A day before.
Weird kolokuma sat on the cane chair kept permanently at the entrance of his log cabin and made the sound of different gunshots with his lips. It was his way of telling his personal account of the war.
Nobody liked him because he was a demon, a demon inside the body of a fifty-something year old albino- because demons do not have voices, they only compel people to turn their lips into bizarre things.
It was a long and quiet evening- maybe a bit longer and a little bit calmer than the other days. He grappled to keep his pale pupils on the fading sun, squinting gravely, and followed it keenly until it fell into that cliff at the extreme of the sky. Then the mosquitoes came, singing songs, interrupting his gunshot beats.
He hissed, stood on his feet and turned into his log cabin. The thatches from the low roof brushed his forehead as he moved in. inside the house was a rustic floating shelf. He took the plastic vintage flashlight from the shelf and pushed the button forward. A faint yellow light came alive. He hit the head so that there was a little more life to the light. He stepped back outside and jogged that long deserted bush path. It took him 30 minutes to jog there every day.
When he got to his old house, he cornered to the back, towards the old cassava farmland.
‘Tamuno! Tamuno! Tamuno!’ he called like he always did. Like he was summoning her. It was how he checked on them every single day, eight months after they went missing.
When he heard no response, he returned to the façade. There he stood and observed the houses razed by fire.
‘They couldn’t touch my house.’ He boasted and spread his lips like the plumes of a peacock.
‘Because they know Tamuno and her children are coming back.’ He continued.
Then he stood there and allowed the smoothness in the air to make him recollect, make him shed those scrimpy tears and make him want to carry a heavier burden- to learn how to cook for the people that roam in the other realm, to make them divulge information.
The night breeze blew gently, brushing his ear. Then a mild cold seeped through his skin. Then he heard whimpers. He looked around and there was nobody.
‘Who is crying there?’
‘Tamuno! He said, raising his voice to the dark. When he got no response, he walked closer to the razed house. He followed the sound carefully, walking through the first building and unto a passageway. Then he saw a man standing up ahead with arms crossed and back pressed to the wall- a little part of the building that survived the fire.
‘Who is that?’ Kolokuma asked and inched closer.
‘Who are you? Don’t you talk? He shouted when the man gradually turned away, backing him.
Kolokuma stood when he was just three yards away from the man. He raised his flashlight but the light faded out. He tapped the head and moved the knob frantically, but it was dead.
Then he had an eeriness swell up his head while a gush of fetid smell left him blowing his nose audibly. He knew then that he was standing with a dead man- a whimpering dead man. He stood and observed the ghost with that bit of moonlight that surfaced intermittently from the thick clouds.
‘You are dead! What are you doing here?’ he asked the ghost with an impressive audacity.
The ghost stopped whimpering and walked away gradually.
‘You are dead! Don’t come back here! He yelled so that his voice travelled as far as the ghost had gone. He had spoken to ghosts before. He knew they were ordinary men that kept looking for their bodies, or ordinary men who refuse to accept that every man had borrowed his body from death.
When the ghost had left, he tapped the head of his flashlight again. The yellow light glowed. Then he realized he should have asked the ghost a question.
He hissed and moved away. Then he started jogging.
Very early in the morning, he got into a stripped black short and a floppy white singlet and headed for town. He trotted through that long deserted bush path and passed through his old house. He stopped to gaze when he got to that razed building of last night. There was only the usual silence and the usual smell of death that hung loosely on the air.
Then he jogged ahead. Not long after, he saw people. He stopped, breathed deeply to control his panting and started walking.
When he got to the midst of people packing the stiffs and clearing the town, he climbed a stack of building blocks and spouted.
‘A ghost is on the loose!’
‘We have to bring him to order!’
‘When you are ready come to my home!’ he spouted over and over again, repeating the same things. They looked at him like the veteran who had forgotten his senses in a small log cabin inside the forest. No one acknowledged his presence.
Away from the blocks, Penakeme clutched a bottle of Seaman’s schnapps. He walked towards the old man and handed him the half emptied bottle of gin.
‘Drink so that you can see more ghosts.’ He taunted him and burst into a spreading laughter. It cut the other men who were within range like a virus.
Then he grabbed the bottle and descended the blocks. They laughed and watched him move away with his floppy singlet billowing in the breeze.