By Similoluwa Joel
I jerked awake, my muscles popped as my hands wrapped around the chair arms in a deadly grip. From the deep recess of my sub-conscious, I had heard a heavy rumble, and felt my seat vibrate. I glanced around the silent room, disoriented for a minute. Shadrach stood in front of Ese’s table with his arms outstretched, as if in a movie paused midway for a toilet break.
Ese stared pensively at the ceiling, her mouth agape in wonder. We all felt the presence overhead. Like an evil master and his minions, thunder roared furiously and the sinister cackle of lightning responded. We were shielded from the pouring rain, but not from the sound effects of the raging war of wind, water, light and thunder. Lightning cackled a second time and the lights went out.
‘I hope say that lightning no go kill person.’
Shadrach’s voice broke the awe of the moment.
My shoulders eased and I chuckled at his superstitious sentiment. He glared at me, but I shrugged off his concern. I wasn’t one to take such seriously. The rumble had subsided, though the rain still pelted the roof with scattered beats. Sleep tugged at my eyelids once again, its arms alluring to my weariness. I briefly registered Shadrach moving around the office to turn off appliances while I drifted away from consciousness into the peaceful embrace of rest.
My eyes opened on the other side of reality and its sight was near diabolical. The path of lightning tore through the bright sky and struck the brown earth. At the point where the flashing streak kissed the ground stood a woman. She seemed like the source, yet an inseparable part of the light.
The brightness of the sun formed a glowing aura around her. She wore a long robe that fell in soft folds around her bare feet. Her hands were cast in bronze bracelets that sparkled in the light. Her neck was bare, leading seamlessly to her celestial face. All I could see now was her glowing blue eyes which held me in a daze. Her voice rang through the expanse, the silkiness caressing my frame. It carried authority and summoned me to draw close. Spelled, I moved towards her, slowly and shaking.
‘You’ve been deaf, oblivious to your calling and essence. You’ve been blind, to the problems you were created to solve. In your quest for instant gratification, you’ve become numb to the despair around you.’
I stood before her now, the searing heat almost unbearable. She stretched her hands towards me and I felt like air was being sucked out of my body.
‘Okpia, you’ve been summoned by the witnesses. If only you had followed the path of love laid out from the beginning, you would have laid hold of the treasure you futilely search for.’
‘Am I to be punished then?’ I asked, keeling over in exhaustion.
‘Oh no, I am the goddess of mercy, here to deliver your inheritance to you, to save you from many more years of fruitless struggle.’
My head shot up and I looked on her with hope. She bent her frame and held a box before me. My name was engraved on its lid.
‘Take it, for it is the reward for your journey here.’
I reached out and traced the engraving. I bit my lips and lifted the lid.
I trembled at the weight of wealth in her hands, awed by the glittering mix of jewels, stones and bundled notes.
Such unbridled riches, oozing of forbidden scent. My chest felt heavy, and my throat clogged with the tears of unutterable words.
‘All for me?’
‘Okpia take it now.’ Her voice rang with sudden urgency. ‘Earthlings will rouse you soon’.
I looked at her unearthly face once again and made my decision. With firm resolve, I reached for the bronzen handles but it was not to be.
It that same instant, a gale of wind pulled me back and dragged me in the sand.
I clawed at the dirt, desperate to stop the fast disappearing woman…and the treasure.
The magnetic pull sucked me through an orb and my eyes opened wide on the other side.
My heart beat wildly and I wobbled as I tried to get on my feet. Then I felt a stinging slap on my bare arms..the slap of reality.
‘Osaze, 4’O clock don nak, may we dey go house’.
Blasted Shadrach! His superstitions were messing with my head. I wiped the beads of sweat that had formed on my forehead. The stormy weather had been replaced by scorching heat.
I squeezed my eyes, in an attempt to get rid of the sting of unsatisfied sleep, and sighed with dissapointment. Back to earth, I grabbed my bag to go home and consoled myself silently. Life goes on…at least I touched a goddess.
BIO: Joel, Similoluwa is a graduate of Urban and Regional Planning from Obafemi Awolowo University. She is currently serving under the National Youth Service Corps Scheme at the University of Benin. Her favourite pastimes include reading, writing and creating scenes in her mind.