Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Cradle......iv




When the military finally invaded The Cradle, everything around Tade seemed to pause and it felt like time and even things concrete were trapped in unmoving space. And in that entrapment, that seemed to take form as a round ball, everything shook and spun around him. It was raining heavily that day, and from the entrance of the housing estate, hecould here the skidding sound of their tires on the wet tar. The sound of their rifles hitting their trucks and vans , sent chill streams of fear down Tade and everyone’s body. Tade looked out of the window and past the row of buildings unto the Liberation Stadium that stood behind the white oblivious sky.
He saw that the sun made the clouds and everything around glisten in yellow, as it shed itself onto earth. The view, its rejecting people and expanse made him smile as they headed to the entrance of the estate to form a blockade against the military from entering into The Cradle, their home. They all filed out of the building and walked directly to the entrance, with rain dropping on their skins and on tar and releasing drum beats to their songs of solidarity.

Tade had tried to convince Afeni not to join the opposing group that decided to fight for the Cradle-'that they believed in and had laid down so much for'-even if it came down to them using their hands and weapons. He had grabbed her wrists, that night, in her fits of rage, and tried to calm her down. He begged her to join his group that believed peace would be the only way to resolve their problems.

“Peace! you talk to me about peace in this time. What is all this to you Tade? Just your way of separating yourself from the rest of society? Or because you’re the rebellious kind?"

“Afeni, please listen”

“Oh, this is your smart way of reinforcing your superiority over common folks? Look,
this to me is what my life means to me …and to lose The Cradle, is to lose myself” she had lamented and then finally declared “I will fight anyone who dare taint anything I believe in”. Tade had watched Afeni free her slim wrists from his grip and walk out of the room and his life.

They all came down the rain-glistened road, with their fingers pressed together in prayer position. From the view of anyone standing on the military side, with the bullet-proof clad and rifle-yielding soldiers, one would see a group of men and women in drenched clothes, their eyes vacant yet hopeful, walking down the road as if praying. The soldiers announced through their loud speakers, to the praying crowd, to stand back, else risk being shot down. The praying people then stood a few meters away from the soldiers, forming a blockade into The Cradle. Their arms were no longer in prayer position but the crook of their elbows were now linked together. The military barked their warnings again, still the crowd did not move. Then the soldiers moved ahead, using the rifles to break the blockade. They went smashing and slashing, all with intent of breaking this human blockade.

Tade felt the butt of a rifle hit him hard on his chin. He saw blood and its redness around his shoes and on the tar. And as he still linked the crook of his elbow with his neighbor’s, he felt the wind increase the pain of his open wound. But he still held on,even lifting his neighbor who fell to the ground, when the butt of a gun struck him on the stomach. Soon, the blockade began to break as the army began to hit hard with the aid of tear gas.

There was a wet and smoky whiteness over Tade, as he felt the grit of the wet tar on his cheek. He lay on the floor, his eyes barely opened and everything appeared so distorted. Then he saw a face and tried to discern if the image he saw was real. The blue eyes changed to grey as he watched, through the smoky whiteness, and theskin had the color of hay. It was when this strange image pointed something held in front of its right eye to Tade’s face and a purple-white flash escaped from it, that Tade knew it was some foreign reporter. As his eyes closed and he felt he was sinking endlessly into some chasm formed around the wet tar, he wondered if there were any Nigerian reporters covering the incident.

A ball hit his trousers, smearing mud on one leg. He looked at the child, who stood at the other compound, where he had been playing football. The child watched Tade apologetically, at the same time curiously. Tade glanced at the smear of round-edged square patterns on one leg of his trousers and then turned to the child. He tossed the ball at him. The child would normally have uttered a ‘sorry’, but to this strange man or boy who stood for so long in front of a building, he thought better. Tade looked at the building, where The Cradlelites had last gathered and divided into the groups that would fight with arms or peace. It was here that he had last seen Afeni and then he remembered what he had read in the papers on what the government had done to the terrorists that attacked its offices and sent threats. Although, they had all being arrested, he still knew of the ones with rich parents like Afeni, who were bailed out and sent off to other countries. He had not spoken to her yet and he missed her. It was already three months after they had being forced out of this place and it was already filling up with families.

Tade turned away from the building and hopped onto an Okada, he had waved down. As the wind rushed by him in that right speed that had the effect of making one feel the ability to hover and view one's life and choices from a bird’s eye view, he thought about the absurdity of having a Bohemian community in Nigeria. Though this thought had roamed in his head, since the fall of The Cradle, he did not regret his experience there. He was happy that he had been in The Cradle, when he was coming of age, defining and painting a portrait of himself. And yes, when all was done, he was content with the portrait he saw.

20 comments:

AlooFar said...

Afolabi,

I want to read all the stories from the beginning before making comments.

How are you?

Afolabi said...

@ I'm doin alright..how u doin?
Feel free to read the stories and I await your comments.

Buttercup said...

i officially love ur blog!!

i really enjoyed the series..

Mogaji said...

stopped by cause you stopped by mine shall read the whole series then comment. But bohemian in Nigeria that would be interesting

Waffarian said...

Read the whole thing. Very interesting...cos I used to live in a collective...nothing as action filled as "the cradle" but enough domestic squabbles and love triangles! hehehehehee.

Waffarian said...

Oh, and not in Nigeria.

Afolabi said...

@ buttercup- I'm glad you enjoyed the stories, and welcome to my blog, hope you enjoy my posts.

@ mogaji- I hope you have a good read, and I await your comment.

@ Waffarian- I was excited when you claimed that you lived in a 'collective, cos I thought it was in Nigeria, I was really curiousal to know what city this place was in. But then got disappointed on finding it's not in Nigeria, and like the stories,it's going to be very difficult to have a Bohemian community in Naija.

Allied said...

It will indeed be very difficult to have a Bohemian community in Naija. Of course you know their behavior would be coined "demonic spirit"- everything is of spirit in Nigeria.

Even I, will be weary of such alien culture. No rules therefore lawless... ahh, that is indeed war.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

lol @ Allied. I was thinking the exact same thing, my sista.

Another nice one. That little boy playing football that didn't quite apologize. Will we meet him again?

Afolabi said...

@ allied- I apologize for the late reply. LOL at your comment. For things some people do not or want to understand, they deem demonic...

@solomonsydelle- I dey o, I've not just had access to the internet for a while now.
Thanks for your comment. It's surprising, that you have an interest with the young boy. But who knows, he might inspire my next story.

Afolabi said...

@ allied- I apologize for the late reply. LOL at your comment. For things some people do not or want to understand, they deem demonic...

@solomonsydelle- I dey o, I've not just had access to the internet for a while now.
Thanks for your comment. It's surprising, that you have an interest with the young boy. But who knows, he might inspire my next story.

Allied said...

Haba!!! No update?

Afolabi said...

@ allied---I'm trying to write and put up a good post, but the problem is time. I'm just busy now trying to sort thing's out. But I'm hoping I'll put up something before this week's end.

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