Art includes everything that stimulates the desire to live… Art, even the most disinterested, the most disembodied, is the auxiliary of life.
– Rémy de Gourmont
The bed held me captive. I realised that today marked the fourth year that the roof of my room had become my sky; the leaf patterns on the curtains, my only connection to nature. I looked broodingly at the darkened room and came to my only conclusion.
My nurse, Ronke, came in and greeted me in her usual, cheery manner. As she set about cleaning me up and administering my medications, I dropped the bombshell,
‘I want to die, Ronke, help me. I can’t live like this anymore.’
Ronke stopped and stared at me. Then, I saw some kind of resolve harden her beautiful features.
‘Very well, sir, but, may I ask why?’
‘There is no more hope for me in this dreary world,’ I answered.
She looked at me for some time, then, with her back to me said,
‘I have a request that you will agree to without question. Then, I will take steps to honour your wish.’
‘Deal,’ I said grudgingly.
‘First, you will sing a new song to me every morning for a week, second, I will open those curtains and third I will take you for a walk and you will write a poem on wherever we go,’ she said firmly.
I was horrified. Then, what she said registered and I asked with a sneer,
‘How do you expect me to write when these hands of mine do not work?’
‘You will write with the words of your mouth,’ she said turning back to face me. I could see in her expression that I had no choice but to agree if I was to exit this useless existence.
‘And we start now,’ she stated. She drew the curtains open and I gasped. That open window brought back memories I would rather forget. The sunlight poured in and bathed my face for the first time in four years. I wanted to draw them closed again but strapped in bed, I could do nothing. I warmed up… I didn’t know I was so cold.
Against Ronke’s determination, I was helpless. She made me sing while she played the piano, and against my will, my heart awoke from its deep slumber. I had thought it was dead. And again, the beautiful music brought back memories. With the memories, came my spirit.
She strapped me to a walker with the aid of Felix, my brother, who I didn’t know lived in the house with me. She took me on walks and I saw nature in all its glory. The moon looked larger, the stars brighter, the trees taller, the leaves greener. The lines of poetry came with my rebirth. She became the hands that wrote them. The artesian well had broken loose. I lived.
Kemi Makinde is a student of the University of Ibadan studying for a degree in English and literary studies. This story titled ‘Arts Awakening’ won her the prize of the 2015 Active Circle, Prose category prize. She takes delight in reading, hanging out and of course wielding the pen.