It was an ordinary day in my lifetime. I woke up to the stench that filled the air in this distant ranch. It was a Saturday, one that on my calendar is a lazy day. The light streamed lazily across my room through the tiny squeaky opened window.
The sun was beaming down in all of its glory from the east on the green meadow and the natural orchestra was at it again. The birds played the cellos in their voice boxes, the wind coming in with the humming sound of the violins and the leaves rustling away as if they were pulling the strings of a guitar. The dancers were not left out. The dust together with some fallen leaves danced majestically as if they were professional ballet dancers with the help of the whirlwind. Everything was just enchanting.
But I could not enjoy the view for too long.
Sadness overtook my heart as I started to miss my late wife whom I used to enjoy this view with. Five years ago, the cold freaky rickety hands of death stole her from me. No vessel has been able to hold my endless wails and prayers. I have offered gifts to distant and near gods to send me to her but they amounted to nothing.
I tried to force my tired and wearied body out of bed but the more I tried, the more thoughts of that day Miriam, my wife, died came rapping at my frail mind.
Two ravens perched on my window. The sounds they made sounded were different from the ones I enjoyed minutes earlier. Theirs were like a dirge to my ears.
“Evil birds; agents of death”, I thought.
With the little strength I had, I dashed to the opened window to spank the life out of the birds. They flew away but not with their music. The words of their song were dark as if they were written by the devil himself from hell’s Plutonian shore. I stuck my head out of the window in search of the particular bird which echoed the evil line; “soonest here, soonest gone”.
After what seemed like a fruitless search, I gave up. “Maybe, it is all in my head”.
I went back to my grief; to my daily life of crying about my late wife and praying that God saves me from this punishment of living and rather blesses me with death so I get to see Miriam again.
To ease my sorrows, I took my Bible to read one of Miriam’s favourite verses. On her sick-bed, she told me to read that any time I missed her. If she were here, I would have told her she is a liar! I have read the scripture for the umpteenth time but I have not stopped missing her for a second. What surprises me is why I good back to reading it every time. Sigh!
“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging”.
Facing the open window, I read from Psalm 46. I knew the verses by rote so there was no need to look into the good book. I lifted my head, watched the expanse of the farm through the window and whispered the prayer of the psalmist.
Then I saw her.
Like a witch enchanting her enemy with a spell, I was spellbound under her radiating magnificence and grace although she was far. I was on the horns of a dilemma trying to figure out whether it was my eyes playing those tricks on me.
Was I seeing clearly? I did the pinch and cry thing that confirmed whether one was dreaming or not. For the first time, I admitted that someone was prettier than my late wife. She was the microcosm of all that I perceived beauty to be.
It was both pleasurable and painful to watch her as she approached my window. Even my hormones secreted mixed fluids – of pain and pleasure. My heart skipped a beat both for the joy of seeing such a beautiful damsel and for the fear that I was denigrating the memory of my dear wife. Why torment me again, life? Why wreak this mayhem on me? Why distort my already distorted mind? Why awake in me this thing in this April wind?
The wind made matters worse as meandered its way through her hair, revealing more of why my eyes would not blink but just stare. I knew I was not the only one watching the beauty coming my way. Even angels in heaven would put their worship on hold for a minute just to catch a glimpse of this beauty that had eclipsed the sun’s beauty and glory. Her teeth sparkled as she opened her lips slightly to show a smile I had never seen before. She aroused in me a feeling I had not felt in a very long time. She was making me fall into this thing – this thing which has gone stale in my whole being. She was within my eyes reach now.
Her beauty calmed my fury for the birds which sang the evil dirge. And that raised a lot of concerns. Was the memory of my dear wife passing so soon? No! I would do everything to prevent her beauty from tampering with the seal on her memories, however tempting. However ravishing her waving heart seems, she cannot sever the matrimonial and eternal bond between my dear late wife and me with those giant leaps towards the barricaded fortress of my memory store. I will not allow this!
Before I knew she was under my window. Just a nostril stretch and I would smell and feel the comfort and joy her aura carted along with. Those piercing swords she calls eyes sank deep into my skin and instead of blood and gnashing of teeth, they brought out something I had never done in a while. I smiled.
I must confess, I was drawn to her. However, my heart was locked away in a distinct distant dusty brown, stinky cage. As the seasons passed with the days of my love’s passing lengthening, my heart, like those cages, rusted. No life, no feeling; just the irrelevant noise it made sometimes.
Surprisingly, this damsel’s presence made everything fine. Almost instantaneously, she defibrillated this rusty, busted heart of mine with that defibrillator she calls a smile. Call it love at first sight. Call it a fool’s fantasy. Call it whatever you may want to. But it does not change the fact that this lady had charmed her way into my troubled seas and calmed the tempest storm that threatened to wreck my sanity with the wrecking ball of pity and regret and all other negative emotions.
The foundation upon which my former love lay was under attack. I realized I was only human and never immune to love. Still lost in my world of fantasy, she spoke. My ears leaped with joy.
Feeling really lucky, I responded with the gentlest voice I could muster, “I am he, what can I do for you, fair maiden?”
“My dad wants to know if you could help him fix his barn.” She replied.
“My dear lady, who might your dad be?”
“Mr. Okyere,” she said.
“Ooh yes. You are a chip off the old block. But I never knew he had a daughter. Wait for me. I will be with you in a short while.”
It had been long since I held my carpenter tools but I felt my skills coming back to me. It was the first day after the death of my wife that I had actually interacted with someone. My wife, sadly, was becoming my past and this stranger was fast becoming my present and my future.
I excused myself from the young lady and closed the window. I tried to find something to wear. As I pulled my trousers up my waist, my eye caught Miriam’s picture beside my bed. I knelt beside it and cleaned the dust off it. Then, I turned to look at the window as if I could see through it to have another look at the pretty lady outside. Another look at Miriam’s picture and I could not stop my tears from flowing.
I did not know how long I was but it took a voice from outside my window to bring me back to consciousness. I’m sure she could hear my sobs.
“Please, tell your dad I’m sorry. I am not too fit to come to fix his barn. He should find someone else. I’m sorry”.