I have had many entitlements in my life, sleep, however has not been one of them. The harder I try, the more the activity eludes me, hiding itself between the corners of various mindless activities. I don’t know about you, but no matter how luxurious, spacious, or private the bedroom, if it is not my home or familiar surroundings, I don’t sleep so easily. I don’t think it is paranoia. Rather, perhaps the mind tries (a little too hard) to attune itself to the unfamiliar surroundings before it can relax enough to sleep. Then again, there are those things that are ‘not within your control’ like your temporary neighbours, which usually have a delicate way of prolonging the agony of the insomniac.
Like the time I was working in a bank as a backroom member of staff. What people don’t know or appreciate is the volume of work bankers dedicate themselves to dealing with, especially after normal office hours. My branch was in Apapa, I lived in Ajah and I had to show up on a weekend to sort out a backlog of work that had to be done before Monday. I had 2 days notice, so I decided to lodge in a hotel in the vicinity on Friday night with a change of clothes, toiletries, and cash for dinner as well as for transportation home. That’s right. I was the banker who didn’t think having a car in Lagos made sense. I still don’t.
Anyway, I went to a hotel, booked a room at the topmost floor. The 2nd floor, last room to the right. I do this when I can, so I can minimise the ‘unintentional intrusions’ of other guests. As I unlocked the door, I was still preparing my mind to put down my bag and sleep immediately, when I got a Thomas a Kempis moment, ‘Man proposes, God disposes’.
The room was cluttered. I wasn’t asking for Feng Shui, but the furniture looked like an orgy had happened in there. The dresser drawer resembled a hooker’s negotiation table, the blankets on the bed looked coarse, and I suspected that ‘black light’ would reveal things that made the skin crawl, like the result of a clumsily dismounted condom. So I threw off the blankets and bed-sheets only to find the large dark stains of ‘spilled fluids’ on the bare mattress so I calmly replaced the bed-sheets and left the blanket on the floor.
The air-conditioner was tuning up…or at least I thought so until an hour passed by and I realised that was its ‘singing’ voice. I looked up at the fan as an option, but I decided to forgo the both. I just lay back on the bed, counted mosquitoes and tried to drift into a tide of sleep. One thing about tides is that they go both ways. Ask any insomniac. I was still trying to contemplate which way my particular tide would take me when I heard the squeaky fan next door. It was being brave with the effort it put into spinning as fast as it could. I thought the occupant was even braver for staying under it. Then he increased the speed and I could swear I heard the poor fan moan under the new pace, but it kept going and for some unexplainable reason seemed to be getting faster producing a rhythmic sound with each wind.
I turned to my side, hoping the limp pillow would at least block some of the sound from entering one earlobe and that was when I heard it. The sound of flesh slapping against flesh. It was urgent, passionate, fiery, and it was very much like an openly angry conversation between elephants as they fight. In my mind I tried to think of other things. But it always came back to the image of a pot-bellied man slapping his wife’s behind with his belly by means of great alacrity. Then I looked around ‘my’ room and concluded this fact: No matter the level of ‘Konji’ involved, no wife, girlfriend, or woman would allow herself be taken in a place like this unless she was a… surely, you can fill in the blanks for your self. The thought of this made an indelible impression on the room.
My skin began to crawl. As if cockroaches had run from that room to find sanctuary in my bed. I started to imagine blotched skin, badly set weave-on, tits that reminded one of ‘suffering and cold akara’, vaginal mastitis managed with vaseline…and then suddenly it was morning. I didn’t even notice that I had burned through 2 packs of Benson and Hedges, neither did I notice that I was in the dresser drawer chair, in the foetal position, with cigarette alight. My eye balls felt chalky, my imagination mocked me, the room was swirling in second-hand smoke and I didn’t have sex for another 2 months. I’ve gotten better since then, but I still cringe when I remember it.
Photo Credit: blackhealthzone.com