“I can’t breath well” The frail voice lying beside me had said in the middle of the night.
I didn’t have anything to say to what she just told me. I didn’t know if i was supposed to say sorry to her or to tell her to try harder to breath.
Breathing was never something humans did by force.
Since i had never been in a similar health situation as Nina was, it was very difficult to know exactly what was happening to her.
She said she couldn’t breath well, the only time i witnessed such things as not breathing properly was each time i contacted flu or cold. But it usually happened during the dry seasons because i was very allergic to dust.
But inside our room, Nina wasn’t showing any sign of cold, she was just lying there like a log of dry wood. The rate at which she ate food had declined three days after she returned from the hospital. She had started to reject anything food, complaining about loss of appetite.
It happened around 4:20am. She was snoring lightly before i slept but when i woke up, the snoring had disappeared.
I was torn between attempting to wake her up or just pretend that i didn’t notice anything until the day broke properly.
There was the fear factor too. If i didn’t shook her to wake her up, i could have been on the same bed with a dead girl; a spirit.
Yes, a spirit. That was how i, with other people of my age back in school, saw dead bodies.
We had been told stories about how the spirit and ghosts would assemble around a dead body to welcome it to the spirit World.
I, with most people in Edo State had grown up with that belief.
Even now that i am telling the story, i still don’t know if that is true or not.
But that night in a Libyan Prison in Misrata, i was not going to pretend that everything was alright. I was going to wake Nina up to make sure i wasn’t sleeping alongside a dead body and the spirits that had come to take her home to the spirit World.
The only hope i had before shaking her body was that the same thing had happened two days before that very day.
On that first day, Nina had suddenly stopped breathing. It was still early evening, around 8pm.
The lights were still on, she was telling me a story about where she went to Secondary School, how she had a crush on one Yoruba boy called Ademola and how the boy promised to marry her.
Nina had said that if she knew that she would ever found herself in the situation we found ourselves in Libya, she would have just stayed back and waited for Ademola to make money and come to marry her.
“Look at me now, i don’t even know if he will still like me when i return to Nigeria” She had said.
I had deemed it good to encourage and give her hope. “He will still like you when you return”.
I had said that and waited for her to continue telling me about Ademola but she kept quiet.
I had thought that she would resume after having some rest or thought but she kept quiet.
After two minutes, i had said, “Where is Ademola now?”.
” You left and I cried tears of blood. My sorrow grows. Its not just that You left. But when You left my eyes went with You. Now, how will I cry?”
Nina had said nothing; therefore I had tapped her slightly on the back but she didn’t move. I tried the head but she didn’t move.
I placed my hand across the openings of her nose to see if air was coming out of her bit i didn’t feel anything.
Fear had gripped me and i had started shaking her violently until all of a sudden, she opened her eyes and stared at me for several moments.
“What is it?” She had asked after about two minutes.
“Nothing” I managed to say.
What was i supposed to tell her?, that i thought she wad dead?
Such news were not easy to give.
But unknowingly to me, that was the actual day and time Nina left me.
The return and staring she made after shaking her violently was just to spend a few more time with me.
She was gone.
She left me that very day.
She died that Wednesday evening.
I was just living with a ghost.
It wasn’t her fault that she was not allowed a free and peaceful passage to the underworld, it was my fault.
In an effort not to lose my friend, i had disturbed and stopped her from going home.
But how was i supposed to know. I was just a naive teenage girl who didn’t want to be left alone in a prison cell.
I wanted someone to talk to. I needed someone to encourage me as well because the idea that i was in a prison in Libya was choking.
On that early morning, nina had decided to go home quietly. She wanted me to sleep first before she left. She didn’t want any violent shaking that could return her to our World. She just waited until that point in the morning when sleep was the sweetest, then she left without a goodbye.
“Nina, Nina, Nina wake up” I had started saying quietly while shaking her slowly.
She didn’t move.
I had tried to place my hand across her nose and mouth but there was no movement of air.
At that stage, i knew she was gone.
With fear and confusion, i crawled quietly out of bed and pressed the emergency alarm.
While crawling out of bed, i got down through the bottom of the bed. I had thought that the spirits would be at the top and around the bed and that it could be disastrous for me to disturb them.
Even while pressing the emergency bell, i was praying that the spirits didn’t find it offensive and slapped me.
I had heard when i was a kid, that anybody slapped by a ghost would die.
I would have switched the electric bulb on but unfortunately, the lights in the entire prison facility were controlled by the authorities. They switched on and off whenever they wanted. It was the price we were paying for being prisoners.
It took the Prison guards about five minutes to get to my room.
Those five minutes were the longest i have ever had in my life but, i didn’t know what to say or do. I just waited until to men in uniforms came to my door and asked what it was.
Since i was standing near the metal door, the authorities knew that something was definitely wrong.
I had started crying as soon as they came closer to my door.
“She is dead, you people have killed her” I had managed to say before they started making more calls.
” Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”