African StoriesEditor's ChoiceLove and RomanceNaija Stories

Prejudice and Bad Ethnics

Adeola sat down on a wooden bench facing the little window in her room, her hands akimbo to both her chubby soggy cheeks, with warm tears streaming down her cheeks, and resting on her chin, dripping slowly on her carpet, like a faucet. It was early July, the rain started early this year, and the dark clouds were already showing signs that it would rain soon. A strong wind picked up, causing her curtain to float, and exposing dim light inside of her room.
A room which she hardly cared about anymore.

The room reeked of old clothes and books, which hung around the air like a pungent, her clothes were littered and sprawled on the floor, and the food which her parents sent for her left there on the front of her door, untouched, uneaten and rotten. Adeola didn’t care about anything anymore in this life. She was broken, sad and depressed, life wasn’t worth living.

A soft rattling on her door made her shake momentarily, making her jolt from her chair.

“Who is—” She stopped. Her voice crackling, her throat filled with phlegm, causing an obstruction in her nasal passage. She noticed she hasn’t talked to anybody for the past three days. She retched, snorted more like, to make a clear passage on her throat, spat the murky content on the cold linoleum floor, and said slowly, “ Who is that?” Every word she said draining the energy out of her, making her feel lightheaded, like gray-water.

Another worried voice penetrated her locked door echoing through her entire room, “Ade, are you okay? Please you’re scaring us. Have you eaten?” Ade’s mom stopped for a short while, hoping for a response, but got nothing but an eerie silent that seem to devour her. “Ade, it’s been three days now, why you doing this to yourself?” She stopped, thought for a while, winced as a bitter memory flooded her. “You know we are doing this for you, don’t you?” Still she got no reply. This is no use, she thought to herself.

Three days ago…

Adeola looked into the mesmerizing eyes of Usman, love evident and gleaming in her eyes. Her face glowing with joy, and her heart beating with admiration for him.

“I love you so much,” she said to Usman, maintaining her perfect stare at his face.

Usman smiled. His dimples round and perfect. “I love you too, my teddy bear,” he responded, a little glitch converged with his voice. He seemed to be worried about something.

They were inside Ade’s room. Both of them cuddled and tangled up in her bed, letting the softness engulf them like a deep abyss. Usman stirred several times in bed, as his thoughts raced several miles away into the dark galaxy. He knew this relationship with her won’t work out, he knew the consequences involved.

A short tug at his sleeves brought him back to her room. He looked around, absorbing and observing every little detail he could take. The tiny crevice on the wall, the peeled-off yellow painting, the stained curtains, the bras and panties hanging on her wardrobe. He smiled at the scenery, and the worries on his face seem to evaporate for the time being.

“Baby, you okay?” she asked him, her eyes trained on him.

Usman nodded wearily, his eyes glassy. He closed his eyes, thrust his head forward and kissed her lips softly, then he said to her, “Why do your parents hate me?” The question was quick, sudden and unexpected. Ade knew something like this was surely going to happen, and she wasn’t prepared for it.

“I don’t know,” she answered weakly. And almost immediately regretted answering the question. “I guess it is in human nature to fear what they don’t know or understand,” she countered.

Usman seemed enticed by her response. He sat up in her bed, the woods creaking and squealing as he adjusted himself. “You think your parents are scared of me?” he inquired, his face filled with worry, and concern.

Ade exhaled. She wasn’t ready for this conversation. “My parents aren’t scared of you baby, they are just, they are just…”

“Just what?” Usman blurted out before she could even take the words out of her mouth.

Ade heaved. She felt her chest constricting like a boa. “I guess they are jist built up on bad ethnics and cultural beliefs, prejudice and segregational values. But I for one don’t care, and you know that, you know I love you, don’t you?”

Usman nodded as he digested her words. He lay back in bed, and exhaled. “ But, why babe?” He coughed, his mind racing with thoughts, and his eyes tearing up. “Why can’t we co-exist as one, a Muslim and a Christian, why can’t I be with you irrespective of the states we hail from, why?”

Ade shrugged, she had no reply for that. She lay down with him, staring into his beady eyes, and playing with the curls on his head.

“I guess that is how this world is, bitter and sweet,” he concluded for himself.

A loud and sharp knock on her door disrupted their conversation. They froze, dazed and shocked. The loud rattling at the door continued. Ade almost passed out when she heard her dad’s voice tearing and penetrating through the thick wood of her door.

“Ade, open this door right now!” he yelled. His voice raw, harsh and submerged with anger. “Open this door right now! and let me strangle that bastard myself!” he yelled again violently, spittle flying from his mouth and splatting on the door, while remnants hung on his mustache, like milk fronts on his upper lip. His fist pounded on the door again, thundering throughout the entire room. “I said open this door, or are you deaf?!”

Ade was momentary paralyzed. Her father was supposed to be gone for another three days. What is going on, how was he here now, what is he doing here? She had no answers to her questions, and they were left hanging motionless like a spider’s web. She felt her entire body shake vigorously, as her head rocked back and forth violently. Her biceps and triceps hurt, and she noticed she couldn’t move her arms, like they weren’t there, like they were amputated. She tried moving them, but some unseen force stood against that.

“…Ade?!” a voice yelled at her. The voice felt miles away, it was faint and distinct.

Ade blinked several times trying to get her bearings, as things start to dawn on her. She looked pale.

“Ade, are you okay?” She heard the voice again, “You have to open the door for your father, now.”

Ade looked at the person talking to her, and the blurred part of her brain start to sharpen a bit. “Us-man,” she stuttered, as she looked at him, and his tight vice grip on her arms.

Usman motioned the door to her, and said to her. “Open the door, Ade. Now!

Without a moment’s hesitation, Ade walked towards the door, each step she took matched the pounding of her heart, her vision blurry, and her head throbbing, her mouth dried up and tasted rancid. Her skeletal fingers wrapped around her door knob, and as soon as she gave it a twist, the door sprung open.

A formidable man, probably in his late fifties stood in front of her, veins protruding from his vast forehead space, eyes bloodshot red, and nose flaring from labored breathing.

Ade gulped, “Daddy, welcome, sir.” She started slowly, her eyes discerning his for any sign of happiness, but she found none. “Good after—” And that was he reacted. His fist curled up, knuckles clenched, exposing dry hard bones.

She felt her chubby cheeks dent inwards as her father’s fist slammed into them with full force. Her head jolted sideways, as warm blood spewed out of her nose, and drooled into her mouth in a slow frantic motion. It tasted copper, she thought, before she crashed on the hard cold tile. Ade heard her voice somewhere, she felt the floor reverberate as someone marched towards her. She was too dazed to move, too stunned to say a single word.

Usman held Ade, his eyes glistening, he was trying hard to fight back tears. Ade father walked towards the helpless lot, and yelled, “Constable, he is here, take him away.” He looked at Usman, his eyes dark and deadly. “I have warned you, haven’t I?” He paused. His gaze still fixated on Usman. “Are you deaf?!” he yelled. Usman remained numb. His lips trembling. “I can see you’re a retard. And let me tell you, this is the last time you’ll see my daughter again, you criminal. You think you can win your way into my family, you terrorist?” He used the back of his palm and wiped his lips. It tasted salty.

After what felt like eons, a young agile man in uniform stormed into Ade’s room, a black wooden baton firm in his vice grip. His eyes searching the entire room. “Ah, Constable Samuel. That’s the boy. Take him away, and lock him away for good.”

The Constable swiftly move towards Usman, grabbed him by his sleeve, and dragged him away. Usman didn’t resist. He was too scared, he couldn’t talk.

“Please, sir,” he croaked, his voice cracking, “please, I won’t see her again.” His voice betrayed him. All his pleas fell on deaf ears. Ade’s father ignored him. The police officer dragged him roughly away, and up to this day, Ade hasn’t heard from him.

Ade looked at her Dad, hot tears streaming down her cheeks. “Dad,” she said, her voice breaking and barely audible. “Dad, you punched your own daughter?” Her eyes welled up with tears. Her father ignored her and walked away from the room. Ade locked the door, and since that day hasn’t come out. It’s been three days.

Present day…

Ade dialed Usman number for the umpteenth time that day, but anytime she called, the line was directed to voice-mail, with a computerized female telling her the receiver was out of reach. Ade exhaled. She missed him, she missed how he smiled, she misses his scent, she missed twirling with the curls on his head. She smiled weakly at the memory, a memory she was going to cherish forever.

A droplet of rain hammered on her face, the cloud was already crying. Ade walked away away from the window frame, her bones creaking from stagnancy. She yawned as she slumped her weary body on her bed, the softness swallowed her, and a particular section of her bed still reeked of Usman. Ade cried silently again. This was too much to take. This was too much burden for one person to bear. She cried heavily, pounding her fists on her mattress, veins bulging on her forehead, she yelled, her voice raw with pain and sorrow.

But the rain drowned everything out. The heavy torrent of downpour silenced her. Ade looked at her window, hoping to see Usman’s bony face peering at her, but nothing appeared. Instead she saw a foggy glass, with rivulets dripping down slowly on it like the matrix.

A beep-beep sound emanating from her phone distorted her from reverie, the notification sound made her feel a bit nostalgic. She smiled as she reminisced about the dark hours she had with Usman. Without much interest she clicked opened the message, feeding her bleak eyes on the luminous screen and it’s content. The message was from an unknown person.

4:26am — Ghost recon: Yo, you up?

Ade stared at her screen for a while, dilemma setting in. She incessantly stared a bit much, her mind in a state of taciturnity. Could this be Usman, and if it was him, why the hell was she being reluctant? As if to answer her question, another message entered, the screen’s soft glow, shone on her pallid chubby face.

4:31am — Ghost recon: Hey , is this Ade’s line? I’ve got an very urgent message for her.

A quick pause. The she started typing…

4:33am — Scarlet wind: Who is this?

4:33am — Ghost recon: A friend. are you Ade?

4:34am – Scarlet wind: Who is asking?

4:35am — Ghost recon: Look, I don’t have time for this. are you Ade?

Ade grunted.

4:38am — Scarlet wind: Yeah. This is Ade. What do you want?

4:38am — Ghost recon: I don’t appreciate slow replies. Hey listen, I don’t know how to say this to you, but I just want to let you know that I am sorry. Usman was a friend of mine too. We were tight friends. my condolences.

Ade couldn’t grasp what the heck this man was blabbing about. Why the heck was he using past tense to refer to Usman. Was he…? She couldn’t even complete the sentence. The question was left there fluttering in the dead air. What is happening? she pondered. A bitter reality was beginning to dawn on her.

4:48am — Ghost recon: Are you okay? I am sorry I had to break the news to you like this. it happened yesterday night. he took his own life. said he couldn’t survive this world without you. I am not supposed to be telling you this, please keep this brief conversation a secret.

Ade stopped reading, her eyes were getting too blurry, and the messages getting incoherent and cryptic. Why? she yelled to herself, hot tears streaming down her cheeks again. Why me? she sputtered, and blubbered. The rain went on incessantly, not showing mercy, raining to a full crescendo.

5:05am — Ghost recon: Hey , you okay?

Ade held the phone tightly on her palm, a tight grip on it, her knuckles turning white, as she applied pressure. And before she knew what was happening, she tossed the phone away with such brute force, she was sure it would smash into smithereens as soon as it came in contact with the cold hard floor.

Dad kept this away from me? Her eyes welled with tears, red and swollen. She sauntered slowly towards her wardrobe, her legs scraping on the floor. She swung it open, and the sweet stench of old clothes and camphor whooshed on her face like a tidal wave. She dug her hands through the pile of exquisite clothes, her fingers came across a crevice. She brought out a bottle from it, with a label on the smooth body named, curare. Ade paused for a while, staring at the bottle in her hands, her lips trembling, her heart beating fast and fast. She looked around her room for a while, absorbing everything and taking it all before she squeezed opened the lid and gulped it all, not leaving a single drop in the bottle.

A week later…

Mrs. Kayode stood at the door of her daughter’s room, with a platter of food on her left hand. She looked broken, and frail. The wrinkles crowded on eyes made it look like she was smiling, while she wasn’t. She was sad. She knocked on the door, waiting for a reply, but she got none. She exhaled.

“Ade…” she began slowly, her voice croaky and low. “Please, open the door. Please.” Still, she got no reply. She rapped on the door noisily, anger and sadness eating her up. But she got nothing.

That was when she noticed the stench, a strong foul smell. Her mind raced with different thoughts of what it might be, maybe something rotten, spilled sour milk, a de— She stopped mid-thought. That can’t be possible, she concluded. My daughter won’t do that. But her curiosity won over her and she pounded on the door so hard, using her shoulders as a makeshift force, and the door finally flung open.

Her eyes scanned the room quickly, looking for anything outside the ordinary. And that was when she saw her child sprawled on the floor in an awkward position, with blood on her nose, mouth and ears. Her skin had already started the process deterioration, with maggots squirming in and out of dug out holes. Mrs. Kayode screamed out loud, a shrill cry, something that sounded inhuman before she passed out.

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