“For a dream cometh through the mtitude of business; and a fooL’s voice is known by multitude of words.”
“Stop, please, I can’t breathe, Papa!!!!….papa!!!…. papa!!!”
Ada opened her eyes to see herself on the floor of her bedroom. “How can it be this nightmare again?” she thought.
She had been seeing the same dream for the past five years. She lay down still on the floor trying to process the dream again. She had seen her late father fighting with her uncle who lives in the village, and her uncle assuring her dad that he would never forgive him. Most times, she woke up at the point where her uncle held her by the neck while her Dad dragged her with him. Although she seldom wakes up sweating and tired every time she has the dream, today’s battle seemed to have been on for longer than usual for her to have fallen from her bed.
She closed her eyes to say a few words of prayers about the dream and her family generally; she started by singing one of her favourite worship songs…
“Jesus, ome kannaya, I worship you today, Jesus ome kannaya, I bow before your throne…”
“You this crazy, stupid man. You are not going anywhere today; you think I’m a fool, right? Newsflash, I am not; I am the best thing that happened to your hopeless life”
“Sweetheart, please don’t start. I’m just going out to do some extra time at work. You know Christmas is coming, and we need the extra funds to get the new car we promised your mother”
“Don’t even try to cajole me with the car or the house you promised to complete before Christmas. I know you’re going to meet that your good-for-nothing boss. You think I don’t know that you have been sleeping with her?”
“Tayo, please, I don’t want to have any issues with you this morning. Don’t make me angry, please. Just give me my car keys and let me…”
Ada opened her eyes and hissed; she had been singing the same worship song for the past few minutes when the noise from the next flat busted into her space like a rushing wind. “Can this couple ever live in peace? Maybe peace is a poison to them”. She took her pillow to cover her head and concentrate on her prayer. She even thought of getting the landlord to soundproof her room, since ‘the neighbours are married enemies, not couples’.
“Lord Jesus, I bless you for your faithfulness over me, my mum, my siblings and the work of my hands. I know I have not really been talking to you but you can’t blame me; you took my dad. I’m sorry, Lord, just take this horrible dream away, Lord…”
“Agbaya, useless fool, kill me ooo, just kill me like that. You can never make it without me; I made you……” “Lord, forgive me but I hate my neighbours. Like, they are a pain in my ass, in Jesus name I pray”
Ada gave up trying to pray. Apart from the fact that she had lost the will and faith to pray since her dad’s demise (she prayed, fasted and had vigils non-stop as a routine), her neighbours were not helping matters this morning, with their fights and tantrums. She felt like going to their flat and slap some sense of peace into them but she stood up, looked at her rough bed and went to her kitchen for a glass of water.
On her way to the kitchen, she decided to go for an early run to clear her head and forget the nightmare. She would also use the opportunity to stay away from the Bankoles next door before she calls the police concerning their unbearable problems. She went into the bedroom to fish out her track suit, and while trying to look for her face cap, her phone rang and she quickly went to pick it up.
“Good morning Mr. Benson… Yes, I’m very well, thank you… It was fine… Yes, I have not forgotten that I will be meeting with them today. Thank you for the reminder, sir… Alright… Enjoy your weekend too, …bye”.
Adaeze reminded herself of the need to work more on her own event planning outfit. At least, no boss will be giving her hard time and she will be at the helm of affairs. Her meeting was with Adeyemi Williams and another representative of the NGO involved in the Agape project at 11am.
She finally fished out her face cap, and went to the sitting room to put on her sneakers. She saw the project f ile on the table and remembered that she had not really taken any step about it. The work was cumbersome at this time as she has to take several opinions into consideration before coming up with a worthwhile Christmas project. So, she stood up, picked up her mp3 headphones and stepped out.
“You are not going anywhere. You are mine, and I am keeping you with me today”
“Leave my shirt alone or I will be forced to forget my hands in your face right now”
“Won o bi e re. Yes, you dare not. I will just…Oh my dear, I will miss you… Why can’t we go out together?” Sola Bankole was shocked with the sudden change in his wife, and he was about to ask her if she was alright when he noticed that Ada, their neighbour, was coming out of her flat.
“Good morning Miss. Ada”
“Good morning sir! Good morning Mrs. Bankole” Ada said, put on her headphones and went ahead with her run. If not because of the rough morning she had, maybe she would have laughed at the married enemies.
She took a short rest at the estate’s gates and took some minutes to choose the direction to head to; the left side leads to the rear end of the street and deeper into the area, while the right leads to the main junction of the street. She chose the right side so that she could take some time to rest and think at the park not far from the junction.
Yes, this is it; she just needed to run the tension off, she would forget about the horrible dream, and she would not think of the possibility of her uncle strangling her to death the next time she dreams nor think something bad happens next and she wouldn’t wake up again. She stopped on her track, smiled at the lady jogging back to the estate, she shook off the bad thought, took a short breath and continued.
Mazi Ibekwe Augustine Onuoha had died suddenly five years ago. Although the autopsy carried out on her father’s body revealed he died of cardiac arrest, Ada knew he was killed by his elder brother because of the feud between them regarding their father’s landed property. So, Ada wouldn’t accept that Uncle Romanus has no hand in her father’s death.
Uncle Romanus had been selling the land behind her father, and her father who believed that properties, especially the ones in the village are for a heritage, a mark of their ancestral lineage, frowned at his elder brother’s acts. So, Mazi Ibekwe took away the documents of the properties yet to be sold. They fought, threatened each other and several family meetings were called to make peace between them.
Finally, her father offered to buy some of the properties from his elder brother and return the documents back to him. This he promised, five years ago, to do before leaving the village after the festive period. Mazi Ibekwe made his family and the elders promise not to tell his brother as he planned this as a surprise for him.
Ada saw a couple jogging back to the estate and stopped a bit to take a view as the husband playfully dragged his wife along. The wife noticed Ada and waived to her. Then, Ada recognised them; they were the couple living in the flat adjacent to hers—such a nice couple. Ada waived back and continued her run. She had long stopped dreaming to get a good man. She felt she has a lot to deal with than being bothered by marriage; she can only get married if her uncle doesn’t end up killing her before time.
When she reached the park, she bought a bottle of water from the kiosk located at the park’s entrance, and walked down to her favourite part of the park, a place where the trees gathered in peaceful deliberation. She took her seat and closed her eye as she tried to shut out the memories of the past.
Mazi Ibekwe had given his surprise gift to his brother on his birthday, December twenty-five, and everybody was happy that an end had finally come to the long-standing feud between the two siblings. This joy did not last as her father fell down on one of the lands his brother sold to him, five days after the peaceful settlement. It’s almost five years, everyone has forgotten except for two people: her mother who was disgraced and blamed for her husband’s death, and Ada who was with her father the very day he died, saw how he struggled with death, hugged him closed to herself after he died in her hands—he did not even make it to the hospital. If only Ada had refused to follow him to the land when he asked, maybe she wouldn’t be haunted by his death all these years. After his death, things fall apart, the centre didn’t hold anymore and perhaps will never hold.
Ada felt a touch on her shoulder and ignored it as it felt like fallen leaf from the tree. She felt the touch again, and opened her eyes to see naked eyes boring into hers.
“Excuse me, lady. Can I have my seat?”
Ada looked at the young man with the white eyeballs and long black lashes as though he wasn’t alright. For Pete’s sake, there are at least five other benches around her. Why would he be asking for her seat? She decided to pretend not to hear him since she still had her headset on but she had stopped the music in order to enjoy the peace and serenity that surrounded her; she hoped the young man would change his mind and sit elsewhere.
“Excuse me, I didn’t get what you said” she said, removing her headset.
“I said, Can I have my seat beside you?”
“Sure! I assume this is a public place. You can seat anywhere”
“Thank you”, the young man said and took his seat by her side, leaving a little space between them.
“Why were you crying?”
“Excuse me???” Ada said and quickly wiped the tears from her face; she did not even know that tears were already flowing.
“You had a tear on your face, and I just asked why you were crying”, he said looking ahead.
“You asked for a seat young man, not my life’s history”
“The name is Albert, not young man” he said, turning sideways towards Ada.
“Okay, thanks Mr. Albert for disturbing and disrupting my peace”
“Oh, I’m sorry if I disturbed you. I was about to sit on that seat over there when I noticed a beautiful lady shedding tears, and it would be ungentlemanly of me to just sit like that. Plus, I don’t like seeing tears; I love joy around me”
“Okay, Mr. Albert Joy, thanks for the care but some of us can’t help but be sad once in a while. Life is not a bed of roses after all”.
“Yes, Miss. I-don’t-know-your-name-yet, life is not a bed of roses, but we must always approach the bed with joy, whether it’s full of roses or thorns”
Ada turned and gazed at the guy for a while, “where is he coming from? And why is he trying to get unnecessarily friendly? It won’t hurt to engage him in a conversation”.
“So, Mr. Albert Joy, is your own bed full of thorns or roses? Wait, before you answer, it has to be roses for you to be this happy”
“No, I would say it has been full of roses and thorns. Actually, it started out as all thorns after I lost my parents when I was fifteen years old. And right now, my only sister is in the hospital fighting for her life” he said, looking forward again.
“So sorry to hear that; I hope her ailment is not that serious”
“What can I say? She was hit by a drunken driver about three months ago and she’s still in coma. We used to come here together every weekend to relax after our morning run”
“Wow!!! But, Mr. Albert Joy, why are you telling me all these?”
“So as to let you see that you don’t need roses to have joy. However, with joy, your thorns can turn to roses”
“Hmmn, can we just sit in peace for some time? I need to clear my mind”
“Sure, I can even take a short nap now since I have talked to you. Don’t blame me; I was up all night talking to my sister at the hospital” They both closed their eyes and rest the head on the stony backrest of the seat.
They stayed like that for several minutes, and it seemed as if time stood still and the earth was not moving round the sun until Ada remembered her meeting by 11am. She raised her head and took a sip out of the water. Immediately, Albert also opened his eyes beside her. She stood up, looked intently at him and said,
“I’m sorry about your sister; I wish her quick recovery. I have to run now”.
“Thank you”, Albert said and smiled to her.
She was already few meters away from him and was about to put on her headphones when she turned and said, “And the name is Adaeze” “Okay, Miss. Adaeze, please keep your joy intact” Ada smiled in return, put on her headset and started the jog back home. She got home in no time and went for the shower; came out of the bathroom and heard her phone ringing. When she checked her wall clock to see if she was already late for the meeting, she noticed she still had enough time. “But who could the caller be?” Ada picked up the phone and saw her caller, “Mama”. (It had been a while since she heard from her mum; thanks to her workload and the new project). She picked up the call and activated the phone’s speaker. That way, she could get dressed and prepare while answering her mother.