A Kiss of Demise

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It is Thursday, a day that comes with its strange tidings. I begin to wonder what the morning sun has in store for me. However, none of that matters, except for the wind on my face. Even as I dream, I hear her call; it is a call that sends serenity down my spine. But how did that call come to be?

Tunike waits for me. She hopes I become ‘one’ with her. But she fails to hear the silent drumming of my heart. My heart only beats with recognition when I ride the winds of the roads.

“Why does it have to be this way?” Tunike asks, with a pleading tone.

“I will tell you how it came to be. My Egbon once spoke a tale to me. It was a quirky tale because its beginning and end seemed vague. Almost as if it never was real, but I paid heed to it.

He called it the Kiss of Death. My Egbon believed you gave Death a kiss, each time you got on your okada. So, my Egbon told of his intimate love with Death. He believed his first Kiss with the alluring being was in his fourth year as an okada-man (a rudimentary term for a motorcycle driver). Now, hear his story in his own words.”

On the fifth of October, I turned 38. I rode down Olabisi Way. I rode the winds with much gentleness, for speeding on these Nigerian roads is an early nod towards death’s call.

I was stopped by a woman who had her face covered with a grey veil. I made a quick hunch that she was a religious woman, but I made no comment towards her appearance.

“Where you dey go?” I asked in our beloved pidgin. I rarely spoke English during my rides, lest my passengers think I am an educated man, who couldn’t make a name of himself.

The woman refused to speak but she moved to mount my motorcycle. I turned towards the road and as she sat next to me, I felt a gentle pull at my presence of self.

“Madam, where you dey go?” I asked again, expecting a reply this time. For me, the second time has always been the charm.

She laughed and spoke this time. “Oga, dey go. When we reach, I go tell you.”

I started my motorcycle and rode once again at a gentle space. We rode in silence in the few minutes that followed−−with nothing but the winds paying us heed. Suddenly, the woman stiffened and spoke.

“Oga, you no dey go fast. I don late, do fast abeg.”

I laughed and replied without thinking much about it. Passengers who wanted a speedy trip always had a fear of time, despite its abundance. So, I replied her request.

“Madam, I no won die. The road no good and I fit jam motor.”

“No worry, I dey hold you.” Were the words I heard last.

Without notice, I began to speed up. We passed through multiple vehicles and other okadas in a flash. The world seemed blurry to me and I could only hear my heart and the engine of my motorcycle.

My passenger took hold of my hands and whispered these words to my ears gently: “One dallies with the wind and death comes for her kiss. I have come for my kiss today and you will touch my lips in reverence.”

The world came back to life after I heard those words. I found myself slowing down, and I knew she no longer rode with me. But I never forgot her pull at my soul. From then onwards, I rode my okada, with a longing for her kiss.

Tunike’s eyes were wide as I finished telling my Egbon’s story. I felt satisfied because I had answered her question on why I kept riding my motorcycle. I too, pined for Death’s kiss.

Tunike closed her eyes and grabbed her hands. She placed them to her heart and asked me to feel the drumming of her heart.

“I hear your heart,” I whispered to her and pulled her close. “It envelopes me in its warmth, and perhaps, I could die here, knowing that I came close to completion.”

“What does it tell you?” Tunike asked.

“It sings. It sings a lonely song yearning for its completion.” I answered.

She embraced me after I answered her, and she began to weep. She wept to put the rains of the half-year to shame. I became afraid. I wanted to stay with her−−to help her complete her song.

But I was promised a kiss and my soul yearned for those lips.

“My song has found its completion. You complete my song. Please, stay and hear its melody.”

I pulled away from her embrace, and I ran from the world. I ran away from warmth. I ran away from solace, into a hollow end.

The wind welcomes me as I ride my uncle’s okada, now my motorcycle. It was passed down to me after he embraced the warmth of Death’s kiss. There is freedom to be found in the winds of the road. There is also a chilling tranquility in the arms of Death, as her veil touches my back ever so slightly. I want to fall into the lure of her lips. Egbon said he found meaning in her moist tongue, and I envy him for his luck. I too, will taste the freedom of Death’s lips.

Olaleye Olorunfemi

Olaleye Olorunfemi

Olaleye Olorunfemi, also known as Femi Leye, is a Nigerian writer, cinephile and budding silicate technologist. He publishes short stories, personal essays and poetry on his medium page at http://medium.com/@femileye12. You can follow him on X @leyezaiseph.