Kolokuma sat on the white plastic chair and felt a blistering liberty; a looseness amidst the heat within him, like feathers flaunting in the wind. He rolled the sweats away from his pale hand with his thumb and thought of the next morning; covering a few more kilometers and sacking more calories. The morning was frosty. It kept his sportswear moist a little longer. He hummed larghetto melodies and watched different people walk pass, losing soft smiles and dropping lofty nods to greet them.
It was the day he will have that clergy collar taped to his neck, the hieratic title written before his name. There are only few man who would want to become pastors, more so, fewer who would want to stand behind the pulpit at that age.
It was also the day his life would have a new footing, where he would look at the world with new pair of eyes and become unreachable, like a hyacinth adrift beyond the shores.
Ebimo came through the entrance after opening the shiny chocolate wooden door, to where his father sat- a square veranda floored with dark tiles and enclosed with iron railings. Ebimo was the giddy only child with a chocolate skin and orange hairs- a thing that confirmed him a perfect hybrid.
“The water is warm now.” He told his father who was humming with some songs that were only sang during sober reflections.
Kolokuma looked at his son and nodded to make known his apprehension and continued humming.
It wasn’t an everyday thing to seat at the façade of your house early in the morning, hum and smile with everyone that passes. It was the kind of thing that makes people ask if you had gotten the Government appointment.
Soon after Ebimo left, Tamuno came to meet her husband who was about getting up from the chair. The woman was short and had a skin that looked close to soot. Anyone can guess correctly why the albino had opted for a woman whose skin was the exact opposite of his.
“We won’t stay long” Tamuno said in a detached manner, wearing dirty farm clothes and holding a matchet, she was the type of woman with no loose lips because she was the type you hardly see among women. She was either in the river, fishing, or in the farm
“Ebimo! Oya!” she called out to the boy who was making his way out of the house.
“Today is a special day for me, so I never wanted you to go to the farm o!” he stopped humming and said things he knew were inconsequential. It wasn’t going to stop her.
“Those grasses are already covering the cassavas” she said firmly without looking at him.
“Come!” she dragged Ebimo so that they stepped out of the veranda, turning through a path by the far corner of the house that leads to the farm. She was indifferent about her husband becoming a pastor. She was the type of woman that believed husband was the thing you serve and make children for and nothing more. No spicing, no extra emotions. So when he was emotional about the ordination, she didn’t think to chip in undue emotions. She was going to be there. It was the only obligation she owed him.
He watched them disappear into the corner of his building then leaped into the house to catch his warm bathe. He feared the water had gone cold already.
The entrance led straight into an oval opening- a sitting room with unadorned walls, a rare gateleg table with dishes, lying at the left end, a blue drapery leading away a passageway and four sofas forming a round enclosure at the center of the living room.
Once inside, Kolokuma seized a moment to observe the proof of his many years of handwork. He looked at the unpainted walls and gestured with his fingers, drawing plans of how and when he was going to make them look lively. Then he moved ahead, dragging that blue drapery to a corner and leaving it to billow.
The corridor opened into four doors that faced each other in pairs- three bedroom and a laundry. Kolokuma turned the knob of the first door, slid into his room, ran his palm over the suit lying on the bed before jumping into his bathroom.
In the farm, Tamuno had her head leaping close to the ground and weeded carefully, minding her bare foot and the tender Cassava stems. There was the usual quietness- the type that makes you give ear to the voices that fell from tree trunks. Weaverbirds chirped so that the forest lying behind the farm couldn’t retain those tiny pitched sounds and the air was laden with the smell of bruised grasses. Ebimo was sitting with his back slanting against a tree and his unsoiled matchet laying on the ground while he whistled softly. He exuded a distinct smell, the kind that is akin to solitary pedestrians. He was lazy or just complacent. Amidst his indolence, cheap sweats trickled from his temples.
After a while, Tamuno rose to relief the joint around her waist. Then she looked at her son and sighed.
‘Ebimo! Oya oya oya.’ she called him sharply, compelling him to come and join her. He grumbled and made a stretched clay out of his bony face before stumping to his own corner, reluctantly.
After cutting down few cassava stems instead of weeds, he was back beside the tree. This time he took a small branch of tree and sharpened it. When it got so pointed out and sharp, he drove it gently through that chocolate of a skin. When he felt that piercing sensation, he brought it out, stood up, aimed at the weaverbird perched in a nearby tree, then hurled the stick. The bird flapped its wings and lurched away. Ebimo watched it keenly and saw it descend into a remote bush. He picked up his matchet and raced through the bush.
When Tamuno rose to take a break, she looked back and saw her son racing through the grasses. A benign anger and a rush of aches around her body made her dropping the matchet and yelling instantly- “Ebimo where are you going?” ‘I want to pick a bird.’ His faint voice responded and even went deeper. She sighed and stood there for a while. She imagined a daughter instead, how helpful it would have been. She also imagined a much younger husband who could have been weeding while she sat and watched his biceps breathe strength and sweats trickle through his torso towards the ground. She knew they were mere wishes that can never become true. She then bent and continued weeding.
The sun was full and unfaltering, shedding that yellow as it rose gradually. The mild heat drained the freshness out of those bruised grasses and gave the air a moderately rough smell. Ebimo has not yet returned. She stood and straightened her palm horizontally across her forehead and looked searchingly into the distance. There was no sight of him. Not even movements in the bush.
“Ebimo!” she called the name and listen to it echo. Then she got worried. It started gradually, until she could no longer contain it. So she dashed into the forest, cutting down tall grasses in her path.
Ebimo was 17. A tall 17 year old boy with a broad chest and a husky voice. It should give Tamuno a freshly brewed air to suck in and gaze the world with shoulders blown up and cheeks drawn out. But it was the contrary. It was a thing she caused all by herself. She was the mother who never reckons he has grown up, who was always over protective, who was too motherly to spank a child. Maybe you can’t blame her. Maybe it was what God intended when he gave her just one child- a child that became many in her own eyes.
She continued deeper and deeper into the forest.
Kolokuma sat over that gateleg table, looking at the empty plates and the clock hanging on the wall. He was now stuffed into his black suit with floral smell exuding from him and waited for his family to return. The minutes ticked away. The passing seconds took him closer to many things. He fumed each passing minute, gnarling at why his wife has not returned. He left the sitting room for the veranda and stood over the iron railings. After a while, he set foot on the ground outside the veranda and turned through the far corner of his house, making way towards the farm. When he got to the farm, he stood at the edge and called Tamuno. There was silence everywhere, except the chirping of birds. The sun was now sitting directly over the farm. The fallen grasses were beginning to dry up and shed their chlorophylls. He moved through the familiar of an air that hung over the farm, through the fallen weeds and the smell of Tamuno. ‘They must have gone somewhere.’ He said when he got to the far edge just before the forest. Then he turned back, back to the house.
In the house, he went into his bedroom, picked up his large Kings James Holy Bible with Concordance, and came out with a head swelling with anger and disarray. He moved out of the veranda, down the street, and when he got to the middle of two building, he stood and looked into his wrist watch. The intense sun rays caused him to squint. It was 2:15pm- 30 mins from becoming a pastor. Then he heard voices behind him, he turned to see nobody. Then he had a bit of worry come over him like dark clouds. He turned and moved back to the house.
At 8:45pm, Kolokuma was holding a flashlight with a swarm of other men, moving through the forest.