A man ran by, panting hard. The end of his oversized red shirt flying in the wind, as the air from the cross ventilation and ceiling fan mingled in the room, it came close to being outdoor. He ran with a slightly open mouth and by all indications, was out of breath.
Pouncing through the room and out the opposite swing door, we all looked up from our computers.
Bodies worn out from sitting for so long, bodies bent over computers while creating models, we couldn’t care less.
Five minutes later, four men ran right back with this same man.
A minute later, a very robust, dark complexioned woman entered speaking loudly and rapidly on the phone,not glancing once at those of us at the tables.
“Ehn call the fire services. Call them” a pause. “Okay, call abefele. Just call somebody. Ehn… They should come down to department of computer science” she said, all in the one minute it took her to waggle through the room.
At this point, nobody could face their laptops again. We all looked at the back door, as though it would become transparent in the very next second and let us in on the cause of commotion.
Tobi stood up from his chair and stretched as he grinned playfully.
Working in this room over the past one month with the other M.sc students had been slightly interesting. We formed a good bond inbetween frowning at incomprehensible samples on our computers and having group dicussions.
We often took breaks twice in a day. The first was to eat late breakfast from “all food cafeteria” just across the open yard. The woman made the best amala on campus. She made me ignore my belief that solid food shouldn’t be taken in the morning or noon time.
The second break consisted of eating roasted or boiled corn while some others took a nap.
Mercy stood up and went out the screen door at the back. The rest of us also inched to the door, unsure. There was no window overlooking the back for us to gaze through.
The back door opened to a corridor laced on both sides and at short intervals, with small round metal poles attached to the roof above . It lead to another building.
We went to the back of the next building which overlooked a stream. Some of the water from Odua dam still ran down to this place. It was surrounded by overgrown grass.
The men we had seen previously, were there and they all glanced back at us when they heard foot falls. There was something they had previously been gazing at on the floor.
It was an human body . I didn’t know how to feel or what to think. I was often told of things like this, I never witnessed them.
We didn’t know if to go any closer, there was nothing any of us could offer, so we remained a safe distance away.
Two school security officers dressed in their maroon coloured uniform came around to where we were.
They went forward and asked who she was as they bent to inspect the body without touching it.
Men clothed in fire fighters garb came almost immediately too. There were about six of them. I instinctively moved further away. I thought it was best to leave now.
The wind blew harder and soon it was blowing real hard and the clouds were gathering. The clouds visibly moved in the exact manner I loved as a child. I used to glance up at the sky constantly whenever it threatened to rain. I loved when the clouds were impatient and revealed their otherwise secret manner of floating. I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed watching it. Helen did too.
As one of the fire fighters bent by the body to turn it, the slightly brown shade of relaxed hair began to strike me as familiar. The wet clothes clung to her body, she must’ve been drawn out of the water. I couldnt shake off the goosebumps that rose on my body. Her body form was too familiar. I didn’t think I could turn back and leave all alone. I didn’t think I could trust my voice to ask my friends to leave with me either. I just stayed there and willed it to rain. Anything. My body was slipping to another time and moment, hearing another voice.
The man turned the body and it was a different face. Not regarding that, my goosebumps remained, even long after we had been asked to leave.
I slept fitfully, plagued by dreams I forgot as I woke up, and a cough which I suddenly developed.
I sat up and checked the time on my phone. 2:54am.
I swiped open the phone and punched in a phone number I still knew by heart.
“Hello. Irene?” She said.
“Helen” I said and we were silent. ” I thought you’d be sleeping”
“I was. I saw your number on the screen, that was enough”
“It’s been long enough, hasn’t it?”
We were silent until she said “there were days I wondered when you would do as Kainene did”
“Well our own grandfather never made such a profound sentence as theirs did. But some things do change your perspective. Kainene and Olanna’s was a war.”
I could read her mind and I knew she would never ask me what ours was, why I would call her after four years.
I simply knew it was over now. Over. We could now continue in our telepathic ways and the freedom that came from that knowledge allowed laughter to emanate from deep within my chest, a million constricting bubbles dispelling…