How I Wake Up At The Backseat,
Asking God When?

Samuel Nnadi

© Copyright 2020 by Samuel Nnadi

Photo of the author.

M Tonight, the sky may not womb a high-spirited cloud on her seatbelt, but it promises the universe & the moon in her front seat a smooth ride. God dabbles in a tiny dew pegged to the Milky way, but nobody believes this still, that i was born a margin thumbed to the rim of a paper so the whole world can imagine. I am yet to reconcile the question marks in me, to notice that in a world that prints us as postcards there is nothing like a misfired shot, broke responses that wouldn't foot the bills, not even flower to make up for overused phrases as "yours sincerely". Now i know why we all grew starved of love & the hate it gives. Here i am, drenched in the silence embroiled on my windowsill, eavesdropping a conversation our windmill holds with her fins.

In the stream beside our ghetto you could almost hear the fishes' gnashing of teeth on the surface of a stagnant water. This they say is everything-- the moment when you remember hell & it's gown of brimstone which isn't the second death for me, since i die everyday on the highway of my dreams. But just like everyone, i wish to outlive this moments too, to run back in time with the hope of forgetting my footprints on it's sand. if not for anything, to reshuffle the playlist life slams against the birthmarks on my paws. I told God one of my attempts to die; the rage in his elbow adjusts my sleeves.

How not to die is one talent the breeze around here do not cherish, even when it is a witness to the fact that i never walked into a lifetime without first costing her manual. The star is a gorgeous thing when filed in between God's finger nails, disguised as a heap of cloud. It takes the form of an amputated oyster begging for its limbs, although it's sharp edges reminds us of the pocketknife used for it's surgery, of human amputees wrestled into orphanages, of resembling the stars & everything that has it's fingers in different sizes: the secondhand fan plugged into the eardrum of our ceiling, the fork & it's long braid of steel, the rusty bunch of keys well tucked into a tattered wristband won during a promo in my sister's company. She was the only one lucky enough to be gifted that on her sendoff.

I relistened to the lyrics in Bradley Cooper's shallow , & wasn't surprised at how much he too shared my unhappiness in this modern world. The tiredness that comes with filling life's void, her depth & how we dive into it without even breaking new grounds. The instrumental unfurls into my brother's room, or how do i say this— that i must have skipped him on my playlist. i download my scars from a reliable site. Being broke is enough, i do not wish to be responsible for any loved one sounding like a broken record beside me. I have two men in my life whose flesh were eaten up by their bones. Hunger was the signature phrase, so you know how men learnt not to grow beyond their age & still die in our memories for ages. I have all hit tracks of my life on repeat & it almost feels like passing the same signpost all the time. This is the part where we wake up every morning looking out of our window, asking God like school children in the backseat do, 'aren't we there yet?’ We all have our times, but why must my own clock be faulty. why do i have to hit & hit before it ticks and suddenly gasp for breath?

I remember waiting for my admission. i remember, & an institution weeps in between my lips. In my 100level, i was the life of the party, the noise crashing into every night class, the voice behind most conversation that fades with the smoke in a suya joint. A vibe polished into ribs & joints: i was the bone-of-contention in every rumor making waves around my faculty. That a boy was young, yummy, averagely tall, with a good sense of fashion, unique taste for humor & creative writing for toppings, was a hive of the most beautiful girls in our class cubing me into shy compliments. There was no swimming trunk that didn't taste our body, no cinema that didn't keep our mouth busy with popcorns & audio commentaries.

My 200 level came as an unfixed match. That was when i had my first carryover, my first crush, first kiss & then depression came like Judas is callous. I have this one bad habit, i do not share with loved ones a thing I do not know how it started. But I knew it all started from my mother's purse & eating less. From having nothing to riddle me out of the little fees for handouts & the migraine of ignorant girls on the class rep's desk, whispering their matric numbers that plays a number of tricks in my ears-- ransacking me for past glories. It all started from dodging friends, keeping fewer companies, running back to the hostel after lectures, affording a lodge full of monks & celibates. It started with spending that extra time in the library where the struggles became known in hardcovers, in missed calls & just poetry. My whole life got hacked into, & was programmed into a 24-hours grief stricken routine. Strangers saw me on the road & called me a librarian, & truth is life became too boring not to have a special sit under an air condition-- cleanly shaved, with an empty notepad begging you for things that tray words, keeping you handsfree, away from assignments & coursemates. i still cannot bring myself to tell you how the carry-overs rolled into my penultimate year. At that time, i wished my life came with a price tag, my parents would have been too broke to foot the bills. i wished every breath came with a changeover, i would be running out of gas by now. But life has an unnoticeable method of refilling us in a way nobody sees as rehabilitation.

In my psyche, i feel my father barge into me, pointing accusing fingers, blaming our last born for interrupting a life he had barely lived. i had never seen him master such rage until now, until i noticed my mother's quiet posture shooing her away. My sister leaves the room, the silence is loud. This is when i make out with God, when i smooch heaven's neck to get rid of the parasite humming the dirge in my name, when my fingers takes their rightful place close to a halved moon, to resemble the half baked portrait coronated on every masjid or a child's soft head bulging out of the sky's abdomen. Do not be surprised how i know to give birth, i am a mother too, about to conceive each time you find me bedridden-- booking every of my rejection mails for antenatal. i never skip an appointment with my editor, knowing that this too is one huge step towards motherhood. i wish to word my whole body, to survive every edit the critics makes of me. My talent comes out a stillbirth as i mention this. The life support in my ward sends her condolence in a wild belch, every other thing grew diabetic, & made my life bear the synonym to these problems.

Just last week, two of my dreams were laid to waste in a heap of powdered yuca. I burn to go back to these moment-- a rare opportunity to make my dreams swell. Today, i stand close to my own cremains, to diagnose the dust in my windpipe, to perceive loss in the stench of my breath. i live in the shades of my previous wins. Every darkness i gain; a newer move towards avoiding suicide. i sit here, loaning every bulb my shine, every curtain my life span, every housefly my death wish. Moping on my shadow, the halved moon seems a tambourine, the cloud picks her up to file the tingling metals graced to her hips. The only thing that reads like black magic here is the bluing of the sky. This being said, i beg to be zodiac signs: the only satellite dish that premiers me into twelve animes, to be a wallet of rainbow— the only broken tray that dishes the multiverse for a sunbath. i feel the harshness of the cloud towelling me into a familiar bareness, salting bits of my entirety into an infamous Sodom.

I am only a paragraph yanked out from the body of a comprehensive town called home-- a place i do not wish to host my mother & her incessant need for money, or my father & his constant daydreams of making it at sixty. On Sunday, my father lies a little longer in bed, tossing around uneasily, wishing for a new family, wishing he never wakes up to my habit of not greeting him, & my mother's curse words on my sister— the one who makes her twelve-year-old stand around the kitchen. Sometimes, she hisses at mum, body shams her rumpled stomach for stressing through a surgical operation, for filing an unsilvered spoon in between her teeth to stop the convulsion foaming into her childhood at a very tender age.

In the bathroom, she runs the tap loud enough to commit a sacrilege, to call my mother stupid & foolish for baking a cake and keeping half of it as her snack for a school i do not wish for her to set a foot in. In my sleep, i hear her call my mother names. i hear her so often that it hurts my dreams to know how a girl of thirteen could have bore words that heavy in her womb for more than nine months & conceived them in our presence, without fearing for her school or feeding. I think my mother as a black Rihanna, too drunk in love, too patient with things she once loved but grew to hate. I own a very small portion of this love inside of me, & it makes me too weak to play elder brother, too blunt to pat her naked cheeks with toothpicks & the razor blades my father made too common with his constant shaves, too hungry for success to stay whiling away time, teaching a matured girl how to cherish a figure that feeds her. Not like feeding is a big deal after all, but i grew depressed having to starve all day in school.

I still can't bring myself to fufilling this new year's resolution— to die somewhere in my last words, a faint coma just below the careless comma you care less to see. where no one questions the dots i am made of, or my tiny presence in the pulse of every girl obsessed with star signs.

In our one room, i can hear my father whispering something to my mother, the albatross around his throat scolding him for being less a man. This is one time nature speaks to me the most— that i'm 21 & too old to be resting at home on weekends. He calls this my weak-end, saying our family's needs are too numerous not to work on a Sabbath-day. We live on the outskirts of our dreams in a barbaric continent that wears a crop top to a world photoshoot. This is not me blaming my mother for lacking birth control, or father for chasing after music instead of the crispy noise that naira wads makes.

God screams at me, calls me an introvert, even when he wears a graver silence to most of my prayers. it's past twelve, a lady taps me at the back hoping i could seat my grief away from the backbench, so it doesn't spill over— sounding just like another overused semester.

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