Abeokuta literally means “under rock”; a referent to the refuge people found under its many rocks in 1825 while escaping slave hunters from Dahomey and Ibadan. That was 191 years ago, but the rocks remain in their majestic beauty; wowing visitors, and lending a picturesque quality to the scenery of the town in almost every direction. I suspect too, that some inhabitants of Abeokuta didn’t leave their refuge under the rocks those many years ago. Matter of fact, I suspect some of them -through perhaps an overdose of the many juju/jazz/ogun/magicks that were used at the time- were placed in some state that maintained their youth while putting them to sleep. It seems those people are only now waking; ignorant of the passage of time and ancient norms. Only that, you see, explains what I saw last week.
It was 10:34 a.m and two meetings after breakfast. I was running low on ‘human’, and in desperate need of some beany love-in-a-mug (that’s code for coffee, by the way). I trudged my way to the office kitchenette, and was washing teaspoon and mug when the shrubbery in the house opposite the street moved rather sensibly. It wasn’t the effortless bow or wave of wind-caused movement, but some haphazard shift that could only result from human or animal manipulation. My hands stopped mid-air, raising my mug for draining, and I tipped my glasses up my nose with my left hand; my concentration fully on the ‘moving bush’.
Tick.. tick.. tick…
I could hear the hands on my wristwatch pace, feel the soft breeze kiss my cheeks, see…
A naked arm rose from between the shrub, holding a blue bowl. The hand turned the bowl, and water poured down the middle of the shrubs.
I could smell dust; lots of it. I realised then that I had unconsciously moved forward, perhaps in the bid to see clearer, and my nose was now pressed against the window. I stepped back, even as I sneezed, then moved as close as I could without breathing in dust.
A head with a mop of undone hair emerged, then shoulders, swinging breasts, curved waist, flared hips, a miniature bush of hair at the juncture of athletic thighs…
My jaw slackened, my mouth hung open, and I couldn’t find the will to lock it back. A woman was in the shrubbery behind a house, sponging her body! And this, right in the middle of town, not some outskirt. I don’t know how many minutes I stayed there; mouth agape. I was jolted back to reality when she bent, head forward, and rose again, swinging a wrapper around her wet body. An iron bucket rose in her hand from somewhere in the shrubbery; and she was gone, through a door, beyond my vision.
I sat on the nearest chair then, wondering what I had just seen. And if maybe she had seen me… If she would be coming for me in my dreams one night. Because, who showers in a mere back-of-house shrubbery in this age? And at almost 11a.m, when the world is up and about? And in the middle of a busy area where storey buildings abound?
Who knows these things???