Even after four years, I still come here. The reason is obvious though. It was here that I met her; it was on a cool evening, and I’d just had a row with my brother who was hell bent on making our father pay for abandoning us when we were young. I was so mad at him that I went to the beach and was angrily stomping away when I crashed into her. She was sitting on the sand, looking at waves as they rose and fell. I’d apologised profusely, and in the end, we became friends. Three months later, we started dating.
That was when everything turned grey, and for the next seven months, I ran from pillar to post trying to save her. But I couldn’t. She died on the same day my father died; both of them died as a result of two different reasons. My father died in a car accident; he was drunk and had ran into an oncoming vehicle. The cars had exploded before anyone could get to them.
As for Chekwube, my girlfriend, she died of something else, something very sinister and deadly—leukaemia. I had serious financial problems then, and I went around begging for money, but no one agreed to help me with the twelve million naira needed for her treatment in India. I went to TV stations, radio stations, used the social media and various blogs, but no help came. In the end I had to watch the cold hands of death slowly take her from me.
As I sat on the warm sand of the Lagos beach, I tried hard to stop crying as I continued the only thing that had brought me peace and solace for the past four years—painting.
Don’t be wowed, it’s not that kind of painting. I just use A4 paper and some crayons to paint the scenery and sometimes I add my own imagination to it.
After two hours of painting, I stood up, and went to the water. I had never been a good swimmer, but I felt a strong pull to dive into the water and allow the coldness to seep into my bones and help me be calm.
And that’s what I did. I pulled off my clothes, and waddled into the water, sighing as the cold water touched my skin. I did some weak breast strokes, and finally decided to just float on the water.
Suddenly, I felt the water rising, and I tried to get back to the shore. But as I started off, something with the force of a sledgehammer landed on my head, completely disorienting me. I struggled to regain my bearings, but it was too late. I opened my mouth to take in more air and ended up gulping huge amounts of water. I was drowning, I knew it, but I couldn’t help it. I tried fighting it, but the more I fought, the more I my strength waned. Until I finally gave up and allowed the darkness to take me.
My head felt like lead. In fact, the whole of my body felt like the heaviest object in the universe. I tried lifting my eyelids, but they were like bags of rice.
“Oh no,” a voice said, “we cannot destroy something that has loved us so beautifully.”
“But he’s one of them! He’s a human being, they are bent on destroying our home.”
“Yes, humans are vile, but this one is different. Haven’t you seen him sitting for hours, staring at the ocean? No, this one has the noblest soul amongst them.”
“What should we do with him then?”
“We save him of course.”
“That’s preposterous! We have to kill him! Have you forgotten that we have a mission to be accomplished on the morrow?”
“That’s the reason to kill him now.”
I knew I had to say something, there was no way I would die like this. I tried so hard to say something, but my lips seemed to be sealed with a glue. They kept on arguing, going back and forth, and scaring me the more. Suddenly, I felt a presence beside me. This was it, this was how I would die.
“No!” I shouted in my mind. Strangely, I heard the echo of my voice in the room.
“He just spoke!” the first one said.
Slowly, with great effort, I pried my eyes open. And was amazed at what I saw. The person—being—before me was of indescribable beauty. She was fair and absolutely beautiful. Her skin was smooth and flawless. But her lower body had… scales! She was a mermaid!
“He opened his eyes, Pearl,” she said to the other one. I tried sitting up and she quickly rushed to help me. That was when I took in where I was. It was unmistakable, I was under water, inside the ocean. I could see the fishes swimming above and the blue ocean was more stunning when viewed from under.
“Whe-where… am I?” I croaked, my voice sounding strange to my ears.
“You are in Andalis,” the one called Pearl replied. “What are you doing here?”
“Oh, don’t mind my sister’s manners,” the other one cut in. “I’m Aquamarine. What’s your name?”
“I’m Andrew. Andrew Odogwu,” I replied, still stunned by my surroundings and beauty of these beings.
“What are you doing here?” Pearl repeated.
“I’m… I… I don’t know how I got here. One minute I was swimming in the water, and the next I was getting drowned. And then I saw myself here. Wait, is this heaven?”
Aquamarine let out a shrill cry. I was instantly scared. It was when I saw her holding her belly that I realised that she was actually laughing.
There was one thing that wasn’t beautiful about these people—their laughter.
“Dear sister,” Pearl began, “I see that our dear human has a sense of humour. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let him live. But we can’t take him to the others, they will instantly chop his head off.
“I guess we have to keep him here then. No one comes to this side of Andalis. He will stay here till we’re done destroying the humans,” Aquarium said. And her eyes widened instantly.
“Wait, what? You’re planning to destroy humans, why?”
“I’ve always cautioned you about your flippant tongue, Aquamarine. Anyway, this isn’t a business of yours, Andrew. Forget that anything like this was said. This is for your own safety.”
“I could be of help,” I blurted out.
“What do you mean?”
“I said that I could be of help. I’m sure that none of you has ever been to the surface. I know the place more than you do.”
“Why are you willing to sell your own kind?” Aquamarine asked.
“Because they betrayed me too. I needed their help but they all turned their backs on me. I have no attachment to them.”
“Don’t you have a family?” she further asked.
“I have no one. They’re all dead.”
“Very well then. Let me take you to the Council of Andalis.”
I went with them. I was taken to the Council, where I told them everything they needed to know about how the water bodies in Nigeria were. Within a week, Nigeria witnessed the greatest tsunami in history of Africa. The states along the Atlantic ocean were completely wiped out.
As I laid down on the bed in my room underneath the water, what I thought was: nature has aided me in getting back at humans.