Wednesday, 2 November 2016

SHORT STORY: If u love Literature then follow us in this captivating story of TRACES

Today we bring you a powerful work of art by our very own Chikemdi  Chukwuemeka follow him as he takes us through the road of powerful literary work in this captivating short story titled TRACES

I remember those days when Mama would say her relatives lived in the sky; mama was an orphan, so we believed her. Every morning, she would sit on a wooden stool and gaze into the bright skies, muttering inaudible words that only her relatives heard. These relatives Mama called traces. She maintained that they beings she communed with every morning were only a lower version of the people that had formed the early part of her life before that unforgettable flood wiped them all from the face of the earth. That was a long long time ago and she was only seven then. As a young girl, she had cried but yet did not fully understand what it meant to lose loved ones. Mama’s life after the death of her senior brother Johnny and her parents had been a quintessence of tragedy. She had been adopted by her large hearted aunty but yet felt maltreated. She would recount to me how she missed the days when she and Johnny played hide and seek, when they quarreled and were made by their parents to settle with a ‘brotherly and sisterly’ hug. All these she would remember while the tears flowed.
On the day she was to marry Papa, she claimed that her parents were both in attendance and that her father in the usual custom had given her the jar of palm wine to present to her husband. Even though I dare not disagree with her openly, I knew she was drowned in her own hallucinations. I still remember one incident that forever remains pellucid in my store of memories… the morning Mama had slapped me for distracting her cards game with her brother Johnny. I brought breakfast of pap and akara balls before her. As usual, she seemed lost, so not wanting to disturb her, I dropped the plate on the ground before her; and then the slap came. Mama said I had used the plates to scatter the already arranged cards and so that was why she slapped me. I apologized later but she only cried and rubbed my head in motherly affection.
“I know how hard it is for you, but I can’t just stop thinking about them” she had muttered amidst tears. I understood her, so I cried with her.
On one occasion, I had finished preparing for school and went to the front yard to meet Mama for money. She was crying, quiet sobs that portrayed agony and bitterness, of one whose heart was broken and could not be mended. She had asked me to sit and when I did, she placed her hands on my head and asked
“Do you know why I’m weeping?”
“No mama” I answered.
“I can’t see the real them. I’m only seeing their traces… it’s not the real Johnny I’m seeing… I can’t see my parents. I only see their traces…
I stood up and put my hands around her shoulders. We remained like that until the news of Papa’s death came that same morning. While on his way to work, he had been involved in an accident. I still remember how Mama slumped to the ground and fainted. We spent two days at the hospital, then four weeks in the village after his burial before we came back to the city. Then Mama wasn’t talking about Johnny or her parents again. Probably, their traces had been erased finally by Papa’s death. I remember the morning she woke me up and asked me to go to the back of the house…”your father is waiting for you” she said quickly and left. When I got to the back of the house, there was not a single soul but yet I still said aloud “Papa good morning”
Papa’s death aggravated Mama’s condition and soon, she no longer ate her meals. This too affected me. I was no longer frequent at school. Mama’s condition was one that required my presence. I stayed with her all day and all night and we never slept. Even when I did sometimes, she would not. On one of the nights, I woke up to see her dancing with gusto. She looked at me and smiled
“Your father is challenging me this night to a dancing contest” she said and continued dancing, then turning to face the wall she said obviously to the being or in her own word the trace she saw as my father and her husband
“Your son is watching us, you better dance well”
Later, mama announced that her husband won the contest. “He’s a good dancer. He danced better than me during our wedding” she said.
But mama was only seeing traces of loved ones. The real people were somewhere in the world beyond. These beings Mama encountered were only a product of her imagination never were they going to be the real people and because Mama longed to see the real people again, she joined them not too long ago leaving only me. Now every morning, I sit in front of our small house, gazing into the skies just as mama did, communing with parents. It is now clear to me the sort of pain mama was experiencing. I never saw the real Papa and Mama I knew, I only saw their traces. Mama’s face would appear dimly with a charming smile, Papa’s face will also resurface but after split seconds, they will vanish. Just the same way mama longed to see the real people again, I also longed for that and maybe one day I will…

CHIKEMDI CHUKWUEMEKA is an intelligent story writer who who uses the literary tools and happenings around him to deliver a deep literary work of art for all art lovers. He also doubles as elitism6 reporter.

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