Helena called me one morning last week in panic. Her voice was low and slow. She sounded like someone who knew her fate. She sounded like she did two years ago before the first procession down Ticsley Road. I heard her words and fear rose in my soul, not fear of what she said, but fear of what I would do. Two years ago when she called and spoke this way, I was with mother in the hospice, holding her hand. I grabbed mother’s black prayer beads and began to work my way through them, an act to hold the spirits at bay. But that morning last week was different; mother’s procession down Ticsley Road had lit a liquid fire in my soul. Perhaps it was the way Helena lingered by phase one of Ticsley Road, dropping a rose stem on the tiny tombstone, or maybe it was the arrogance and temerity with which Okey showed up, standing by her and rubbing her shoulders. What meant an act of love to others was to me, an act of defiance and shamelessness.
I rode my bicylce to Asata, my mind a red blur of anger cycling through the busy streets, past the oranges, the mounds of groundnuts and the rusty yellow buses going in the same direction as me. My phone was ringing; a familiar piece starting from the bottom of my anger and rising to a crescendo of what I could not control. I climbed up those stairs, breathing for all those trips to Ticsley, I barely noticed the neighbours standing around, making feeble attempts at opening the door. But when I heaved my weight against the door, I had help.
It was a shabby one bedroom flat, smelling heavily of alcohol, resignation and tears. It was not Helena I saw, no. It was the face of pain and helplessness, a purple and red mess, clutching onto Okey’s legs, muttering gibberish as he kicked her over and over again by the kitchen door, somehow missing the mound below her chest. My heart broke and the devil took over. The bile rose in me as I took the pestle resting inside a mortar under the kitchen table. I may have hit him over and over, I am not so sure. But I heard the neighbours and I heard Helena, a sea of unrecognisable voices, roaring in my ear.
There was another procession on Ticsley Road today. There was a barbeque at our flat after the procession. I poured myself a large one as I watched the marinated beef spit into the fire I made, a fire which no longer burns in my soul.
“The ONLY “rule” is that you use the picture to make the story (or poem (yes yes ill allow poetry:)), That’s it. I know that there are a good few writers amongst you and I think that I would be really interested on other angles. You don’t even have to do a story as such, it could be a thought, a memory or a feeling that you get from it, basically anything involving words.”