- The Storried Platform
ANNOUNCING THE HONOURABLE MENTION WINNER FOR THE DECEMBER 2017 STORRIED MONTHLY COMPETITION #SMC – PRINCEWILL UCHECHI’S IT IS YOU
It Is You is a story about a family, its struggles and how the Main Character’s love for mischief became the raison d’etre for the major change he experienced in life. We are awarding it an honourable mention because it is first and foremost a well-written story whose only failing is its inability to concretely address the theme.
IT IS YOU – Princewill Uchechi
The cock crows thrice and the sound of the bell the preacher rings at six every morning echoes. To you, these seemingly independent phenomena happening on such short notice will arouse great suspicion. A quick glance at the wall clock will confirm it and you will hiss, irritation swelling in your chest. ‘Why won’t these insolent children stop these foolish pranks?’ you ask yourself, ‘These attempts to impersonate daybreak at only an hour past midnight never fooled anybody.’
But it does. For Mama Titus doesn’t believe in wall clocks. She has lived alone in that little old-fashioned hut since before you were born, and prides in her ability to keep things the same way they’ve always been. The combination of the preacher’s bell and the cock’s anthem is her wake up call, and these children know it. These children are us. My friends and I, happy to sacrifice our sleep to see the old woman begin her day several hours too early. Who needs sleep? Definitely not us.
When you’re fourteen and you live in a village such as ours, you’ve gotten away with so many pranks in your lifetime you consider yourself immortal. But you’re not fourteen. No. You’re the tired forty-year-old preacher, irritated at us children impersonating your morning cry and not for the glory of Jehovah, either. Sometimes you wonder how we get the cock to crow so convincingly.
I’m fourteen, my friends are too. We think we’re immortal, and guilt is a foreign emotion, so we’re used to laughing at the clueless old woman—like we’re doing now—as she stumbles in the dark with her lantern, looking for a match. Her hut is small but the window is large so she has no privacy.
She hurriedly dresses, and with a broom, begins to sweep everywhere. We’re guffawing now, the scene so unrighteously funny we can’t help ourselves. She’s halfway through her chores and has taken to pounding large quantities of fufu when she notices something wrong with the space-time continuum. Her face is a mosaic of discordant emotions. The realization leaves her stricken. She must’ve been hearing things. But she has started the fufu, and must finish it.
But, you lie in bed, tossing and turning, silently cursing us—righteous curses, of course, befitting of a man of God—because we’ve deprived you of sleep. You’re in a righteous rage now, rising up to hunt us, stalking silently, boiling with holy malice. You stand right behind us as we laugh, your attention drawn to the little lantern-lit hut. Godly pity wells up in your heart for the old woman falling for the same old trick for weeks now.
You berate us. My friends run, but you have the presence of mind to hold on to my shorts before I can join them. I am afraid. You tell me about good and evil, of karma and how Jesus uses it to punish wrongdoers, you teach me to see the old woman as my mother or even my future self. Will I be happy if someone does that to me? You tell me I’ll soon see differently. My life will change if I hearken. The way you stress the last syllable of every sentence, move your free hand in broad sweeping motions, and look at me like you know the future, strips me of my immortality. I understand you.
I am truly sorry. For the first time, I feel guilty. The emotions flooding me are strange, new. I see differently. You say my life’s turning point will come. But I feel it already. And it is you.
ANNOUNCING THE HONOURABLE MENTION WINNER FOR…