Stories

eniola and the again again – Mariam Onipede

Setting: a hostel apartment in UNILAG(University of Lagos) on Friday 19th December 2003

Friday 19th December 2003,

eniola: i feel so slow. it’s like i am following these steps that will keep me busy, keep me involved and present, but it all feels too repetitive and feels as though i am moving honey viscosity slow

collectives: take it in bits, talk to us

eniola: i’m exhausted, it’s an extremely bland and awfully ruthless experience. to whoever reading this, it’s been an ugly ride but i took control where i could.

 

eniola sighs and places her cartridge black-inked pen on her still open black journal 

she leans back causing her swivel chair to squeak 

she sits up and packs her thick locs into a bun then opens one of the drawers attached to the desk and takes out a make-shift tourniquet and a syringe with a dark brown fluid in it, heroin

she taps the syringe on the barrel the way doctors do and pushes the plunger forward causing a drop to fall from the needle

she then ties her arm with the tourniquet, pauses to take out a dark colored bottle from her drawer and draws more fluid into the syringe and then injects the whole content into her vein

she sighs, leans back against her chair and closes her eyes 

a whimsical force of its own creation takes over her whole body making it feel light, she then begins floating

she keeps floating, eyes still closed

her body is now hologramic and when it gets to the ceiling, it goes through it

she is now above ceiling and in the sky still sat on her swivel chair 

sips of lights seep into her vision in fragments and bits as she opens her eyes as though she were waking up but still needing more sleep

her whole self feels under the control of an unseen game controller or a spell 

the skies are now properly in vision and as she takes a first blink, she finds herself moving in an extreme speed through what looks like a tunnel of multiple flashing colors of LED lights and the strobing does not affect her eyes, she only keeps still on her chair and wonders if the speed is her or the tunnnel

her swivel chair stops moving and she finds herself in her catholic secondary school dorm room

“hurry hurry, you are all late for service, eniola, why are you just standing there?”

eniola’s dorm room coordinator is looking towards her direction

what?

eniola looks behind and sees her 13 year old self 

no one sees 22 year old hologramic eniola

“go and mop the floors and adjust the rough beds. don’t you know you are late?”

“yes ma”

as 13 year old eniola adjusts all the rough beds, five buff men in white robes tied at the waist with a black rope and cross necklaces on their necks burst through the dorm door

ahn ahn, who are those ones?” eniola’s dorm room coordinator walks towards the door

the female students not dressed rush to cover up

“madam, which one of your students is eniola?”

“why? who are you people?” 

“the priest sent us, which of them is eniola?” the one in front of the other four replies

whenever the priest summons any student, it is to ‘teach them a lesson’ for something wrong they did but this is usually infront of the school assembly not this way

“the priest?”

“yes madam, the priest,” another of the five replies

“is that why you now barged in anyhow? this is a female dorm room”

“sorry madam but the priest has no patience at the moment,” the one in front replies

na wa oh, i will have come with you” 

“no problem madam”

“eniola! leave what you are doing, let’s go”

confused 13 year old eniola follows behind her dorm coordinator who then follows the buff men’s lead

hologramic 22 year old eniola follows behind on her swivel chair like a handicapped patient 

they all get to the school’s church entrance

one of the buff men opens the entrance to the church and in place of the benches that are usually present for service are even more buff men standing

“bring that girl here,” the priest’s voice booms from the speakers

he is at the far end of the church standing on a podium

“jesus,” 13 year old eniola whispers under her breath

two of the buff men lift her and she thrashes against their hold

“leave me, leave me”

“she can walk nau,” the dorm room coordinator tries to release eniola from their grip

“madam, please leave the church and close the doors behind you,’’ the priest voice from the speakers 

“but priest…”

“madam, please leave the church and close the doors behind you’’

“yes priest,” she obeys 

the five buff men bring eniola to the priest and throw her on the floor and join the other buff men in the crowd

the priest gets down from the podium, microphone in one hand

“eniola here has committed an abomination, went against everything we stand for”

“AN ABOMINATION!” his voice rises in the speaker 

“tell the crowd what you have done,” he squats and is now eye level with her and puts the microphone in front her mouth

“TAKE IT FROM ME!”

she collects the microphone

“i- i- don’t know what i’ve done father”

wham!

he smacks her across the face

what are you doing?

22 year old hologramic eniola tries to speak but her mouth won’t open and she has begun to materialize into flesh from her haziness 

she looks towards the crowd but none of the buff men make a move except two of the buff men who from behind go to the back of the church to bring a huge wooden cross and a hammer and are now walking through the path that leads to the front of the church

“eniola here has been doing heroin, HEROIN! did i lie eniola?” the priest continues

13 year old eniola is now in tears “father, I don’t know what- ”

wham 

the priest sits on her and begins smacking her face with the microphone

wham wham wham wham wham 

the two buff men place the huge wooden cross flat on the ground in place of the podium

the priest drops the microphone and switches to punches

punch smack punch smack

her face is bloodied and unrecognizable

STOP STOP IT WASNT HER, IT WAS ME”

22 year old eniola is screaming and her hologramic self is now completely flesh

everyone in the church turns towards her, she is beside the priest

oya carry this one” the priest gets up, cleaning his blood stained hand on his robe and points at her- 22 year old now visible eniola

one buff man from the crowd walks towards her and picks her up carrying her towards the wooden cross

eniola is thrashing against their hold 

they place her flat on the cross and the priest is now standing over her head

“you’ve been a very bad girl, do you know that?” the priest brings nails from his pocket and hands it over to the buff man with a hammer

“no, no, what do you think you are doing?”

the buff man with the hammer stretches her arm on the cross and places a nail on her palm bringing the hammer down on it

“AHHHH PLEASE PLEASE I WON’T AGAIN PLEASE”

he brings the hammer down again and again and again and switches to the other other palm doing the same

“PLEASE PLEASE STOP”

the priest squats, “now you die the right way, now your sins will be forgiven”

he takes out a 6 inch long nail and motions for the hammer from the buff man

“no no please, i swear to god never again please i promise”

“shh shh shh, you will thank me in the next life”

he places the nail on her forehead

“NO NO NO PLEASE”

she is thrashing her head and a buff man holds it down

the priest brings the hammer down on the nail 

the same whimsical force of earlier takes over eniola’s body and she begins floating with her arms spread in the form of a cross

as she gets to the ceiling, she finds herself on her swivel chair once more and her body begins to take its hologramic form 

she begins to squint her eyes as a bright light seeps into her vision and she blinks

she finds herself moving in an extreme speed once again through that tunnel of multiple flashing colors of LED lights 

she stops moving after what seems like 10 seconds what seems like an aeon and finds herself in a room, it’s her mother’s room

in the room, eniola is on her swivel chair and she sees her mother rolling on the floor, aunty abiodun who is now aunty ramota who converted to a muslim, uncle david who is also father david in the catholic church close to her compound, and then there is 18 year old eniola who is almost 19 knelt upright infront of her mother looking down to the ground 

current hologramic eniola remembers this day clearly, it was the day her mother found out she lost her virginity

“how could you do this to me eniola?” her mother is in tears

“you have spoiled yourself, totally spoiled yourself,” her mother keeps rolling on the ground 

“please get up, don’t worry she will leave this fast life behind after she fasts and prays at the church,” her uncle david says to her mother

“she has ruined me ohhh”

“please don’t say that,” it is now aunty ramota speaking 

“no one in our family was this way, nobody eniola, tell me,” her mother sits up cross-legged, still on the ground looking at 18 year old eniola

“are you possessed? what have I not done right for you eniola? tell me”

“why did you do heroin eniola?“ her mother’s head snaps to current 22 year old eniola

“why?” her mother gets up and is now walking towards her

“i’m sorry mum, i-”

every other person in the room stays still like a statue including 18 year old eniola

her mother takes one hand to her back pocket and brings out a bread knife

“why eniola?”

“mum i’m sorry, mum what are you doing?”

eniola’s mother is now in front of eniola and begins stabbing herself continuously

“why why why why why why”

“MUM STOP, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” 

before she can make contact with her mother to stop her from hurting herself, a bright light seeps into her vision and the whole room dissipates into nothing

she is even without her swivel chair and is now standing in this vast blank room of white nothingness except for an iroko tree at the middle, a man sat beneath with his back facing eniola and the roof of this nothingness has grey skies with ear-piercing thunders that leaves white marks like scratches on these gray skies for a second

eniola walks to the man beneath the iroko tree and sees he is a man with a nondescript face reading from a transparent paper with its writings in black ink

it looks like he is reading words floating in the air and as he reads, two doors materialize on the iroko tree with the wordings ‘rebirth’ and ‘repeat’ inscribed on each door respectively 

as the doors materialize, two beings which are replicas of each other sprout from the ground

each of them in a single piece of white cloth around the waist has three horns, two on the head, another on the forehead,  guard each of the doors with a long glistening silver staff

“…at 22 overdosed on heroin. her mantra ‘nothing matters’ shaped and ruined her in many ways. eniola saw herself as many selves and not one self after she birthed other versions of herself 7 months after her 18th . eniola was overly aware and tried to stay afloat and hang on to the last string of sanity she had but now lost. everyone shakes their heads at the self-sabotaging selfish eniola they know. what they didn’t know was that eniola tried hard, started her own form of therapy with the different versions of herself. hell after death is the mind’s idealized version of it and eniola has chosen for the 1059th  time to live through this limbo rather than be reborn. eniola’s choice for this being that a reborn version of her is a new life destined with her unfortunate fate of a descent into madness.”

the man with the nondescript face sat beneath the iroko tree gets up and folds the transparent paper with floating words in a roll and then he is gone in a blink

what do you choose eniola? a rebirth or this hell?

eniola does not reply with words, she has solidified her resolve against a rebirth she cried into her pillows for many nights to be taken from

she walks to the door with the inscription ‘repeat’ on it and the being guarding that door taps it with the glistening silver staff 

it opens and she walks through.