Ekow Manuar

God, I am bound to you infinitely.

There is a tether that ties heart and soul together. An intangible substance that gives us our meaning. This substance goes beyond what we call bonds. Or what science can proclaim to us. No matter how much we are made to think ourselves not part of you, the more I begin to see how I am. That we are.

This morning I woke to the Sun as I would any other day. There was a warm glass of water on my bedside table and sitting innocently by it was a tiny white tab. I drank a few gulps of water before placing the glass down. My eyes drifted to the tab again. Written on it were a series of numbers. A barcode of sorts. It didn’t mean anything to know what they stood for, the tab’s power lay in its medicinal properties. The new medicine for heart and soul. And the holi-doctors who understood our metaphysical interconnections knew that this medicine was a bridge. A bridge that once crossed, could be revealed to you during both night and day. My holi-doctor thought that my soul was disturbed and if I wanted to get better I would need to take the tab. 

God, I then rose from my bed and drew the curtains to allow the Sun its moment. There was still a  brisk wind and the smell of morning moist in its wisps. I rolled back my duvet and ripped it from the mattress leaving only the bed sheets. I tossed the pillows aside as well then shifted my bed so that I was directly under the window. I ironed the sheets with my hands over and over again until it was unwrinkled. Thinking there should be more for me to do before I took the tab, I found myself standing in my room patting down my braids. They were a bit loose and a long curled hair feathered onto the bedsheet. It made me want to brush my hair but instead I took my hairband and wrapped it tightly round my head. Standing again in the room, the Sun’s warmth reaching into my armpits, I then turned to face the reason I had woken so early this morning.

The tab must be taken, and as the holi-doctor said, it would lead to my awakening. This reawakening would not come as a matter of fact. Rather, I would need to persevere through the deepest of internal struggles, and through this conflict and disentanglement I would appear on the other side of the bridge a new and better person. One that was ready to face the traumas of my life. 

God, only you know the extent to which my soul has been severed. 

A brief history of my recent life; I went abroad to do my studies and came back enlightened and ready to do my duty for my country. But brain and duty don’t always pay for the provision one needs in their day to day. Or so my dear mother said. And her words proved real because I couldn’t even afford to leave her household due the city’s exorbitant rent charges. And even though I had gone to university, in my mother’s household I was useless. I had no skill in preparing foods, no idea of keeping a house, and no ability to care for another in the same way that I cared for myself. These deficiencies weren’t brought to light immediately but came to the fore once my mother became deathly ill. I was unable to tend to her. I was unable to fund someone to tend to her, and I watched as she deteriorated into a lesser person altogether. Then she passed, and the brief relief of it having come to be was eventually washed over by how, in many ways, I was at fault for not doing more. Then this desolation evolved as I slipped on myself and slid into a downward spiral. Everything was moving so fast that it felt that I was at a standstill.

It is safe to say that I have been soundly humbled.

I picked the tab between my forefinger and thumb and pressed it on my tongue. It tasted like paper but then a bitter liquid trickled to the back of my mouth and lingered there. I spread myself like an eagle on the bed and gazed up at the ceiling waiting for the operation to begin. 

I don’t know if I floated into sleep or if the contents of my dreams had become reality. Either way, I was caught in the middle. My holi-doctor had categorically informed me that no amount of preparation could brace me for this trip. I didn’t believe him. But as I tried to desperately grasp to those last sane words said to me I felt myself steadily uncouple from my physical existence. All too suddenly I was very aware of myself outside of myself. My sense of touch seemed to have been transferred to a neutral entity and I could feel the nothingness of the sheets underneath me tear away, leaving me levitating over the bed and soon over my house, then the entire estate. I could see now that I was among the clouds and its qualities were ever so… tantalising. I tried going back to what my doctor had said, but it was far behind me now as the blue sky opened up and I could see the stream of memories, that was my life, roll on as a film shown through a projector.

Just then distinct taste of popcorn filled my mouth which was unusually salivating, dripping over my chin and I remembered the time munching on sweet-salty popcorn in the Silverbird cinema with Tiwa and Augusta, friends I’ve had since since. We were watching a useless movie that I remember recounting to my mother as being exactly that, useless. She had laughed her high pitched cringe-inducing laugh and I could remember the small jolt of annoyance of her being right that the movie would be crap. Then it subsided as she presented me with a bowl of jollof and chicken. At the time I was watching my figure and the sweet-salt taste of popcorn was still in my mouth, so I declined. She wrapped it up and left it on the stove if I wanted some later. I did, but by then it was gone. 

It was at this point that I found it hard to recount whether the bowl had gone in actuality, or if in my current state I had made it disappear as a symbol for my mom’s passing. Untangling the fiction from non-fiction was disconcerting and I slipped further forward into the big blue back drop that had become my life.

God, I am bound to you infinitely. 

Why won’t you show me that you are bound to me as well? Why won’t you act as gravity does and pull me back down to Earth again? I am drifting away, and can not hold on to anything except myself. My arms clasped around my waist. My eyes closed. I do not want to see everything pass by me like a train rolling through the countryside. The thick ever-green forest giving way to the abrasive red under Earth, exposed to the day like blood drawn from flesh. What must I do to come back down?

God, I am lost without you. 

And down I went, descending like a comet crashing onto my mattress and leaving a crater in the shape of my body, with my hands pulling at the ends of the bed to keep me from sinking further. And as the World was sucked into my orbit, sucking all life and matter into the blackness of my soul, there was my glass of water sitting idly on the bedside table. Fixed and firm like my reality. My condition. 

Tears streamed down my nose in a watery mess. Had I crossed the bridge? Or was I still lingering on the other side? The Sun was the Moon and I could see the holes in its spherical mass. It wasn’t a full moon, not by a long shot. But it shone brilliantly. Somewhere off in the space that envelopes the Earth, I knew the Sun was shining. It made me smile knowing that. That it was just a trick of perception that made the dark seem so encompassing.

God, I am bound to you infinitely. 

To you, and everything else.

By Abdallah Smith