The Unsightly Things That Dreams Bear



      Ijeoma woke up this morning feeling queasy. Something wasn't right. She surveyed the shaft she called a room, eyed the wall gecko on the beautiful enlarged portrait of Mama Nnukwu,  there was nothing 'wrong' that was right before now. She dismissed it as one of those misleading hunches and went about her daily duties.
       Before she left for her workplace— a pool office where she earned enough to pay for Dada's cigarettes and merrybet stakes, she made sure to leave the key under the mat, just in case he came home from his inconsistent laborer's work. Knowing him, she knew he would have a fit at her not leaving any food for him. It wasn't that she didn't want to, there was nothing to leave.
         On getting to the junction where Egime sold oka, she saw him– the invalid who always sat by the intersection. He wasn't sitting this time, he was standing and intently looking at her. At first she thought it was her imagination but he kept on following her with his eyes until he made to move. She hurriedly walked past him and tried not to look. After a while, she turned and saw him following. She increased her pace and soon she was at the street that led to her office. She turned, he was nowhere in sight. She heaved a sigh of relief and checked her watch, it was just 7:45. She wasn't late today.

            Her manager, Oga Sunday would have had a reason to give her a tongue lashing. It wasn't the shouting she was bothered about, it was the ogling she had to endure when he called her to his office. He was a walking hard-on.  Last time, she restrained from slapping him across his face when he grabbed her backside as she tried to get something from the drawers of his table. He had insisted on her getting it while he sat down there. Ike had to write his WAEC and Dada was of no use. She wished she had listened to Nnukwu.  Now, she had to rely on nnukwu for the remaining part of Ike's charges.
      At the office, Oga Sunday's door was locked. Thank God she sighed. She started arranging her papers before the stakers started coming. As she bent down to pick the stapler that fell to the floor, she felt someone's presence. When she looked up she saw the invalid. He was staring fixedly at her. She wanted to scream but something he was saying caught her attention.  He was muttering 'nnu... and was trying to touch her. She pushed the desk and ran outside to call Oga Sunday who she just heard the guttural sound of his motorcycle. When they got back, he was not there. Oga Sunday gave her the look of one who had 'Ara', shook his head and sat down on one of the long benches.
          As she made to sit down, she heard Oga's beat up phone scream. He picked and made a gesture to tell her the call was her. Still shocked, she took the phone from him and placed it on her ear. She heard the faint husky voice that resembled her teenage brother's and asked

"Onyi?"

"Aunty?" he asked in reply.

His voice had a touch of eeriness to it.

"Ogini?" She asked.

He was sobbing.

"Aunty, Mama Nnukwu éjemé go".
       The phone and her entire world came crashing down beside her. The silence that would keep her awake later, was deafening. She stood up and started walking out of the office. She heard Sunday saying something or was it shouting? it didn't matter to her now.

She was done.

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