Shrill screams woke her up, she wasn’t surprised to realise that she was the one screaming. She was still panting heavily as she wiped out the beads of sweat on her neck and brow. The door opened and her mother rushed into the room.
“Another nightmare Otasowie?” she asked.
“Mum what did I do wrong, how did I deserve this fate! I am dead yet my body inhabits this space, I wish I could d..”
“Don’t say that my darling, how would I cope if anything happen to you? How do I think I feel with this thing happening to you and happening to me, who did I offend” she sobbed.
When they were eating breakfast the next morning, Otasowie suddenly flung her plate on the wall. Her mother continued eating while her father stood up to look at the fragments of the plate and the rice grains scattered on the floor.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” he shouted.
“Nothing!” she answered with a sneer.
“Why did you fling the plate, are you going crazy?”
“If you were fifteen years old and had to take antiretroviral medication for the rest of your life, you would do worse, much worse”.
“Won’t you say something now Ekpa?” she taunted.
He sat down and put his face in his open palms, he kept his face buried even after she had left the room.
“You shouldn’t have said anything” his wife said blandly
“How could I have ignored her tantrum? She keeps getting worse.”
A stinging slap across his left cheek was her reply.
“How dare you Eghosa!” she screamed hoarsely
“How dare you!” she repeated as she stood from the table, flung back the chair and ran out of the dining alcove.
“Dear God, why are you punishing me like this? I did nothing wrong, I only followed tradition” he looked at the ceiling and wished he could go back in time and undo the last two years.
She had another nightmare, this time it was women with faces of owls and cat like claws coming to rip out her womb because taking her clitoris was not enough for them. Again her sceams woke her up, she didn’t even know that she had slept. The nightmares had become more frequent since her diagnosis, they were definitely more vivid and sharply defined.
She looked at the pink clock on the wall and it was a few minutes after noon, she had been in her room since her outburst. A spider building a web captured her attention, the web was being built on the ebelebo (African almond) tree that shaded her window. The opening bars of Ifeneme by Tuface broke the spell. She reluctantly reached for her phone but the name on the display made her smile.
“Girly o, what’s up?” she sang
“Otas my darling, I dey o.” Kate gushed.
As they talked Otas closed her eyes and didn’t see the scary creatures that had been plaguing her dreams.
“Ehen Otas, listen up.” Kate paused before she continued. “I talked to my sister about you.”
“The one in Uniben right?”
“Yes, that one. She said your nightmares have to be as a result of one of your drugs, efe something she called it.”
“Efavirenz” she cut in
“Yes I think that is the name”
“Let me go and tell my mum, so that we’ll go to the clinic tomorrow and tell them about my nightmares.”