Ridwan Tijani | Capital Discourses

Roland was a Marxist—probably the only Marxist in Lagos or even the whole country, he was sure. He believed that there was a “ruling class” in Nigeria and he was sure people already knew that, but how to convince them to listen to him? That was the real struggle, because people in Lagos had no time for politics, many of them didn’t even vote. The parties, PDP and ACN were so similar that, Roland thought there was no need for them to run against each other. On Tuesdays, he liked to pass out pamphlets; What Marxism is all about. But therein lied the problem, he thought, the people on the streets thought he was from a church, so whenever he attempted to give a person the pamphlet, they would say, “I already have a church.” Roland didn’t have a problem with religion, but he thought the country did. There were churches and mosques on every street, but fewer learning centers, he had once read a study in university—before he dropped out. I’m probably the first Nigerian that has dropped out of Uni of his own volition, he liked to tell himself—that concluded that there were more religious centers than learning centers in the country. Roland didn’t work a formal job, not because he didn’t want to enrich the pockets of the ruling bourgeois class or anything like that, but because he was a writer and some of his poems and stories had been published in the US by small journals who always paid him, once he’d been nominated for a Pushcart. Also—this is a secret—his mum still thought he was in university, so she sent him money for fees and school materials, money she got from marrying that military bastard, he thought, but nevertheless, he always used the money, because he had no problems with money, it was the ruling class, he had a problem with.

Now as he got off the table, on which he had stood, passing out the pamphlets and shouting words at the passerby; Did you know that, most politicians in capitalist democracy are either direct members of the ruling class or its hired agents. Managers, police officers, judges and corporate newspaper editors are also ruling-class agents. The ruling class makes its profits by exploiting the labor of the working class! 

He walked, his dirty bag slung across his shoulders, to Iya Risi’s food store, where he liked to splurge on goat meat and liver, rice and beans, all mixed together. Iya Risi liked him because one night, when she got robbed, he lent her money to bribe the police, who said they wouldn’t look for the criminals unless, they got some kind of fund. After that she started calling him, Olowo Ori mi, ale elomi. Roland wasn’t Yoruba, so he didn’t know the meaning of what she called him, but he also didn’t want to ask for the meaning, because he had already formulated his own. She brought his food first, even though there was a queue and people had taken numbers. Previous callers to the restaurant already knew what the deal was, they knew Roland and his relationship to the store, so they didn’t grumble, but there was a new man today who had a fit, the veins in his bald head shining. “You don’t do that,” He shouted to Iya Risi. “I came here first.”

“But this is my restaurant,” Iya Risi said. “I can do whatever I want.”

When Roland finished eating, he went over to the man. “I’m sorry about before,” he said.

“Okay,” the man said.

“I’m a Marxist,” Roland said.

“Okay.”

“It goes against Marxist code; the proletariat has to stick together.”
“Uh-uh.”

“You don’t talk much do you?”

“Not really,” the man said, as he picked his teeth.

“Look, you and me, we’re the working class…. right? No matter what you do…. The working class includes all the people who create all the goods and services in a capitalist society, like in this country. We’re living in a neo-capitalist democracy; you get?”

“Ehn, not really,” the man said.
“See, most politicians in capitalist democracy are either direct members of the ruling class or its hired agents. Look at our current leaders…. while I was in primary school, we had this book of government trivia which listed previous military rulers and almost all of them have now ruled this country again or are in the current government. Is that really a “democracy”? Now their sons are in government, their daughters build banks and malls and football fields are dedicated to them. Isn’t that concerning to you?”

“I suppose,” the man said.

“Now we’re talking,” Roland inched closer. Perhaps today could be rewarding, after all. “Those politicians are part of the ruling class, who are a small bunch, but with a large influence, many of their names are easily recognized. Femi Otedola, Aliko Dangote, Folorunsho Alakija and many more. Those names alone have a net worth that exceeded the rest of the country put together.”

The man yawned.

“Let’s go back to the beginning,” Roland continued. “The history of modern society is the history of struggle between two antagonistic sides: the exploited class – the workers, and the exploiting class – the bourgeoisie…. right? Karl Marx himself said it, you know who Karl Marx is right? He said, Capitalism came into the world dripping from head to toe from every pore with blood and dirt. You see, the European colonizers did that, they got rich by plundering Asia, Africa and the Americas through mass murder, genocide and the enslavement of the peoples of these lands. The primitive accumulation of capital, Marx described it. And our nation, like an obedient son inherited this form of corruption and exploitation. Look at us, we’re fifty years old, basically a fledgling in the hierarchy of countries and yet this system has so taken root and is basically destroying us, the rich is getting richer and the poor is getting poorer, there is no middle class in this country.”

“Okay, what’s your point?” The man said. “I’ve heard a variation of this before.”

“Alright! Man! There is a solution right? That’s my point, that’s why I went back history lane, there’s a solution–” Roland took out a business card and a pamphlet from his bag and passed them to the man. “Take those, read the pamphlet, read it carefully, then you can call and let’s discuss how you can join the movement to change the country.”

Roland walked out later, sun in his eyes, feeling like he’d won the lottery. Rome wasn’t built in a day, he thought. The revolution is coming! He rewarded himself by drinking a cold beer before sleep. That night he dreamt that he was walking barefoot in a desert.

***

On Tuesday, he was arrested, not because the “state” thought he was a threat, as he liked to tell himself, but because he had been passing out leaflets at a corner, where a board said “No loitering”. The police of course had asked for a bribe, but Roland had refused, saying the police was supposed to serve the people, not vice-versa. He was put behind the counter and a sergeant told him that if he would just “cooperate”, they’d let him go. When it was getting dark and his stomach had started to grumble, he asked to call a friend. “Now the strong man is no more eh?” A sergeant said.

Yagazie, his lesbian friend who had just recently moved back to Nigeria from New York came to bail him out. Yagazie was an award winning photographer, so she went everywhere with her camera, she got the policemen to pose, and she took a lot of pictures before signing the bail document and also paying the bribe.

“Tell your friend she looks so beautiful,” a sergeant said.

“She can hear you,” Roland said.

“I can hear you,” Yagazie said.

“You’re so beautiful.”

“Thank you.”

“Are those tattoos real?” Another officer asked.

“Are you a half caste?” The sergeant asked.

“Yes, my mum is German,” Yagazie replied.

“You’re so natural, are you perchance single?” The sergeant said.

“She’s a lesbian,” Roland said.

“Ha-ha! Very funny,” Yagazie said, scowling at Roland.

“Your friend is very funny!” The sergeant said. “Funny man, you can go, your friend here is your savior.”

“I’ll definitely take this to court,” Roland said. “This is not over.”

“Alright Mr. Lenin…we hear you,” an officer said.

“You should take my number,” the sergeant said, to Yagazie.

“Maybe next time,” she said.

***

“Why the fuck did you tell the police I’m a lesbian, do you know that it’s fourteen years in jail for same-sex folks, it’s dangerous for us in this country. I’m sure you know this,” Yagazie said, as they drove down to Ikoyi. “That was incredibly stupid of you.”

“He didn’t believe it,” Roland said.

“Are you sure? He looked like those kind of Nigerian men who believes women are lesbians because they didn’t get enough dick in past relationships…. seriously?”

“I’m sorry…. see what I was saying about the ruling class? And–”

“Eish, stop with the politics Roland, I didn’t come to bail you because you were a Marxist, I came because you were my friend.”

“Ok, do you have food at your house, I’m seriously hungry.”

“I did prepare porridge, Nigerian style…. but you know I’m not a really good cook.”

“That’s okay, I like what you do with pepper,” Roland said.

“Why are you turning off the road?” Roland said, as they veered off the road and turned up to a hill.

“Look at that,” Yagazie said. “Look at the sunset.”

***

At her house, after they ate, Yagazie rolled a marijuana cigarette—a joint as she liked to call it. She passed it to him and he took a drag, feeling himself shedding all of his weight and becoming as light as the joint itself. Afterwards they lay there looking at Yagazie’s photography collection on war. Really grizzly and disgusting pictures, but Roland found himself mesmerized by them.

“That’s what it’s like. That is what war does, I’m paraphrasing Sontag,” Yagazie said. “Most of these pictures were part of the collection Krieg dem Kriege! [War Against War!) by Ernst Friedrich.”

“All war photographs are propaganda aren’t they?” Roland said.

“Not all, but almost all…propaganda doesn’t always mean bad. Look we’re Igbo but we also realize now that Biafran propaganda through the use of selective images was crucial in getting people on their side, that was propaganda for a good cause. Like photos of the Iraq war which the Arab community around the world still uses, Abu Ghraib, pictures of shelled kids in Palestine, the holocaust….it goes on,” Yagazie said.

“What’s going on with your colonial collection, I thought you said you were almost done?”

“Yeah, I’m going to badagry next month to take a picture of the former British office there.”

“Cool, I’ve never been to badagry.”

“Speaking of European racism, have I told you why I moved back to Nigeria, despite being able to be myself outside the country?”

“Yes…. many times.”

“R-A-C-I-S-M! Even in my relationships.”

“Wait, but I thought you said your ex-girlfriend was black American?”

“Alright Xenophobia then, I’m so high.”

“Hey, can I crash here tonight? My area doesn’t have electricity this night,” Roland said.

“Of course, You’ll be staying in the sitting room though, last time when we shared my bed, you were literally talking in your sleep, sounded like you were giving a speech on the virtues of Leon Trotsky.”

Roland walked over to the large couch and flopped down on it. He took off his socks and laid on the couch with his arms crossed over his face. As he drifted in and out of sleep, he thought he could hear Yagazie singing.

***

It rained the next day and Roland stood at the window and looked outside, not really seeing anything but thinking about the dream he’d had—same dream now for two weeks straight. The peculiar thing being, before this “run” of dreams, he could never remember what he always dreamt about. He didn’t know if it bothered him strongly as he thought about it, nor was he feeling particularly existential, but he was the kind of person who wanted to know everything, so the feeling of not knowing—the gaping maw in his brain—didn’t sit well with him. Also he was bored.

“How long have you been up and standing at the window?” Yagazie said from behind him, her deep voice extra-deep with sleep.

“Long enough,” Roland said.

“I’m late, you should have woken me…. I have to go to a shoot. You should come.”

“To a shoot? Really? I don’t think so.”

“It’s not a suggestion, but advice.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s the only way we’ll be able to eat this afternoon,” Yagazie said. “The model I’m going to shoot right? Today is the end of a month-long project on her, and she’s celebrating that by taking me to lunch at the Chinese place on the Island….and I texted her last night that I’ll be bringing a friend.”

“Alright I’m in.”

“Where are you going?”

“To take a bath?” Roland said.

“No! No time, I didn’t even take a bath,” Yagazie said.

“Can I at least brush my teeth?”

“There are new toothbrushes in the top shelf of the kitchen,” Yagazie said.

***

Yagazie—who had said she was extremely late—now stood outside the rain, taking pictures. Roland was in the car, watching her. After a minute, he pressed her horn. “I thought you were late!” he shouted through the window.

“I am, but didn’t you see the bands of colour in the puddles? So beautiful,” she replied.

She got into the car after ten minutes, her afro wet with rain. “Stop making that face,” She said. “I don’t complain when you constantly ask me to read through your writings.”

Yagazie drove fast, swerving and stopping in the traffic. When they reached their destination minutes later, the rain had already abated.

They parked in front of a house painted yellow. “Who’s this person again?” Roland asked.

“Ariyike Tomisin? she’s the first Nigerian Youtuber, she’s got like three hundred thousand subscribers,” Yagazie said.

“Holy, three hundred thousand! What is she, Britney Spears?” Roland whistled.

“She’s a makeup and natural hair enthusiast, that’s the in vogue thing now.”

300k, that’s a lot of people, a lot of people.” Roland had a look of contemplation on his face.

“Oh I know that look, that’s not a good look on you,” Yagazie said.

They stood in front of the black gate and Yagazie knocked. She took pictures of the pigeons perched on the fence.

“What do you mean “look”,” Roland said.

“Oh I know.”

“I’m just saying that’s a lot of people.”

“Hun-Hun.”

“You need to introduce me in a good way,” Roland said.

“Why?”

Roland shrugged and pointed at the clouds where the contrail of an airplane dissected the sky. Yagazie clicked her camera.

The gate swung open and the first thing Roland noticed about the girl was her teeth. They were the whitest, he’d ever seen on a human, yes even whiter than those on the Maclean advertisements. He noticed that, before he saw that she was much darker than he, the teeth to the shiny dark skin providing a fascinating contrast. Oh my God, he thought. She was tall, even taller than Yagazie and her brown hair fell to her shoulders, where the straps of a pink camisole hung. He could see the points of her nipple. Oh my God, he thought again. He suddenly felt very ugly, why didn’t I take a bath, or comb my hair, he thought.

“Hey!” Ariyike said, “You’re late.”

“I know,” Yagazie said.

“Who’s this?”

“Roland, he’s a Marxist,” Yagazie said.

“Hi,” Roland said.

“A Marxist in Nigeria, that’s as rare as snow in Nigeria or a rainbow coloured unicorn,” Ariyike said.

“A rainbow coloured unicorn would be rare anywhere,” Yagazie said.

“Come in guys,” Ariyike said.

***

The compound was huge and spare, there was a pool, but it was empty. Ariyike had sat Roland under a big colourful umbrella and he thought of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez novella, No one writes to the colonel where there was a big umbrella that had withered away in a box. She had given him a sprite drink and now he watched them as they—Yagazie taking pictures and Ariyike posing—worked. She moved with an easy grace, he noticed and occasionally looked and waved at him from the corridor of the second floor where she posed. Yagazie, ever the consummate professional didn’t even look back once. He should have brought a book, he thought. He also didn’t have any data on his phone, so he couldn’t read an eBook or anything. He sipped the drink and envied Yagazie. He connected his phone to his earbuds and played a Sunny Ade tune. Soon he dozed off.

***

“Yo! Yo!” The voice from the dark was saying. “Wake up!” The voice laughed. “Is this how Marxists fall asleep?” “Not really,” another voice said.

Roland opened his eyes, Ariyike was standing over him, a bashful smile on her lips. Yagazie stood way back, aiming her camera at the sky. “You were snoring,” she said.

“I don’t snore.”

“Yes you did,” Ariyike said.

“Really?”

“Just kidding,” Yagazie said. “We’re done with the shoot; we’re leaving to go eat.”

“Where’s your toilet? I need to watch my face,” Roland said.

“It’s…. when you enter the house right? It’s directly on the left.”

As he entered the house, he heard Ariyike say, “He’s reticent isn’t he?”

“Sometimes,” he heard Yagazie reply, faintly.

***

In the car, Yagazie driving, Roland in the front passenger seat and Ariyike in the back, like the owner. Ariyike had connected her phone to the speakers via the Aux cord and now she played a song that Roland didn’t like.

Ariyike grabbed the back of Roland’s seat and said, “Why is your name Roland?”

“What? I don’t understand?”

“I mean; this is Nigeria right? Everybody has a tribal name that means something, there’s always a story there and I’ve met people with your name and I’ve kind of always wanted to ask them the story behind it, if an African parent chooses a European name for their kid, there must be a story there…. sometimes Christianity….so what’s the story behind yours?”

“Oh wow, nobody has never asked me that.”

“So there’s a story there?”

“Yeah, my father named me after Roland Barthes, you know Roland Barthes? The philosopher…. Apparently he loaned my father and his friend money after their room got robbed in Switzerland….my father went for a six-month course there and he met the man, Barthes who was a visiting professor.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah.”

“My father used to tell the story at every new meeting he had,” Roland said.

“Used to?”

“His father is late,” Yagazie said, briefly taking her eyes off the road to scowl at Ariyike.

“Oh my God! I’m so sorry,” Ariyike said.

“It’s not your fault,” Roland said. “It’s cancer’s fault.”

“I’m so sorry,” Ariyike said.

“It’s fine!” Roland insisted.

Yagazie looked at him and raised her thick eyebrow.

“It’s fine, it’s fine. It’s fine,” Roland mumbled. He looked out at the clouds.

***

He asked for more pepper and a Chinese guy brought it. He had ordered chicken fried Rice and shrimp. Yagazie had ordered Sushi and Ariyike was eating some kind of soup. The place was not what he expected. “I thought it was a buffet,” He said. Yagazie shrugged and continued eating, she was good with the chopsticks, he noticed. “It’s not a buffet,” Ariyike said. “I had originally planned for us to go to a buffet, the one near Ikoyi? But I read a review of their place, seems it’s always dirty, but if you want to order more food, you can, you should, I’ll take care of it.”

He ordered steak and he noticed Yagazie was narrowing her eyes at him. He cut the steak and passed part of it to her. He looked around and noticed the people around him, for the first time.

He asked for a to-go box. “I N-E-E-D A B-O-X TO T-A-K-E T-H-E F-O-O-D H-O-M-E,” He said to the Chinese guy.

“Why is he talking like that?” The Chinese guy said to Ariyike, in a Nigerian accent.

“He thinks you don’t understand English.”

The Chinese guy shook his head.

“I was born in Nigeria; this is my father’s restaurant.”

“Oh,” Roland said.

“So I consider myself Nigerian…. kind of.”

“Really? And you’re comfortable in your skin about that? Many Nigerians don’t like to consider themselves Nigerians,” Yagazie said.

“Of course, I mean I was raised here in a multicultural environment, Indian immigrants are our neighbors and I see most of them struggle with the fact that they were born here and it’s confusing to me, their hate for the continent and the culture, given that some of the south Indians can pass for black. I can’t pass for black, people see me as Chinese first and all my relations with people orbit around that point. That’s frustrating, but I’m comfortable here.”

“Wow, have you traveled to China before?” Roland said.

“Yeah we go every holiday.”

“And?”

“I mean I don’t know…. everything there is so rigid, maybe it’s not so and that’s just my opinion…even my parents change while they’re there. They’re not exuberant and my parents normally are.”

***

Roland was looking up at the ceiling in the Chinese restaurant, he could see cobwebs. They were done, stomach full with dessert—Apple Cinnamon White Cake and sugar cookies. Ariyike had excused herself to the ladies and they were waiting for her.

“What are you thinking about?” Yagazie asked him. She was wrapping the rest of the cookies, she intended to take it home, she had said.

“I’m thinking about the Chinese boy.”

“Why?”

“Look at him, so proud of the country…. when sometimes I struggle to.”

“That’s not pride per say, he loves the country, there’s a difference. You believe in the country and want to change it, cleanse it…that also means you love it too.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Isn’t it weird?”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s weird right? That it’s a Chinese? You know how some of them feel towards the black skin.”

“Yeah. Yeah that’s true…. like, you remember that Chinese place that used to be near Olowu that refused to hire Nigerians or other Africans even though they were based in the country? They considered the African skin always dirty and not beautiful, their spokesperson said.”

“But our money was beautiful right?”

“Hypocrites.”

***

In the car, radio set to the station of neo-classical jazz, Ariyike taking a selfie and Roland driving this time (despite not having a license) and Yagazie almost leaning out of the car to take photographs of the birds that flew slowly across the sky.

“Yeah, it’s definitely weird,” Roland said after a while.

“You see,” Yagazie said.

“What are you two talking about?” Ariyike said.

“It’s something we were discussing,” Yagazie said.

“It’s usually the other way around right? I mean you lived in America,” Roland said.

“Of course…it’s usually immigrants from third world countries that are usually so effusive about their new country and China isn’t a third world country! I mean you know, like during the Iraq war…. citizens of the US were bothered and disappointed in their country and all the troubles that came from the war. Do you understand what I’m getting at?”

“I think I do.”

“I have no idea what you guys are talking about,” Ariyike said.

***

“Don’t write about today? Please?” Yagazie said, to Roland as she dropped him off.

“You know I always write about everything, everyday…. even this very moment.”

“Ugh, I always cringe when I read myself in your work.”

“Don’t worry, I always make you more mysterious and artsy than you are.”

“Really?”

Roland nodded. Yagazie chuckled, gave him the finger and drove off.

***

He put the steak in the fridge, there was electricity today at least. He walked to the window and stared out at the stars. After a while, he went to take a bath. His phone rang as he came out of the bathroom.

“Hello?”

“It’s me”

“I know mum.”

“How are you?”

“I’m fine ma.”

“What’s going on?”

“Nothing.”

“How’s school.”

“School….is just there, it’s good ma.”

“How’s it going there?”

“Well…I’ve been studying, a lot. That’s why I haven’t called.”

“Studying? Ehen… is that why Badeji says he hasn’t seen you in school for quite a while?”

Oh fuck that Badeji and his big mouth.

“Who?”

“Badeji your classmate in secondary school? That attends the same Uni as you?”

“Oh, it’s a big school ma, you can’t expect me to see everybody every time and I also like to lay low these days.”

“Ehen, okay oh. I don’t just want you to do anything irrational, you know how this country is, education is paramount and its relation to success is quite high.”

“I know that mum.”

“I know you know that, and you’re a smart boy, you’re a smart boy, my love.”

“Thank you ma.”

“Patrick says hi.”

Fuck Patrick and his military buddies!

“What?”

“Nothing, never mind my love, do you need anything?”

“Maybe.”

“Ah, in your lexicon that means yes. I know that at least, don’t worry, I’ll send you some money soon.”

“Thank you mum.”

“Okay, bye, try to brush your teeth before you sleep, also drink water.”

“Yeah, I’ll do that mum.”

“Okay bye-bye.”

“Yeah.”

After the call, he took out the steak and warmed it in the microwave. He got on his laptop and looked up Ariyike Tomisin on Google. He kept shaking his head as he looked through her bio and pictures, how can one person be this dynamic? How can one person be this stunning? His phone rang again. It was Yagazie.

“Yeah?”

“You were sleeping?”

“No, writing.”

“Okay, are you okay?”

“Yeah…yeah, why do you ask?”

“You know……when Ariyike brought him up, your dad.”

“Oh.”

“So….”

“No, I’m okay.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, of course.”

“So no repeat of what happened last time?”

“No.”

“No? Why are you mumbling? Say it out loud.”

“No.”

“So you’re not going to send me a death note while you slash your wrists and drown yourself in the tub?”

“Uh…. that’s…. you said you were never going to bring it up.”

“Answer me.”

“No, but I was uh reading Camus’s myth of Sisyphus at the time, you know, it influenced me.”

“Ah there you go again.”

“What?”

“There you go again deflecting serious things with fake humor, Camus and absurdism influenced you? Ta! That’s your strategy! Don’t forget I’ve known you since you were two, we grew up together and we’ve shared thoughts and nightmares and my life has become better in part because of you.”

“Why are you telling me all this?”

“So that you don’t forget.”

“It’s not going to happen again…. ah, are you crying? It’s not going to happen.”

“I just don’t want to ever feel that helpless again, I just remember thinking that night, that no one would be able to help, you know? Mentally?  I mean this is Nigeria where people think depression and suicide are European afflictions.”

“Yeah, ha, then we had to make up that lie about me being a carpenter to the Chemist that gave us those bandages.”

“No you suggested that lie, not we…. We’re just lucky he didn’t ask how a saw would be that precise. It would have never worked in America.”

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For calling….and just generally being there for me.”

“Whoa, is that really Roland talking?”

“Very funny.”

“You can go out with her.”

“Who?”

“You know who, Ariyike Tomisin, the Youtuber.”

“Are you giving me permission?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“What are you my older sister? You know I’m older than you right?”

“Yeah yeah, but who’s more mature?”

“I don’t even know if she likes me.”

“Oh she does, she thinks you’re cute, mysterious, smart, a little nerdish. She asked for your number. Also you seriously think I would allow you to pester a girl that hasn’t given an indication of interest?

“A little nerdish? What?”

“I might have told her about your collection of Watchmen memorabilia.”

“Jesus, you’re the literal stereotype of an overbearing sister.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“That’s not a compliment….so, she’s beautiful isn’t she?”

“Oh Yes…certainly,” Yagazie said. “Certainly, but you know I’m a professional, I’m a photographer, she’s my model, so…”

“Oh, you think she swings both ways?”

“I don’t know; she looks like a free spirit.”

“Ugh, stop I don’t want to hear any more of your weird lesbian skills.”

Yagazie chuckled.

Roland sighed and walked to the window. It was raining outside.

“That sigh, what’s going on?”

“Nothing, that’s just tiredness, fatigue.”

“Ta! I’ve known you for so long that I can read between your words, you’re not really tired are you?”

“Can I tell you something?” Roland said.

“Yeah.”

“I’ve not been entirely honest with you,” Roland said.

“Hmmm, keep talking.”

“I’ve actually been feeling helpless of late, like my life has no meaning or bearing on the world…I’m feeling out of control, like I’m a piece of paper in a monsoon….”

“My God! What’s bringing about all this? I knew I shouldn’t have taken you to meet that jinxed girl.”

“It’s not entirely her. Remember that train trip, through the north I took with my dad?

“Yeah?

“There was a child…. uh, a child bride being taken to her much older husband’s house, who threw herself out of the moving train. The girl uh couldn’t have been more than twelve and she just jumped to her death in that white satin. I’ve dreaming about the girl. The dreams start out normally, I’m walking in a desert and then the girl comes to me, she’s screaming, bloody, part of her hand is gone and uh, she’s begging me to help her and I say I can’t. I can’t!”

The memory came clearly to him now—of that smelly coach, the fruit salad he and his dad had eaten. The child bride seating in a coach next to them had asked him if he had any games in his Nokia phone, and he had said no—he lied. An hour later, he had been dozing and heard the screaming. As he jerked awake, he caught a flash of white as she went over the bridge.

Now he closed his eyes and imagined her going over the bridge, head, body hitting the jagged rocks below, blood streaming down her face, coating the white dress red and a shudder racked his body.

.

.


Ridwan Tijani was born in Nigeria and now he lives in Indianapolis. He is at work on a novel. 

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