A childhood experience. KARISHIKA – THE BETRAYAL
The path of selfishness is paved with the broken hearts of the selfless. It can’t be helped, when you put yourself first, you will inadvertently put others second, that is how life is structured.
I was selfless at heart, I have been told this occasionally. More like all my life. This had gotten me quite close to my older siblings. I was the one they approached when they needed help that my parents couldn’t provide. This was what had me, cornering my older sister, Afia, on a Saturday afternoon to propose a solution to her problem.
We were both scared of the dark, she more than me. I usually tried to shower before it got dark, but sometimes, I got carried away with playing and lost track of time. This happened more times than I could count. My mum won’t let me eat till I showered. So sometimes I braved the darkness for long enough to pour water on myself and quickly dash into the lantern lit corridor to dry myself.
If there was electricity, there would have been no issue. The little moments when I had my eyes closed were what I would have had to overcome. But no, the power rationing had started and we only had power in the mornings and during the day most of the time. So the darkness had to be braved. This “pour and dash” method had served me well for a while, Afia had tried copying it but she couldn’t stay inside long enough to pour water on herself. It went without saying that she had gone countless nights without supper.
So it was with the utmost selflessness that I approached her this afternoon. I proposed to keep her company when she showered, stand in the corridor with the bathroom door open whiles she showered. I was 8 and she was 11, but my selflessness knew no bounds. All she had to do for me was stay out there in the corridor whiles I showered too. If that was too much for her, she could give me some of her lunch money. So considerate of me, making the terms so flexible for her. She agreed and we started.
This arrangement went off without a hitch, we had been at it for over a fortnight when my cousins came to visit. They were aged 6 and 7, being the one closest in age to them, they spent most of their time hanging out with me. The movie Karishika had just been released. This was an African horror movie about a mermaid (maame water) called Karishika. Even though this movie was going to scare the living daylights out of us, we all wanted to watch it. In a bid to prove my mettle to my little cousins, I promised to get us the movie.
So one afternoon, I gathered my cousins and sisters and showed them a borrowed Karishika Video Cassette. The room got cold suddenly, they were all quiet and staring at the cassette. They watched spellbound as I walked to the VCR and inserted the cassette, with that the spell got broken and we all crowded into the sofa. The movie despite being long, lived up to expectations. It scared the hell out of us but it was well worth the watch. Like clockwork, right after the movie was done, the power went out.
We all stayed in the living room, too scared to leave. It had gotten dark whiles we watched the movie. It was in that condition that my mum came to meet us. She quickly bundled up my cousins into the bathroom and had them shower. Telling Afia and I to shower and come eat too. Adwoa the eldest, quickly sneaked into the bathroom before any of us could move and started to shower. Afia joined her. I made to do same and my mum smacked the back of my head, saying;
“Are you a girl, wait for them to finish”
I waited outside, knowing Afia will stay put and wait for me. But I had underestimated the effect of the movie, she run straight to the bedroom with Adwoa right after she was done, not even bothering to dry herself. Left with no option, I resorted to my “pour and dash method”.
I eventually got dressed and went to the kitchen. I felt betrayed by everyone, Afia especially.
I was still nursing the hurt from the betrayal the next evening. So when the power went out, without anyone telling me to go shower, I made my way into the bathroom. There was no “pour and dash”. I took my time to shower and dry myself. Even taking a while in the bedroom to get dressed. They were all impressed, usually I went about all of these in a rush. But the anger had made me brave.
Afia hadn’t spoken to me since last night, so I was surprised when she walked up to me as I sat down to eat and asked me to go keep her company whiles she showered. I agreed, and walked with her to the bathroom. I waited till she had lather all over and asked why she left me hanging last night.
While she fumbled for an answer I shut the door and locked it from behind quietly. I quickly left and went outside to stand behind the bathroom window. When I got there she was mentioning my name, over and over. Not getting a reply. She quickly rinsed the lather from her face. She screamed when she realized she was totally in the dark. With the bathroom door closed, the only light coming into the bathroom was from the window, and that wasn’t much.
Hearing her scream, I started singing the Karishika song, that was the last straw, she intensified her screams and tried to run out but the door won’t budge. My parents had heard her screams then and run to the bathroom. They opened the door to find her sitting on the bathroom floor sobbing hysterically.
By the light from the lantern in the corridor, I saw her condition when they opened the door and started laughing.
Everyone got quiet when they heard the laughter, even the crying Afia, my dad asked; “who is there?”
I screamed; “KARISHIIIIIIIKA!”, and started laughing again, to the new sobs that it generated.