Mother was sitting from across the table, complaining about the rise in the price of tomatoes. “One tomato costs 100naira! Just imagine” I was about to respond, when I felt the slimy uncomfortable wetness between my thighs. It was not supposed to come for another 2 days but it was here and I had to deal.
“It will get better mum, they said there’s a tomato virus or something.” I said and excused myself to the bathroom.
And then it followed, the excruciating, jerking pain at my lower abdomen, the stinging pain in my stomach and the paralyzing one my thighs felt. But I had to go help mother wash the tomatoes and blend them, menstrual pain was not an excuse to sit around.
First days were always the most unbearable. I tried to fight the dizziness that lurked in my eyes but within minutes I was throwing up all over the kitchen and before I knew it, I was on the floor clutching my stomach, groaning.
Mother reached out.
“Ameena You need to learn to deal with this thing o. If you move to the hostel and you’re doing this, I won’t be there o. Which kind of menstrual pain is this one eh? Sorry, sorry.”
I wanted to open my mouth and say I was sorry for being such a baby but tears flowed instead. She lifted me from the floor and led me to my room. I took pain relievers which did not really help but made me sleep.
It was the wind that woke me , it kept hitting at the window as if it will push it off its rail. I stood up to check that it was properly locked but the wind came to an abrupt stop so I then went back to bed and wrapped myself in my duvet.
I was about closing my eyes, the wind started blowing again, this time displacing objects in my room. My father’s picture that hung on the wall crashed to pieces. My sticky notes where coming off from where I had glued them. My books were falling off the shell. My dressing mirror divided into two. I was sure the windows were properly locked. I stood there, unsure whether to be terrified or not. I bent down to pick the scattered remains of my dad’s pictures when my blinds fell off from where the hung.
I stood up to run to mother’s room but when I got to the door and turned the knob, it was stiff. I tried and tried but all in vain. I started hitting and screaming but no one heard me. There was evil in my room. It came in form of lightning and destruction. Tired from screaming and hitting, I sat on the floor, enveloped in fear and began to cry. I slept off there.
The squeak from the door was what woke me this time. Mother had opened it effortlessly from outside. She stared at my room in horror. “What the hell happened here? What’s this? Why are you on the floor? Is is menstrual pain that made you scatter your room like this?”
“Too many questions, I laid still.”
“Am I not talking to you?”
“I don’t know mummy, it seems there’s something in my room.”
“You must be out of your mind.”
Yes, I had to be out of my mind.
“Stand up and clear your room now. When you’re done, meet me at the sitting room and tell me what you’ve been drinking.”
“I’ve not been drinking!”
“Shut up and clean” She yelled as she shut the door.
I was staring at mum from across the table again.
“Mum I swear, I can’t explain how it all happened. There was a wind and everything kept falling and there was a voice and lightning.”
“How comes you’re the only one who is experiencing all these? You’re taking Sk right? You know it makes people act irrationally and see things others don’t.”
She peered into my eyes as if looking for traces of lies and SK.
“How’s the pain?”
“Go and prepare for school or don’t you have lectures today?”
“Till 2 o’clock.”
“Get out of my face.” She said it calmly, in same tone she’d say I really care about you.
I stood up and went back to my room. I ended up not going to school at all that day, I locked myself up all day wondering what it was that terrified me the past night. Thankfully, the maid came around to do her once-in-a-week thorough cleaning. Her and mum could help themselves.
I dreaded the setting dusk.
When night came, I distracted myself with Harper Lee’s To Kill a MockingBird but soon, I fell asleep. I was awoken at the same time I woke the previous night but this time it wasn’t by the wind.
It was a haunting dream a woman with spiked hair kept saying I had to “Join The Others.” There was water and blood and flickering flames.
Her admonition was so loud I thought I heard it in my room. When I opened my eyes, the woman with the spiked hair was right in front of me. “You must join the others.” She warned again and vanished.
I screamed in horror. Mum heard this time and rushed to my room.
“Are you alright? Her eyes lit in the dark.”
“She said I must join the others.” I was so terrified,I began to cry.
“I don’t know. I just… She…”
“Just be calm, breathe. You are frightened, you can’t think clearly now. Just breathe”
“Stay with me please, don’t go,”
“I’m here” she assured and she came to join me in bed.
When I woke up in the morning, my thoughts were clear, the woman with the spiked hair looked exactly like the girl I had borrowed a pen from in GST 201 lectures.Mother was already up and about in the kitchen, I went to join her.
How are you darling?
She smiled. “Sure?” I nodded.
“I know since your dad passed it’s been hard to keep your thoughts and emotions in focus but I know he would want us to be strong wherever he is.”
“I know mum. But this is not about dad even though I miss him.” I paused
“I think I recognise the woman from my dream who appeared in my room. She lend me a pen in school. But that doesn’t mean anything right?”
She shrugged “It probably does, since she’s now in your dreams and in your room.” We both laughed.
“Did you notice anything strange after she gave it to you? Was there fire in her eyes? Any winchy winchy things?” We both laughed at the question again. And then the memory came, something did happen but I didn’t think it was strange.
“Something happened but not strange.”
The tip of the pen pierced me and then she offered me tissue to clean up. “
Mum’s eye lit again, like the previous night.
“Was there blood? Did her hand touch yours?”
“Mum? She gave me tissue to clean it.”
“Did you throw it away? “
“I can’t remember. What? You’re freaking me out mum.”
“Go and get dressed, we are going to see Jannah.”
“Jannah! The diviner?”
“You think this is spiritual?”
“Are you blind or dumb?” I didn’t answer.
I quickly rushed to the bathroom, washed and got dressed. All the while wondering if what mother was thinking was true. Was I jinxed? Was my blood used for anything? Now that I’m thinking of it, her face was not a regular on campus but I couldn’t bother much. I was late for GST, I lost my pen, she offered me a spare and that was a good thing. “You need to join the others” Who the hell are the others? Dead people? Witches? What the hell had I gotten myself into?
On stepping out of my room,the pen lay on the floor. I thought out was in my bag, I murmured to myself. The inscription “The others are coming” was written on it. I didn’t notice it before. It was still talking about these “others”
There was evil lurking somewhere.
I picked it up and rushed to mother’s room.
“Yes, yes mum, it means something.” I announced. My heart was almost flying out through my mouth.
I waved the pen at her, she picked her car keys and we hurried out of the house.
by Farida Adamu
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