Previously on SNAPSHOTS

*

Waliu liked to take snapshots of events in his head. He did that so he could obsess over them later while going over the details he may have missed while whatever happened was happening. Like the time he had been caught stealing cornflakes from his roommate’s locker in secondary school. He would freeze the moment in his head, the wide-eyed surprise of the roommate, the way he had been crouched in a classic thief pose. He would remember details like how much light there was, the smell of sweaty teenage boys that clung to the room even after it had been cleaned and a pair of boxers hung on the wooden support for the mosquito nets. He observed almost all the snapshots in his head in a sterile way, the way a seasoned doctor might observe a deep gash, unmoved, unfeeling, just another deep gash that needed to be taken care of. No, the snapshots didn’t make him queasy or embarrassed or giddy or melancholic. They were just there.

This wasn’t to say he was an unfeeling person. On the contrary, Waliu felt things so much they hurt, but he liked to leave those feelings out of the snapshots he took, photoshop them out lest he burst – like the first time he was kissed by Jonathan in the bathroom at midnight when they snuck out to take their shower because the weather was too hot. It had come as a surprise and he remembered the way his hands hung limply at his sides and Jonathan had groped him till he felt like he was going to pee. He’d actually done so in Jonathan’s hand, except it wasn’t pee. And Jonathan had laughed and he had laughed too. And just then, a flashlight suddenly cut into the bathroom. Jonathan had pushed him away and his brain had almost instinctively taken a snapshot. The incredulous look stamped on Jonathan’s face froze in his brain, a look that wasn’t directed at the intruder of their privacy – but at him. That was one of the snapshots he went back to constantly. The look on Jonathan’s face. On some days, Waliu remembered it as a spectacular piece of acting by Jonathan; other times, he didn’t think Jonathan was acting. The look of righteous anger and indignation was too real.

Many things happened after that night which eventually led to Waliu’s expulsion. Jonathan stayed. He spent many years paying for that sin. He was still paying for it.

Many years and many snapshots later, Waliu saw Jonathan. He’d been walking head down, staring into his phone, arguing with his boyfriend via text, when he heard his name being called. He looked up and instantly recognized the face. It had changed or at least attempted to. There was a beard but it really just made him look like a baby that was trying too hard to look grown up. Jonathan was grinning and Waliu stared blankly at him, feeling the anger bubble to life inside him. He pretended not to recognize him and turned to hurry on. He didn’t take a snapshot of that moment.

But he did take one of the next moment. Barely seconds later, he heard the screech of tires and a thud that sounded alarmingly close. He wheeled around to see a darkening stain seeping out of a crumpled heap of clothes and human flesh on the road. The heap belonged to the face that had smiled so widely at him moments ago.

The car sped away. And he hurried over to the scene with a limp he got after his father beat him so ferociously following the bathroom incident. His father had refused to take him to the hospital in spite of the injuries he sustained from the beating, and so his bones didn’t heal correctly. He ignored his revulsion as he looked at the twisted, twitching body on the ground. Blood was pooling everywhere. Waliu did nothing but watch Jonathan’s eyes blink wildly till they seemed to find his face and the light slowly went out.

And only Just when the light was gone did Waliu take a snapshot in his head. The way Jonathan’s body twisted at odd angles even where there no joints, the smell of blood on the road, and the wailing of a lady who wore too much makeup, with her hands on her head.

Waliu usually observed pictures unfeelingly, yes, but this time, he knew he’d always attach an emotion to this mental image. Satisfaction.

Written by IBK

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