Riko went to the edge of the building. He looked past the horizon into the darkness that loomed upon the building, upon the city and his own self. The cars looked microscopic 30 stories below him. He takes a deep breath, then jumps off the building, ending up as splatter of blood and gore on the pavement below.
As soon as he hits the grown, a loud howl was heard from the skies above. It was like someone forgot to turn off the speakers which are playing live from the South African World Cup, what with all the noise and vuvuzela-like sound buzzing through the air. The dead Riko could hear the sound if ever so briefly before his conscience fads away, which was in a jiffy, a fraction of a second. No one could fall 30 stories and live for another second after impact, right? But the sound only meant one thing to the now dead Riko. It meant nothing, and nothing it is to a dead man. To others present at the scene of blood and gore, it was like a horror film coming to life, what with the sudden fall of a body and ominous sound from the sky. Should Riko be alive, which he is well not right now, he too would find that scene disturbing and haunting.
One of the many that saw Riko’s fall to demise was seven-year old Niki. Niki ran away from home that night because she thought papa was the baddest guy in the universe. Niki’s papa was a strict man. He didn’t allow his princess to go onto the internet after 9 pm. Niki couldn’t take that. She thought her papa was oppressive, so she fought back against papa’s order that night. She cited Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and demanded that her papa stay out of her business for the period of time she’s on the net. For according to that article, “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence”. And that no one written there includes her, a human being.
Niki is a smart girl, but not smart enough. She thought her father would be enraged by her bold declaration of insubordination, and for sure he’ll beat her to a pulp. But she won’t mind if he does so because it will be according to her plan to get her father into trouble and get the cops to throw papa into jail for child abuse. But papa didn’t react as she expected. Instead, he laughed out loud while patting Niki’s head. What a smart girl you are. You’ll make a fine lawyer someday, said papa without the slightest glimpse of anger. Niki couldn’t comprehend this absurd act. This is not papa, she thought. Papa would never had laughed at this. Papa was always a strict man. So why is papa laughing heartily right now?
Enraged by her papa’s unanticipated light-hearted response, she left the computer table and went straight to her room without getting a good night kiss from mama as usual. She tucked herself under the covers, tears flowing out of her eyes, not because of sadness but because of rage. The hours went by slowly and painfully, yet she still couldn’t get her beauty sleep. As the clock struck twelve midnight, she jumped out of bed, wore her favorite turquoise-colored sweater with the printed sunflower pattern at the corner of the left front pocket, crept out the back door and walked away from her house without ever planning to come back. She’s a big girl, she can get over the world by herself, or so she thought. She reads a lot, so she knows a lot. She won’t let her father make fun of her anymore. No, she won’t let anyone make fun of her ever again.
But not even two hours after she left home wanting to prove to the world that she can do it, that nothing can frighten her or stand in her way, here in front of her fell a body out of the sky. As if mocking her, testing the wits, the body fell like a rag-doll, made a loud thump like an apple falling to the ground, and splattered blood all over the place, including on her. Niki was speechless. She did not cry, but she did not move at all. The shock was overbearing that she lost all strength and reasoning. What is this? Are humans supposed to fall out of the sky like this? What’s with the eyeballs and tongue popping out of (maybe) his crushed head? Niki stood there in silent as if she was bewitched by Riko’s mangled body. Then she did not remember anything else. She passed out on the pavement next to the bloody Riko.
Rina was on her night stroll on the other side of the street when all that happened. She heard a loud thump, followed by eerie sounds filling the air, and then another thump, a much lighter one than the one before it. She turned towards across the street, only to find two bodies lying next to each other, one with blood flowing outwards from it. She rushed across the street, in her haste almost ended up as roadkill by a truck, and took a closer look at the two bodies. A car had stopped by and its driver came out as well. Seeing the blood, the driver immediately took out his phone and entered three digits, calling for an ambulance or the police or whoever is in charge, Rina doesn’t care.
Seeing the bodies, Rina trembled. She then looks up towards the building top. A conclusion came to mind. She looks back at Riko and Niki. A teenage boy and a cute kid. It must be it! This must be a double suicide! They must’ve been lovers, but due to the age gap, they must’ve thought the world was too cruel to them. The world can’t accept them, so they rejected the world and left it in response. She takes out her cellphone, and then aimed at the scene. A few snaps could be heard, and then it is over. She took no time to upload the picture to her Instagram, hashtagged ‘double suicide’ and ‘lolinlover’.
By that time, Niki’s papa was fast asleep. He does not know that his daughter wasn’t at home. It is 1 in the morning after all. He has work tomorrow, so he couldn’t stay up late. He does know that Niki is mad at him, but he let’s that pass by. She’s in her rebellious phase, thought papa. Just ignore it, and she’ll be okay after a while. He had his own rebellious phase too when he was young. There’s nothing to be upset about. It’s just a phase that everyone goes through. So he slept away, resting his mind and body in a dreamless sleep, just like the nights before.
But this night is different. Not long after 1 o’clock in the twilight hours, his cellphone rang. At first, he didn’t even notice it. He is deep in sleep. But the ringing goes on incessantly until mama wakes up and shakes papa awake. Your phone dear, its ringing, she said before pulling the covers over her. Papa is still in a daze. He takes the phone from the side table and squints his eyes, trying to get a better look at the number calling him. It was his niece Ara. Now, why would my niece call me in the middle of the night? His logic plunges forward, so does his instinct. Something must be wrong enough to warrant a midnight call. So he took the call and ask straight away. What is it, Ara?
“Uncle, where’s Niki?” said Ara in a trembling voice.
“In bed, of course. Why?” papa replied without doubt.
“Are you sure?” ask Ara again. Her voice sounds shaky enough, papa could imagine her n the verge of tears.
Feeling something is off, papa jumps out of bed and clambers through the darkness to Niki’s room with his hands reaching the walls of his house. He’s very familiar with the interior and tries not to knock down the vases and china lining the corridor, or else mama would get very mad at him. At Niki’s room, he opens the door and switches on the sleeping lamp, only to find an empty room. There is no Niki on the bed. There is no Niki anywhere in that room. Blood rushes to papa’s head. He takes the phone to his ear, this time his voice trembling like Ara’s
To which Ara replied with a mournful cry.
The day is young. It is in this twilight hours before dawn that a family was rushed out of routine. Papa and mama rushed to the hospital after getting a phone call from the police. Ara had informed the police that the girl she saw in a picture on Instagram was her cousin, and gave them her parent’s number. Rina was apprehended by the police for investigation. And Niki was fast asleep in a hospital bed. The doctors told papa and mama that she was in a state of shock, and her bodily functions had ceased upon the horrid sight of a dead body in front of her. But do not fear, she’s quite stable right now, they assured papa and mama.
In the meantime, Riko laid on a table in the post-mortem room, still dead. The pathologist came in, cut a Y-incision, observed what needs to be observed, took a few samples for testing, jotted down a few notes, and closed the incision. Then the pathologist tagged Riko’s body and slid him into a refrigerated cabinet. That was to be the last of Riko. He had no identification on him, so the police don’t know who to contact. They’ll leave Riko’s body there until his next of kin comes to collect him, or until he is of no use to the case. The police made extensive shout-outs for anyone who has any information on Riko or his next of kin, and yet to receive any info of appreciable value.
Five days passed by, and Niki remained asleep. Papa and mama began to worry and asked the doctors to have a look at her from time to time, but the results are the same; there is nothing wrong with Niki. Not physically or physiologically at least. Even her brain scans show positive activity signalling health. Maybe the shock was too strong for the young girl to accept and let pass, the doctors said. But that doesn’t sooth papa and mama in the least. Instead, they got worrier as time goes by. Who wouldn’t?
Exactly a week after the incident, in the early hours of the day, Niki opens her eyes to the morning rays of sunlight. Mama was asleep on a chair beside Niki’s bed. Seeing mama there, Niki grasps her right hand tightly with a smile lingering on her face. Tears trickle down her plump rosy cheek that is dry because of the hospital air conditioner. Mama opens her eyes ever so slowly, as if trying to build suspense. As her eyes are fully open, Niki’s smile greets her view.
“Morning mama,” said Niki in a hushed coarse voice. Her vocal cord hasn’t been used for a week, so of course her voice will sound funny.
Tears well up in mama’s eyes. Seeing her baby girl awake after so long made her hysterically euphoric. She hugs Niki tightly. Niki hugged back. Tears started to stream down in a continuous fall from both of them.
“I’m sorry mama, for making you and papa so worried,” cried Niki in her coarse voice.
Mama hasn’t the strength to reply, so she just shook her head in response. She is grateful to see Niki awake. That is all that she knows right now. On this occasion, words are meaningless, and they will stay lost from her vocabulary as long as she is in her euphoric state.
Then papa comes in from the washroom. As soon as he sees Niki and mama hugging each other, he stops in his tracks . His knees felt weak, they almost gave in to gravity. He rushes to the side of the bed and hugs the two women of his life, tears welling up in his eyes.
“Thank God you’re okay, Niki. Thank God,” papa said, repetitively supplicating to God.
“I’m sorry papa, for being a bad girl,” Niki replies in tears.
Papa just shakes his head in response. In this situation, he will forgive his daughter no matter what she had done. He knows that he owes that much kindness as God had shown kindness to him and his family.
“Riko told me everything, papa. About how worried you and mama are after I fainted, about how you and mama never left my side this whole time. I’m sorry for saying mean things to you, papa. I now know that you did what you did because you love me. Riko said so,” continues Niki.
Papa and mama was taken aback by Niki’s words. They let loose their hugs, and turn to Niki with a curious look on their faces. Mama is still speechless, even more so after what her daughter had said. Her euphoria is now taken over by confusion. Papa was much more calmer than mama, but he still can’t hide his curious look. After a moment of silence, papa finally asks the big question.
“Niki dear, who’s Riko?”
29th May 2015