“So, Ngozi, what’s your surname?”
Ngozi let her eyes roam again and again over Ada’s features, marvelling at the incredible likeness they bore to Tony’s. Twin-beauty.
“Eze-ebube’s my last name,” she replied. Before anything further could be said, however, her eyes darted down to the papers in Ada’s hand, on her lap, and she recognised Tony’s unmistakable hand-writing.
Ada saw the sudden breathdrawn look jump into Ngozi’s eyes and automatically lowered her own eyes as well to the sheet that was now visible on top. On it, as title, boldly hand-printed, were the words SEEING THROUGH.
The two women looked at each other again and if there had been any clumsy last barriers between them, they crashed swiftly down now in the wake of the twin-look of deep, shared understanding that pulsated, in their eyes, from one to the other, and back again, on and on, into their hearts.
It was as though a million things had been spoken and shared, a million fears, a million experiences, a million thoughts of love and concept without number, had been settled, in that one look, after their simultaneous glancing at those words, SEEING THROUGH, in that hand-writing, and the knowledge and memory of innumerable loved poems, written in that hand, once read and stored away forever where hearts alone breathe.
A look in a million. No words were needed. The moment was fulfilled, their friendship sealed instantly as Ngozi gently lowered her eyes again to the poem in Ada’s hand and, in a voice even gentler still than the look she’d just had in her eyes, began to read aloud, yet softly, audible to them two alone, heads locked together over poetry.
Like bird I fly, fly out of sight
To the land of poetry, there I write
A poem for you, a poem for you
And a poem for me too
It is my work, it is my love
When I write I rise above
When I die, yes when I die
Nobody should weep Goodbye…
Because I leave, with every line
A part of me behind, undying
Weep not, o child, weep not, o child,
To simple words so mild…
Fly high with me, far beyond the sea,
To the worlds of art, song and poetry
And then beyond, into silent heights
A little closer to the Lights…”
With a sigh she was through.
And tears came a-calling softly gently tenderly. Tears for that thing, for which we often have no name, for which we are wont to cry when we cry. A little closer to the lights.
“So he still writes poems,” Ngozi softly smiled, a tender look floating upon her features.
“It’s in his blood. He will never stop.”
“No, it really seems, not until he dies.”
“Nay, not even then.”
Ada and Ngozi here paused and searched each other’s eyes.
“How is he?” asked Ngozi.
“The same as always… I don’t know… just himself, I guess…” She liked Ngozi’s eyes and the look in them. Tender, deep, perceptive… strong. Feminine might. The bond, formed, was quickly cementing.
And memory was stirring…; she remembered… three, four years ago… Tony had spoken often of an Ngozi for a short space of time… Ngozi.
“You were…” she hesitated…, “close?”
Ngozi searched Ada’s eyes for a cue, a thread to pick up and weave with, that she may construct adequately before Ada’s inner gaze the nature, simplicity, the intricacy and the intense intimacy of the close relationship that she had shared, for one short sharp moment in time, with her twin-brother.
Finally she simply said:
“Yes – we were.”
And again volumes were said, shared and mutually understood.
As though they feared to say anything further, their eyes went down again to the sheaves of paper in Ada’s hands.
They had no idea of the kind of deep impression they were making on fellow passengers in this dreary bus. There was a similarity, mutually complementary, about them, and a wide gulf seemed to yawn between them and everybody around them. They were alone. They might have been on a hilltop, or on a lonely, deserted beach, or on a boat out at sea. So immersed had they suddenly, apparently yet unperceived by either, become in this shared moment, in this new union.
The Molue is the nastiest form of transport on Lagos roads, except for perhaps the motor-bikes, popularly called Okadas, nasty little metal-birds of the roads. But like a yellow cuboidal prison, this mighty monster of a bus absorbs human numbers like sponge water, clumsily sardines them and then imperils with every mile the lives and destinies of hundreds. Uncomfortable, dirty and dark on the inside, it is perhaps the last place many would expect to see two such pretty, neat young women immersed in poetry and poems that, like golden threads, spun the garment, upon tears, of a newly arising friendship.
But where there is life, there is hope.
– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.
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