Prose

The Existentialist Life of Butterflies

Walking on a quiet road one morning to the farm, suddenly; I saw butterflies in their hundreds of thousands in one uncultivated farmland. I stopped agape,  illuminated in a wilderness of surprise! Many questions began to run at the corridor of my mind:

‘Is this a pilgrim progress?’
‘What are they doing here?’
Do they want to elect a leader?
Or are they just at work?
‘Where did they come from?’
‘And where would they be going from here?’

The enigmatic scene of the butterflies was overwhelmingly worrisome. I have been passing this labyrinth to the farm since when I was five. I had never seen so many butterflies! Or could it be the world is coming to a frantic end?

After a while, when I couldn’t find an answer to any of my questions; I reeled on to the farm. The birds, morning dews and rats among others were telling me welcome in a way they never did. They were all happy seeing me that fateful day as though my coming was prophesized in the animal kingdom folktale.

Suddenly, I saw a rabbit having three eyes starring at me like a killer virus. And when I picked a stick to hit it, it ran back into the bush laughing as though a drunkard staggering home to torment some of the unfortunate members of his household.

This strange attitude of the animal angered me badly. But there’s nothing I could do.  So,  I went on with my day’s work. Suddenly,  flies began to sing a dirge as many of them continue to reunite with their forefathers mysteriously.

On my way home in the evening, I saw thousands of corpses of the butterflies! Again, I stopped agape! But this time I was not quite surprised as echoes of the burial songs of the flies I heard earlier signaled an imminent danger of a virus.

I got home, took some food and washed myself and then tuned on to my favourite station. Moments later, the radio announcer came up with the major items of the news, most of which were on the novel disease that is ravaging the world.

Weeks after weeks and months it continues to rain callously on every nook and cranny of the globe with no possible potential cure! This aggravated the fear of all including the so-called first world countries. So the only way to curb its spread was distancing. As a result, every butterfly is returning to its nest for good. The rest is this song:

Lagos, the sleepless city
is now now snoring
in ravaging  silence.

Apapa, host of the premier port,
the center of hustling
is now breathing in echoes of silence.

Suntan Beach, Y-Nut, Planet 44
and Club Towers
are deserted by fun seekers.

Museum Centre  is mourning is silence,
Silver bird galleria door is shut
to love birds.

The chanting of holy ghost fire
are heard no more
and the white garments worshippers
often at bar beach disappeared.

The clarion call for prayers
at mosques at the break of the dawn
are no more.

The Miracle makers
suddenly went into silence,
and healing schools doors are closed.

Anointing oils
are now drinking water
for the ministers.

‘Onikan and national stadium doors
are shut down for tournaments
Cobwebs are now the players!

Musicians known for pilling
epithets upon epithets without stuttering
went out of words like draught.

The acclaimed landlords of this house
cannot fly their jets to Miami, UK, Dubai
or Paris for weekends.

We are now the caged animals
while the inferior animals roam our streets, watching us in our cages of boredom.

Even as the virus bites harder
the earth still goes round its orbit
sun still shines, birds still sing.

‘Aye Asan’ (nothingness life) of infinite struggles! Struggling for what? Living for what? The paradox of existence is questioned by this strange virus!

I went to bed that night with so many issues ringing a bell in the wall of my mind. But I had no option other than psyching myself to sleep. It wasn’t quite long,   I began to hear a poet chanting another poem in my sleep:

First class hospitals
of western world are now third class
so those with golden shoes don’t go
for routine medical check up.

While the third class hospitals
become the first class, so those chewing
our kola nuts are smiling to
while many are no longer sick.

The door to millionaires clubs
are opened only to cobwebs
as the air of death
filled the sky!

The Buba and Agbada
run into hiding
with no exact date
to come out.

So many voices of love
without love but deceits
as the babbling of power continue
without corresponding contents.

Those born with silver spoons
and those born with chewing sticks
are all heaping a sigh
of boredom at home!

As the doors to exclusive eateries,
malls and even schools
are closed to those wearing ornaments
made of gold and plaited reeds.

The harshest wind is
blowing in every corner
of the universe
With an enigmatic precision!

Millennium park and its sister parks
are deserted,
Clattering of silence now controls
as though a night at the ocean bank.

Elegant handshakes
at occasions disappeared
like a child lost to the spirit world
not as a sacrifice but torment!

The free world is reduced
to a house arrest
with no finite date of freedom
encased in boredom.

One out of every five
is now jobless.
It’s even worst in where they named:
first world countries.

Many woven baskets
are heading to the streams
but none is yet to return
home with ‘maw’, ‘maw’  (healing water).

Then, the humming of a strange hungry cat from the ceiling interrupted my sailing. I got up and saw myself on my plaited reed mat in my small hut! Then something whispered to me that the ‘existentialist life of butterflies is an archetypal paradox of living!’

A dream is often the highest point of life.
 

About author
Umar Osabo teaches English as Second Language (ESL) and English as Foreign Language (EFL) courses at the University of Hargeisa, Somaliland, East Africa
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