoughts going through his vexed mind when he turned round with that bemused look on his face of which I earlier spoke. When, however, he saw the two young women smiling handsomely and shaking hands, looking as though they would soon be hugging each other at any moment, although he had no idea why, the altruistic part of him was suddenly touched and, magnanimously contented, he turned round again with a transformed countenance and bore his fate on his new bench with a noble silence.
to be continued…
– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.
Enjoy the full Story here