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Osagiede Best | It Is What It Is

Act 3

 

A man wearing a crown is sitting with another man, younger, on a mat. Close by, their camels are tied to metal rods nailed deep into the desert sand.

The men are sharing a drink that is inside a tortoise shape kettle. A dwarf is serving the drink to them on cone-shaped cups.

Gbakagbogun and Ozigbo enter. They see the dwarf collecting something from a bag near the camels. The man with a crown turns his neck to his back, telling the dwarf something in a language Gbakanagbogun and Ozigbo don’t understand but the dwarf seems to understand.

They see the younger one putting something in the drink of the crowned man as he is still talking to the dwarf.

They start to pass.

They look, the crowned man has not drunk from the cup. He says something to the young one, there was love in his eyes and a smile on his lips.

Gbakagbogun: We should just pass. It is none of our busines–

Ozigbo has turned back and is now walking toward the men. Gbakagbogun follows.

Ozigbo: Don’t drink that sir! 

Cup almost on the lip.

The group are shocked to see them. But they don’t understand what she is saying.

Gbakanagbogun points inside the cup of the crowned man and forms a circle with his index and thumb then carry it towards his mouth as he tilts his head backwards opening his mouth. He then swallows spit. He holds his belly, grimacing in his face and squeezing his eyes shut; then squeezing it, he cries out and falls to the ground, then stops moving.

The crowned man starts laughing.

Ozigbo waves at the man to gesture a big no. She points two fingers, index and middle, to her open eyes and then to the now standing Gbakanagbogun’s eyes. Then she points her index at the young man and points it at him again with an angry face. She points to the crowned man’s head, turns the finger in the air as if stirring soup, points to the dwarf, quickly sit close to the young man’s position and does as if she is putting something in the cup that is still in the hands of the crowned man.

The young man gets up.

Young Man: Golo golo! (He points at the both of them and then to the distances with an angry face.) Golo, asakamala.

The crowned man gets up and hands the drink to the younger one to drink.

Crowned Man: Sinoletale, fiehno, fiehno. Iselaspino.

The young man takes the drink from him.

Young Man: Ifilapino dehdoh. (He points to Ozigbo and Gbakanagbogun)

They both know what he meant.

Gbakanagbogun: Just say the truth, no need to drink it… we don’t know if it is poison though.

The young man drinks it.

There is only silence.

Silence.

Silence.

The younger holds his stomach, he falls to the ground and starts writhing. The crown man’s expression doesn’t change.

Ozigbo draws closer to him. He gets up at once and jumps on her. He straddles her as soon as she falls and uses his both hands to strangle her. Gbakagbogun jumps on him, he rounds his arm around the young man’s neck and drags but the young man is so strong. The crown man doesn’t move. The dwarf doesn’t move. Their facial expressions do not change.

And then the young man vomits hot blood on Ozigbo’s face. He falls off her.  Ozigbo is coughing and breathing heavily but not as heavy as Gbakanagbogun that was not choked.

The crowned man picks him up from the ground into his shoulders, carries him to his donkey and puts him on its back.

He goes to meet the dwarf, holds his hand, leads him to meet Ozigbo and hands him over to her. And then goes back to his donkey, mounts it; with the young man lying on his lap, he rides off.

The mat remains, the breeze blowing sands on it.

The dwarf runs a little distance towards the crown man and then stops and turns back. He turns to Ozigbo and Gbakanagbogun, tears flood his eyes, then his cheeks. He walks slowly back to them.

Gbakanagbogun: You can go back to your master. We don’t have need for you. Go. Go. (He uses his two hands to gesture that the dwarf should go to his master.)

The dwarf stops. He puts his hands into his shorts and brings out a knife.

Ozigbo: Wait a minute.

The dwarf puts the knife to his neck.

Gbakanagbogun: No, you can stay. Don’t.

The dwarf smiles.

Gbakanagbogun runs after him.

He is not quick enough.

He stands over the dying dwarf— blood coming out of his mouth and his neck.

Gbakagbogun: What is wrong with these people?

 

Act 4

 

Ozigbo and Gbakanagbogun enter. Their loads on their heads.

They stop in the middle of the stage. A stone close by. Gbakanagbogun drops his load on the ground. Ozigbo doesn’t drop hers.

She stares at Gbakanagbogun.

Gbakanagbogun: What?

Ozigbo: Ain’t you going to help me with mine? (Looking at Gbakanagbogun as if he is absurd.)

Gbakanagbogun: But… But you said I should stop doing that. Besides, it is not that heavy that you can’t help yourself.

Ozigbo doesn’t move. Gbakanagbogun helps her drop the load.

Gbakagbogun: How’s today going to fare?

Ozigbo: We should rest.

Nothing is said.

And then, they don’t.

Ozigbo bends over her load and Gbakanagbogun helps her carry it on her head.

Gbakanagbogun carries his.

Ozigbo turns and trips on the stone and falls to the dust on her knees and hands; the load to one side.

Gbakanagbogun: Careful.

Ozigbo doesn’t answer.

Gbakanagbogun: Ozi?

Ozigbo lies with her side on the ground and her hands as pillow for her head.

Ozigbo: Now I have fallen, what reason do I have to get up?

Gbakanagbogun: We are going somewhere.

Ozigbo: Somewhere is what you pursue, when you have hope. Gbogbo, it is about the journey, the destination is anticlimactic. Nothing really matters. So why get up now? Who will I even be when I get up from this kind of fall?

Gbakanagbogun: You will be you. Your authentic self.

Ozigbo: That is what tires me. Constant authenticity. Constant productivity. Constant hope. Can I be not myself? Can’t I be hopeless? For once?

Gbakanagbogun: Okay, don’t hope, don’t produce, don’t be you but be alive. Eat, sleep, avoid harm and pass out waste. Be anything but death. There is nothing left after that. Tomorrow might not bring happiness as promised but it is still experience. Every experience deepens our soul. It might not bring happiness today, in retrospect, it might. In fact, it is in the anticipation, the promise, that the joy starts.

Ozigbo: Yes, it does. It deepens our soul, it makes subsequent experiences fuller, true… I miss the days you said what I wanted to hear. I tried not to hope because that is where the fall can happen. But when you have been hopelessly hopeful for so long, it becomes compulsive. Gbogbo, my love, I am tired of being at the mercy of the Storm. Somewhere is paradise and from what I have known of paradises, it distances us from ourselves, from our present, from our body. I am tired. Some say English ties us to our pains but here it is, truly expressing me as my pain or in this case, my sore, and doing a good job of it. I am tired. I am not feeling tired, I am the tired. I want to use the last of my breath to live by deciding on my world. I am taking the wheel of my life. And this is what I chose.

Gbakanagbogun: This is what you chose. (Some long quiet.) Who am I, without you?

Ozigbo: Whoever you turn out to be without me.

Gbakanagbogun: I have always seen myself in relation to you. Now I have to leave you behind, in nothing, not to mention you are also burdening me with the Herculean task of finding myself, as a solitary organism. This is what joins to fuel my pain of this lobotomy that is you leaving me. You are halving me.

Ozigbo: I am sorry. But this revolt of mine is where I can truly be me, not as a function in us.

Tears fall from Gbakanagbogun’s eyes.

Gbakanagbogun: Until night, when we meet again. (He balances the load in his head and starts to walk.)

Ozigbo: Gbogbo?

He stops and doesn’t turn. He waits, not daring enough to hope.

Ozigbo: How are you still standing?

Gbakagbogun: It sucks… But I cannot now come and kill myself. Anytime, anywhere, I see small happiness, I enjoy; if not… It is what it is.

 

Curtains.

———–

Image: remixed Hank/Cdd20 via Pixabay

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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