The Day I Slept

General story by T-Ralph

T-RalphT-Ralph
It was 11pm. I laid on my bed exhausted from the day’s work. It was hard to tell what exactly was the most tiring in the day. Was it the work done? Or, the traffic in Lagos? Or, was it that I had to wake up as early as 4am? Anyways, it would not matter since I have got the weekend to rest. Thank God it is Friday – TGIF as they put it these days. I remember the last thoughts on my mind was that the garri was almost finished, and, I am yet to get my salary for the month… and the month still remains one more week to end.

I sank into depression as my calculative mind realized that the remaining cash is barely enough for me till the end of the month. “Oh!” I said to myself, “Why am I like this?” “God this ain’t fair. I work too hard only for so little. I don’t like my job and God isn’t doing anything to help me.” I am not sure I knew went I actually slept off.

I opened my eyes to see a blue-colored ceiling. It seemed very strange. That was because the last time I checked, the ceiling of my room was white. It made me to remember the house I grew up in. We spent over 30 years in that rented apartment. I had quite a number of memories in that house, most of which were unpleasant. I often wondered why we never moved out of that house.

I felt my stomach grumble and I knew it was hunger. I thought I could sleep off more to forget my hunger, but, most especially, to postpone the garri I wanted to take to a later hour. However, the sleep would not take over. After a few minutes, I found myself crying like a little baby. I tried to stop crying but I could not. I tried to cover my mouth, to my amazement, I realized my hands were so little and puffy, like that of a baby. I wanted to stand up but could not find the strength from my backbone. I was surprised. The hunger was also so strong and I cried like a baby more.

In no time, I saw my mother beside my bed. That was when I realized it was a cradle. She picked me up with swollen eyes as though she had not slept in a long time. At the same time, she wore a smile that showed she was delighted. It was quite confusing. She looked much younger and prettier than I ever knew her. She curled me in her arms and opened up her breast. For a second, which seemed like hours, it was very awkward. I was sure I knew what would happen next. I wanted to wake up from my dream but I could not. In previous times, I could always pinch myself whenever I had an unpleasant dream and I would wake. This time, my fingers were so small and my nails so short. In no time, my mouth rushed to her nipples and I sucked till my belly was filled. She laid me down and I slept off.

I woke again. This time, I was still a baby. The wall clock right across the cradle read 3 o’ clock. I saw three beings around me. Their apparel was full of light. They stood around my cradle. I should have known that I could not stand up, yet I tried and my backbone failed. The best I could do was to make baby burp sounds and spread my hands and feet in the air. I noticed the light beings struggled with three other dark beings. I was sure my little mind could not comprehend that it was a fight. All I could understand was that they struggled and it was a fierce one. It was so fierce that I started to cry like a baby again. In a few seconds, my mom rushed to me.

As she picked me up, I still could see them struggling. She tried to feed me again but I would not eat. I kept looking at the struggle. All the time, since mom realized that I would not suck, she started to sing to me. I could not understand the song she sang. But, I knew she tried her best to calm me down. But I would not calm down, as my attention was fixed on the struggling beings. At a point, it seemed they had overcome. Then, one of the light beings came and smiled at me. It was so much light that it could blind me, but, instead of turning away, I reached out to it. The smile was so bright that it transfused joy to me. I could almost wish to stay in that mood forever. That was when I stopped crying. I think it took about thirty minutes of mom’s time. With mom’s lullaby, I slept again.

I slept again and woke up. This time, I was a toddler. I smelt the fresh scent of the wet grass because it had just rained. I was outside as mom washed clothes. She sat me down at a little distance away from her, and I played with a car toy. I was really enjoying the play until something else caught my attention. It was so interesting because it came to me itself. It seemed as though I could understand how it felt. It was cold from the rain. Then, it dawned on the adult me, inside the toddler me, it was a snake. It slithered towards me and I crawled towards it. I was trying so hard to stop myself but I would not stop. I tried to touch its head and it dodged my hands. I guess I was too slow. I grasped its tail. It rapped itself around my hands and pointed its head. Then, I knew it was a cobra. I wanted to scream but I burped out laughter instead. I wondered what mom was doing…probably carried away with the clothe she was washing and the song she was singing, sounded as though she was singing praise songs to Jehovah. After playing with the snake for a minute or two, it probably realized that I wouldn’t let it be and it ran off, well, it slithered away.

I woke up and this time, I was pulling off my sandals. It was time for a football match. It was those period in school after which we had finished exams and all we went to school to do was play football. I attended a public secondary school, by the way. I could say I was in JSS 2 by then. I was not the best player in my class. But, I remember I was that kind of player that was chosen immediately after the best player has just been chosen. This was often to compensate for the best player. I remembered how accurate my passes were. Whether long or short passes, mine were always on point. Accurate passes was of utmost importance in those days, especially because the school field was often segmented in several subfields; and 10 different football matches could be going on simultaneously as balls and players often ran across concurrent football matches.

As I dribbled and made a pass, my team’s striker completed it with a goal. Just as I was about to celebrate, the opponents defender cleared my feet off the ground, and soon, I was falling down like a mango tree, with my hands up like the branches. I was sure a wound would accompany the fall, as the school field was without the padding of grass, totally ‘grass-less’. As I floated in the air and gravity pulled me down, I thought about how painful it would be. Just as I was about touching the ground, I felt as though I paused in the air. For a moment, I could swear I saw everyone pause like in a video. Then, an angel held me in her arms and I landed softly on the ground. The most amazing part was that my head landed on the stone which served as the goal post for another concurrent football match. Well, I thought, “why didn’t the angel just moved me away from the stone?” Well, in the end, I secured no injury.

The next time I opened my eyes, I was about crossing the street. A huge truck was packed by the road side and I could not see the other end of the road. All I know was that something fastened my legs towards crossing the road. Before I could tell what was going on, my legs still running fast, a white Toyota car was rushing on the other end, my legs were too fast to be stopped. Just then, I saw two palms on my chest, which pushed me backwards. In a split second, I was off the road and my bum on the floor as the car zoomed past me.

I could swear I saw a thousand different scenarios. Maybe they were dreams, maybe visions, maybe time travel, maybe memories I never thought I had. Not sure exactly, but I know what I saw; what I experienced, was real than a dream. I relived every moment.

The last of them, I saw myself rising from a seat. I was way older, maybe my late thirties. Crowd applauding, hundreds of thousands. I was sure millions were watching behind the cameras. I mounted the podium and opened my mouth to speak. I woke. The sight of the white ceiling greeted me welcome. I moved my legs just to be sure I was truly back.

As I laid down, awed by my experience, I realize that I was never grateful for what I had; not thankful for what I was going through; did not appreciate the dangers that could have happened but never happened; and not believing the great future HE had for me. Even in awareness that I had not paid the month’s rent, I said, “Thank you, YahWeh!”


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