By Victoria B. Willie:
I saw a ghost today.
It was unbelievable but real.
I hate to tell the story because it scared me to the marrow.
It scared me when the old man called me by a name which wasn’t mine.
But I answered him anyways because something told me the call was for me.
“I’m sorry, sir. My name is Victoria. And I’m not in any way igbo. You must be mistaken.”
He wouldn’t take my words. Instead, he took my hands and stared so deep into my eyes as though he was searching for something.
Then he said some stuff in igbo.
He noticed how my face creased into a frown and released his grip.
“Sorry, my daughter but you look like someone I know.”
I accepted his apology and made to move. But he took my right hand in his again.
There were bubbles in his eyes.
Bubbles that trickled down regardless of how much he tried to fight them.
“Can you follow me to that shop over there? I want to show you something.”
I arched my eyebrows as if to ask him if all was well. And he responded with a plea and some “I won’t harm you. I just want to show you something.”
That was how I followed him to the shop.
It was a kiosk that sold groceries actually.
When we got there, he ushered me to sit on a stool. No sooner had I sat than a child of about five years who saw us coming ran to hug me.
I was dazed.
“Daddy but I thought you said sista Adaku will never come home again?”
My heart skipped a bit.
What was going on?
The old man looked at me, and wiped off a tear.
I swallowed hard.
I wanted to go back to where I was headed but the curious cat in me decided to stay and see what he wanted to show me. Then I heard him speak Igbo to the little child and she happily went to the back of the kiosk and returned with a picture.
He collected it from her and handed it to me.
Immediately my gaze fell on the picture, it dropped from my hands.
I saw me in the picture.
And that’s not what scared me.
What freaked me out was the fact that in the picture, I wore the same dress I was wearing while all these happened.
“That is Adaku,” the old man said. “She died the day she took this picture.”
I stared at the old man and looked at the little girl who obviously didn’t understand what was happening.
I felt the hair on my skin rise and as it happened a force surged through me, propelling me to run.
Instinctively, I took to my heels.
I didn’t care about what was behind or in front of me.
All I wanted was to run away from everything.
From the kiosk.
From the old man.
From the little girl.
If perhaps, I had stopped to breathe, I would have heard when people were asking me to leave the road.
But unfortunately I heard nothing until the car hit me and I found myself in the hospital.
As the nurses wheeled me to wherever, all I said in my head was:
I saw a ghost today.
And the ghost was me.