The period was June, 2006 in Ibadan.
My husband, Owen, was in his service year then and I was quite unemployed, so I was with him in Ibadan. We lived in a house with four rooms. He and I stayed in one. Three other guys each took one room. One of those guys was called Biggie.
Biggie was big – in weight and pocket-wise. He was rich. He had excess money to throw around. He wasn’t the most lovable person but he was our friend. We had good moments with him. Other times we managed each other. He liked me in particular; the type of ‘like’ that an Igbo man has for his fellow Igbo woman who is dating a non-Igbo. His fiancée was my friend. She was hardly around, but whenever she was, she confided in me. His main side-chick was also my friend. The other girls he fooled around with, I didn’t know. He hardly brought them home. He always bragged about sleeping with at least three girls a day. I never confirmed. I never cared…
Until the day I had a dream about him.
Now, I didn’t know it was Biggie in my dream. Owen and I had three chubby male friends, Biggie inclusive. I didn’t know who I saw in that dream.
This was what I saw.
I was in school. A chubby friend came to pick me. He brought a pair of wooden earrings as a gift. I thought they were totally useless to me. Who wore cheap wooden earrings? He was, like, ‘Sally, let’s go home.’ I followed him out to his car. There were others in it including four girls and a guy who sat in front with this chubby friend. I complained about the lack of space in the backseat. He said, ‘Enter. You too complain.’
I got in. My house in school was not far. He was taking me home. He was driving at top speed. We almost hit a tractor. We also almost ran into a lorry. The car then stopped at a T-junction, fumes coming from the engine. We all stepped down. I can’t remember what went on next but I was first to see two snakes coming in our direction.
I woke up. I told Owen about the dream. We concluded it was some other chubby friend. We called this friend to check on him. He was doing okay. We disconnected and prayed for him.
A week or so later, mid-afternoon, I had just had lunch. I went to the kitchen to wash the dishes. Owen was napping. From nowhere, I felt a presence that made me stop what I was doing. I turned around, scared. I saw no one. I continued with the dishes. I was almost done when I heard the door to our room hit the doorpost three times. It wasn’t a slam. Just three soft but loud-enough hits. I scolded myself for not closing the door. Owen got really cranky whenever his sleep was interrupted. I erroneously assumed that I’d left the door open and a draft of air had caused it to hit the doorpost. But what I failed to remember was that the afternoon was hot, I could feel no draft of air, the door was heavy and it would take a rainstorm to get that effect I’d just heard.
I went back to the room, walking in to see Owen sitting on the bed, looking stupefied. The first thing he said was, “Sally, did you hit this door three times?”
My answer was, “No. But I heard it hit three times.”
His eyes widened.
Now, let e digress a little. Owen, at this point, didn’t believe in anything supernatural. Not one bit. He was about the science, the logical guy. Everything has an explanation. There is God and all, but stories of the other world are just fables. About my dreams and past experiences, he always politely told me were a result of my imagination.
So, there he was, looking all freaked out. And he told me, “I just had a dream.”
In his dream, he saw crows hovering over the house. The dream was weirdly soundless. Then it felt like he had awoken, but he was still asleep. And then he heard the crows but didn’t see them again. Next thing, he saw black smoke coming into the house, aiming down the corridor to where our room was located. He rushed to shut the door but a guy pushed him in and then turned around to hold the door shut. The smoke pushed furiously at the door. Three times it pushed, three times the strange person pushed back at it.
And then, Owen woke up.
“What the heck was that?” he asked me after narrating the dream.
He wanted answers from me. I knew immediately what my dream had been about and what his was about, what the darkness he saw was and for whom it had come.
Shortly after, Biggie and our other flatmates returned. I called Biggie into our room. He held the wardrobe door as I spoke to him.
I told him I’d had a dream about him and that Owen had also dreamt. He asked what the dreams were about. I didn’t tell him. I wish I had. Sometimes I regret that I didn’t.
I told him to be careful. I warned him about the numerous girls he slept with and how they could destroy him because he didn’t know what spirits they go about with. Still holding the wardrobe door, he laughed. He said he had heard. I can still hear that laughter in my head and how he said “Ozi!” in his prominent lisp as he left the room. He liked calling me by my Igbo name.
He went to his room and I heard another flatmate, Cee, ask him why I had called him, and he explained in Igbo and they laughed it off. That evening Biggie bought me a can of Danish Cookies and a bottle of juice. I don’t like biscuits. I considered the gift unnecessary and useless – just like the wooden earrings in my dream. That day was a Wednesday.
On Friday, Biggie left for Lagos with our other flatmates. One of them, Tee, would tell us later that they’d almost had two accidents along the way but that they made it safely to Lagos.
On Saturday, Biggie went out for drinks with Cee, a cousin of his and another friend. They went out with two cars because they were with girls. On their way back from their outing, they started racing each other on the road.
Now Biggie was ahead but soon, Cee, who was driving the other car, overtook him. Biggie couldn’t overtake Cee right away because there was a truck ahead. So he swerved to the right to overtake Cee from the other side and ran right into a parked trailer.
Cee, who shared this story with us, told us that when he gave Biggie the distance and saw the parked trailer, he realized instantly that Biggie would run into it. He stepped on the brakes just as he heard Biggie’s car screeching. He heard the crash before he saw it. The sight was gory and frightening. He rushed over with Biggie’s cousin. He said they saw Biggie’s eyes blinking even though his head was split in two and his body terribly mangled.
I saw the pictures Cee took and I wept. Biggie was wearing his favorite blue-black-and-red flannel shirt. He was still stuck in his car seat. Nobody should have to die in that manner. Biggie died horribly. The friend that was with him also died.
Now, Cee and the cousin never told us that they were with girls that night. The story is more complicated than I’m telling it. He only shared with us the part about Biggie’s death but we learned about the girls from our other flatmate who visited Biggie’s home after his passing. I won’t share with you other details surrounding his death because there’s a heavy mystery surrounding it. But it explains the two snakes I saw. If I share it, it’ll leave you open to jumping into conclusions, so take it that Biggie died from reckless driving.
Here’s a part I missed. On the day Biggie left for Lagos, I borrowed his Scrabble. Owen and I spent Saturday night playing a few games. In one of the games, we spelled the words ‘blood’, ‘crash’… Those are the two I can remember. They didn’t make sense then but Owen noticed and called it “Creepy Scrabble.” We laughed over it. It meant nothing until we heard about Biggie’s death. I haven’t played Scrabble since then.
Biggie’s fiancée was pregnant when he died. She had a son for him. This is the last I kept up with her. I stayed away. His death haunted me until we left the house. I literally ran away because I couldn’t sleep for many nights.
It still haunts me when I think about it. Was there anything we could have done to stop it? I don’t know.
May he however continue to rest in peace.
Written by Sally