ADILIKE’S MELANCHOLY YEARS (Short Story)

Posted: August 6, 2014 in PROSE
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by Chris Tilewa

Adilike returned home one afternoon, when the town was yet to recover from a prurient occurrence that appeared to everyone as the remuneration of some angry god, because though they still wondered what the sin was. They consider it an horrible omen to have a man killed by a wall. A group of young men were found dead that morning in a collapsed building, one of them identified as the owner of the only barbershop in Ibinaboh street, another a son of a landlord. Nobody knows anything about the remaining two men. When Adilike arrived at his door and Dorcas; his wife, came to receive him she got frozen with disbelief, and tears in no time began to gather in her eyes at the twisted form he had become: a bony figure with a dwindled left eye. She held on a knack of the denial that it was her husband that stood before her, for a fleeting moment she wished that the man, this stranger, was only a passing beggar that would soon turn on his way, but the man was not just standing there as it were, he was waiting. Waiting to be received in by his forlorn wife. And he seemed indifferent to not only his wife’s obvious shock, but also to the curious stares of neighbours who watched from safe distance. His frame had shrunk and his mind numb from three years of deplorable ordeal. And that was how he would live the rest of his life, oblivious of everything but the warmth of the people he loved the most: his wife and his only child and daughter. His memory had been reduced to a selected chain of emotions because he had lost the capacity to remember anything on his own.

Adilike had not always been that way–grotesque and eccentric. He was an honourable illiterate who put great importance in family, and was of the belief that whatever height he was insufficient to reach in his own time, his children, in their time, will reach it and beyond, and he was ready to give everything to see that happen. Other men’s wives were caught back-biting that Adilike was a man who knows how to love a woman if only he had one final thing to his dear heart, –money. He wasn’t wretched however, neither was he slothful. After he was laid off together with hundreds of menial workers by a construction company because the Arabs who owned the company were returning home. All effort to get another job proved futile, so he took up farming on a piece of land not far from his home. His wife had consecutive miscarriages trying to give birth to another child which he had so much prayed would be a male, since the first they had was a female, but for fear of losing his wife to that pretext, he had decided they were going to put a stop to child-bearing. He made the solemn promise of providing for his only daughter, Nkechi, with the resources required to be all the male child he didn’t have could be. And things went well for them until life dealt him a blow that took everything.

It happened one quiet evening that Adilike rested on a wooden armchair at the corridor of his house reading the evening news when he heard sobs of a familiar voice. When he looked at the direction, it was Nkechi crawling home like a demented child, dragging herself on her side because her limbs, which were smeared with blood caked with a cluster of sand, had lost strength, and her anus burned. The sight left him struck he didn’t see her young breasts barely covered by a blouse that was torn on her, that her face that used to have all its features distinct- startling eyes, explicit nose that ran between two defiant cheekbones, and her well chiselled lips- had been beaten to a pulp. Only the compassion in her cry penetrated his devastation, and when he started to take notice of these things his own limbs began to tremble and he fell back into his chair, tears dropped from his wild eyes and trickled down his face in one lonely thread. But Dorcas who had also heard the sobs from the kitchen where she shelled melons ran outside and was also as crushed by what she saw as her husband, but she seemed to have a heart to take the blow; the renitent heart that women cultivate, perhaps, from the lonely, painful moment of childbirth. She charged towards her helpless child to grab her, and because she had grown too big to be picked up, she sat by her and held her head to her chest as she cried for heaven’s help. It reached the neighbours and they gathered to show their sympathy.

Rage burnt up Adilike’s heart and ate into his reasoning so much that it didn’t occur to him to do something in contribution to Nkiru’s convalescence. All that his blind anger stirred inside him was the instinct to get hold of whoever raped his daughter, to clutch at his throat and gash it a thousand times with a hatchet. On that same night of his daughter’s violation, he took to the streets, one after another, holding a cutlass, mad with rage, screaming:
‘That imbecile who did that to my daughter better show himself, or there shall be a mass burial in this town.’
The street was quiet and nobody dared shut him up, every household listened in their closed doors with pity and fear. The next morning the neighbourhood would wake up to the death of two boys, both of their heads split by gunshot. And everybody that heard of the deaths thought first of Adilike.

The community youth went on rampage, lamenting about the mysterious death. Armed with planks, machetes and palm-fronds as a sign of their angry protest which they made with songs of grief, they headed to Adilike’s house to rummage his house for the gun he must have used, and to make him account for his deed. But at the time, Adilike was already on his way out of town. He had heard the news of the murder early enough to flee before light. They searched fruitlessly for him. No one was in the house, even his wife, who though did not also flee, was not there; she had gone with her daughter where she had been taken for medical attention, far away from vilification. After the bedlam dissipated and enough air had passed to allow considerable investigations of the murder, doubts arose about whether Adilike did kill the boys. It was found that the mess made of them was by the discharge of a Mauser; an arm that even the police in that town did not have. This caused the people to begin to lose interest because it had lost element of saga.

Three years passed, other outrageous occurrences had happen and Adilike’s scandal had become only a fading blot in the memory of the people from whom life demanded too much to allow the luxury of distant recollection that didn’t hold any relevance or exigency. Adilike spent three years wandering, running from what had stop pursuing him.

His friend, Adeoti, a man in his late forties whose reason for still being a bachelor was something nobody bothered finding out, and who was also laid off by the construction company Adilike used to work for, took him in, and was prepared to have him as long as eternal. But Adilike suffered such great torment from the heartbreak of the unfortunate evening that it vitiated his hold of reality and rendered him useless for any communal good. He couldn’t sleep when others slept, he stayed up every night muttering unintelligible words. His insomnia began to eat up his memory, and the bitterness he nurtured inside grew enormously into a demon that took residence in his head, persuading him and whispering upsetting suggestions to him.

One of the few nights that he happened to sleep, his friend, Adeoti, awoke and saw him writhing as if he was being tortured in his dream. Adeoti contemplated on whether to wake him. His bad dream must be a result of the several days he had gone without sleep, he thought. But on a second thought, because the sight before him was becoming eerily unbearable he reached out an arm and gave Adilike a soft tap. Like lightening, before he could blink, Adilike snapped awake, madly gnashing on Adeoti’s index finger. When all effort to cut himself loose proved futile, Adeoti, amid seering pain and desperate instinct, began to scramble about, but like a divine intervention, something came down crashing on Adilike’s head, bathing him with wet soil. A huge, abandoned clay vase that sat on a ledge in a corner of the room had been toppled in their struggle together. Adilike went numb that instant and when he seemed to have gained enough strenght to look up, his eyes showed thick shadows moving, clearing out of it into the dying flickers of the kerosene lamp that lit the room. His eyes was an evidence, a window to a restive soul. So pronounced was the transfiguration that Adeoti lost sense of his own pain to his beffudlement. Through a pot of moistened soil, the man with a demon has been touched by God.
That morning, before day’s light, Adilike made a tranquil journey home.
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Chris Tilewa is a young Nigerian, a creative writer, social critic, and lover of aesthetics. He writes fictions, poetry and non fictions. You may wish to join him on Facebook: Chris Tilewa, or on Twitter @krislucid.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

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Comments
  1. Anene Francis says:

    Very nice story. Well done mr Chris… Actions and Utterances made in angry can really cause one a lot of trouble afterwards.
    I could not connect the collapsing of building with the the other parts. This must be part of a bigger story… Subscribing.
    (Do check some misplaced punctuations therein, for easier comprehension.)

  2. LegendaryCJN says:

    This is a great write, and I believe it can still be given a little flavour. There are no cohesion or serious link between the beginning and the rest of the story, especially the ‘fallen wall’ ish…unless it was meant only a detour. Then there are some misplaced punctuation and mistakes in concord. For instance, “an horrific” doesn’t sound right at all. In all, I quite enjoyed it. Keep writing, keep improving. You are good after all.

  3. LegendaryCJN says:

    This is a great write, and I believe it can still be given a little flavour. However, there are no cohesion or serious link between the beginning and the rest of the story, especially the ‘fallen wall’ ish…unless it was meant only as a temporal detour. Then there are some misplaced punctuation and mistakes in concord. For instance, “an horrific” doesn’t sound right at all. In all, I quite enjoyed it. Keep writing, keep improving. You are good after all.

  4. Ezeamalukwuo says:

    Nice work Mr Chris, Do keep it up.

  5. Noel Ijezie says:

    This is cool.. I was lost in reading and forgot the candle I lit in front of me had eaten into the wooden table on which it was placed… Keep the ink flowing dude…-Noel

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