The man in front of me has a Bible, pages flipping through his charcoal dark fingers. We are the only ones in this room: a tiny establishment south of the University. Do not even blame fate, fate did not bring us here. I, in my wandering, wandered through the school pavements sourcing for a little inspiration. Something that could finally stick my ass down (sorry, I didn’t mean it to come out that way) and force it to write something. He on the other hand, after a near suffocation in the worldly filth that is varsity life, sought to have some time for God; and where better than a tiny room, so peaceful the only destroyers of peace are the few Chemistry equations racing up and down the chalkboard. So we found ourselves here; I, typing away and him flipping away.
I found him here, but never said a word upon entering. Actually no one was expected to. When you finally land into this room my friend, it means you only need peace. The room itself is so serene it almost says “Welcome brother, feel very welcome. Find rest here’’. The only trouble then is the look he gave me when I placed my bag on the desk and removed my tools of trade. That look I received one day while on my field attachment, when two days old at my place of work, an unidentified bag has been found at the building basement and with everyone around the office summoned, that look is all I saw people give me. I still think I would have made a pro terrorist in a parallel world.
So before I finally settled right behind him, he gave me that look, that look that asks,”Was this the only room you could get?”
He is seated but I can see the black coat wears him instead. His necktie dangles on the outside, like the lifeless body of Saddam hanging in the gallows. He now has his face closer to the Bible, a pen on his left hand runs under the words he is reading. He does this again and again, and again. I have stopped typing. Such keenness! I don’t even give my writing such, and the last time I took more than a minute on a Bible page I ended up tossing God’s Word away. You see, it was such a time I only had a fifty shillings note left and my roommate’s affinity to notes (especially fifty shilling notes) sits on the Mt Everest. So I had to hide the only cash standing between me and deferment of my studies. Yes, I’m that student who defers his studies when the parent refuse to exercise their constitutional rights of providing for a hardworking son in school.
So I hid my note away, in the middle of Revelations, right where that beast rises from the sea and does what the Bible says it does. I knew my roommie would never find the cash, not in the Bible, and definitely not in Revelations. I almost fainted that evening when after painstakingly searching for the Bible to no fruition, he (my roommate) entered the room, Bible in hand. The idiot had decided that of all days in our three years in Campus, this was the best day he would heed a Bible Study invite. I never asked him for the money. We can now all blame fate.
The man in front of me has stopped running his biro pen under his favorite verse, he now underlines it. Actually I’m at loss as to whether to call it his favorite. The look on his face as he presses his pen against the soft pages of the Bible reminds one of David. Not David doing a victory dance, not David playing Hallelujah from his harp. It reminds one of David’s face, weeping before Nathan. His right hand folded under his chin, you will find it hard to pity him. Is it him or whoever he is reading about in the Bible?
He pulls a handkerchief from his pocket and lets out the heaviest sneeze that threatens to bring the whole room down. That’s when he turns to look at me, our eyes met. His, red and watery; our brother here has been weeping all this while. He reads the surprise from my face, a stubborn face that still insisted on digging for finer details on the opposite face (Writers are criminals). No one says a word.
Feeling awkward, he stretches his hand towards me, and as I hand him mine, incoherent mumbles break the silence. The only line I made out from it, ”The Word of God, Brother. It’s heavy”. He then rises up, removes his coat and neatly folds it, dusting any imaginary dirt that might have lodged onto it. He picks his bag and walks away towards the door. I tell you, with those red eyes, and the seclusion of this room, it will take a huge deal of convincing the first person he meets that he wasn’t smoking bhang in this room.