Where Are We?
by Doose Ahua
I take a break from scrolling through my Facebook feed. Every post has a #COVID-19 #quarantine #isolation or #socialdistancing tag. I go to the water fountain and refill my water bottle. I have come to love the sound of the water flowing into my water bottle. It’s a refreshing reminder that I still have things to be thankful for. My appetite has decreased these past few days, but I drink a lot of water to prevent the headaches. It helps. I go to the window and part the curtains just a little bit. I don’t like how the rays of light pierce through from outside, reminding me that I have to stay inside. I take a gulp from my water bottle, remembering that last day when everything took a different turn.
The silence was intense, disturbing. The sky seemed darker. People had been running helter-skelter, groping for things they were almost losing. Someone knocked the big bowl over and water rushed down the narrow path, taking tiny pairs of shoes and other items littered about with it. A toddler sitting by the mango tree called out “Mama! Mama! Mama”. His voice was shrill, but the panic in his eyes even louder. It broke my heart, even now.
His little sister stood, wide-eyed, hands akimbo, wondering what was causing the chaos and panic. A man rushed out of one building with a pile of books. He looked like he had a white-collar job. He opened the backseat of the SUV parked by the tree, threw the books inside and slammed the door shut. He hesitated, unsure of going into the car. He threw a glance in the direction of the building he had come from before he jumped in and drove off. The three ladies, coming from a distance, were apparently oblivious to the chaos on this end. Suddenly, they stopped, took off their heels and raced in the direction the SUV had gone. A wig fell off. She slowed down, turned back to pick it up and continued running without bothering to put it back on her head.
I sighed when the boy’s mother came and picked him up. I remember, her head wrap had fallen off her head and her wrapper hung loosely about her. She used the edge of her head wrap to wipe his tears and clean the wetness that was trickling down his nose. Then the wrapper fell off leaving her in a black satin slip. She flung him on her back, picked the wrapper and strapped him securely to her back. Once done, she lifted the basket that was still filled with the goods she had apparently intended to sell that day. She balanced it on her head, grabbed the little girl by the arm and hurried away. The little girl slipped and fell on the muddy path. Mother yanked her by the arm and kept going, half walking, half running. The patch on her yellow dress from the red sand and water looked like a patch of blood.
The sound of sirens was deafening. The vans came into view eventually, three of them. They sped past going in the opposite direction the SUV and the three ladies had gone. I still hear the sirens every now and then. I am not sure if it is coming from my head or from outside. I glance at my watch; it is almost noon and it is dead silent outside. I let the curtain fall, walk away from the window back to the spot on the couch that has become a warm dent just over the past three weeks. I pick up my phone. I sigh, wondering when I’ll see people outside my window again.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DOOSE AHUA is a Nigerian. She considers home wherever there’s a bed to sleep, food to eat and scraps she can make things out of. She is a compelling storyteller. She believes stories are an ensemble of the bits and pieces of our brokenness and in writing we find connections, we create bonds, build relationships and heal not just ourselves but the people who relate to our pieces, our world. She understands stories as a weapon of enlightenment, liberation. She also relies on creative writing as a very helpful outlet for dealing with personal issues. Literature is one of the many aspects of art she is passionate about. She currently works as an Art teacher at Dakar Academy – a missionary school in Senegal where she guides students in developing and nurturing their creative abilities and using the same expressively. Her friends describe her as quiet, thoughtful, creative, always smiling, strong and kind. She aspires to share stories that people can read, relate to and heal where there is hurt.