Flowing into homes is one thing I detest the most. The last time I did, not a decade ago, not some few years back, not even some months ago, but yesterday, just yesterday, many tears flowed into me, increasing my volume.
You may not get it, but it is not funny, not even nice, housing tables and chairs instead of fishes and fishes. Televisions do not swim well and foams get soaked with me, then in me and then weighs me down. Bemedaled pictures and bespectacled faces I take off walls, burying the smiles they wear and carrying away with me the memories of the people from whose homes I got these collections – people who are now homeless.
Nobody enjoys taking away memories of people and leaving them with nightmares. Nobody enjoys bringing down houses, leaving children homeless and carting away the elderly’s staffs. Nobody, not me, nor my sister Ice, enjoys carrying away bloated bodies of dear humans, on their back as they make journeys they never planned to make. When I get homeless, whenever I am out on this journey which I do not wish to embark on, it is never my wish to transfer my homelessness to humans. It is never my wish to add human tears to my volume, but I am an unwilling undertaker, the one who delivers the final blow even with my hands cuffed behind my back.
This morning, I am lonely. There are no lovers to tread through my shallow waters and make promises to one another. I will never leave you; our love will be as cool as this water upon which we tread; I will always be with you, live with you, and die with you. There are no children to splash my waters on one another; not even people in their undies lying at my banks – art in its finest and purest form – to adore. I’m just here, a pool lying in a pool of its tears.
So, I think. I think of the young couple I met last night when I went on this journey over which I have no control; this journey that has now left me lonely. I can remember how the lush black Afro hair felt on my body as I flowed through it. I wanted to caress it, but I was in a haste, so I just felt it. I can still hear the girl’s scream when I hit her back. It was a sound my waters provided a barrier to its making, making her to gulp the decibels, but for me, it is still loud and clear. A shriek, panicked fear, of death of drowning, of lovemaking turning into death making.
I increased in volume though I didn’t like the taste of the fluid that flowed into me. I thought I was salty. I never knew that describing myself as salty was an insult to salt, to saltiness. That fluid I’m sure should it be allowed to dry, will find itself in Mama Ngozi’s soup.
You know Mama Ngozi, don’t you? Well, I know her. I know how her soup tastes. Don’t look at me like that, I’ve flown into many homes and I don’t choose which room to enter, and which not to. So, you see, not even the kitchen is out of bounds. Mama Ngozi cooked a potful of Egwusi soup the day I entered.
Now that I think of it, maybe Ngozi had refused to eat the soup, likewise Papa Ngozi. If that was the case, I don’t blame any of them. Who cooks salt with oil and calls it soup?
Ngozi was asleep in her room when I entered with Papa Ngozi counting the day’s earnings next to her. I don’t knock twice before I enter any house, just a bang and I am in. Somehow, they managed to keep Ngozi away from me; somehow, they couldn’t keep themselves away from me. Together with the soup, the Naira notes scattered all over me and their furniture, they flowed with me to a place I do not know, a place I myself dread.
And Ngozi? I hear they now call her Greater for surviving the mishaps that killed part of her: her parents. I know she will grow up to be a beautiful girl, dazzling like the sun that warms my back and the gems I once housed. I know her beauty will supersede that of that girl who I disrupted with her lover. I wish she gets to run her fingers through hair as lush as that of that girl’s lover and kiss lips so shapely formed, pink, inviting and tantalizing. I may not have control over my movements but I’d rather dry up than invade her home just like I did those lovers.
Wait, something I carried last night just glowed in me. Oh, how this reminds me of my most beloved child, the deep-sea Anglerfish. You see, that’s my child, the one that never leaves my bosom no matter how deep I may go. Now, my children are not the most peaceful but I must tell you that they’re friendly, just that sometimes, one needs to deceive to receive. So, when he glows, he does so to entice his younger siblings who in their own efforts to eat, will be misled to think of the glowing light as a tasty treat and swim towards him. You can tell the rest of the story yourself once you don’t forget to add that the seeker of dinner is now the dinner.
But where is he now? Well, he’s where others are. Either in a soup pot, or in a grave dug by nitrates and phosphates, fed to them by humans even when they didn’t ask for it. Some of my children lost their heads in plastic cups and bags. Daily, industries count money while I count my children’s corpses. If this continues, I may soon be a childless mother and many other children like Greater will be parentless. That’s not me taking revenge; that’s humans using me as a tool to self-destruct; that’s humans pushing me into the homes of those who can’t afford high walls.
It’s one of these human products glowing. They call it a phone. This one seems to be more advanced than the others. The others always shut their eyes once they take a sip from my belly, but here is this one, glowing, mocking my powerlessness over it.
This is an example of human’s ability to advance their technology. In their stupidity, they use these technologies to create more problems for their selves, rather than solving the already existing ones.
Let me check what the humans are saying about me. Don’t look at me like that. Years of having many of them deposited into me have taught me how to use them. Is this not Greater’s picture? Oh, you don’t even know Greater. Look, she’s fighting for my survival. Oh, she’s making me cry. I always knew that that girl has a good heart. Others in her situation had pointed their fingers at me, blaming me for their misfortunes, but here she is, fighting for my survival.
Let’s work together and save our planet, she said here. Look at this one. She has refused to fly in order to draw attention to the harm carbon emissions cause to her environment. Wonderful. This girl is blowing my mind. She’s sailing on my elder brother, Atlantic, not minding the harm my family had caused her. And here she says, when we value money over the environment and cause global warming that melts our ice caps, the environment we’ve violated will flood us away, with our money!
Ice will be happy to hear this. You know, sometimes when she melts, she thinks I’m the one doing it in order to get her to be like me, so she comes fighting me. Space matters in our fight so we overflow our banks, into roads and homes.
Bia, who’s that guy with the Afro haircut near Greater? His lips remind me of that male lover whose home I invaded. Hmmm. Nke a dikwa ka re-incarnation oo. This guy looks exactly like a younger version of that one. He’s called Raphael here, and this is what he said:
From the minute a person chooses not to use a plastic cup or straw at a café to the minute a person decides to join a protest to hold big companies and decision-makers to account. Each minute is an opportunity for positive change of our planet.
Wow, what a wonderful line of thought and look at him hugging Greater and being cheered by the other children around them. I think the children are rising to save their futures from the hands of old men who are ready to eat it. They’re saving their environment, themselves, their children and their children’s children.
Sorry I didn’t tell you my name earlier. I’m called Ocean.
This is my story.