When Malam Salisu died three months ago, he came back two days later. I saw them bury him, shrouded from head to toe with a white sheet and scented with frankincense. I saw when he was laid into the narrow grave as if his forty-two-year-old frame had become fragile as a baby's. And there, after we prayed, we all left him at the mercy of his deeds. How were we supposed to know that the man we buried will return to life, back to our world?
We were at the cemetery two days later to bury another deceased person when Malam Salisu returned. It was like a scene from Micheal Jackson's thriller video. The still-fresh grave shook as if struck by a mini earthquake. Then it cracked, and a hand came up. Kabiru yelped and pointed at it. The other hand emerged, with Salisu's muddy fingers dancing like tendrils of a windblown plant. No one could muster the courage to pull him out.
Malam Isah, the chief imam, sunk in the first shovel and excavated the soil while reciting prayers we only saw on his moving lips. Later, other fearless youths—not like me and Kabiru, joined the imam to dig him out. This man whom people had mourned, missed, and even cried for was alive again. How was that even possible?
Children stopped playing with Malam Salisu's kids, and they refused to run errands for his wife. Some cried when they ran into him on one of those solitary evening strolls he was now very fond of taking.
I saw him sit on his veranda every morning, with people gathered around, marvelling at the wonders they had only heard about; and seen in some fantasy movies.
"What happened to you? What did you see? Did you see anything or anyone there? Were you really dead? How did you come back from there? How?"
People asked a lot of questions they never got the answers to. All Malam Salisu did was to look over people's shoulders. And when he looked into their eyes, it was like he could see their destinies, their souls deep within them too. Once he looked at his wife like that, she packed her bags and her ten children and ran to her parents' house. She returned an hour later because her father, Malam Isah, would not tolerate that.
"Are you even my husband?" His wife had asked him when she returned." Are you even the father of my children? Are you? Are you even human?!" He had looked at her without saying a word, then walked to his room, leaving her questions unanswered.
He spoke for the first time the day he saw his wife crying on the veranda. Everyone saw her cry. We all knew she was helpless, but we probably all felt the same way towards him as she did.
"Meera," he had called. She raised her head and saw him leaning by the door. "Meera, I'm sorry. Please take care of the children, will you?"
Before she could utter a word, he turned and walked to his room, ignoring the yearning calls from his children. He never talked to any of those poor children.
I saw him shrouded from head to toe with a white sheet and scented with frankincense for the second time. He had gone to sleep the night before and never woke up the following day. He died on his bed, sleeping, just like before. I saw when they laid him gently again, like an egg, fearful he would break into the narrow grave. They placed the measuring sticks, the mud, and the soil to complete the process. We prayed for him together again. Then left him at the mercy of his deeds, with a thousand questions buried with him.
Malam Salisu might have lived twice, but he never lived to tell his story.
Wherever fickle wind dance, Light and cool on skin, Wherever coquettish stars...Read more
Osiki, god of pestle and mortar, do you not hear hungrier children, At the crest of the lake, in...Read more
Mohammed went to bed before the fowls. No person cried, not even his immediate family...Read more
My name is Ahamefuna, "my name will not be lost," & I have Chelu and Elozona, two friends...Read more
Dead kittens don't meow. And the night can grow hands...Read more
The kids in school don't play with me. Yesterday, the teacher instructed the kids in my class...Read more
The first time I had sex wasn't like anything I had imagined and read. In fact, I felt betrayed...Read more
Death is an arbitrary constant, lurching around, causing a...Read more
The girls milled around in various stages of undress. Ajoke was not surprised. Hostels...Read more
Every morning, some villages wake up to the sound of the coc kcrowing; others...Read more
"My friend Femi Oliwo was a great man…." I started to doze off. I had a long night the...Read more
“Cattles and egrets. Commensalism. Interactions" He thought carefully...Read more
At Ekonke, we love to hear from you! drop your message in the message box to make inquiries or suggestions.