Denver, Colorado. It is a dead wintry period of the year when each vocalization is accompanied with vaporized emission in between uncontrollable gnashing and a possible glove anesthesia; an attendant careless show of the wrists. It is not arrogance to decline a handshake at this time of the year. Everyone understands.
“Mr Kibela, the hall is getting filled as guests are already waiting to meet you before your presentation.” The hotel administrator had informed him via the intercom.
“Thank you.” Kibela responded. “Can someone come up here, I need help?” He quickly hinted before he dropped the receiver.
Kibela had gone to Denver, Colorado for a paper presentation. He is one of the winners of one of the Africa Literary Prizes of the State of Denver. It’s the first time he would be addressing an audience as august as this gathering of members of Denver, Colorado Institute of Arts. He is there on their invitation.
“Sure, someone will be there right away.” The administrator retorted not knowing Kibela had dropped the line on his end.
Kibela looked out of the hotel through the window. He saw that everyone was dressed in thick clothing and head warmers of different fashionable colours. He started to think he had come with the wrong set of clothing.
A knock on the door and he jolted back inside.
“Good morning Mr Kibela. Hope you enjoyed your night?” A Caucasian lady stood right in front of him with a muffler loosely wrapped around her neck and thick hand gloves on her wrists.
“Thank you” he responded. “Are you the one to help me through my problems?” He inquired.
“Yes, I am here to serve you”, she submitted.
“OK then” He sounded a bit perturbed. “You see, I need a sponge for proper exfoliation I don’t go on a trip without carrying one but due to the luggage size I am entitled to on this international journey, I had to shed some weight believing that I can easily get some things here. Can you help me with one?” He finished.
“But sir, you do not need full exfoliation as this time of the year. Exfoliation is done once in a while. More so, you have some napkins spread in the bathroom for you to clean with if at all you have to wash your body; most people are afraid of showers at this time of the year due to the cold weather.” She educated him.
Kibela looked in bewilderment as the hostess spoke him through his ridiculous crave for exfoliation in this deadly cold weather condition. But who would have blamed a man of Kibela’s upbringing? Your bath is not complete unless you have done a hard scrubbing of your armpit and pubic area with hard sponge and soap. “One does not smell clean if you don’t do this every day and night” He recollected his mama’s words.
“In short, you are telling me people go on for days without taking a proper bath as long as the weather is like this?” He asked the friendly hostess.
“I have not for weeks. Only use wipes to clean the sensitive parts”, she saved him time.
Politely, he opened the door behind her and smiled as he said “thank you”.
“Is that all I can help you with?” The hostess probed, just as is expected of any good customer service representative.
“Yes, that is all”, Kibela answered still leaving the door ajar.
He ran and threw himself on the bed at the exit of the hostess. His thoughts of being in the same room with quite a number of people, who may not have had their bath for days, possibly weeks, even months beat him to it. But more were his woes as he had to join the league somehow, since he will not be able to get his routine hard scrubbing done.
“These people don’t know that I came from an equinoctial point. The sun is my second skin”. He rolled on the bed.
Minutes later, a knock came on the door.
“Who is there?” He asked.
“Room service”, the voice on the other side retorted.
Hurriedly he jumped off the bed, wrapped himself up with his house robe as he rushed to get the door.
“Good morning sir.” A slim young Afro-politan man of average height pushed in his trolley before him.
“Excuse me, may I ask for a favor.” Kibela saw a solution centre in the cleaner.
“Yes, anything” the cleaner offered.
“I need a sponge for my body.” He hinted.
The young man amidst mild laughter looked into his trolley, and brought out a hard sponge-like material.
“Though this is not for body scrubbing but I bet it will work for what you are asking.” The cleaner winked. “We have the sun as the second skin”. His thumbs up.
“Thank you, my brother”. Kibela returned with orgasmic expression written all over him. “You made my day”. He almost hugged the young man but fear of being tagged a gay made him apply the brakes.
The young cleaner made him know that at this time of the year the luxuriation in bathroom is not desirable by everyone especially if they don’t have a thermostat but somehow people observed their cleaning by carrying a mobile heater.
Truly, a man that has not experienced the other side may not understand the other side.
Hurriedly he had his bath the way he wanted, got dressed and ventured the banquet hall, the venue for the presentation.
He is faced with people of diverse qualifications and achievements: one could tell from the ambience of the hall.
“Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen”, he started.
He had dipped his left hand into the inner pocket of his bespoke jacket; spread the sheet on the rostrum. He paused for few seconds then continued.
“Don’t mind my suit. The first time I wore it, it earned me a rent increment from my landlord.” The audience chuckled.
He looked up in confusion but continued all the same.
“That is the truth. My landlord, through his Solicitor, wrote me detailing how evasive I have been with my income. They wondered how an unknown writer earns enough to afford such a blazer.” He chuckled along with the audience who are obviously more relaxed.
He started on a note no one would have thought because he did not conform himself to the usual protocol of such elevated audience. They must be thinking it is a new approach.
“When I remained undaunted by the Quit Notice, they employed another strategy. The landlord brought untethered hounds to the compound, believing that since animals are easy carriers of EVD, I will run for dear life. But observing the Landlord for few days, I found he was still strong and active, so the possibility of the hounds being infected was reduced then I fed them and we became pals”, he displayed the frustration of the landlord and the audience released riotous sounds of laughter.
He wondered if he was being made jest of, or if he is impacting the gathering. But not to betray his sense of misery, (as he had left the actual paper he prepared for the presentation in the hotel room) he continued.
“The man became a pugilist eventually” he shouted, “Leave my house! Leave my house!!” He shook the podium.
“But I did nothing because where I come from; it is abomination to raise your voice or hand against an elder. All you have a choice to do is to persevere.” He dropped his head.
The sounding wow of the audience can never be quantified as they stood with a resounding round of applause to express their great admiration of an enigma.
When Kibela woke up, he was still in the suburb of Maputo.
To get the full story and other stories look out for Wobbled Words in November. Wobbled Words is a compilation of short stories, proceeds from the sales of which would go for humanitarian purposes, basically, for the education of discerning but indigent students. Watch out for more info.
We need to be strong when faced with challenges. Our detractors are useful in making us think creatively such that no adversity can break us when we do.
Adebayo Coker is the author of Societal Fragments and A Man Like Me: Noteography Of a Father to His Son (both are available on www.amazon.com OR order directly by calling 09096991619). He blogs via www.pausibility.wordpress.com and tweets @adebay_c