KIZITO (A Short Story)
One upon a time, I believed in fairytales, In castles in the air, and charming knights on white horses. I am not sure at what point I lost this belief, where exactly I veered off course, I only know that as of now, that belief is as foreign to me as the Indian women on ZEE WORLD.
“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that can be’’
A line from Stephen Chobsky’s The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is ringing through my head as I lay in bed one April night. Humidity seemed to hang over my head, like the transparent fumes on the top of an open can of petrol, causing sweat to fall down my neck in tiny droplets, forming a wet pool on the pillow beneath my head. The room is pitch black. Darkness envelopes me, so thick, I feel like I can slice it with a knife, the kind mother keeps arranged in a straight line on the kitchen table.
It is in this pitch black room, with the humidity hanging over my head, and mosquitoes bent on sucking every last drop of my blood, that I decide to write you a letter.
I reach out, turn on the bed side lamp, and the darkness disappears as quickly as a thief caught stealing, with time enough to run.
I met a boy. The first time I saw him, he was wearing a white woolen sweater over grey pants, and Nike slips. Mother had sent me on a quick errand to the ATM, and after that, I was to go to the market to get fresh meat and water leaves for dinner that night. He must have noticed me repeatedly glancing at my watch with a frown on my face as he withdrew bundle after bundle of money, because he suddenly moved aside and asked me to go before him, because he said, he was going to need a lot longer time than I could afford. Later, he would tell me that he only did because he thought; I had the whitest eyes he had ever seen. And I would hate him. I would hate him for the simple reason that he was not you and so he wasn’t allowed to pay me any compliments. I would stop seeing him and resolutely press the red button each time his name appeared on my screen.
Nnenna says I am being stupid, that you are gone.
‘’ Gone! Gone, you hear? Carry the pieces of that your heart and let someone else help you put it together. How long will you go on like this?’’
‘’ Ehn? Tell me. Abi you want to end up a 30 year old spinster? Maybe it is when you grow old, and you end up single, that you will realize that you are alone and you’ve wasted your whole life.
I am shocked by the bluntness of her words.
She had come into my room earlier to ask about the new ‘Bobo’ as she had put it.
At the beginning, she would never have said something like that. But she is angry. I can tell because she does not take back her words, Instead, she stands up and marches out of the room, re-tying the wrapper that hung loosely around her waist. My eyes follow her incredulously, as she walks out of the room. She is no longer sympathetic, Kizito. No one is.
Mother and I have become strangers. She seems to think that I am depressed, presumably because I rarely leave the house, spend quite a lot of time in bed, read the same pdf file of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood (it’s the only book we ever read together) on my laptop, eat infrequently, and spend a great deal of my time sparing into space, imagining different scenarios of you coming back. And so she leaves me alone. Occasionally, she would say ‘’Nne please eat, you know you have to’’ half-heartedly, with the air of someone who feels like she has to do something, say something, to remedy an otherwise irredeemable situation. Deep down, I can tell she, too, feels I am over doing it. She cannot possibly understand. She did not feel your arms around her, the shadows at the tip of your fingers do not hunt her.
I do not remember what it is like to sit beside her, on the couch in the living room, laughing at Mama Nkechi’s, the woman who lives upstairs, antics. I’m not sure I remember the sound of her laughter anymore. Even Mother seems to have given up on me. You can only console someone for so long, after a while it begins to feel like your words alone cannot help anymore, that’s when the real problem starts.
But Kizito, what they do not realize is that, I’m trying. I’m trying really hard because I want to forget you. I do not want to wake up in the middle of the night, panting because I was sure I heard you scream my name, anymore. I do not want to recognize a T shirt of yours, in a crowd full of people and rush towards the wearer, realizing too late that he is a little shorter than you. I do not want to listen to Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud and remember how you used to silently mouth the words, singing along and gliding across the floor, just like Ed himself had waltzed in the music video. Except that your movements were clumsy and hilarious and orchestrated merely for the purpose of making me laugh. I do not want to listen to Ed Sheeran at all. I do not want to read Norwegian Wood alone and imagine how great it would be to show you something I thought incredibly funny.
It is unbearable. The whole thing. Every second worse than the last.
I want one thing though, if you can’t come back; please write me a letter, or something. I need some kind of closure.
I sign the letter, fold it carefully and leave it on my reading table.
The man at the office is wearing a white shirt and a red tie, and looks like he has difficulty breathing with it so tight around his neck. His jacket is swung on the back of his swivel chair, hanging limply. He motions me to one of the seats across the table from him, and stares at me with stoic eyes, eyes void of any emotion. He reminds me of a surgeon that is bent over a patient in the operating room, emotionally unconnected. He is simply doing what needs to be done. He pushes my manuscript across the table towards me and it slides off it, and lands with a thud on my lap.
‘’I’m sorry. You have a very good story there, one with potential, but you do not have what it takes to adequately put it across. If you got that in the hands of a more skilled writer, he’d probably make a better deal of it’’, He says.
He tells me to never pick up a pen again. I cannot believe his meanness.
I get up and leave without a word, dropping the manuscript in the bin outside his office.
You had told me that I could, I choose that one instead.
I start a blog that same day.
THE NNENNA DIKE BLOG. And write about him.
It is the first time I am attempting something new like that. It turns out very well.
At night, I make up my mind.
Last night I dreamt of you. I dreamt that you and I were on opposite sides of a river. Flat pieces of rock created a path that led to you. The wind was blowing my hair in my face, but I could still make out your smile. You were smiling and beckoning me to join you on the other side. And by God I wanted to, but even as I made my way towards you, the river seemed to stretch longer, and wider, until you were nothing but a tiny dot in the horizon. The tears followed me back to reality.
Kizito , I am sorry. I love you very much but I know that you wouldn’t want me to be like this. You would want me to live life as fully as you had lived it. Maybe you hadn’t completed the length of it, but you had lived to the very edge of its breadth. I want to tell you, that they were wrong. That time doesn’t heal anything or take away the pain. It is like this, with time, you simply find ways to live with the pain. It is always there, at one corner of your heart. But that’s ok, because I get to keep a part of you, inside even if it hurts. I can live with that.
The next morning, as the morning sunlight crept into my room, dissolving all traces of the moon’s pale glow, I awoke to a hard thing beneath my pillow. A copy of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood lay gleaming by my side. Its smooth, shiny green cover, reflecting the sunlight. and as if that wasn’t enough, Inside it, lay a note marked in bold letters.
I have never been one to believe in the supernatural. But this, this is one thing I will not question or try to understand. I’d simply accept.
If I could, I would explain the emotions that coursed through my being.