by Oko Owi Ocho
Finally, it begins to rain again, as the sky sends its celestial torrents, for the second—or third time now?—since I left Lankaviri in Taraba and returned to Makurdi, since March, chased by a virus. Water: it sings in the rain and carries an internal pitch felt everywhere and anywhere, specially as it awakens memory. Unlike the murky lagoons in Lagos ruined by the urine of industries, that flow in different notes and distort the temperament of memories; the rain maintains a harmony.
As the rain wets the ground, I test my foot in the water since I can’t offer my entire body to the go inside the rain. The water tastes like it is 2008 again, when I fetched rainwater at night for drinking, as was my responsibility. The moments were pleasing, always, because I thought of P. mostly. I always imagined myself inside the rain, professing my love to her. This dream was built inside my head, I think, because the first romance novel I read (which I didn’t complete) had a scene of a pent-up lover who broke the walls around his tongue on a rainy day.
As I offered my foot to the rain, splashes of water notes rested on my body. Their touch startled memories out of my head and the songs I composed for P. which I never sang to her:
I’m alone in the rain
I’m alone in the rain
Won’t you open your door for me?
The water is heavy on me
And the cold may slay me . . .
Writing this now, I realized water gave me the first gift of poetry. But the ditty above wasn’t really poetry; it was a song I hummed—a translation from Idoma: Owo yo jumi / Ofu yo nmum. So tonight I discovered how poetry had stepped into my mouth. And here is a beauty in memory: it resurrects parts of our lives we inadvertently forget.
When I started writing poetry, one of my early poems was written on the handbill of LABAF. It described P. dancing in one of the student performances at Freedom Park. Earlier today, I picked a paper I made notes on. Part of a letter I wrote to another lover reads: “I am at Freedom Park. I came to see Oris. I am worried that he may be too busy to show up. Though this place brings many memories: my first public performance. Era of my love life with P. My growth. Everything.”
It’s almost a decade now that I realize I had prolonged my chances too much to open up to P. There is nothing of her left in me, save a picture we took in Alakoto Senior High School, and several dialogues we had. She has grown. I have grown, too. Only the water has not grown too old to forget the songs I gave to it. Rain may always bring P. back to me; I will glance at our picture and read an old poem.