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In The Present

 ZOLA
__________

In the beginning was the present.

You probably don’t remember verbatim how the quote goes. You don’t remember where you heard it or how it sank into your subconscious but it is your daily mantra. It tells you to live in the present, let go of the past and advises you not to worry about the future. But how can you let go of the past when you know what the future holds? 

The future you know holds a twenty-five year sentence of wearing the blue unflattering dress like the ones you wore in your first year in boarding school. There will be scheduled visits like those last Sundays of the month you always looked forward to while in school. You will definitely have to share your provisions with the seniors—to avoid getting on their bad side— just as you learned quickly after the second visiting day. Daddy had brought you two cans of Pringles and you had naively displayed them to the slithery eyes of Senior Lade. She didn’t court you into a corner the way most of her colleagues did, she made her demand outright. You were confused initially, then surprised by her outlandish demand and when she ordered another junior—a year above you and a year below Lade— to get her the two cans of Pringles, your surprise turned into irritation and then vapourised into steaming rage. 

There will be a daily serve of the same kind watery beans that gassed you each time you ate it while in school – the pain had to be subsided with a spoonful of Mismag. There will be roll calls like the ones Mrs. Ogunse did every night – you nearly got caught one night, when you snuck off to Demilade’s hostel. You will be watched over by people of the likes of Mrs. Ogunse and Ms. Tabitha, except your new house mistress would wear a khaki coloured uniform and will guide you to your visitors with silver handcuffs replacing your gold bracelet that compliments your olive toned skin. 

You were in the present yesterday when you downed glasses of wine. It was on the house, well actually, on the sharp looking guy who had paid for everyone’s drinks.
 
"Looks like someone’s hit the jackpot", you commented rather loudly. 

He merely smiled and raised a glass filled with clear liquid that looked suspiciously like water in salute. You suddenly felt self-conscious and promised yourself to be in the moment. 

You won’t hang to the past of two days ago when your boss promoted that incompetent Akin over your competent self and you won’t worry about the house rent that is due in two weeks. No, you would relish in the moment, basking in the company of a potential bedmate. The wine lifted your spirit and also your mouth. You went, determined to score a lover, but your prey had been snatched by a faster predator— another loss recorded in a week. 

You could do better, you wined and lived in the moment, downing glasses. You don’t remember getting into that Toyota Camry of yours that needed to be serviced, neither do you remember starting the car, nor going onto the road. You, however, do remember the feeling of being light, floating upon the road in your four-wheels with nothing on your mind. Then a thud. It was the thud that jolted you from your alcohol induced hypnosis. The impact was felt by the already falling-apart car, it stopped, then again, it might have been you who stopped the car. You were suddenly aware of your surrounding, you were on an empty bridge.

 “That’s easy,” you thought without really thinking. 

You gathered yourself together like it was something you did on a daily: you squatted next to the body, blood seeped from the head. You dragged the body across the four lanes of the bridge and with an unexplained strength, you heaved the body into the river beneath. You got into your car and didn’t stop until you got home. You puked for minutes into the toilet bowl and scrubbed your hands until they were raw. You dashed back to the car to check for dents and giveaways— none. It was a smallish body, the body that was now in the river. 

 Now, you’re here on your bed, regretting yesterday’s present and resenting today’s future and for once, you desperately wish to not be in the moment. So, in between your index finger and thumb is a roll of grass pilfered from the body of yesterday. Slowly and mindfully, you puff, the pungent yet calming smell being your only company at the funeral of a body down the river, yourself being both the priest and sole attendee.

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In The Present

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