A certain nervousness I had never felt before rented through my body. I stared at myself in the mirror in much disbelief. It was one case to wake up to a family that was totally strange to you; and while still trying to make sense of that, you realize you were in another man’s skin. It felt as though I was wearing someone else’s clothes, only that I couldn’t rent it apart, or take it off my head. Now I am so sure this is nothing short of a dream, but it didn’t look like something I could shake off my cloudy head, or slap myself out of.
Suss caught the sight of the immediate fear that swept past my face. It reflected on her face as well. The gooseflesh that grew underneath my clothes spread rapidly up my neck like a skin infection. I felt my throat tighten, and there seemed not to be enough air in the room. Had Suss not responded so swiftly by putting her hand right through my shirt and rubbed my chest, I probably would have choked to… to what? I don’t know.
I coughed hard, but it quickly subsided, as I gulped down the half filled glass of some kind of flavoured water that had suddenly showed up in Suss’ hand. She seemed to me at that moment a member of a rapid respond squad of some sort. Was that not how mothers were to respond to their children’s need? Well, of a truth I couldn’t be sure, because I never had one. My mum, as I was told, died before my third birthday.
As I sat on a different chair that seemed to push my back forward, Suss looked straight into my eyes from the chair opposite. Everyone positioned themselves around me in a semi circle, giving me enough space to breathe. I wasn’t claustrophobic, but it did a lot of good that they weren’t all over me. They just watched until my breathing normalized.
Suss’ smile returned, and it was like a cue for everyone to get completely relaxed again. For the first time I thought of what would have happened if I had choked to death. And I realized that as surreal as all this was, I didn’t want it to end. As perplexed as I was, it was a dream I wanted to witness to its end. So for a considerable amount of seconds, I looked up at Suss, and then everyone else, and said, “Thank you. Thank you.”
Suss seemed to be in control of everything, especially her emotion. Because I just sensed that beneath the thick skin of hers was a heart that had taken in just the exact about of pain that one more drop will result to a punctured soul. She seemed to be hanging by an overstretched thread.
The mirror was by my far right now, but it still stayed within my peripheral vision. As much as I tried not to look at it again, it seemed inevitable. Soon I would just have to confront my fears and stare at my reflection again.
I had so many questions; and maybe the answers would help me confront my fears. Apparently, I was someone else to them, the way I was to myself. And the sooner we all got to understand that I wasn’t who they thought I was, the better. Have you ever had that feeling that you know you were dreaming, but there was hardly anything you could do about it?
“Please, Sam,” Suss said, gracefully taking my arms in hers. “Take it easy on yourself. The doctor says it’s okay to take a day at a time.” There was this softness in her eyes, and I realized that my breathing had become normal again.
“What happened to me?” I asked, not sure if that was the first question I would have preferred to ask.
Everyone slowly began to converge as if Suss was about to tell a terrible tale. All eyes were focused on me, and a few mouths were twitching to speak. If I remembered anything of the real world, it was that I had spent a few hours here, and I was sure late for work today. As I patiently waited for an exclusive explanation to the occasion that must have brought me here, I sensed it wasn’t a smooth and easy tale to tell. Had someone died? Was it me? We thought we lost you, someone had said earlier. Great to have you back, I could almost recall all what they had said today.
“You have been in this room for three months. In a coma.” Suss finally let out the introduction to my life. She seemed so careful with her words with a hope that I don’t slip back into coma. This was the first data about myself that my mind was capturing since I entered into this dream of a world. It was like I had just experienced being born, only that I was privileged to understand the first few words spoken to me.
How did I get into a coma? Three whole months? But what if I told them all this was a mere dream, and that my real name is Eli
“In a coma?” I let out my thoughts, looking at each one of them for confirmation, but it was obvious from their looks that this was just the tip of the iceberg.
“Son, the doctor made us understand that this might happen, and-”
“What might happen?” I didn’t allow Suss to finish her statement, although I still kept as much calmness in my voice.
She swallowed the little lump in her throat, and was trying to be careful how she laid down her words. I could feel some certain kind of sadness lurking on the tip of Suss’ lips. It wasn’t something she felt she wanted to relive. Maybe I had pushed too much. It sure wasn’t as easy for them either.
“The amnesia you are experiencing is as a result of concussion you suffered when you had the accident.”
My eyes were focused on Suss now more than ever. I was already arranging the permutations in my head, and was slowly arriving at a conclusion. Ok, this is it. I had an accident that led to a hemorrhage, and was in coma for a long time. Three months, they said. And today, I awoke from my coma, but realized I suffered amnesia. I subconsciously touched my head for any pain of some sort. There was none.
“Miraculously, you are alive, and against many people’s wish, we refused to take you off support.” The familiar smile returned to Suss’ face, and everyone in the room felt light hearted again.
These people who so far have proven to be family had certainly paid the great price of faith to hold on to me in spite of other opinions. Who were the others?
However mixed my feelings were beginning to shape, I thought it was wise to show an appreciative heart towards these people.
“Thank you.” I looked at them one after the other, hoping that they understood the depth of my gratitude. “I believe with time, I would remember everything again. I believe.” I hoped I was convincing enough.
“Buggie, you’re doin’ great, blix.” Dan the cornrows brother was eager to get exuberant again. He called me ‘buggie’ and ‘blix’. Whatever those meant, I felt I got his vibes, and I gave him an encouraging smile. After seeing what I looked like in the mirror, he didn’t look in striking resemblance as I thought he did. He looked more like the Eli me than the Sam me.
“I’m gon’ help’aw with everythin’ ‘n’ anythin’ you want me to, buggie.” He went a little dramatic for a moment. “For the records, this is Suss, aka Mother; my name is Daniel, Dan for short. This is Clay, Cinda, and Joko.” Wow, the white girl was called Joko. Was that supposed to be a Yoruba name, or just coincidence?
“Go easy on your big brother, Dan. Easy.”
“Bet I’d, Suss,” Dan realized that he might not be able to stick to Suss’ new nick name after all. “Mother, I mean.” Everyone laughed easily, and apart from me who for the first time could imagine how a metal like Mercury would feel, if it could, being a liquid metal. I was happy and perplexed at the same time.
“Who is hungry?!” Suss finally changed the subject. There was a chorus response of delight. “Sam,” Suss looked at me. “The whole family is waiting for you. Table is already set at home. Shall we?”
I wasn’t supposed to be famished, owing to the fact that I just awoke and that I hardly ever had breakfast, thanks to my Lagos metropolitan habits. But here I was in a much younger skin, two shades lighter, and an empty belly waiting to gobble down anything edible. I wasn’t ready for many things, but I sure was ready to munch, even if it was in my dream.
Dan put his arms over my shoulders in a very friendly gesture. “You ready, buggie?”
“Yes,” I said. Just as I replied, the rubber sensor strapped to my left arm beeped. I took a look at it and asked Dan how it worked. “What do the numbers mean?”
Dan took a look, and said, “This monitors your brain activity, BP, sugar level; and also gives you info on weather and date.” As he said so, he pressed on a single tiny button by the side so show me how it works.
“See, it’s just to help you monitor your vitals.” Dan looked at me, sure I understood everything he said with ease. “And that’s the weather, and date right there when you press this button again.”
And so just to be sure I understood, I pressed the button again, and it worked perfectly. I punched the button for the last time, and I saw the weather in Fahrenheit. Then I indulged myself to press the button again, and the date glowed out. Wow, what a cool device, I said to myself.
Wait. Just before I pressed the tiny button again, I glanced at the date. It read, 09.06.75. I smiled at what I saw. I looked a second time, and it was the exact thing. I went through the round of punching the button again. It read 09.06.75 again. I looked up from the device. Everyone was parking up the stuff that needed to be moved. Dan and Joko were at the wardrobe, Suss was standing beside a nurse, signing a form, I guess. Clay and Cinda were rechecking things at the other side of the room. They were all happy and excited. Happy that their brother was back from the dead. But I was sure the wrong brother, and I had to let them know ASAP.
I called out to Dan, and he bounced towards me, kinda still awed that I was in a blazer. “You really look good, buggie,” he said as he stopped in front of me. “Ready to go home?
“Yeah,” I said. “But first, what’s today’s date?” I looked at him, hoping he would tell me it’s 2015.
“August 9th?” he answered me like he meant, anything the problem?
“August 9th, 2075, buggie.” He raised his eyebrow trying to get the drift.
I stood right there, my jaw going slack . Now this was impossible. I was not only dreaming, but I was in the future. Sixty years into the future.