Okro’s Spark (1)
They were walking to her house…
She wasn’t strikingly beautiful but she was pretty in
an understated way. You had to know her to appreciate her. Or at least that was
how he figured it. She was about his height which made her a tall-ish specimen
and she wasn’t skinny. “Hello Perfection,” thought Okro
Skinny was not Okro’s definition of sexy. No. His
experiences made him form the opinion that skinny women obsessed about their
figure and were too concerned about what they ate and didn’t eat. He didn’t need
that type of fussiness in his life.
At her door, she put one palm on the handle and turned
to face him. He was standing barely a foot away with his hands behind his back
wearing his favourite tee shirt, new jeans and a childish grin. Words somehow
didn’t seem necessary at this point. She looked around as if to check that no
one was watching – somehow Okro figured she didn’t care either way – and then
took a tentative step toward him. He met her halfway, encircling her with his
arms as he did so. She interlocked her delicate fingers at the back of his
Then they kissed…
Oh shoot, he thought. The countless onions in the suya
they had shared was coming back to haunt them in the worst possible way. Or at
least back to haunt him. It was a weird vibe he was getting off her lips and
breath. He began to wonder whether she’d had beans earlier in the day. Or eggs.
He tried to avoid being the one to pull out of the
kiss. A task made all the more difficult by the fact that he was somehow unable
to hold his breath long enough. Bleeping cigarettes must have snuffed the air
out of his lungs. Was today World Repercussion Day or something?
She finally pulled out but obviously something was
wrong, thought Okro. Because she had a look of content in her eyes. Oh wait,
was it content or longing? Content meant she had enjoyed that awful kiss: bad.
Longing meant she wanted another: worse.
She let out air and Okro thought his face would melt
from the sheer heat of it. And the stench. Dear oh dear. His desire to get laid
must have deadened his nostrils for a bit, he thought. She’d better have the
genius of Ghandhi in the sack or he would do everything even super-humanly
possible to ensure that the National Assembly passed a law banning onions at
all suya joints. He suddenly became very uncomfortable, shifting slightly in
her embrace. Then she closed her eyes and leaned in again. So what he saw was
longing. Dear God, he thought, this would be a fabulous time to visit vengeance
upon me for my sins: kill me. Kill me now. Then again, he figured this was as
malicious as the heavens could get. From warm to uncomfortably hot, the heat
from her mouth seemed to amplify as she got closer. And she had her mouth half
open. How could he escape? Their lips were almost touching now…
He opened his eyes and the first thing he
observed was the sweat he was covered with. He had to blink spuriously and dab
lightly with his hand to get the sting out of his eye because some sweat had
trickled in. The second thing he observed was that he needed to pee really
badly. As he got up from the bed, he silently cursed the architect of the
building who put a toilet and bathroom to serve two bedrooms making him have to
walk to the corridor to do his business. And why was it soo hot, anyway? He
opened the door.
The third thing he observed was the fire.
Vicious flames licked the apartment like a
giant kid going at a tiny lollipop. It appeared the living room had been
completely consumed. He couldn’t be sure about the master bedroom but the flames
had entered the corridor and were now grubbing their way toward his room. The
toilet was out of the question now. He could barely make out an opening where
the door once was. He suddenly realized he was getting mildly scalded. He
scampered back into the bedroom, panicking. All at once he tried to think many
thoughts: how did the fire start? How could he put it out? Who could help? Was
there an escape route? He was suddenly thankful that his uncle had taken his
family to the village for some chieftaincy thingy. That meant all Okro had to
worry about was himself. At the same time, he became concerned; even scared. What
would his uncle say when he returned to meet his house in whatever state it
would be when this was over. No chance of getting water now since the toilet
and bathroom had been turned into brick toast.
Okro coughed loud and painfully. The smoke
was unbearable on its own not to to talk of the fast approaching inferno. His
thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the flames tearing at the door. They
made short work of it. Barging into the room like an overbearing trespasser.
Okro figured ‘panic mode’ would be of no help right now even though he was so
close to freaking out. He slid a glass window open cursing as he saw the
burglary proof fittings his overly paranoid uncle had deemed fit to install at
every door and window. Great. Now what? He couldn’t grasp why the compound
wasn’t fenced while the owner thought it necessary to place burglary proof
If he didn’t figure a way out, his obituary
wouldn’t say he died following a ‘brief illness’ or a ‘ghastly motor accident’.
He figured it would say: ‘John Okro. Home cooked.’
He resented himself for thinking humorously
at a time like this. “Nice going, dude.” He muttered to himself as he looked
around for an option. He jumped on the bed as the rug was being eaten beneath
him. He figured the bed would ignite momentarily. Was this how it would end?
“I’ve not even gotten the chance to shag Serena Williams,” he whimpered. Then
he saw it.
The 1 horse-power A/C unit had been making
an awful noise lately so his host had called the repair man to have a look at
it. The verdict had been ugly. It appeared there were a lot of faults. So much
that Okro couldn’t be bothered to take stock of what precisely those faults
were. Bottom line, the A/C repairman got his uncle’s blessing to take it away.
To avoid mosquitoes, his uncle’s wife had used an old calendar and masking tape
to cover the hole left at the bottom corner of the room. And today, that would
be his escape route.
Amidst more coughing, he raced off the bed
at tearing off the calendar and putting his legs through in one swift movement.
In his haste, he forgot that he was climbing down a two-storey building. With
his body facing outward, he let himself go and in the same moment realized he
was going to plunge into the hard concrete ground. His breath caught in his
throat and all his ultra sharp reflexes kicked in as he somehow managed to turn
180 degrees in mid-air barely catching the same frame he’d just jumped out of
with one hand. His breath quickened considerably as the realization of what
could have happened hit him full blast. He steadied himself by bringing his
other hand up to hold the frame as well. His breath was now coming in sharp
bursts He flexed his neck muscles before looking downwards. He began to
contemplate his next move. Should he jump down all the same or look for a
ledge? He scanned for a ledge below.
He saw a window but it was shut and the
available space… well there was none left. He wouldn’t be able to cling. His
eyes kept roving, searching out a solution. Suddenly, he began to feel the heat
on his fingers.
Inside, the flames crackled with pleasure
almost like it was belching after a sumptuous meal of bed-post. It had guzzled
up the mattress and its frame and was now beginning to roast the walls. Thus,
the heat Okro now felt. He began to really panic now. He didn’t want his
fingers scalded; he couldn’t just jump down; he couldn’t…
Okro stopped in his thoughts – for he was
suddenly hearing voices…
They were clear and muffled all at once.
One moment it seemed like there were people yelling, the next they seemed to be
whispering. The sounds were coming from the front side of the compound while he
hung out the back. He couldn’t at once tell how many voices he was hearing; how
many people were speaking. They seemed to be arguing and conspiring all at once.
The voices abruptly subsided. Okro stiffened from where he hung, holding his
breath as the fear of the unknown began to seep in.
To be continued…