Hello, everyone! It has really been a long while since we last met on here. It feels good to be back. Hopefully, I shall not stay away for so long anymore.
Anyway, I’d like to introduce to you this series I’m starting. I wrote the first bits of it much earlier in the last quarter of the year as a full short story and it has lain fallow on my laptop for a while. I feel it would be nice to share with you as I develop it further into a longer form, with room to explore more questions. It is not exactly eerie, but it is not your regular stuff. The main idea is to explore the question of Existence.
I’d like for us to get interactive as we read and write this story together. Share your thoughts and opinions about both the writing and the story. Make suggestions and share your related experiences.
The traffic light had been red for so long that her mind traveled back to yesterday. Of course, there wasn’t a single patient soul in the traffic jam so when it changed to green, horns started blaring the very next second. Mansa was startled out of her thoughts and she jammed the accelerator with her bare right foot. She barely moved three meters before she was bumper to bumper with the car in front of her. It was sickening. She made a note to herself to get a bike. She believed that was the only solution to this nonsense. In Tamale, everyone wanted to buy a bike. It was almost unwise to own a car, and there wasn’t even traffic. But not in Accra. She had bought a second-hand 1996 Volkswagen soon after she got her job and she has had to visit the mechanic more times than she had received her paycheck. Aside that, the drive from Adenta to Osu consumed so much fuel. This car thing was not for her.
The traffic jam was maddening and she was going to be late. Hopping up and down to her car at 5:45 am with one shoe in hand was not going to pay off. It never had. Today especially she needed to get to work before Mr. Quansah did. There was a mountain of files to search through for a payment advice she had filed in April.Well, he said so.
Mansa believed Mr. Quansah did not like her much. At 4:30 pm each day without fail, the telephone on her desk would ring.
“Mensima, please come to my office,” He would say from the other end of the phone.
She would bend down and reach for her heels from under her desk, bump her head and spill soursop juice over her papers, pull out wads of tissue paper to soak up the mess, force her feet into her shoes and walk down the corridor, turning left to his office. Before she got in, she would lift her head to read the label on the door. It read, Chief Accounts Officer.
In his office, she would receive orders like “Pass these journal entries” “Write these credit notes” “Post this to the payables account” and “ Reverse blah blah”. Her mind traveled a lot and before he was done she would be somewhere in her thoughts. Finally, he would ask her what she had eaten for lunch. He seemed too fatherly. If it was Wednesday, she would have to cook up a story why she could not go and “grab a bite with my family” as he liked to put it.
Yesterday as expected, they performed their well-rehearsed drill. This time, he requested she retrieved the original copy of a PA he had asked her to file eight months ago. Her shoulders fell immediately she shut his door behind her. She cupped her face in both palms and sighed deeply. She took the steps that led down to the archives, all the while wondering why Mr. Quansah stubbornly insisted on calling her by a name that was not hers. She wasn’t even Fante. Mansa got to the archives and flipped up the light switch by the wall in the endless room. The yellow bulbs that lined the ceiling came on like the weak smile of someone dying of dysentery.
Slowly, Mansa started walking along the shelves. She run her finger along the spines of the files and books arranged on them. Her breathing slowed as she savoured the musky smell of aged paper, adulterated documents, scandalous receipts and forged signatures. She kept walking far into the room years and years back. She saw shelves dated 1947 and opposite it, 1946, then she went into the 1930s and kept going until it was 1900. Then she stopped. Something was terribly wrong. There was no way her firm could have files even dated 2000. It was set up merely 12 years ago.
She made as if to turn back the way she had come, then the lights began to flicker wildly. Papers flew out of files and swirled about her like she was caught in a vengeful tornado. The walls started to crumble but never fell in a heap. Instead, they flowed down endlessly like a crystalline waterfall into a foggy endless space. Above her, the ceiling lifted slowly, letting in different colours of dazzling light. She raised her hand to shield her eyes and slipped as she stepped back. She fell and hit her head against a fallen ladder.
From a distant place within her, she heard, “I was beginning to fear you would be late. The ceremony is about to begin.”
…to be continued