“The story began the night she died ” Stephen muttered to himself. The words tossed and turned in his mouth, running along the edges of his teeth and climbing the ridge of his tongue. Sitting in front of his rusty grey typewriter by the balcony of his serene bungalow, he looked over at the white ducks strutting about his garden. His mind wondered back to the blank paper trapped between his typewriter, the black letters at the edge reads –
THE STORY BEGAN THE NIGHT SHE DIED.
How was he going to begin this story, Stephen pondered, stroking his beards. He tossed the idea up and down. The idea bloomed and stretched into a tree, with branches spilling forth. Like a traveler at a crossroad, Stephen stood and waited for his muse to decide his path.
Then, he shifted to the edge of his chair, stretching towards the typewriter, he began to type. The tickling echoes of the typewriter drowned the squealing of the ducks playing in the garden. His fingers roamed over the keyboard with speed and mastery. Rising up and pressing down, he was telling a story the world needed to hear.
“The story began the night she died, “Alfred’s voice echoed in the silent court room. He was standing in the witness box, wearing the Ankara shirt his mother had sewn for him on his 14th birthday. The judge, a fat black woman with rimless glass resting at the edge of her nose stared down at him. He paused, his mind stretched back to the alibi his father had provided. His lips silently murmured the words like a mantra.
“Son, tell them she slipped and fell.”
“Tell them, she was epileptic. Tell them anything but just save my neck, Alfred.”
Memories of that night rushed into Alfred’s head. Shattering the tight rein on the emotions he struggled to hide. He remembered his father sitting astride his mum, his fists slamming into her face. He remembered her cries and the blood dripping from her nose. He remembered himself running up the stairs towards them, begging his father to stop. He remembered how she scrambled to feet and dashed for door. He remembered his father running after her and pulling her back. He remembered how she slipped, arms flinging wildly in the air before she hit the ground. Her head slammed against the metal sculpture at the corner. He remembered the circle of blood that pooled around her head as she laid there on the floor.
Alfred remembered everything.
Tears flowed down his face. His knuckles whitened with the strain of holding the edges of the witness box. Emotions swam around him. Pain, rage, regret! He turned over to where his father was sitting. Their eyes met.
“Please, son,” his eyes pleaded.
“We are waiting, witness ” the judge’s voice broke their staring spell. “Tell us what happened on the night she died?”
Alfred took a deep breath and began…
The Samsung phone vibrated on the table. Stephen stopped typing and picked up.
“Hello… Alfred. Yes, I am already on it. Your biography will come out well. The world needs to hear your story.”
By Chioma Ngaikedi.
Photo credit : Pinterest.