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Osagiede Best | It Is What It Is

Act 1

 

Scene: desert; night. Light on the path, stars in the sky.

Gbakanagbogun and Ozigbo enter. Gbakanagbogun has only a slipper on, his trousers are torn from overuse, showing most parts of his left buttock. Ozigbo has the complete pair of her slippers on but only wrapping a dirty wrapper around herself like a towel, covering her breast down to her calves only.

Gbakanagbogun looks at Ozigbo as they walk laboriously, slouching shoulders, with load tied inside the white cloth on their heads.

Ozigbo: Are we there yet?

Gbakanagbogun: Where?

Ozigbo: We have been walking for 700 years, we must be going Somewhere, I figured.

Gbakanagbogun: Where?

Ozigbo: Somewhere should be enough. Anywhere.

Gbakanagbogun: Yea, anything can be enough depending on who needs it. And then nothing is enough.

Ozigbo: (Nods almost imperceptibly) True, nothing is enough in the end; we find we had enough of everything, yet we wanted more. We do really search, maybe the search is enough. (She sighs.) At least, I hear we know what we are running from.

Gbakanagbogun: Is that how we were told to be alive until we are not? (He exhales heavily.)

Ozigbo: It is never easy, it is never fun.

They exit the stage.

Their muffled voices are heard from backstage.

They re-enter the stage from the other side.

Gbakanagbogun drops the load on his head; he helps Ozigbo to drop hers.

Ozigbo: I have told you I don’t need you to help me with my load.

They are going to sit down on the sand.

They don’t.

They hear a crackling cry of a broken twig and they turn. They see a grown bald man sitting his bare buttocks on the sand. He has his thumb in his mouth. He is naked but clean and hairless and almost white as though he rubbed face powder all over himself. He starts to crawl and then walk. He is now kicking an empty can of coke, playfully.

Ozigbo: That is a baby… In the desert. (She looks at Gbakanagbogun and he looks back at her. Then they both turn to look at the baby but…)

Some infant whirlwind. Some dust. The man-baby: nowhere to be found.

Gbakanagbogun: Oh.

Ozigbo: Oh.

Gbakanagbogun: It is like that?

Ozigbo: It is like that.

Gbakanagbogun: You know… Ozi, what were we talking about? Before the glitches. What are we doing now?

Ozigbo: Gbogbo, we should sit down. We should rest.

Gbakanagbogun: It would be here any minute now, the storm. Why are we waiting? And what is resting?

Ozigbo: When we are not doing something we will return to.

Gbakanagbogun: That is rest?

Ozigbo: In another eye, rest is also being a body, not thoughts. Or being in your body; no tomorrow, no yesterday. For some, no today, not even the present moment.

Gbakanagbogun: Being a body?

Ozigbo: The soul is rooted in the body; most times, uprooted by our desires.

Gbakanagbogun: But this rest, it does feel like avoidance of what is; a recoil to the irresponsibility of womb-organism like the man-baby.

Ozigbo: Rest does not have to be a return to babying, it can be a means to recuperation.

Gbakanagbogun: So why won’t we have any of it?

Ozigbo: That is how we are made, wise in thinking, foolish in action.

They both stand, unaware of the silence.

Gbakanagbogun: Wait. What is nothing again? Pardon me, I know I asked the same thing yesterday here.

Ozigbo: Anything after everything.

Gbakanagbogun: The man-baby, he-he does what we don’t: something that doesn’t contribute to a future or a faraway land. He plays.

Ozigbo: Kids, they are not stupid enough to pursue meaning.

Gbakanagbogun: Meaning, the fabric of this real illusion.

She slaps her neck to kill a buzzing. bee

She screams. Bee, bee!

Ozigbo: It stung me!

She starts jumping up and down.  She falls to the sand and starts writhing and crying.

Gbakanagbogun: You know you are selfish with your body; you should not have slapped the buzz. You know you mourn more than your injury; you should have let the bee be.

Ozigbo does not stop crying

Gbakanagbogun: Get up… Every pain makes you stronger.

Ozigbo stops crying.

Ozigbo: Every pain makes you strong.

She stands up, dusts herself and tries to pick up her load. Gbakanagbogun helps her.

Gbakanagbogun picks up his load.

Ozigbo: Who owns these loads?

Gbakanagbogun: It is not ours?

Ozigbo: I don’t think so.

Gbakagbogun: They are for those children we saw in the last village?

Ozigbo: Where are they?

Gbakanagbogun: Taken by the storm?

Ozigbo: Taken by the storm.

Gbakanagbogun: They are behind now?

Ozigbo: Behind.

Gbakanagbogun: We are not allowed to look behind?

Ozigbo: We are not allowed.

Gbakanagbogun: What is the behind?

Ozigbo: Our behind: nothing. The storm has taken them. Though, it pursues us, we use it to trim ourselves for the excess behind and before us. Whatever does not fit the structure is given to the storm to eat.

Gbakagbogun: How can it be nothing? The fruiting mango tree, the old man that wears tight jeans, remember? The monkey that married the most beautiful woman in a community of eligible men. The wife that cut his husband’s penis, saying she better cook and eat it  than to see it enter another woman again, remember? The storm can’t take everything. Without preferences, what is the use of desire?

Ozigbo: Prove that they are still there.

Gbakanagbogun: You saw them.

Ozigbo: That was 90 years ago.

Gbakanagbogun: And then?

Ozigbo: And then, nothing used as a landmark is immortal as behind. They all can be done away with but behind. And behind exists because there is another, a subject, that we can anchor ‘behind’ and its opposite to. Without a soul or any reference point, the present, before and behind are the same one thing.

Gbakanagbogun: To think like that, it should hurt. (He brings out a bottle of water from his load and drinks.) How can it be nothing? It can’t. The storm, the villages, the children, they are there. (As if trying to convince himself. They seem imperishable.)

Ozigbo: No, they are the fabrics of what we identify as. We are what we remember, that is rooted in what we forget. They are here carried from one passing second to another. Nothing is behind.

Gbakanagbogun: What of our families? I am not sure that they are lost; in the non-physical sense, though. They are part of what we are too?

Silence.

Gbakanagbogun: Now behind calls to me.

Ozigbo: Lots’ wife had all she needed with her. Her behind and her position are her, but she alienates herself by leaving herself behind.

 

Act 2

 

On stage, a slim tall man is sitting on an upturned yam-pounding mortar and he is eating roasted yam and palm oil placed on a wonky wooden stool the oil is inside a bowl made out of calabash.  He is holding some kind of wrapped weed between his index and middle finger. He is not wearing a shirt and his ribs are almost tearing out of his thin skin.

His teeth are black and his fingers are dirty.

Gbakanagbogun and ozigbo enter. They see the eating man. As they come near, they smell the faeces dripping down the mortar the eating man is sitting on.

Gbakanagbogun: What kind of madness is this?

Ozigbo: I am hungry but I don’t want to eat from there. (She points to the Eating man’s food.)

Eating man: What is it, gentlemen? Why are you holding your nose, do you see yourselves in me? I am kin, why do you deny me? They say I am nightmare of modern man; instincts unrefined, unrestricted, unsublimated. Eeee. They lie; I feel like a sex dream. Mr. Man, (he looks at Gbakanagbogun) if I tell you something you will believe? You will believe? Mr. Man, if I tell you I have never not eaten for more than 3 minutes before, will you believe me?

Gbakanagbogun: I don’t know. Are you telling me?

Eating man: (With yam in his mouth) muh brotha forget tha side eeee. (He stops chewing and swallows. And then a heavy exhale.)

He puts his smoke in his mouth and a small boy enters the stage holding red hot charcoal in his bare hand and wearing dirty underwear. He stretches it to the eating man and the eating man lit his smoke from it. The light fires the edge of the weed and as he drags, the red burns the wrap shorter.

Gbakanagbogun: You need a destination. (He says as a matter of fact.)

Eating man: A where?

Ozigbo: A spiritual anchor. It will offer you a substitute for your highs and surrealism.

Eating man: What if my imperfections are the core of my authentic self? What if no matter where I go I cannot leave my wounds behind?

Silence.

Ozigbo: You should go Somewhere with us. Reality sucks but it is not it you’re running from; it is yourself.

Gbakanagbogun: How long have you been here?

Eating man: I don’t know, I don’t remember anything before this or-or think of anything after. Mrs woman, you. (He looks at Ozigbo) If I don’t go with you to your Somewhere, does it invalidate your Somewhere?

Ozigbo: No. Why can’t you just stop? (She adds as an afterthought.)

Eating man: Stop what?

Ozigbo: Stop.

Eating man: (he swallows, then exhale) Can’t you see, I am not who I want to be? But… Can’t you see there is another inside of me? Can’t you see? What I cannot do without is what poisons me little by little every day. Can’t you see the horse rides on my back? If I am telling you something be believing it.

Gbakanagbogun: Do you need help? I am a good person I will help you because the storm is coming any moment now; there is no behind. The past is with us.

Eating man: Why don’t you save yourselves since the storm is close? Why do you want to risk your lives to try and save me?

Ozigbo: It is not about how far we go but it is about how well.

The eating man begins to have fits of hiccups. He continues filling his mouth with food, regardless.

Gbakanagbogun: Drink water.

Eating man: Noff. If  ie I drin’ it, I wool be full (he swallows the yam. He licks the oil running down his arm. He settles down.) Helpers; ready to kill themselves to save you; this is why the world is short of good people; because they are stylishly suicidal. So arrogant, they think themselves mighty enough to be saviours, if I tell you anything be believing it.

Ozigbo: You are an ungrateful person.

Eating man: How did you know? It was my mother that told me first. I never believed it until last year. Last year, here. The year that passed some minutes ago. If I tell you something you’ll believe it? I have never been low. (He drags his weed. He brings out the smoke from his nose.) Eeee.

Gbakanagbogun: What will you do when the storm comes?

Eating man: I will end. I will like for it to stop. I don’t have it in me to do it but when the…what? The thing you said is coming?

Gbakanagbogun: The storm.

Eating man: Yes, okay, the storm, the hurricane, they all at least owe me an end.

Ozigbo: You don’t need any end, the day hope dies life is but a dead living. A ghost lost in the undifferentiated eternity.

Eating man: Exactly, now all my pains pain doubly, all my pleasure sweet wonderfully but they don’t come that often. Pains I know, they hear my voice and they follow me. They are never far.

When the food on his plate finishes, he uses his tongue to lick the palm oil clean. He drops the calabash plate. The boy with the dirty underwear enters the stage and replaces the empty plate with another plate of roasted yam and palm oil.

The eating man uses his fingers to cut from the roasted yam and starts blowing air on it as heat makes it smoke.

Eating Man: Don’t wait for me, go, go your way. I know my way. I will stay here and do what I enjoy and if it kills me, I die, I will die anyway if it didn’t kill me.  If it didn’t… Hmm… The hurricane? Is it hurricane you call it?

Ozigbo and Gbakanagbogun have long gone when he raises his head.

Osagiede Best
Osagiede Best
The writer, Osagiede Best, is an emerging poet and storyteller. He was born in the ancient city of Benin in Edo state, Nigeria. He reads philosophical and psychological literature in his free time; they greatly influence his writing. They help open him up to the workings of his mind. He loves history, photography, physics, nature and biology.

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