Choosing Sides

Yesterday, I woke up and I was 24. Yes, I know. I’m getting old already. I mean my first grey hairs sprouted some two to three years back. But guess what? I feel 18 again. This time, not confused. So here’s to being older…feeling younger.

Prologue…

We don’t choose these muses. They choose us. Just like this one…

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Adamu woke up in one of those sleep-induced moments when you wake up to take a piss even though you still are very much asleep. The ones that leave you walking sleepily toward the bathroom, knowing the angle to turn the doorknob and have it open, what slipper would be at the door and whose, how many steps to take before eventually stopping to remove your shorts, ready to aim at the right angle toward the Water Closet poised in the centre of the room. The WC, ready to collect you urine like the goal keeper at the lunge position just before a goal; all without opening your eyes. It was in that state that Adamu found himself on that fateful day.

As he walked towards the door that would take him from the room he shared with his siblings to the toilet, he heard voices. This time in the other room: the sitting room. And this time, just like he knew the steps that would take him to the rest room, he turned the other way, towards the sitting room. Adamu was 10. He opened the door connecting the children’s room and the sitting room, and just stood there, in that dream state: trying to sieve out the voices he heard and make sense of them.

“Tell me”, he heard. the voices were clearer then. It was Adamu’s father’s. He had a woman pinned underneath him on the settee. Adamu couldn’t make out the face.

“Tell you what?”, the woman replied in a tearful voice. A voice Adamu’s subconscious recognizes as his mother’s especially when she’s given to tears.

“So that you’d kill me?”, she continued in that tearful voice, barely above a whisper.

“You better speak up now”, Adamu’s father shouted back angrily but in a whisper too.

Something warned them just then of their. Perhaps it was the cold breeze of more air being let into the closed confines of the sitting room. Perhaps it was Adamu’s shadow cast upon them both in dark silhouette. Because just then Adamu’s mother looked up and saw Adamu standing there. Knowing he was as much asleep as he was awake, she said to him: “Can you see your father? can you see what he’s doing to me?”

Adamu’s father spoke up just then, suddenly realizing they had an audience

“Go to bed, my son. It’s not what you think.”

With that, forgetting the reason he was awake or perhaps fate had chosen him to be awake at that moment, Adamu went back to sleep.

He’d wake up the next day with nothing absolutely wrong with his world. But the afternoon of the next day would bring that world crashing down. His mother had left. No forewarning. No contact whatsoever. As if she had become thin air. And he’d from then on, be called upon as a witness. To that sleep-waking moment when he had absolutely no idea what took place even though he was standing right there.

Later on, he’d hear from different sources that his mother had started life afresh in a new place with a whole new identity and that every time she was asked, she’d always refer them to Adamu because “he was there and he saw what happened”. And whenever his father was thrown the same question, it would seem “Adamu was there, he heard everything she said: everything she admitted to”.

It would seem Adamu had been the unwitting umpire in his own fate, forever wondering if he could have done anything differently.

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And the muse left me wondering why sometimes, it is those less innocent who end up paying the price. Why are they the ones who spend their lives trying, and failing woefully, to correct the mistakes of others?

Happy new year sweethearts.