By Marcelle Mateki Akita
Pastel yellows, pinks, and mauves flash in kaleidoscopic patterns across the blank canvas of her lids, she smiles that beautiful smile and sinks. Vibrantly her vessels bump a deep gravelly bass of colours, rich and flagrant, into her wiring. Her lids dance trying hazily to keep up with the flashing pastels. Glitters sprinkle and she squints. The sun rises, a throbbing citric orange explodes against the creamy cloudy blue, and as it blows a gentle breeze carries teeming dandelion seeds each landing delicately, meticulously, on the fallow fields yet to pop. The trees branch, stretch, nimbly spotting healthy green leaves peppered with cherry blossoms. Swiftly the labouring colours give birth to a soft landscape of spring and her heart, emphatically, leaps.
Ameyo loves spring, her favourite season.
The magic of life emerging, re-birthing, awakening imbues an enchanted curiosity — she wants to know the secret behind life’s birth. Everything, in its magnificent display, consumes and eats at her hungrily as an adorned parasite would while she, in equal measure, eats at it desperately with the unknowing need to be quenched by its mystic playfulness. Its life, the life of soft colours and glitter, welcomes her in and she digs deeper, determined to find her. Sinking further she immerses herself into this wonderful delectable bliss. Ameyo’s legs run effortlessly through the luscious fields of greens, dotted with poking white daisies, with the alacrity of a seven year old and her bare feet feel the brisk coolness of the fresh moist soil beneath. The green grass whips gently against her shins (as high as her knees) smiling as she runs.
She halts suddenly, distracted by a bright yellow, awkwardly attractive, weed, the only weed in the field. Ameyo stoops, plucks the offensive weed, dissonant in this field of plenteous greens whites, and feels its turgid stem quietly leak into her cushioning palm. She cups the leaking weed in her right hand and continues her run. Where is she? She questions, excited to find her twin soon. Past the trees she runs, through the drifting dandelion seeds she darts, until she sees a figure in the distance.
‘What are you doing?’ She asks when she reaches her, panting from exhaustion.
Now Ameyo’s interest peaks, her fatigue suddenly dissipates, she finds that this terse dismissal only fuels her curiosity. This is her world too and she has every right to claim it like the entitled seven year old she is.
‘Yeaaaaaa, but what are you creating?’
A confused silence follows, but only for a brief moment.
‘Whaaat?’ She laughs a hard guttural laugh. ‘You can’t do that! You’re a little person!’
Ameyo’s silent confusion transmutes into a heightened uncontrollable guffaw. Her chest, stomach and mouth jerk. Life? An absurdly alien idea, something not human, not us, or her, something of special powers and of powers a seven year old cannot yet interpret as nature, natural and indeed of her very own. Her innocuous receptiveness yields fertile ground for a budding twitching consciousness to bloom, although, if bloomed this would be catastrophically premature, ahead of its season, so she remains, as she must, stunted in her joyful ignorance. The other continues on with her creating unperturbed by the other’s abrupt intrusion. Her twin’s austere focus tames Ameyo’s shrewish outburst despite the buzzing shock raging her body.
The other continues with her work; her hands gliding in circular motions around her stomach, her feet, her chest, her eyes concentrate. The gentle breeze blows a sudden burst of feathery dandelion seeds. The two little girls, one perplexed the other determined, look like incongruous objects against the creamy cloudy blue milieu. Moments pass, a few seeds nestle in Ameyo’s kinky hair.
‘I’m a girl,’ The other sighs, eventually giving up an explanation. ‘I create life, didn’t you know?’
She stops in mid-motion and looks searchingly into Ameyo’s eyes. Her gaze holds Ameyo’s in acute accusation while her hands, an oak brown, hovers over her abdomen with her shoulders and back slightly hunched. She looks fearsome. Ameyo, struck into submission by the accusatory gaze, opens her palm to offer up a tepid, sticky and misshapen yellow weed like the guilty child she is. The other’s gaze furrows into a cornered squint, a wry smile crookedly pulls at her fleshy lips, quivering, though maintaining the half-bent back and hovering arms stance.
‘So it was you?’ The other’s voice piques.
Ameyo’s head hangs low, her feet shuffle and she nods involuntarily. Exasperated, the other rolls her eyes, straightens and dusts the seeds from her clothes: baggy navy-faded dungarees, a striped black and white cropped t-shirt with well worn-out black converses. She bounces over with a slight swing of her head to Ameyo and stares, hard, at the shrunken depleted yellow weed languishing in the open palm stretched out to her.
Disdained by its sight, she hisses. ‘You killed it.’
Her venomous words instantly ravage Ameyo’s tongue as she struggles, in gobsmacked fashion, to swallow. Her mouth, open, gasps in asphyxiated disbelief. K-k-kill? The other, her twin, brusquely sets off on bouncy steps, swinging her head of cornrows, into the fields of greens whites, and, in cantankerous spirits, away from the offending space encompassing Ameyo, while her oak brown arms hang loosely. Meanwhile the creamy cloudy blue skies directly above Ameyo begin to grey and the exploding citric orange implodes. The grey air hangs heavy. Its gentle breeze now at high velocity as winds viciously develop whirlwinds thrashing at sudden demarcated edges, cordoning Ameyo off from the pastels and glitter — and who is now terribly engulfed by fear. The luscious green beneath her feet return to a fallow cold patch. In her space (and in only, specifically, her cordoned space) she sees the rapid disintegration of soft colours. This cataclysm rummages through the life that once surrounded her only to unearth an elusive, pervasive death; her perimeters curtailed, the deafening winds envelope her, while she can vaguely see the flourishing livelihood of where her bouncy head-swinging twin parades. Her twin, the other, could sense Ameyo’s discomforting loneliness and grief. Stopping in her tracks, she turns to face a pitiful looking Ameyo within her greyed thrashing confines and tilts her cornrowed head.
She feels nothing, completely devoid of empathy. The twin has grown weary — constant explanation, patience, care is now, the very least, cumbersome. When will Ameyo learn? This undesired duty to play adult in their pastel world of glitters and seeds began to take its toll, she wished to freely explore the depth of her creation but felt hindered overtime, by her creator, to explain nature. Emptying herself by frequent deposits of knowledge, riddled with lighthearted illustrations, began to leave her bereft. Where and how was she supposed to eat with no-one to feed her?
As she sighs, she notes, that it will not be for long.
In her safe distance of flourish, she leans in.
‘Just because you don’t understand something, doesn’t mean you should kill it.’ She deliberately whispers.
Then the gentle breeze carries the soft whisper along with the bopping dandelion seeds and injects, violently, into the grey crevice of vicious whirlwinds, where a terrified Ameyo stands paralysed, its softness mutates against the force picking up in speed and density. Now the hardened whisper crashes point blank into her ears. The tempestuous blow hammers against her temple causing Ameyo to yelp like a wounded pup. Like bullets the whisper was aimed to assault, maim. She stands wincing, not comprehending these maliciously packaged and delivered words, mostly beguiled by her twin’s distance, who, at this very moment, continues to look on craning her neck at the languishing weed in Ameyo’s outstretched palm, completely unmoved by her demise.
‘Soulflower?’ Ameyo calls limply, though not from the pain of her aching eardrums and pounding temple, rather, from the absence of affection and affiliation. This confusion overturns and lacerates the quiet excitement and warmth once felt travelling through her wiry body. Now her blood ran cold.
‘It’s time to wake up.’
Spread thickly across her pillow kinky curls swim dreamily and, when Ameyo stirs, she thinks of how odd it was to find Soulflower in her dream. But being seven and sleepy did not allow her the space for analysis. As she struggles to wake up, she hears, semi-consciously, the bedroom door open and hurrying feet rush to her bedside. The warm sensual scent of her mother’s new Givenchy’s Dahlia Divin wafts into the room. A stroke of her warm forehead and dreamy curls followed by a brief, gentle wistful kiss, then the ethereal presence leaves. Ameyo blinks blearily in her dark room, eventually her lids close in blurring hope of catching Soulflower again.
Soulflower chirps, her demeanour more excitable than previously. The crouched looming arms and back now straightened and outstretched to welcome Ameyo back into their wispy pastel world. And Ameyo runs into them. The warmth of their hugging embrace relieves the seven year olds. Their bond repaired.
‘Come, let me tell you a story!’ Soulflower jumps and bounces along with her swinging cornrowed head to the only acacia tree in the distance.
Ameyo, overjoyed, perks up and sprints to the tree before Soulflower reaches there. As Ameyo crosses her legs under the flat-top lustrous tree she spots small, twitching, budding gazania flowers. Now conscious she lifts her knee to see one being crushed under its weight. She warily strokes the bud and stifles the temptation to pluck. She surveys her surrounding area, ensuring where she sits no bud will fall victim, and tucks her knees under the cotton white and purple polka-dot dress. She looks into the distance and sees the swaying knee-high grass, teem of floating dandelion seeds, the throbbing exploding citric orange against the creamy cloudy blue, and smiles. The greens, yellows, pinks, mauves and glitters fill her eyes and she is consumed. Standing by her, Soulflower also looks out and grins.
‘Do you like my creation?’ She asks startling Ameyo who, now shaken from her daydream, shyly nods. ‘I created it from my body, I imagined it and my body made it. It hurt a little but I like it because it looks pretty.’
Ameyo stares at Soulflower with a confused look on her face.
‘How did you create this from your body?’
Soulflower shrugs, indifferent to Ameyo’s bewilderment. ‘I just did. I told you, I imagined it and my body made it. My body can create things remember, I’m a girl.’
‘What!’ Ameyo slightly offended by a statement she senses only offered to exclude her. And in her childlike fury, refutes. ‘But I’m a girl too!’
‘I know.’ Again, obtusely disregarding her twin’s cry for inclusion, Soulflower shrugs. ‘Let me tell you a story about a little yellow chick,’ she starts while fingering the tight locks of Ameyo’s kinky hair, wading through the dark brown mass, as Ameyo sits tense. ‘The chick was a fluffy yellow, stubborn, and a girl. She didn’t like being told she was wrong. She was always right, and one da—’
‘But I created you! I imagined you!’ she screeches. ‘How do you have powers to create and I don’t? It’s not fair!’ In irreparable dismay, she screams. ‘I don’t like this game!’ Ameyo frenetically jumps up with Soulflower’s fingers still locked in her hair, unleashing hellish screams as if the sharp pains were burning hot needles pricking her scalp. Soulflower’s fingers latch on. ‘Let go let go let gooo!’ She wails.
Calmly Soulflower stands level to Ameyo’s disdainful eyes and slowly untangles her fingers from the dark brown mass. She steps back to look at Ameyo, quizzically at first until a gradual realisation dawns. With the innate gifts bequeathed her by her creator, she could see the small, twitching, budding consciousness beginning to bloom. Her end is closer than she originally anticipated. This pain of exclusion sorely scalds Ameyo, she could see this in the vivid livid colours emanating from her heaving pores; colours of deep reds and purples glowing like a bodied halo. The pastels harshened, the glitters crystallised.
Tears begin to roll from Ameyo’s eyes, her face contorts, lips twist, mind oscillates and then, in welcoming abruptness, everything goes black.
A soft warm kiss plants itself on her wet cheeks and her lids open. Her bedroom walls, peach with an array of flowers popping all over, welcome her back. She blinks sleepily and her yawn inhumes the erratic pain previously felt. Soulflower now disseminated to the faraway corners of her imagination, buried. Ameyo’s father looks at his daughter alarmed by the sadness he catches in her eyes and from her wet cheeks.
‘Ameyo, sweetie, you okay?’
Relieved to see her father, she smiles sheepishly. ‘Yes daddy.’
‘Okay,’ he says surreptitiously, sweeping her from the bed to hold her close to his chest, planting a bigger kiss on her forehead. He squeezes her tight, concern oozing. This was the second nightmare she’d dreamt consecutively. ‘Let’s go get ready for school.’
When she returns home from primary school, she runs excitedly to her mother’s study where her mother works industriously on her research. Ameyo’s mother hears the stampeding feet rush up the stairs and swings the chair round with her arms stretched out in anticipation. As rituals go, with careful calculation and immaculate execution, Ameyo jumps straight into her mother’s arms who is flung back by her child’s unusual force.
‘Whoa! Someone has a lot of energy! Did you have sports today?’
‘No mummy!’ Ameyo giggles. ‘I missed you today.’
‘Oh,’ a warmth fills her lungs. ‘I missed you too sweetie. But I thought you miss mummy everyday?’
‘No!’ Ameyo smirks. ‘That’s only some days!’
‘Ao!’ Her mother feigns hurt while attempting to land sloppy kisses on her daughter’s cheek. Ameyo shrills as she fights out of her mother’s solid grip. Once loose she scurries across the room to her makeshift tent, adjacent to her mother’s desk, constructed with old tattered quilts tied between one bookshelf to the other. She called this her imaginary corner, a space where no one was allowed to enter, disrupt or invade, and where, most importantly, she felt safe to be free with her creative spirit. She snuggles up tight against the bookshelves behind her, with her knees drawn to her chest, and sees her mother’s silhouette return back to her laptop causing Ameyo’s breathing to even as she closes her eyes.
The teeming dandelion seeds bop, the throbbing citric orange explodes, the creamy cloudy blue hangs, the grass’ bristles tickle her knees and no Soulflower can be found. But she doesn’t try to look. She walks freely through the iridescent fields towards the acacia tree surrounded by now fully bloomed gazania flowers. She remembers when she last saw these flowers twitching, budding while being crushed under her knee and smiles that knowing smile. Ameyo plucks a wonderfully blazing ocher gazania and places the flower delicately in her hair, adorning it, as her conscious bursts alive.
Image: Natesh Ramasamy
About the writer: