TO SAVE A SOUL: (3)- BY MURTALA ASSAYOUTI

A serene silence greeted me as my voice died down. I called out again, mustering up strength to increase the volume of the resonance that emitted from the mouth. After a while, the gloomy noiseless hanging heavier in the air, I made another attempt to lift myself off the bed. I found I was not only laden with the burden of damaged appendages%20I was also so very fatigued that every attempt brought fits of heavy panting and left me breathless for minutes. Suddenly a gust of wind rushed into the room flicking out the candlelight and leaving me in total darkness. Only a stream of moonlight from the open window could be seen. Cold trepidation came over me. Where was everybody?

“Nurse?”

There was something suddenly scary about the small beds filled room and I eagerly wanted to leave it. Struggling fitfully, with much pain I placed my injured legs on the floor, tired to lift myself on my feet, but found the feat too much for my unfit body.

“Shit!” I grumbled, not finding my helplessness funny at all.

Then I heard it again, the soft paddling of footsteps, this time followed by the creaking of hinges as the door opened slowly. I held my breath. A figure stood in the doorframe, dark and shadowy, with no definite shape. It slowly moved forward. I glared fearfully into the gloom.

“Babatunde Layeni, you are awake, it is nice to see you again.”

He knew that voice. How could he not? It was the voice from his worse nightmare. He had cherished it for three good years. He stared at her speechless as she came toward him. She wore a dark gown and had her hair covered in a dark scarf. She had not changed much, though her willowy form had grown fuller and firmer with womanhood. She was still carried herself gracefully, and had that pleasant aura. I fell in love with her all over again.

I was astounded to see her and almost%20fearful as she came forward to touch me lightly on the arm.

“Oh, I am so sorry! I was so afraid for you, so afraid … I thought you …”

She knelt down by my feet and took my hands rubbing it on her cheeks so softly. Then she looked up at me; big anxious eyes. Eyes that he knew so well.

“But it will be okay now. The doctor said so. You will be well again.

She took%20my hands again and used them to caress her cheek. I could say or do nothing and watched in a daze as the woman I had scorned lavished me with unprecedented affection. She should hate me. She should care less if I lived or die. How could she forgive me so?

“I prayed every night for you. Prayed very hard for you… Yomi said I should come, that I should see you that you will understand. He told me where I would find you…”

She looked up at me again, straight into my unbelieving eyes and a new more%20pleasing sensation took me as I beheld her eyes. Through the light of the moon light that streamed through the window I saw them glistering.

“It was his wish and I had to fulfill it.” She got up then and moved slowly towards the open window, holding her arm against the other as if suddenly caught by a chilling sensation.

 “Even though you hurt me, Babatunde. Even though you brought tears to my eyes every time I thought about you. Your name was pain to me and I hated you. You that I once cared for. Hated you with a passion that I could not bear. And because of it, I could not live with another nor find happiness nor even love again.”

She turned back to me and I could see the tears in her eyes, glimmering like tiny crystal rivers across her cheeks. The words were hard and well deserved but the magnitude of its implication weighed heavily on me.

“But could you blame me?” she said evenly and I started to shake my head as emotions overwhelmed me.

“I gave you everything, Babatunde Layeni. Gave you my heart, my body and even my soul. Gave you everything … and you were the world to me. There was no life without you, no reason to be alive…”

She fixed her eyes on me, staring hard at my sitting form. I couldn’t take the intensity of her gaze so o bowed my head.

“If only you knew how much I loved you. If only you knew…”

I wanted to shout; but I knew, even felt it in your presence. And I love you too. I did, I really really did and still do. But the words could not wrench free from the cells of my tightly sealed aching jaws. I seemed in a confound state, unable to react to the folding events before me, seemingly incapable of response to any form of stimuli. I saw her tears dry on her cheeks, and her eyes losing the former fervor. There was a steely glint in her eyes now as she gazed at me. And suddenly I felt a terrible fear overcome me.

There was no smile on her face and the%20tears had stopped. She looked coldly at me through the darkness. I could not see the hatred in her stare but I felt it. A recollection came to me and I recognized suddenly the face that had been the cause of all my nightmares, the only face my mind had retained in the cluster of faces of seeming well-wishers that had been hovering over my bed these past hours or days or months, I could not know but this was the face I had come to dread terribly.

I shifted uncomfortably, instinctively regressing from a fury that I felt could be unleashed anytime and which I was not in the position to withstand. The silence was heavy, overbearing and the dark room seemed very small and cell-like unable to contain the tension of the moment, only our breathing was natural.

“I …” I started.

Slowly she walked towards me. Then I screamed as the glint of steel flashed across my sight. But the squeaky raspy noise that emitted from my lips could not surpass the dark cave-like room. There was a blade in her hands and though I could not see it clearly there was no way I could mistaken the steely glint of a knife.

“Worry not, my love. I have caste my demons my demons away. The spirit that drove me to hate you, drove me to want anything that was yours dead has been%20caste away/ I want only forgiveness now. I have done all the evil that could be done. You are surprised, you left more than a heartbroken girl behind, my love, and since I wanted to die I wanted all that was yours also dead, so I brought this knife and said it will be yours death and mine. I almost died before in my sorrow, but death was not my portion then, Tunde, after all I had a destiny to fulfill…”

She had reached the foot of the bed and she remained staring down at me and instinctively I tried to crawl away. There was a scary look in her eyes, though her face seemed forlorn and gloomy. I eyed the knife in her hands with trepidation but it was the thought of her erratic change of mood and my apparent helplessness that gave me the gravest of concern. Yet there appeared to be nothing I could do at that moment for as my whole mind stared in stupefaction so did my body respond and I could only mutter an almost inaudible plea of:

“Please, I’m sorry …”

She stood over me by the bedside, regarding me solemnly, before she knelt again. She let her arms%20slide downwards and the metallic ring could be heard as the knife hit the floor. Some relief filled me.

“I consulted the herbalist and asked him to make your life miserable as you had made mine. I had lost faith in anything. Only the thought of hurting you remained. Yet I was not satisfied wit that. I wanted to see your face before I killed you, wanted to hear your screams of pain as I plugged the knife in you. And though I wanted it like that I couldn’t imagine me doing it. I realized I wouldn’t have the heart to. So I went to Baba, told him that your death was the only thing that could right the wrong you caused me …”

To be continued.

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