So it’s my birth month! I shall be a year older on the 6th and I’m exceptionally excited this year. Nothing has changed, I still don’t do birthday parties -nothing spiritual, I really can’t deal with organizing a party for myself.
I’ll kick off the month with sharing my work of prose from last year, yaaay! So subscribe if you haven’t, we shall go through the bulk of it this month.
I am particularly fond of this story as it allowed me question and answer the way we deal with loss. Boys on Jumping trousers was also entered for the Quramo writers prize 2018 and came away 2nd runner up.
Here is the synopsis:
When Bodunrin Agbaje dies in his sleep, the world of his best friend, Jason Ikeme comes tumbling down.
As he lies dead in his room, Jason, caught in the vice-like grip of sorrow by his bedside, begins to see the ghost of Bodunrin.
It is a shocking realisation that rides from disbelief, fear, tentative acceptance to temporal joy. As the Coroner’s van drives towards the house, and an autopsy looms, Jason struggles to convince the reluctant ghost of his friend to get back into his body and come back to life.
It is a race against time as inconsolable family members, a Pentecostal pastor, investigating police officers and Jason’s hysterical wife converge around the house and further complicate Jason’s task.
Boys on Jumping Trousers is a walk on the thin line between here and there, a mix of memories, shared life experiences and the unbreakable bond of true friendship.
And here you go!
Bodunrin stood tall, by the side of his bed, on which the cadaver that used to be his handsome self lay.
The room smelt of caramel, it came from the candles he had liked to burn every night. He wondered if it was this caramel that made it comfortable for his friend, or that he hadn’t been dead long enough for his body to begin to ooze offensively.
His friend, the one everyone called his brother -Jason Ikeme, knelt by the feet of the bed, hands clutched to his chest, as though the grief were something visibly concrete he could grasp and squeeze.
The body lay stiff, in his cream Jellabiya, the one he had liked to wear around the house. Their family doctor had confirmed him dead a few hours ago and the Coroner’s van was on it’s way to move him to the morgue. He could hear the wailing outside the room, he could also hear his habitually prim and proper mother howling. He knew that his house now had the traffic of a tourist attraction -albeit morbid.
Jason prayed fervently, it was not the tongues laden Holy Ghost invoking prayers they were taught to pray in church at impossible moments. He found no inspiration or anointing for that, and so, his prayer came in ragged breaths of
“Dear God! Please tell me it’s a joke! Lord, please say it is all a dream”
In the sorrow of his heart, even though he left it at the subconscious layer because it was not welcome, Jason felt reason trickle in. He felt a nudge of mockery in his spirit, that from the story of Abraham, when he was told that his wife Sarah would have a child, to the story of David, who from tending sheep became King, to even his son, dying on the cross -God was not in the habit of announcing that realities were jokes or dreams.
And this was why he ignored his eyes when they began to form a shape in front of him. His prayers couldn’t have been answered, and that fast too.
Bodunrin gazed intently at his friend, he was confused by what he had thought of Spirits before he became one, now all he hoped for was that Jason would see him.
Jason looked up finally. For a minute he stared. Bodunrin was not sure he could see be seen, so he spoke loudly, – “Do you see me, Jason?”
There was no response, instead Jason blinked away the tears, sad at the reality of seeing his friend in two places, in his mind alive and right before him, cold in death. Reasoning pushed again as it had all morning, this time convincing him that he was insane. He had to be, for he could see Bodunrin standing right there.
He welcomed the insanity, clutched at it, allowing it to spring him from sitting on his heels to standing on his feet. He fought to stand still, yet he found himself staggering forward.
He struggled to breathe as he stared at the apparition.
“Bodunrin?” it was a hesitant question.
“Jason” The response was tinged with relief.
“What are you doing by the side of your body?”
Bodunrin didn’t respond and Jason continued.
“The place of a man’s spirit is in his body, not by it!”
The effort of speaking with such force made Jason sway, numbness from the long sit-squat spreading through his lower body.
Bodunrin smiled, it was melancholic, hiding the disorientation that had been his portion since he felt that snap that caused him to now float around his body.
“On the other hand, my brother, a man’s spirit has no place, it goes where it chooses”
Bodunrin’s voice hadn’t changed, It was still calm, pitched moderately in a way that had been described by his friends as a ‘microphone humbled by the weight of wisdom.’ He had always come across as soft and strong, all at once.
“Bodunrin! My goodness! You can’t be totally dead then. I…I…I..my goodness! Tell me it was a mistake, tell me the Doctor was mistaken, tell me there is a glimmer of hope somewhere, somehow”
“Jason, what you see is what I see”
“But if you are still here, it means that there is surely light at the end of this tunnel!”
“I feel very strange, and yet it is not a feeling I am unhappy with”
Jason began to gesticulate wildly, as he was known to when his lips alone could not carry his emotions.
“Bodunrin, you said a man’s spirit goes where it chooses, that means you can still go into your body.”
“I don’t know.”
“Where are you? I doubt that it is heaven or hell, I think that you are just here”
“What if it is the purgatory that you Catholics preach?” Bodunrin asked with a mischief that Jason knew would be accompanied by a glint in his eyes if he looked.
Jason relaxed a bit, tickled.
“Shut up” he said good naturedly.
To be continued…