Okorafor, Nnedi. “Lagoon.” Hodder & Stoughton. (some reading notes)
Adaora’s husband Chris would instantly hate this woman for all of these reasons. To him, this woman would be a “marine witch”. Her husband believed there were white witches, physical witches and marine witches. All were evil, but the marine witch was the most powerful because she could harness water, the very substance that made up 70 per cent of an adult’s body and 75 per cent of a child’s. Water is life, she thought, yet again.
Anthony nodded. “You can change yourselves but you can change the fish, too, right?” “Precisely,” Ayodele said. “We give them whatever they want.” “Damn,” he said. Then he nodded with a small smile. “Respect.”
“Look, Brother Chris, women are . . . weak vessels. It is identified in the Bible. Your Adaora is a highly educated biologist but she’s no different from the others. She could not change herself if she tried.” He chuckled and sipped his wine. Then he laughed loudly. “Kai! But your wife is a tough one, o!” “You really think she’s a witch?” Chris asked. “I do, Brother Chris,” he said. “A marine witch, the worst kind. Look at her knowledge of the water. But don’t worry, no shaking, o,” he said, chuckling. “My church is powerful. It is my job to handle such things.”
A college friend of hers used to say that everything human beings perceived as real was only a matter of the information their bodies recorded. “And that information isn’t always correct or complete,” he said. Back then, Adaora had dismissively rolled her eyes. Now, she understood.
“We are change,” Ayodele calmly responded “The sentiments were already there. I know nothing about those other things.”
“I don’t know. We don’t count ourselves.”
Anthony laughed. “You bring in what you put out. Lagos . . .” He patted Agu and Adaora on the shoulders and dropped into Pidgin English. “‘Lasgidi’ you dey call am, right? Eko? Isn’t that what you people call Lagos? Place of belle-sweet, gidi gidi, kata kata, isu and wahala. Lagos is energy. It never stops. That’s why I like coming here, too.”
“I am not a witch, I am alien to your planet, I am an alien,” Ayodele said in the voice of Father Oke’s recently deceased mother. “We change. With our bodies, and we change everything around us.”
Whatever “it” was, only they knew. They announced that the ocean would soon swallow them all up for the sins of these marine witches and warlocks, nonbelievers in Christ who’d taken over the country. Some blamed the Muslims of the north. Others blamed the Americans. Al-Qaeda. Sickness. The British. Bad luck. Devils. Poverty. Women. Fate. 419. Biafra. The bad roads. The Military. Corruption.
Ayodele smiled, though her eyes didn’t leave her book. “Greetings, children.” “I’m . . . Kola and that’s my little brother, Fred.” Still cowering behind the fish tank, Fred waved a feeble hello. “Are you really an alien?” Kola asked. Ayodele closed her book and looked at Kola. “By your definition, yes.” “Well, how come you look human?” “Would you rather I didn’t?” “Why not appear as yourself?” “Human beings have a hard time relating to that which does not resemble them. It’s your greatest flaw.” Kola liked this answer very much because it made sense. In cartoons, even the animals who could talk also had to look human. That had always annoyed her brother. She stepped closer
Adaora was fuming. Why did we think the man would behave rationally? When had the Nigerian government and military done anything for its people? They were all about covering their asses and stuffing their own pockets. She wanted to slap her other cheek. She’d been an idiot. She and Agu, rare patriotic Nigerians trying to do the right thing. Stupid members of the populace. Insignificant, powerless civilians. She should have known better.
These kinds of people always showed up whenever the masses stopped “suffering and smiling”.
“In less than twenty-four hours, I have seen love, hate, greed, ambition and obsession amongst you,” Ayodele said. “I have seen compassion, hope, sadness, insecurity, art, intelligence, ingenuity, corruption, curiosity and violence. This is life. We love life.”
Nevertheless, the tarantula believes that life is best lived by embracing the changes that come his way. So he gently places a leg on the cool pavement; the leg beside the space of the one he lost. This leg is the most sensitive, always has been. With it, he can feel the soul of the great spider artist of the land, she who weaves all things into existence.
There are greater beings of the earth, soil, sea, lagoon and land. This stretch of highway has named itself the Bone Collector. It mostly collects human bones, and the bones of human vehicles. But sometimes it likes the chitinous bones of spiders, too.
The boy would join the group of murdered young people who became iconic figures of troubled times, like South Africa’s Hector Pieterson and Iran’s Neda Agha-Soltan. This child would become The Boy Who Died So the World Could See.
I wasn’t sure if people were just wilding out or if it was murder-rioting like they occasionally did in the north when a Christian looked at a Muslim the wrong way. Uche bit his nails as he spoke, “But what if—”
Holy shit, this was Ijele. The Chief of all Masquerades, Igbo royalty. Ijele does not ask the small or big masquerades to leave the Village Square when it wants to enter. They have to. Ijele is the climax and it performs alone. If this thing wasn’t Ijele then I’d gone mad.
But that thing, that thing that was haunting the road, it was from here and had probably been here since these roads were built, maybe even before then.
“I have always collected bones. I am the road.”
The man grinned. He didn’t have many teeth. Then he laughed wheezily and said something in another language. Could have been Yoruba, Hausa, or complete gibberish. I don’t think it was gibberish. The man had a glint in his eye and it put me on edge.
And if there is one city that rhymes with “chaos”, it is Lagos.
“You are evil!” Zena shouted from behind him. “I am not,” Ayodele said flatly. “I am change.”
She has no words for color because she is a bat and bats do not see colors. But she sees them now. She sees a thousand of them. She can taste them.
The sea always takes more than it gives.
Mami Wata was the goddess of all marine witches.
She shut her eyes and felt her neck. The gill flaps were still there. “Who am I?” she whispered. Her voice was her own, albeit rough. When she opened her eyes, she was looking into Agu’s. A tear was falling down his cheek. He was shaking from the strain of her weight. “Something new,” he said. “Something old,” Anthony said. He laughed. “Something borrowed, more than gold, something true, never sold, goddamn aliens too fuckin’ bold. Chale, see I spit am!” Then he grinned and shouted, “I dey Craaaaaaze!”
“Not a coincidence,” Anthony said. “Na the work of de universe.” “It’s the work of something,” Agu said. Adaora shivered. “My father would have said it’s the work of the gods.”
Done by whom? Adaora thought. She knew the answer. The sea creatures. They wanted the water to be “clean”. “Clean” for sea life . . . which meant toxic for modern, civilized, meat-eating, clean-water-drinking human beings. Shit, she thought. I’m going to die out here.
Then her memory grew hazy and she remembered nothing until her head was breaking the surface of the water beneath the late-afternoon sun. She felt as though she had encountered something enormous; something so far beyond anything she could have imagined, and that its presence threatened to force her out of existence
Since taking office, he’d found himself powerless to fight against Nigeria’s soul-crushing corruption. Wherever he tried to make changes, people around him were always trying to drain some sort of shady profit from his efforts. If he tried to create a program to improve schools or hospitals, someone set up a fake contract that would bleed money from the program. When he tried to address unemployment, healthcare, inflation, electricity, education, agriculture, any time there was money to be spent, it was the same result: the vampires always came. This had worn him down. It had made him feel futile, useless. Now, for the first time, he felt like a president. And this speech would be his first real act as Nigeria’s true leader. Oh, it was exciting.
How can this be good? Aliens?” Kelechi’s wife muttered, setting a bowl of okra soup and gari on the portable table in front of him. Kelechi’s father leaned forward and smiled at the food. He was in a good mood. “They are probably devils,” she added. “You’re a child,” his uncle said, irritably. “What can you know about devils except what those silly churches pound into your head?”
He pounded his own head to illustrate his point. “What we just heard that normally brainless president say – that was the most wonderful thing I have heard any politician say in decades!”
“Her father was hit by a truck. He wasn’t eaten by a road.”
Shape-shifters of the third kind. Story weavers of their own time.