‘FOLDING TIME’ by Heem the Writer/ Ibrahim B. Ibrahim (2/8)

Tonight I can’t stay in my bed. Like a mouthful morsel of solid amala coated in films of steaming ewedu, I’ve laboriously rolled these thoughts all around the corners of my head all day, but I have yet to make sense of it. Strange things do happen in this black and white world of ours. Stranger things even now, as the vision start to gain colour faintly. If what my friend Samieli tells me is true, then norm is soon to dissipate into obsoleteness, and strange will morph up to take its place; only I’m born too early to witness it. You see, Samieli hasn’t always been Samieli, and he hasn’t always known so much about the future. A double-edged sword of fate sliced through our small village of Osogun one notorious afternoon – a day rarely mentioned, but neatly tucked away in the shadows of our memory. Back then he was Ajayi, my playmate. Together we hounded the thorny trees that taunted our long throats with high-hanging juice entrapments. But on that day, I had gone with my mother to collect ajo in the next village. I remember seeing the oranges sprinkled around in his compound, and the silence in the village being just as solid as they were. That was before my mother’s piercing scream confirmed to me that the worst had happened. When this happened, my hand on one side could barely go over my head to touch my ear on the other. My mother could swear I only just stopped suckling. But now our mothers are no more and we ourselves are preparing to become grandparents. That sword of fate has served its full course. One edge took young Ajayi – and watered my eyes for many moons – and the other brought back Samieli, the bright, learned, and widely travelled man who is among many bringing some colour to our black and white. As you grow old, you’ll find very few things are as valuable as wisdom. It will also be easily recognizable. I lay in my earthen bed at night, with closed eyes and a lively mind, playing back all Samieli has been teaching me. I have found wisdom in him and every morning I count the seconds till the cocks crow, so I can resume again. Plenty has changed since my friend has been back – Ojo is now Maikeli. Ogidan is Gabreli, and Talabi is Esikieli. These are names of a new faith, but it is more about the ‘Eli’ than it is about attending lengthy church-services. Even Dauda who is Musulumi, and Falana the Ifa-diviner’s son, both attempted the suffix; but Daudaeli and Falanaeli didn’t exactly sound right. Some of the new Kristeni converts themselves rejected names like Pita, Abraam and Mosis. Ajayi is Samieli, and we all must eli-lise our names too: give us new names only if they’re suffixed Eli. Eli-lise. . . It amazes me how much I’ve learned sometimes. My hair had started to grey out by the time I began, but I have not only mastered the entire language, I can even invent my own words. Ajayi says I’m the smartest person he has taught English, and that weighs more to me than a bushel of cocoa. He thinks me smart for many whys. I’m of the few who cared more about what happened on his journey, than the goodies he brought back from almost becoming a slave. The ship was like a haunted house, he says. Haunted not by the mercilessness of the masters, but the hopelessness of the chained; lying on their backs and sides through the length of the journey. Souls lifted off bodies like steam from a boiling pot; leaving them heavier, but completely empty. Then came the ravens; bearing news of a dazzling new reality. Many buried hopes came back from the dead. Souls can now stop to boil and lift off in steams. History will remember that place as Freetown; for it is there that I became free – These words were always the bridge between the sad part and the glorious one. Samieli soaks me in intense euphoria this way; painting vivid pictures of his sojourn on the canvass that is my mind. The irony of it is how you cannot feel bad for him, genuinely. It’s hard to feel bad for a man whose lemonade you’re drinking, made from the sour fruits life threw at him. You stop living when you stop learning, he would say. So while my mind is still proudly reeling my oriki for mastering these languages, I decide I would start to live afresh. My wife passed on and my children all got married. What better way can I kill time? So, I bid my friend goodbye and set out on a quest for knowledge. My feet have carried me to many corners around this continent. I’ve fed on knowledge within the walls of Timbuktu, and I’ve been taught in a place called ‘University’, in Karueein. Trotting the expanse of Africa showed me more of its beauty, and her abundance of wealth. I still lay with closed eyes and a lively mind at night. The ‘lively’ was in black and white, but now I see in colours. My hair is greyer, but it is also shinier. By the time I’m back, my friend is writing the entire Kristeni book into Yoruba. Soon I’ll purge myself of the burning question I carried all the way home: Ali Quam said. . . Oh, the Vibranium… Samieli murmurs, unsurprised. He too has heard of it: the super mineral that could transform the world. Quam, the alchemist from Dar-es-Salaam coloured it to me while learning Swahili in Karueein. It can only be found here in Africa, he says, and it might take even us hundreds of years to find its exact place. I’m building this image of the future in my mind. It’s a stairway that leads to a summit beyond my sight. Finding Vibranium is maybe the only way I can see it. Samieli doesn’t agree, and he makes a good point. Vibranium or not, do you not see how blessed we are already? Truly we are the balance of existence, where nature sits and all the good things of life abound. Is our air not clean, or our soil not fertile? Are our children not warriors or does milk and honey not flow beneath our grounds? Submerged in reflection, I nod slowly, and then I ask: How do you imagine this place would look in 150 years? Everything will be better, he says. Humans will live better, trade better, transport themselves better, and communicate better. My mind struggles to create houses that look better than the earthen Oyo Empire masterpiece I live in. Getting the education I did through whatever means without having to leave home? Better carriage than my donkey or Samieli’s caravan? Being able to talk to Quam, for example, from here while he’s wherever he is? They all seem strange and impossible. If you were to travel to 150 years, you’ll be surprised how many more things you think strange now that are norm then, says Samieli. If only I could, I sigh. They could have found a way to fold time, he says, his face tilting upwards as if he’s been deeply reflecting too. Tonight I can’t stay in my bed, though my mind is alive and in colour. My eyes are wide open and I’m bending over my journal; inked feather in hand. If I can’t make sense of these hot morsel thoughts, I can send a message forward and ask for help. So, dear Great-Great, or Great-Great-Great Grandchild; this is a journal entry for you. I believe strange must be norm by the time you’re reading this, but our culture and heritage must have also matured gracefully. Maybe you even found Vibranium. If by now, folding time backwards is possible, please travel to 1869 to get me. It must be a beautiful world where you are and I would really love to see it. Dropping-my-pen-into-the-basket-of-love, Yours ancestrally, Alabi-eli Omoafrica

Written by Admin


Leave a Reply

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

One Comment



‘DEAR GRANDPA’ by Abah, Abah Oyagaba (6/8)