A man ran by, panting hard. The end of his oversized red shirt flying in the wind, as the air from the cross ventilation and ceiling fan mingled in the room, the force came close to being outdoor.
He ran with a slightly open mouth and by all indications, was out of breath.
As he pounced through the room and out the opposite swing door, we all looked up from our computers.
Bodies worn out from sitting for so long, bodies bent over computers while creating models, we couldn’t care less at this point.
Five minutes later, two men ran right back with this same man.
A minute later, a fat, dark complexioned woman entered speaking loudly and rapidly on the phone, not glancing once at those of us at sitted.
“Yes, call the fire services. Call them” a pause. “Okay, call abefele. Just call somebody. Ehn… They should come down to the department of computer science” she said, all in the one minute it took her to waggle through the room.
At this point, nobody could face their laptops again. We all looked at the back door, as though it would become transparent in the very next second and let us in on the cause of commotion.
Tobi stood up from his chair and stretched as he grinned playfully.
Working in that room over the past month with the other M.sc students had been slightly interesting. We formed a good bond in between frowning at incomprehensible samples on our computers and having group dicussions.
We often had our break time twice in a day. The first was to eat late breakfast from “all food cafeteria” just across the open yard. The woman made the best amala on campus. She made me ignore my belief that solid food shouldn’t be eaten in the morning or noon time.
The second break consisted of eating roasted or boiled corn while some others took a nap.
Mercy, who was sitted beside me, stood up and went out the screen door at the back, all alone. The rest of us also inched to the door. I did so unsure. There was no window overlooking the back that we could have gazed through.
The back door to that room opened to a collonade. Across, was the “all food cafeteria”. At the back of our own work station block, was another block of rooms.
We walked down some more, till we got to an old store which overlooked a stream. Some of the water from Odua dam still ran down to that place. It was surrounded by overgrown grass.
The men and the woman we had seen previously, were gathered together. They all glanced back at us when they heard foot falls. They jumped a bit. Or perhaps paranoia was already setting in for me.
There was something they had previously been gazing at on the floor.
It was an human body . I didn’t know how to feel or what to think. A body. I was often told of things like that, I never witnessed them.
We didn’t know if to go any closer, there was no assistance any of us could offer, so we remained a safe distance away.
Two school security officers dressed in their maroon coloured uniform appeared from around the building where we came from.
They went forward and asked who she was as they bent to inspect the body without touching it.
Men clothed in fire fighters garb came almost immediately too. There were about six of them. I instinctively moved further away. I thought it was best for us to leave at that time.
The wind blew harder and soon it was blowing real hard and the clouds were gathering. The clouds moved visibly in the exact manner I loved as a child.
I would glance up at the sky whenever it threatened to rain. I loved when the clouds were impatient and revealed their otherwise secret manner of floating by. I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed watching it.
As one of the fire fighters bent by the body to turn it, the slightly brown shade of relaxed hair began to strike me as familiar. The wet clothes clung to her body, she must’ve been drawn out of the water. I couldn’t shake off the goosebumps that rose on my body. Her body form was too familiar. I was feeling sick.
I didn’t think I could turn back and leave all alone. I didn’t think I could trust my voice to ask my friends to leave with me either. I just stayed there and willed it to rain. Anything. My body was slipping to another time and moment, hearing another voice.
Something out of the ordinary was happening to me.
The man turned the body and it was a different face.
Not regarding that, my goosebumps remained, even long after we had been asked to leave.
That night, I slept fitfully; plagued by dreams I forgot as soon as I woke up, and a cough which I had suddenly developed.
I sat up and checked the time on my phone. 2:54am.
There was a time in Jss2, our English teacher, Mrs John, had come to class and in a burst of quirkiness, requested that the twins in the class come forward to share with the class what it was like, to be twins.
I had been at a loss of what to say, due to the suddeness. Helen spoke up though, and soon everyone was laughing, and gazing on us steadfastly the way I imagine the crowd was often gazing at Jesus.
I swiped open my phone and punched in a phone number I still knew by heart.
“Hello” She breathed, more than said. “Irene?”
“Helen” I said. ” I thought you’d be sleeping”
“I was. I stirred and saw your number on the screen of my phone”
“oh. It’s been long enough, hasn’t it?”
We were silent until she said “wow. That’s it.”.
I sighed. Time crawled.
“There were days, Irene, there were days. Days when I wondered when you would do as Kainene did. Why didn’t you?”
“I’m doing so now” I closed my eyes, beads of perspiration formed on my skin. Among us, I had never been the one for many words. “I’m sorry it took so long”
Ever simple, she said “Our own grandfather never made such a profound sentence like theirs did. Let’s blame grandpa.” I involuntarily chuckled as she said this. I could picture her smiling at that.
“Some things do change your perspective though, it doesn’t matter how many sage counsels you recieve.”.
“Kainene and Olanna waited for a war.”I could read her mind and I knew she would never ask me what ours was, even though she longed to know. Why I would speak to her after so long.
All I could tell was it was over now. Over. We could now continue in our telepathic ways. she could now be the Helen to my Irene again. The freedom that came from that knowledge allowed me to chuckle. Then I laughed, and it emanated from deep within my chest, a million constricting bubbles dispelling. Constrictions permanently gone.
Make that phone call today. You know you need to.