Saturday, September 22, 2007

Distant Hymns

Before the beginning of the football game, I sit near the window reading a book about Lagos. The late afternoon light slants through the trees making the leaves glow. Drumming and chanting wafts into the window from the stadium—distorted by loudspeakers and breezes and shouts and the salsa that dances low and tinny on my radio. I think I hear a familiar hymn, sung with fervour, a prayer meeting somewhere, the loudspeakers that will continue far into the night. My first night back in Jos, the voices drift in, struggling against the muezzin at first and then blending into the chant of the cicadas and barking of the dogs and the breezes of late May. All night long, I lie in bed listening to distant Amens..… Oh, I realize, It’s “Sweet Caroline,” and I’m here in the Midwestern United States, leaves rippling outside, green for a few weeks more. A yellow rose nods on the window sill, and photos from Jos, newly hung, peer down at me. A train moans. I have some more unpacking to do.

6 comments:

Andi said...

what beautiful language, Carmen. So specific to Jos and so universal to all of us. Thanks.
Andi

Fred said...

Nice, C. I was moved enough by the narrative to see if I could add to it:

Before the football game starts at the nearby stadium, I sit near a window reading a stodgy book about Lagos. The late afternoon light pierces the trees in long shafts, making the leaves glow. Drumming and chanting wafts in from the stadium—but it could be from anywhere—distorted by loudspeakers and contending for attention with the shouting from the street below and the salsa on my radio. If I strain, I think I hear a familiar hymn, sung with enthusiastic devotion: a prayer meeting, sure to continue far into the wee hours. My first night back in Jos.
The Muezzin's call is now a memory, but while it lasted, it was locked in combat with the voices of the football crowd wending its way to the stadium, the love songs of the Cicadas and the stubborn barking of dogs, all carried to and fro on the breezes of a late Nigerian May.
All night afterwards, I lie in bed comfortably dozing, listening to distant doxological Amens. But, I realize with a start, forcing my eyes open, it's "Sweet Caroline" and I'm here, in the Midwest. Leaves ripple outside, protesting ill-treatment by the blasting, cold wind, green only for a few weeks' more. A yellow rose sways and nods in it's pot on the window sill, next to photos from Jos, newly hung. A train groans and squeals. I have more unpacking to do.

uknaija said...

have you caught the dream bug from kulutempa?

Talatu-Carmen said...

@Andi, thanks!

@Fred, thanks. nice appropriation. actually, the book was not at all stodgy: it was inspiring. i think i'll keep my version, with the conviction that often "less is more." but run with yours...

@uknaija, LOL. no, actually, i caught the bug from the book about Lagos that i was reading. but, i jogged over to kulutempa's page and i see what you mean. {-;

Miss Opeke said...

I will agree with you that it is book about Lagos...

Fred said...

I didn't know anything about the book (naturally), but I thought to make it stodgy because of the plot: it's boring so you fell asleep and match cut to: waking up in your American apartment.

Glad to see you back blogging … hope all is well.