POSTED 04/08/2018 19:09:13
I’d swear to any deity, god dammit. I loved Keji. She loved me too. Was that not why I gave her the name Nightingale? I don’t remember why anyway. Perhaps it was because her voice rang out like the sweet melodies of a nightingale bird. Or because she was a skilled nurse like Florence Nightingale. That’s not the point though. The point is this; you name what you love, what is yours, don’t you?
Keji was your best friend. She must have told you about us, me and her. She must have – in those bestie convos of yours – mentioned how we’d stay up at night talking about everything and nothing. She must have told you of the sweet promises we made to each other, swearing never to walk away no matter what. Look at my wrist. Don’t you see her name engraved on these wrist beads?
Am I talking too much? I’m sorry. I just wanted to tell you how much I loved her. She loved me too, even when the episodes began, when I started having blackouts and severe headaches. They even said I started breaking things but I know that was a lie. They just wanted to spice up the whole thing, to create something that would trend more than the snake that swallowed 36 million naira. You know how Nigerians love surreal stories.
Anyway, amidst all that Keji still loved me. She’d spend time with me after work, leaving only in the morning to prepare for work. See? My tables are littered with gifts and – what! Is that a get-well-soon card? What is the matter with these people? I am not sick! You send get-well-soon cards to sick people! I've been telling them that I am not sick but they won’t believe me, even Keji too? Okay, you, do you think I am sick? Ehe? Because I am in a hospital bed and draped in blue gown? Okay, never mind I asked.
What was I saying? Why are you looking at me like that? Oh, you agree with them? That I am mad? Did you know that they tricked me into coming here? Just because I was having little headaches. I mean you have a small issue with your brain and they whisk you off to a psychiatric hospital and declare you mad? The impunity! How can they place me in the same pedestal with that naked, dirty mad man lying in a refuse dump at Mbonu Street, D/Line? How can they? I know my name. I have five fingers on each hand. See? I am not mad. Hello, are you still listening to me? Good. I was talking about Keji, my nightingale.
So, yester night, as I was lying on the bed – enjoying the calm that darkness brings – something began to crawl around my body. It started from my legs to my groin and then up. It made to my lips, licking it. I couldn’t take it any more so I grabbed the creature with both hands and hit its head on the floor repeatedly. I could hear the cries. I think it was a rat. You’re like, what the hell right? Me too! They say they fumigate hospitals – I mean that stuff they do to keep insects and rodents away. Don’t mind them! They didn’t fumigate shit! Or maybe they did but the rat was a strong one, a relative of those ones that chased the President out of Aso rock – very powerful creatures.
So when I thought the effort I was putting in killing the rat wasn’t enough, I lifted the table nearby and smashed its head repeatedly till I could hear the sounds no more. The rat can’t invade the only place that is not afraid to have me. As I put down the table, a nurse ran in, switched on the bulb and shrieked, disturbing the peace of the night. It attracted others, her shriek. They were shuddering and snapping their fingers. Forlorn faces and shaking heads. For what?
A doctor walked up to me and before I knew it he pricked my arm and the next thing I remember is waking up this morning in chains. I asked why and the nurse on duty was silent. I’ve even been moved to another room. I’ve asked of Keji and they are saying what I cannot understand. I usually wake with Keji staring at my face, kissing my forehead and telling me she was ready to leave. Where was she today? One of the nurses finally answered me and said that Keji was no more, that I killed her. Me? I mean, how? Why would I kill my bird, my nightingale? I only remember killing a rat for crying out loud! Everyone now looks at me with this hot hatred. Even my favorite nurse. She didn’t even greet me this morning. Does she not know that African adults are sustained by greetings? Nonsense, recalcitrant girl.
That’s by the way. I called you here because I want you to find Keji. Tell her to come quickly and tell these idiots that I did nothing wrong. I overhead one nurse saying that the story is all over the media, that Facebook warriors are already on it, fighting and bickering. That’s good, Keji lives online too and she’ll soon see it. She’ll come to me, but go quickly anyway, she may not have had the time to check her wall this morning.
You don’t even believe me still, even after pouring my heart out like water to you.
You still don’t believe me!
Okay, I am not mad at you right now. I am not but just get out. Get out! You bastard offspring of that statue-moulding Governor called emehbghcgdsvxe2qdCDBQ...
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