The crowd milled noisily, many of their sweaty faces upturned in unhealthy anticipation as the man stood on the ledge of an abandoned office block, high above the busy streets of Victoria Island. He had been standing there for a acouple of hours, precariously balanced, in tears and threatening to jump to a very messy death. Somebody had called the Police and a couple of men from their Emergency Response Team were already in the room closest to his position,coaxing him to calm down and come down.
Thus far, all entreaties had failed; he had simply refused to listen to the voices of reason. One could feel the vibes coming from the crowd in thick waves,like the heat from an open fire; it was in their eyes that they wanted him to jump. Some of them already had their mobile phones at the ready to capture the event for posterity and share with friends, the closet psychos. Maybe it would make for a good cocktail or party anecdote to be able to boast about having seen a man squashed like a giant rotten tomato on the concrete pavement after taking a swan dive from the topmost floor of the Briggs building. The memories of the gore would probably be a good appetizer; some folks get their kicks in strange ways.
Only he knew his reason for wanting to end it all. His life no longer held any reasonable value, at least not in his estimate. Nothing had worked out for him despite his best efforts. As an only child, he had struggled through school on the meager resources of his poor parents with hopes of getting a good job after graduation, the first step to ultimately securing a good life not only for him, but as a form of recompense for all the suffering they had endured while bringing him up. Seven long years after school however, he was still jobless and without any prospects of getting one soon. Hope had sprung and wilted so many times until it finally died a meek death of despair in the depths of his heart.
Just last month, his girlfriend who had all the while been the only bright spot in his dreary existence had called it quits with him, fed up with his incessant excuses whenever he couldn’t provide for any of her needs. It didn’t matter that she seemed to have too many of them and usually got the lion share of whatever he managed to earn from any of his occasional casual hustles. As if that wasn’t enough, his landlord had served him a notice of eviction that same day she left. The man had apparently lost any hope of ever recovering the two years backlog he had accrued and had made a decision to cut his losses. His indebtedness wasn’t intentional; it was just another very healthy branch off his tree of unemployment. The shame of returning to his parents’ one bedroom apartment had been immense but he had done just that, the only alternative being the streets.
The straw which finally broke the Camel’s back was the death of his mum.
Having spent most of the days of her youth working her fingers to the bone alongside his dad on the family farm, she had later taken to cleaning the streets in order to earn a little something to feed and provide other basics for his now bedridden father and more recently himself. A speeding driver had knocked her down while on duty at Iyana Oworo and had not even stopped to offer any help. She had been left on the sidewalk till life finally bled out of her battered and broken body, surrounded by a mob of gawking pedestrians who rather than take her to the nearest clinic, stood, collectively muttering “e yah”. Some of them even took pictures, the ghouls. The shock of her sudden demise had killed his father when he heard the news later in the evening.
Now he was all alone, still helplessly broke and without hope.
What else was there to live for? Fate had won, he was beaten.
‘It’ is conscious yet indistinct, ‘It’ is like the wind, amorphous, yet ‘It’ is itself, with its own ‘mind’. ‘It’ sees, ‘It’ hears, ‘It’ feels, ‘It’ is alive and although ‘It’ doesn’t have a body in the strict sense of the word, it called itself ‘It’ in response to the need for an identity. ‘It’ had served it well for ages.
‘It’ had left its abode a few months back (being ageless, time was perfectly irrelevant) in search of a meaning to being ‘It’. ‘It’ had been in existence for as long as it could remember and the only one of its kind as far as it knew. With a freedom to move anywhere it chose without interference and the ability to experience multiple dimensions, ‘It’ had grown increasingly disillusioned of its solitary, seemingly endless existence. Having gathered a lot of knowledge and wisdom over time, answers to some fundamental questions still evaded its vast intellect. Where did ‘It’ come from? Was ‘it’ the only type of its kind? What was its purpose for being here?
The search for answers to these had taken ‘It’ far and wide, across time and space until ‘It’ had stumbled upon Homo sapiens. At first, the species had seemed unworthy of its time and attention, such puny beings, helplessly prone to irrational, wanton and ultimately reckless behavior. They mostly based their action on emotion rather than fact and logic which was totally ludicrous considering that those emotions were usually of an ephemeral nature. Imagine living with the long term consequences of an action brought about by emotions which evaporate after only a few minutes.
For want of anything better to do, ‘It’ had continued its observations, collecting data unobtrusively as was the practice whenever ‘It’ came upon organisms of a biological nature on its travels. ‘It’ was there and they didn’t know, partaking of their most sacred and intimate moments. Gradually ‘It’ came to understand and even grudgingly admire their weird ways. It all slowly added up, once ‘It’ got past its initial bias and derision.
Of particular interest to ‘It’ was their total dependence on and reverence for a ‘GOD’. The first time ‘It’ had observed one of them talking to ‘GOD’, it had felt like she had been directing her words to ‘It’, being as ‘It’ assumed, the only unseen entity in the room. It had taken the same event happening a few more times with totally different people before ‘It’ realized it wasn’t the target of their requests. The look of joy and relief after each session was so inviting; the dramatic transformation of their body language from one of defeat and hopelessness to total freedom and buoyancy, beyond any rational explanation. As if all their worries had been taken away, the burdens lifted. It was only much later ‘It’ learnt those sessions were termed ‘praying’. Most amazing was the fact that even with all its abilities to understand multiple spectrums, it had never heard ‘GOD’ speak, yet they always said “thank you” with such genuine feeling which could only mean that ‘GOD’ gave responses. From seemingly having solutions to all problems and knowing the future, to being able to influence events normally guided by the laws of Science, ‘GOD’ was looking like a handy ally to have in one’s corner.
Their lives looked pretty simple and interesting to live. Maybe ‘GOD’ could provide answers to its own knotty questions. Being one of a kind had lost its novelty after all these time, ‘It’ wanted to feel their kind of connections, the warmth of a family and the beauty of their friendships. ‘It’ wanted to experience the intensity of their passions and emotions, to fall in love and laugh in joy. Most importantly, it wanted to be cared for and protected by their ‘GOD’.
‘It’ wanted to be human.
He had been standing on the ledge for a few hours and was getting tired. Yes he had started out with the intention to end it all but somehow along the line; he had lost some of his nerve. Looking down at the crowd below without really seeing them, he let the recent misfortunes that had plagued him run through his mind again in quick succession. He let the unfortunate sequence of events fuel his anger at the world. Yes life had been a total disappointment for him but he wasn’t about to disappoint himself or the crowd below. He knew many of them had come for the show. It was time to give them what they sought.
He took a deep breath and took three short steps to the very edge of the ledge, turned around so he could look up at the blue sky one last time and muttered.
Then he allowed himself to fall.
While ‘It” blew over the City in its usual fashion, it noticed the crowd gathered around an office block with upturned faces and went towards them to investigate. ‘It’ got there just in time to see the man fall backwards off the ledge. Without any hesitation or explanation for its action, ’It’ zoomed in the man’s direction, as if to catch him from falling.
The wind tore at him as the floors went by in a flash. He turned midair and the ground rushed up as if in a hurry to welcome his body. The feeling of flight was both exhilarating and scary, followed by some uncertainty as to what would come next. He couldn’t be sure but his eyes seemed to catch a movement in the shape of a giant fist. The image was fleeting.
He hoped the pain wouldn’t be for long before the darkness enveloped him. He hoped he didn’t make too much of a mess.
Something wrapped around him, something huge and flexible.
Everything went black.
The crowd moved as one.
A hush had descended immediately the man tumbled off the ledge and all their eyes had watched every second of his fall. Strong wind had suddenly come from nowhere, tearing off a huge canvas banner that had been advertising a music show on one of the adjoining buildings. The canvas had enveloped the man just three floors to the ground.
There was an ominous plop as the package hit.
The first men on the scene scrambled to unwrap the body from its shroud of thick canvas, they feared the worst.
A shout went up.
There was no blood, no broken bones. He was in one piece, conscious.
The man had survived the fall, he lived. It was a miracle.
God had done it again. God had saved the day.
As the bewildered man sat up, he looked around at the noisy crowd. His mind struggled to make sense of everything. What was he doing here, on the ground, in the middle of the street, surrounded by a mob? Why were they all jubilant, thanking GOD for what HE had just done? Why were they asking him what had driven him to attempt suicide? Surely there was a misunderstanding somewhere. They must have him confused with another person. Somehow, somewhere, there had to be a reasonable explanation.
Of the events they spoke of, all that had happened before, he had no memory.
The Sun is shining and the sky looks refreshingly blue. Life looks happy. Even the few wispy clouds above seem to be curved in the shape of a mile wide smile. Fate had killed two birds with one stone.
Of ‘It’ and ‘him’, there is no trace.
But there is a man, with a brand new slate…