The Broom and the Spirit
by Yunus Mohamed
(Durban, South Africa)
'Why do you have a broom leaning against your bedroom door?" I asked Sheila as we sat watching Csi at her place, a bowl of popcorn between us.
'It helps keep evil spirits away Tammy.' Sheila said with a puzzled look on her face.
‘What evil spirits?’ I asked with a surprised snort, looking around.
'Oh, Tammy, you’re so naïve, don’t you know, evil spirits roam the earth at night looking for open doors to frighten us half to death.' Sheila said matter of factly taking another mouthful of popcorn.
'You mean like Casper the friendly ghosts naughty brothers?' I said with a titter.
‘Go ahead; laugh Tammy, but one day you will see.' Sheila said with a disappointed look on her face.
'Mmm, you’ve put too much salt in the popcorn today Sheila.' I said.
'A little too much,' Sheila said with a frown.
'I think it is just part of our evolutionary
process believing in spirits returning to haunt us.' I said to Sheila a little later trying to understand the medical jargon in Csi at the same time.
'Look, Tammy, do you remember our school friend in grade eight? What was her name, oh yes,
‘Riana’ the day she started to speak in tongues all of a sudden during our history lesson.'
'I do,,' I said thinking of all that froth coming out of Riana’s mouth that day.
'Tell me what was all that about, could you explain?' Sheila asked looking into her half empty bowl of popcorn.
'She was not speaking in tongues, Sheila, she just was mumbling.' I said taking a handful of popcorn.
'But I heard what she said so clearly, she said her name was Adrianna, that she came from a faraway place and couldn’t find the sky.' Sheila said.
'But Renu said he heard the voice say, ‘Hell will visit earth shortly and we are all going to be dammed.'
'Well, I was closer to her and I clearly heard what she said.' Sheila said with a solitary glare.
'Isn’t it strange, each person heard the spirit say something different, doesn’t it sound odd to you Sheila?' I asked.
'Its not odd Tammy, spirits give each person a different message.' Sheila said.
'Different strokes for different folks?' I laughed.
'Don’t laugh, Tammy it could happen to you, even tonight.' Sheila said with a smirk.
'I don’t think so, Sheila. Fortunately my parents did not believe in ghosts or spirits roaming the earth, nor do I.' I said.
'Tell me then Tammy, how do mediums communicate with the dead?’ Sheila asked her eyes widening.
'I don’t think they do, I think they are just charlatans making a quick buck out of peoples grief and misery.' I said.
'You don’t believe in spirits because you are not a spiritual person Tammy,' said Sheila with her mulish voice this time.
'I am as spiritual, as the next person. How does one define spirituality anyway, by seeing spirits?' I remarked almost irritably?
'I sometimes feel electric currents run through my body at midnight telling me a loved one is nearby or in my room.'
always in a room, and at midnight only Sheila?' I asked.
'It’s because they have shared memories of places where they once lived, loved, and died, and they don’t want to be seen in the day.' Sheila said.
I shrugged my shoulders unconvinced by her explanation.
'Then why do we go into a paralysis state and feel a presence holding us down, how do you explain that?' Sheila asked.
'It’s related to anxiety disorders, from dust to dust Sheila, from dust to dust.” I said with a dismissive wave of my hand.
'My father visited me last night; it’s good to know he is in a happy place.' Sheila said unperturbed by my scepticism.
'Good for your father,' I said.
'You’re mocking me again, aren’t you?' Sheila said trying to smile this time.
I tried not to laugh, but couldn’t help myself. I glanced at the clock on the wall.
'Sheila, I have to go, Chris is away on business and I have lots to catch up with while he is away.'
'Left you all alone, did he?' Sheila said to me in a sardonic tone.
I looked away.
'You want some popcorn to take away, Tammy?' asked Sheila, struggling to gather her bulk from the couch.
'No, thanks Sheila, I had too much already, my Chris wants me slim and trim.' I said with an exaggerated twirl.
'See you at work tomorrow, Tammy,” said Sheila with her hands in front of her stomach as if hiding something as she opened her front door for me.
I knew Sheila had an eye for my Chris over the years. I wondered why she let herself go like this as the lift arrived and I got in. I don’t know why, but felt a sudden bone chilling shiver run through my body. I checked for any new messages on my phone, and re-read Chris’s last message of the morning. ‘Love you darling, lots of work to do, may call you tonight, MWAH.' I smiled, Chris must be with clients, I said to myself as the lift jerked before heading down.
I had some left over chicken from the night before for supper, washed some dishes, updated my Facebook status and tucked into bed with a book I had been planning to read for a month. It’s so hard when Chris is around, he demands so much attention from me I reflected opening to the first chapter. I began to read, trying hard to concentrate on each word as my mind began to shut down gradually.
I closed the book, defeated eventually, thinking of what Chris had said to me before he left for his trip that we should ‘pretend’ to be dating once again just to spice things up. I felt a tingle at the edge of my spine and squeezed my buttocks unconsciously as my eyes began to droop.
I turned and switched off the bedside lamp, and just as I was about to drift to sleep I heard my mother's voice in my ear say, ‘Hello Tammy, I've come to give you company, now that Chris is away.'