There are some things in this life can not be explained by logic or reasoning.
The following body of words are based loosely on real events.
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Incipience: the state of beginning to come into existence…
The first sounds that greeted Dapo as he came to were the mellow beats of a bass drum. The beats were rhythmic and powerful, full of energy and life. Each pounding boom seemed to stir the core of his soul from a state of rest to wakefulness with intent to rouse him from the darkness around him. He felt like he was listening to the bass drum-line solo of a marching song!
He opened his eyes to an overwhelming darkness that was as warm and comforting as it was terrifying.
‘Where am I?”
He could hear nothing other than the bass beat that was boom-booming in his head and a silent rumble of thunder that shook the darkness in which he lay.
He moved his hands to wipe his face and try to move himself into a sitting position; his hands, however, had a limited range of motion. This was a result of the debilitating weakness that drained him of strength and, more importantly, the stifling pressure of the viscous liquid in which he lay that was pushing on him from every angle.
His first thought was to push to his feet and swim to the surface, but he was too weak.
He could only move slowly in the thick pressure of the body of water that seemed reluctant to release him. It seemed more viscous than any body of water he had ever swum in.
‘What is going on?’ Dapo thought to himself, wondering what to make of his watery resting place or the thickness of the waters around him. As he pondered, a small thought popped in his head:
‘The deeper you go in the sea, the higher the pressure acting against you!’
To this mind numbing thought, Dapo gave his choicest words of fear, ‘HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!!’
Earlier that day…
Dapo had gone to see his girl, Tosin, with a small box of chocolate. He had a long day of activities planned for them that day because not only was it her birthday, it was also February 16th, which so happened to be a Saturday. He had two sets of gifts for her, birthday and Valentine’s. As much as he would have loved to be with her on Valentine’s Day, it was not an acknowledged holiday so there was little he could do about that. She was going to receive a double portion of care and affection on her birthday and he was prepared to do just that.
First, they saw a movies at Ikeja Shopping Mall, after which, he bought her a pair of Gucci shoes (which were more expensive than everything he was wearing at the moment), on their way out, they bought some drinks and pizza and made their way to Elemo beach. They got there just before sunset when all the kids had gone home and the adult came out to play.
Francis, his cousin, and some other work colleagues met up with him at the beach and together they drank and danced and celebrated Tosin’s birthday. Before long, they were swimming the open seas and rough-housing. Someone came up with a genius idea of body surfing and to their alcohol-dulled senses, it sounded like a great idea.
It was not!
It was only a matter of time before someone got hurt and that someone was him. Dapo had been having a great time letting the waves toss him around and fling him onto shore. He ignored the chaffing of his private places by the sand in the swift moving water; he ignored the bruising in his knees and elbows.
His bell was rung by a small outcropping of a rock that was originally too deep to be a bother to anyone, but a powerful wave dragged the drunken swimmer deeper than he had ever gone. While he could not see the rocky mass in the darkness of the night, he certainly felt his head crack against it.
There was an intense wave of pain, then nothing.
Panic set in as he manually took control of his senses. He did not have time to feel weak or let the pressure of the water slow him down, he had to get to safety fast! He pushed his limbs with all the strength he could muster, ignoring the weakness that convinced him to remain in the depths.
‘No!’ He cried as he tasted some salty water go down his throat. ‘Not like this! I have to get back to Tosin!’
Tosin was just a little girl of 17 years when he met her six months ago, a first year student in the University of Lagos where he worked as a junior lecturer. They were in different faculties and though he was nearly eight years older than her, she was the perfect woman for him.
He saw every part of her as beautiful; he loved the gap-teeth that peeked from behind her full lips when she smiled in that coy manner that seemed to boil his blood every time, he loved the heated defiance in her big expressive eyes every time he teased her of being young and naive, he even loved the two-inch gashes that stood resolutely on each cheek (the tribal marks of the Ibadan people). Every part of her was perfect in his eyes.
Dapo had made all the necessary arrangements with her father; they agreed that she was a little too young to marry, as such; they decided that they would set the wedding for her final year. Dapo’s family was in support of the arrangement as well so no one frowned when the lovers enjoyed the comfort of the others’ company till late in the night.
“You are mine and I am yours for as long as I live”, this was the promise he made to her the day she accepted his ring.
‘I’m not dead yet!!!’
He swam upwards through the warm waters; each stroke was a herculean task, each kick felt like it would be his last, but he kept going. The steady turtle wins the race. He concentrated on his reward, Tosin. He knew she would be very worried if anything happened to him, he had to get back to her.
The bass drum solo was reaching a crescendo. The beat had climbed to a fevered tempo that seemed to fill Dapo with purpose. Every pounding beat filled his limbs with some sliver of strength allowing him to kick harder and push himself further.
The rumbling thunder had gotten louder as well. If earlier, it was a quiet whisper that accompanied the bass drum, it had risen to fortissimo (Very loud), and its slow larghetto pace had subtly risen, unnoticed, to a swift paced allegro!
There was a rumble for every boom and each seemed to be fighting to outdo the other in decibel value.
While Dapo did not mind the ambient music, he could do without the seismic activity that birthed the rumbling sounds as it displaced the water around him, making it difficult to achieve his goal.
After what seemed like an eternity in the darkness, Dapo saw a light ahead of him.
The darkness around the light faded to a light red that tended towards pink. Confused as he was, he was determined to make it out of the darkness.
In the next rumble, the darkness began its counterattack, fighting the intrusion of light on its territory. The light was pushed till it shrunk and flickered as though it was already in the last moments of its existence.
In the dying light, Dapo noticed long objects that coiled and danced in the water, not unlike seaweeds, he felt like they were moving to block his path.
‘Death! You miserable son-of-a-bitch!’
He was undeterred. He moved the seaweeds out of the way, taking care to not get entangled by them as he moved past, ignoring the almost sensual caresses they left on his torso and legs as he swam.
The darkness shuddered again, pushing down on him from all sides. The pressure he felt at the bottom of the sea felt like a bed of feathers compared to the crushing weight that was pushing down on him. The light that was so close to him now was getting dimmer and smaller. He felt like he was being locked out of the world of the living.
No light… No life… No Tosin…
Dapo roared in anger, so loud that the sound wave pushed back the watery pressure that held him captive and his body was his again to command. He pushed himself toward the light without any delay, making sure to travel as swiftly as possible before the darkness moved against him.
It was not the darkness that stopped him this time; it was the previously harmless seaweed that floated in the water. They suddenly came to life, whipping at his heels and torso, wrapping around him in constricting motions and holding fast. He paused long enough to extricate from his binds only to be held up by another mass of seaweeds.
By the time he was free of the seaweeds, the darkness had all but swallowed the light. An even heavier pressure pressed against him holding his still a few feet away from the light that was his ticket out of certain death. He hung in animated suspension in the comforting warmth of the fluid darkness, watching as the light, that was less than three feet away from his outstretched arm, diminished… faded… and then vanished!
His desperate cry opened his mouth and lungs to the salty waters that swiftly filled every inch of his body to bursting. He cried as he fought the finality of the inevitable death that awaited him. He was going to die and there was nothing that could be done about it.
The fast paced bass drum had slowed to an anti-climatic cadence that broke Dapo’s spirit with every dying beat. The rumbling thunder had also seized its roars and the only sounds that graced Dapo’s ears, as the darkness reclaimed him, was the fading boom of a tired bass drum soloist.
The solo was incomplete but Dapo would never hear it to its end.
‘I’m sorry Tosin…’
Silence reigned supreme in the dark waters as a lone seaweed rose from the depths and curled around Dapo’s ankle, slowly pulling him back to the bottom of the sea he had fought so hard to escape from.
A sudden shudder that dwarfed all others in its magnitude coursed through the darkness and an intense beam of light burst into the waters, ripping the unconscious man from depths. The darkness shuddered and roared and groaned as it fought the powerful intruder but it was overwhelmed by the shiny splendour that was light. The darkness wailed and belched a mass of bloody liquid as it chased after its prey but Dapo was gone from the scope of its reach.
A constant rumbling greeted Dapo’s ears as he came to wakefulness and as soon as he opened his eyes, he released a shrill scream.
An intense brightness robbed him of his sight and a heart-numbing chill pawed at him from every angle, causing him to shiver uncontrollably.
“NO!” He cried, “Take me back!”
He closed his eyes and curled himself in a foetal position to protect himself from the cold. For a few moments, he regretted fighting the comforting warmth that held him against his will, but he remembered his promise to Tosin and he regained some measure of calm.
The rumbling sounds slowly gave way to become voices; voices that seemed to be coming from far above him.
Voice 1: That’s why it was so difficult; he was entangled by the cord
Voice 2: She’s a very strong girl… they will be ok.
Voice 3: Tie the knot and cut it… quickly, they are both weak.
Voices 1&2: Yes sir!
“What is going on?” Dapo asked as he tried to open his eyes to get a sense of what was happening around him.
Tosin: Is he alright? I want to see him!
“TOSIN!!! I’m… WHOOO!”
His words were swallowed by an intense, albeit, shortlived feeling of vertigo and disorientation.
With a conscious effort, Dapo forced his eyes open and he was greeted by the most perfect face he had ever seen.
Big, round and expressive eyes that were hidden beneath a film of tears, full lips spread wide in a bright smile that revealed her gap-tooth. Her resolute tribal marks functioned as tracks for the endless stream of tears that poured down her face ceaselessly.
Dapo was, in that moment, more confused than he had ever been in his life and a series of questions were burning through his brain:
‘What the hell is going on here?’
‘Why can’t these people hear me?’
‘More importantly, how the hell is Tosin bigger than me?!’
Voice 3: Congratulation, you are the proud mother of a bouncing baby boy!
Tosin, whose hair was plastered to her face with sweat, was all smiles and giggles as tears and snot stained her perfect face.
Dapo, on the other hand, was horrified in shock and disbelief; he felt his entire world explode and in his helplessness, he cried as loud as his infant lungs could allow him, waving his little fists in impotent anger.
“UWAAAAA! UWAAAAAH!! UWAAAAAAH!!!”