I made a confession yesterday but it was not to a priest; it was to 37 pairs of searching eyes, ten cameras and a dozen artificial light sources.
That I write because I want to is a lie. These things I bother you with, these things I write… I let them out because they bother me, they are like a hungry child, or the silent voices in our heads; those voices that only talk in front of the bathroom mirror. So, when I had arrived for the session, I was lost.
I heard people talking about working on ‘second novels’, publishing this and that, so I asked myself why I came. I looked at the training manual and saw terms I knew differently, because for me,
PLOT is a piece of land
CAST is a mixture of concrete and water
STRUCTURE is a house
SETTINGs are on the phone
CONTRAST on the TV remote
VIEWS has Front, End and Plan in my engineering drawing
ELEMENTS were on the periodic table
ABSTRACT is the beginning of a technical report
SATIRE is…maybe a kind of cloth…
So, I was lost in thoughts in that strange place when I was handed the microphone for a confession:
“The quotation that changed my life was in Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe, which I may have read when I was 8 or 9. It goes thus: “It is good to be brave, but it is better to be a coward, because it is in the house of a coward that one will point to where a brave man once lived”. I related this quote to the various struggles I have faced in life: being caught between cultures, the fight between Arts and Science, between writing and Engineering…this quote told me that no matter what I do as a profession, that it’s OK to write too…so, I suppose WRITING IS MY COWARDICE!”
They whistled and clapped but I can’t tell why. Whistles scare me as it does everyone these days of whistle blowers. So, after the electrifying sessions, I was keen to sneak out when someone tapped me. Fierce faced, suit on and armed, like these EFCC people. Oh, what did I do wrong, what did I say?
Three others left the interrogation, and I was the last, the prime suspect maybe. There were now 5 men surrounding me , all armed, with weapons pointing at my head. One clipped something to my shirt and the one near me said “…ready, shoot!”
I froze. It was the cameras shooting. “May we interview you please…” he had said. I heaved two sighs, the first because I felt relieved, and the second to relive my moment of relief.
I was alive!
(The 2017 9mobile flash fiction workshop was facilitated by Ellah Wakatama Affreh on May 17, 2017)