By Victoria Ige
She sat by the window and looked out. The sky was a faded blue, the air cool but dry. They called it harmattan season. She turned to a photo of herself at the opposite side of the room – smiling shyly, cute.
“Two”, she thought. “I was two then.”
“Enitan, what do you think of who you have become right now? Older, beautiful, chased around by guys?”
Again, she turned to the sky, & thought of the trip to Sagbama she had been secretly planning in her head. The uncertainty was fading. She stood, walked towards the huge room with the king sized bed.The mother sat, indifferent about her presence.
“Mummy. Next week Thursday can I go to the river?”
The mother stared at her, a delusional look on her face, expecting more.
“Mummy. Next week I’m going to the river.”
And as Enitan turned away. She knew it was certain. She had to get out of here. To unearth something new, something different. To unearth a life that felt like it belonged to her, a life that felt real.
Sitting by the river made Enitan free. That’s what it felt like- freedom, a new beginning, away from her toxic past. Her floral dress flew with the wind, & in the river a few naked children bathed.
She sat down, raising her knees towards her chest, wrapping her hands around herself. It was one of those few times when she blocked her mind from everything else to live in the moment.
The calm breeze and low waves made her want to deep herself into the brownish, fresh water. The world seemed to have paused. She lowered her head and closed her eyes. The loud laughter and chatter of the bathing children slowly faded.
“You are invisible, Enitan. You are unseen. And the world does not know or see you. Not today. Not now. Now, you are here and the world does not know you.”
One evening, she sat in her room. A small stack of folded laundry on her laps, her fingers wrapped- laying on the stack, trembling. It was not the cold. It was not fear. It was anxiety. A feeling that left her with an urgent urge to live life like she wasn’t already living.
The mother walked in, “Is this the only thing left?” Enitan turned her head. Silent.
“Is this the only thing left?”, the mother asked again.
“But…” It was useless, the mother was already walking away.
Sometimes the mother did that – ask or request delusional things. The mother didn’t know or care why she was in the house.
She lowered her head, opened her trembling hands. Her long slender fingers giving way to remarkably marked palms.
“What do you want, Enitan? What do you want with your life? Why do you ache so much?”
Enitan opened her eyes. It was almost dark now.
“Home”, she thought. “I have to start heading for home.”
But her legs were failing her. So she sat there, the cold increasing it’s awareness in each passing moment.
Now only a few souls walked around. The laughing, bathing children were gone.
She looked up; the stars ignited hope in her.
Standing, her legs lead her towards & into the water. She let go, hands askew, free.
The stars twinkled and she lifted her hand, reaching for the sky. They seemed so close…
And there she was. Floating, about to grab a star.
One star. Just one star into the river with her.