I turned on my Blackberry the moment we got home. It had been switched off for weeks. It beeped unceasingly as notifications piled in. Every one of my contacts was worried or at least sounded that way. There was a puzzled smiley from Frank, an angry one from Angela, a meaningless one from Chidi, and many other messages and mails. A curious point it was that no one of these concerned people thought it wise to pay me a visit.
I began the endless process of explaining myself to all my friends on cyberspace. I posted “Back and Better… What’s being happening guys?” on my facebook wall. I worked my thumbs even as Grandma sat at my bedside and explained the importance of personal prayers at this point of my life. She did not complain that I was distracted by the phone, merely nodding at her words that I could not really hear. I caught her making faces at my mother as if to say “He is back, thank God!”
A young man immersed in his smart phone, working his thumbs throughout the day was the version of me they were familiar with. Usually this was a sore point but not on this day. It was a good sign.
I asked permission to drive out one of our family cars later in the evening and was instantly granted void of lectures and warnings. My folks were thankful. As the Reverend gentleman had explained, deliverance was not always about dramatic wriggling and screaming. I ordered my mind to shut the hell up. So, it was in an active recess at the time, glaring at me defiantly but obedient enough to shut up. The silence in my head though, was noisy.
I stuck on my earpiece as I drove around the city with no destination in mind. It was about the time people closed from the day’s work so the view was predominantly of crowded bus stops and tired-looking workmen and women – sagging neckties and hands carrying high-heeled shoes that had been swapped with more comfortable slippers. My mind tried to rear its head again but a new song began to play and drowned it. I pulled into a parking lot and called Yinka, my music acquaintance from the shopping mall a few weeks back. The songs he gave me had enlivened my evening so he was on my mind.
Oh! it was wonderful to hear from me again, he said. He had sent me a friends request on facebook and only got a confirmation earlier that day. I explained that I had been out of the cyber environment for a while. Had the music helped? Yes he could say that. What a miracle it was that I called. Would I be available tomorrow evening? Well it depends, why? He had an idle ticket to the XConnect star music tour concert; every worthwhile musician would be there.
I agreed to attend. My mind glared at me for the rest of the evening. It did not speak, that would have been contrary to my instruction and the gbedu pumping in my ears was quite loud away. So, it resorted to a glowing glare.
I was home in time for a thanksgiving prayer session. Grandma was tying a scarf on her head and my mother was battling with the TV remote control. The damned thing would not go off.
“Mum that is the mute button. The power button is next to it”
She sighed. Then burst into laughter. Grandma joined her and remarked about technology and a new generation.
Grandma did all the talking during the prayer session. She thanked God for being there when she called. I imagined a really big man who sat all day beside a really big phone. She got down to the specifics and thanked God for healing her grandson of what the enemy (as she referred to them) had planned to be madness. Nonye, our house help who had felt obliged to join the session, looked up sharply as grandma mentioned “madness”. She looked quizzically at me and I responded with a smile. She smiled back but not the conspiratory smile I wanted. It was a thankful smile, the smile of people who experience happy endings.
Grandma went on to sing and cry and roll on the large centre rug in the sitting room and clap her hands. My mother did the same. They called God “Baba” and expressed their sincere gratitude. Even Nonye knelt down in appreciation. I suppressed laughter.
Nonye crept behind me in the inner passage after the prayer session. She had questions written all over her but could ask none because the inner passage was not really a good place to talk. It was a sort of walkway to everyone’s room so any one, especially mother could happen along anytime. I deliberately mentioned going to pick something at the balcony. I was not surprised when she materialized behind me.
“What happened to you?” she went straight to the point. We had a good relationship that had long transcended servant-master. She was a rare type of servant. Most of the others according to my mother were wide-eyed crooks. I was surprised when Nonye did not question my weeks of self withdrawal. Perhaps, it was due to the size of our house. People could grow distant living in it. Sometimes it could be like living on different streets. I remember Oshodi, the driver, on one more than one occasion he greeted me “long time no see.”
“Nothing much, I just lost myself. I needed to reconnect to the real me. You know everyday life can be superficial and meaningless. I felt a better life and a better version of me was possible.” I enjoyed speaking with Nonye like this. With her very little education I was aware she couldn’t comprehend most of what I said. She would nod and arch her eyebrows like she understood perfectly but I was never deceived. Sometimes her face would betray her and look blank and confused. She always corrected it quickly with a vigorous nodding of her head. Her ignorance allowed me to say the truth uncensored, knowing she wouldn’t understand, wouldn’t question and would immediately forget.
“But you are okay sha?” She sighed, like a person content with knowing that everything was alright, comprehensible or not. Why bother your head when all is well?
“Yes. I am very okay. Thank you. You will cook white soup for me oh!”
She laughed and clapped. This terrain was familiar. I was now speaking her language.
“Bring the money. Soup we sweet na money kill am”
I slept well that night. A vision of my mind and its glowing glare remained right beneath my eyelids.
The story continues…