Fiction

The Sepulcher Speaks: A Short Story by Lakunle Jaiyesimi

Do the dead speak with words, serrated by syllables as is known of walking figures? Are words thrown up, like mines, from relegated sepulchers in the manner of whispers heavier than the songs of heroes? Do they crack shells of obduracy, and, with light strides, seek out change; illuminating, with the speed of rays, the path to progress and the skeletons that had been out of sight? More and more questions beg, like the children of the mysterious god, for answers that are beyond reach. This had trailed the death of Adubi, the only survivor of Abegi genocide, who later surrendered his will to the pangs of an accident.

Adubi had been the silent conscience of the people, an unassuming crown he had won since childhood for his hard-line stance on issues that threatened the comfort of ‘others’. However, he was always punished at home and in school for what was considered his unrepentant wagging tongue. He was the one to mouth the mischief of a teacher cornering a young pupil, and another, attempting to smuggle out question papers for a girlfriend who was barely out of her mammy’s belly. Such ludicrously condescending acts were first rumoured by Adubi, who, for very obvious reasons, was never taken seriously. For how on earth would a father, husband to five-six-seven wives, scheme to rape his own nine year old daughter? Or a little child pockets a gourd of charm to try on young girls, in an attempt to appease their love…love? Maybe what he failed to do was to tell the stories with some embellishment; an art probably learned by many as the years go by.

This was a man who stretched in height, girth and age with growing passion in athletics, religious truths and politics. These added to the list of his boring interests, as evident by his daily dwindling number of friends. Was he fast becoming a fashionable recluse, who enjoyed the vogue of occasional partying? He would not miss, for anything, a day’s visit to the swimming pool side and other magnetic spots, where the beautiful ladies use as, in the words of a warrior, refuge. Ladies were never seen just anywhere, they feared the men’s desire was always unbridled. A regular visit to such magnetic spots would lead to a transient lengthening of the list of Adubi’s friend, which usually fell after one or two statements from him. Romola was the only one, who endured the piercing flame of his tongue. There was next to nothing he didn’t munch about; he almost had a say on all things! Romola endured him…no, she enjoyed every bit of him; his sense of the word, ‘to-detail’ unkempt appearance, harsh comments on social doctrines and eccentric attributes that made soil of the cloud. She saw in him a match for her diseased curiosity. It was therefore not long for people to notice a bond between them both. They quickly fell in…and out of love; or remained immersed in it for as long as he appealed to her. He was selfish with his principles, and she was with her feelings. It’s the same but with dissimilar faces.

Once, and it was a shocking once, on a Sunday morning, Romola had practically dragged him out of bed and to her Church, the way a mother would her erring son. It was few moons to a time earmarked for their official welding. Wedding was an understatement for what was to become of their intension. They had to be forced through a mould to keep them in place for as long as the smith is extant. The smith, who always had his white collar on, with his Book and deceptive mien, would hover about them with his wand to get back the straying spouse. This was the custom at the time.

Without his full consent, Adubi found himself sitting in Romola’s Church, ALL OF OUR CHRIST’S…whatever the dirty banner read – a rather carelessly flowing one-yard-piece of clothe with two stones hanging down at the entrance of the building. Adubi was conspicuously seated, by gay ushers, among a trio of newcomers in a row, just next to the magnificent flowered glassy pew that concealed about a quarter of the torso of an arrogantly brief man. His name floats when, amidst hoots, whistles and careless opening of the mouths, youths, parents, kids and other subordinating Pastors yodel like Pop-stars “Tell ‘em”, “Fire on, Daddy”, “Speak the word with thunder”; someone had repeatedly said, “Daddy, no look them face”. The man behind the pew was the Daddy, who was barely taller than the custom-made two-foot pew. He jetted out words with the confidence that one would expect god to garb if he were recounting his own escapades. The man was so engrossed in his sermon-rendering that he would obviously not entertain any question. It was in the middle of this that Adubi ran out of patience at enduring Daddy’s sermon. He got up and spoke a bit, he realized, only later, too many for that occasion, but he had spoken the word…and the word was an egg. “Daddy…or what is your name? That is no premarital sex.” Everyone gave him a ‘who-the-devil-is this’ stare! In redeeming himself, he made frantic effort to explicate the idea. “Well, I mean”, he had blurted, “premarital sex is just sex after marriage and not after wedding!”

The worry and nonplussed shrivel on Daddy’s face gave him away cowed. He tried unsuccessfully to shroud it with feigned calm, “So, what is the difference between marriage and wedding?” Daddy had said before realizing the folly of entering a debate with the person of Adubi, who was renowned for never loosing an argument. Instantly, he redirected his statement to the Church, “What is the difference between Christ and the god?” and continued his sermon, neglecting Adubi, who instinctively walked out, caring less for Romola’s consent before leaving. That was the first and the last time that Adubi would step in the Church; Romola never even cared to make an open invitation and Romola never cared to revisit his friend, Daddy. Sure enough, the yoke is not good between two opposites; their wedding arrangements had to hit the bar.

Things were fine afterwards for Adubi; he bore children and lived just about an average lifestyle, but reveling in the abundance and beauty of nature, the only resource available in sufficient quantity to the proletariat and those of Adubi’s class and intent. His education blended with traits of radicalism had shot him up the ladder of leadership with the progressives and activists. A service, wherefrom he retired just few moons to his seventy-fifth birthday celebration. His retirement was as quiet and casual as the death of an unsung lad. He had cursed to remain in his solitary self-confinement till he goes to knock at death’s door, where he would console himself with his writings and keep himself sane as long as he lived. He would pour down his thoughts; even those that were never accepted by The People and The Government – two parallel but important institutions. At least, this would keep him going. He was the most regular caller at the Highest Kirikiri Prisons; a corollary of words he has spoken privately, and otherwise, at the affairs of The Government and at the religious doctrines of The People. The former must have given him a whole lot of experiences having gone round all the available Prisons in the country, and the latter must have made him into a hero, greater than Galileo Galilei. He never waited for the church to excommunicate him; he did himself.

He spoke, and inked in his letters, of events and warnings that we scoff. We looked away from such poems and bits about the Great Revolution that was imminent; the rising of the trampled; the merging of marginalized tribes – the HADAWAMAYAWA appeal of Malcom X in the native tone of Adubi; the onslaught to seize the queen of the Ruling Class and rule as rule is meant. We looked away…away from Adubi, away from ourselves, away from the harsh words…they were biting…away from them, we looked; happy within ourselves that the end was coming for Adubi’s words to cease biting…he was going blind and would be dead soon. It was going to be a sooner soon than was ever thought however, for in a ‘Ghastly Motor Accident – GMA’, as reported by the Newspapers, ‘Adubi was crunched beneath the overpowering wheels of a tractor’ – description that would have been tantamount to ‘attempted murder’ if spoken by a medical doctor to the relative of a deceased. We looked away…away from Adubi, away from ourselves…away, away from his sepulcher but the words come rushing back at us with the speed of light, upturning our world. Trees that were impostors were uprooted and shrubs that empathize were planted in their place.

We have inherited a wisdom that the sepulcher speaks with groans that are beyond comprehension; that, with magical sparks of a loving hand, wets our paths and speak up crops for us as food, paving the way to our national greatness. He spoke them in silence, prophetic words from an atheist? and they come to fruition in public.

We looked away from the words of life; and right there the words of death drum in our ears the tune of life.

Please leave a comment...

*

1 Comment

  • absolutely enhancing!more than the desire to affect limitations,a spice to redeem random perceptions about unaided norms!….just like what i famously uphold:LIFE IS THE SANITY WE ADOPT FORM INSANITIES.