Stories

does the room stay still when you sleep – Adedapo Adeniyi & Mariam Onipede

kansola wakes up and is met with darkness, it is 3am 

her eyebags weigh with the sleep left in it, she moves slowly making her way to the bathroom 

she opens the bathroom door and instead of the shower or toilet seat, she is met with a market place in the night time bustling with vendors 

atarodo atarodo, pepper pepper… epa, wa ra epa, groundnut, buy groundnut… fine fine quality baata, buy fine fine quality baata, buy fine fine quality shoe…”

kansola shuts the door and it echoes unusually in the room, almost like the room shakes with the door closing

the sleep initially weighing her eyebags leaves immediately 

she consciously breathes in and out, opens the bathroom door again and is met with this same market place with the bustling still on 

the air smells and feels like harmattan

she steps in and is now walking in a path that divides the market into two sections of stalls, she is now farther from her room almost at the end of the path where there is a mud hut 

anti wa ra baata, aunty come and buy shoe… buy fine fine quality baata, buy fine fine quality shoe…”

she is now farther from her room almost at the end of the path where there is a mud hut 

her bathroom door vanishes behind her and the bustling stops

everyone turns around to look at her and she feels a hand grab hers

kansola looks down at her hand and sees an old woman sat on a stool by a stall with long dirty finger nails and she tries to release her hand but the old woman’s grip feels strong like a muscled man’s

ki lo n she’n bibayi, what are you doing here?” the old woman with a phlegmy voice

a small barefooted boy with both hands on his head walks past kansola

he walks past her, turns his head around, shakes it at her and keeps walking

the old woman releases her grip leaving red imprints on kansola’s light skin

everyone remains still staring at her

kansola searches around with her eyes for her bathroom door 

“why you wake up?” a voice from one of the stalls say to her 

she can’t point out the face but everyone remained staring

tueh, the old woman spits to her side 

“the geh don fuck up”

the faces of people start to feel closer and closer with each voicing

she is walking backwards slowly and is now close to that mud hut, everyone’s eyes following her

with each second, the people start to cluster and there is now a crowd in front of her

“better fuck up”

she can still see the old woman sat far down and the small barefooted boy with his hands on his head beside the old woman, both of them shaking their heads at her

“leave am now”

she keeps walking back until she is met with the door to the mud hut and she falls into it landing on her butt

the door closes shut with so much force that sends tiny splinters of wood and particles of sand flying 

the door swings open slowly, squeaking and kansola is met with a mud wall, almost like the door was placed on the wall

the hut is empty and there is a space meant for a door on the wall by the side 

“kansola,” a voice echoes from this space, her voice

“what…”

“kansola, what are you doing here?” the voice again, sharper this time

she gets up and follows this voice into the space

in the space is a path with long prison bars on the side for walls that stretch far down into a seemingly unending tunnel

“kansola, why are you here?”

she walks further trying to follow the voice

“you won’t find me, i am you”

“what’s happening?”

“you are questioning the what, it should be the why”

“I don’t get it”

“ask me why you are here?”

“why am i…”

shgdisjlnskdvuyaudjahdlkasgfyutdjshfiysfksdndf

a loud screeching noise of nonsense echoes in her head 

“fuckkkkk fuckkkk fuckkkk STOP MAKE IT STOP!” she is clutching and covering both her ears, moving violently with her eyes widening and reddening

she is bending forward and falling to the ground .

she wakes up

*

i click on save, it is still untitled, i email it to my friend, teni, I send her a text asking if she’s seen the mail, she says she has

“busy rn, will read later, love you xo,” she texts back

i I close my laptop and go to my bathroom, there are tears in my eyes when I look in the mirror, I start to laugh, I wash my face and head out, my bed welcomes me. The sun has started to rise, my eyes hurt but I know I won’t get any sleep, I spent half the night staring at my computer screen and its profound blankness, I spent the other half writing, deleting paragraphs, writing, deleting paragraphs, uncomfortable in my inability to express properly the effect this dream has had on my life.

this dream.

i’d had this dream for years, again and again, sometimes multiple times in a single night, waking up, going to the bathroom, the market, the people, the hut, my voice, my voice everywhere, me falling down, waking up.

i look to the bathroom from whence I just came, the portal that plagued me, plagued my subconscious, that door, sometimes I walk over to it and place my hand on it, sometimes I can feel things, the vibration of activity, sometimes I can smell things, dust and pepper and groundnuts and sweat, sometimes I can hear things, footsteps, people talking, their voices bleeding into each other, the wind, but every time, all the time, I can see those people, the people in the market, I can see them staring at me.

even now.

I shut my eyes, I told myself to ask why I was there, that’s all I do, before the noise comes in and repels me from the stomach of the haziness.
why I was where? the hut? the market? the dream? alive? on this planet? somewhere else undefined? 

my mind has become a raging ocean, the waves toss me back and forth, there is nothing for me to hold on to, pulled under again and again, I see something floating and in my despair, I try to get to it, we meet and I grab it, wooden, impressionistic, it is a portrait, I feel myself being pulled under again so I look at the painting, I see a raging ocean, and a figure being tossed back and forth with nothing to hold onto, I find myself in it, I have become the figure, in my aging dilemma, I am the ocean as well, aggressive and vile, I am the portrait, the illusion of salvation, inadvertently becoming my prison, I am she who is held in troubled chains, I am the troubled chains, I am even the symbolism of the chained and her chains.

why the market?

a fantasy cooked up from memoria, that my mother never let me go with her there because of her fears of kidnap and assault, her fears that she’d take her eyes off me for a second, turn back to find that I’d disappeared into the vastness of trade and all these strangers were looking at me for some reason.

some representation of the hostility she harboured for me before she finally gave me to my dad and left forever, the nights I’d wake up and meet her pulling out her hair, screaming in languages I didn’t know, languages even she didn’t know, she swore there were people everywhere, she swore, it was midnight, markets are empty at night, people aren’t everywhere at night.

why the hut?

i don’t get it, I’ve told myself I did again and again but we know it’s all a lie, daddy was always tired, he’d come home and put on a Yoruba film, the ones I wasn’t allowed to watch, he’d sleep off ten minutes in, with the remote firm in his grip, I’d crawl to the living room holding my breath, sit next to the couch where he was asleep and stare at the screen for hours, midnight Africa Magic Yoruba showed the worst shit, greedy men who wanted all the money in the world, money ritual go go go, jealous mother in-laws who wanted their son’s wife barren for as long as possible, tie her womb go go go, ladies who wanted the rich politician their friend was fucking to be theirs and love them forever, love potion go go go.

greed and envy and sheer fucking bitterness would drive them to go meet a babalawo, a native doctor, juju scholar, apparent spiritual vessel, bridge between the here and the there, they stayed isolated, living in lone mud huts, celebrating evil for the propagation of the wants of whoever walked in to see them. perhaps seeing the babalawos in that hut talking to whatever it was that was their god made my mind perceive the hut as a higher force.

the hut in my dream was God and I was in it but it was my voice that came from everywhere ergo I was God and since I was in the hut that is God that is I, I was in myself, how?

is the screeching the abruptness of death? of waking? of something else undefined?

i have become my mother, there is no rest, I have shut out everything, I cannot speak for her and how she handled this curse but having committed to dissecting and deciphering this dream that plagues my sleep and wake, this room that has become the unrest that is my life, my life that is this disturbance of voices and alienation and God, God that is the universe, the universe that is I, I that is in it. I am my mother, I birthed myself, I created myself to create myself, living in the being, fetus in fetus, an unborn child is forced to be mother to mother, an ugly, loud russian doll collapsing on itself.

i can still hear the voices and see the people because I’m still in the dream, the dream is all there is, never ending, there is no waking, I am still walking down that dark tunnel, listening to my own voice everywhere, asking me to ask why, but there is no answer, the world is against me but I am it, waiting for the screeching but it never comes until it does, but it never does, the voices are loud but I am it, I’m everything, I hate it, I hate myself, I hate the unendingness of it all, there is no why, I just need something to find, there is no why, I just need something to hold on to, there is no why, I just need an excuse, I’ve always did, is this how God feels?

“fuck!” I yell

i stand up and even from the other side of the room, I stretch my hand out towards where the bathroom door is, not touching it, far from touching it, the sun is out now but half of my self is in the dark that is the dream, I stand there, taking in everything, again and again and again, I feel a weird sensation on my hand, I turn the hand so I can see what’s causing the feeling, I see it now, I let out a gasp, the red imprints of a grip spread on my light skin.

i start to itch.