Two male nursing students daintily walk out of the wide gates of Alimosho General Hospital Igando manned by stout, dark uniforms. A white clothed pair laugh while walking away from the lawn path where many persons disappear. A short, curvy, glowing-light brown woman gets down from a grey car minutes after them. She locks the door with a clicking key. Then walks towards the lush lawns and green shrub bordering them. Other smartly dressed people hurriedly walk by on the cool, cement coloured interlocked brick pavement. Three old men in faded brown, orange, blue patterned Ankara buba and trousers are sitting on a wooden bench chatting in soothing Yoruba.
It is a calm morning but Lagos hoots, zooming by; trades, exchanging naira notes and bustles about. The wind catches falling green leaves and large, bright, pink petals, swaying them softy to land on the lawn. The curvy woman is walking by the strong, dark, brown branches of my hibiscus tree then stops to admire me. Although nature has plucked a quarter of the flowers, littering the floor under the trees. The floor looks like a bowl of Efo Riro.
Centuries ago, when Lagos was known as the Pepper Station and the Lagoon fishermen trade hub for neighbouring pre-colonial African cities. Long before those metal ships captained by Greed stole safety. Àwa Èmí, we spirits, had to be appeased before our physical properties and hosts were tampered with by curious humans. But even the millennium environmental regulations don’t stop wandering fingers.
My breath slowly exhales through my red stalk as I wait for the usual warm tug-snap of a deathly pluck. But it did not come that way. Snap! A white, square device emits this sound thrice. Through the damp morning air I note that the white is pristine like my petal edge streaks. “Artistic beauty! Each petal is an intricate blend of vibrancy. I’m so going to hand paint a fabric patterned after this large hibiscus.” She says while moving the box around my face.
Finally, she moves away her pretty face and gives her attention to the white metal box. For once the numerous, tiny ants that run in formation on my branches irritate me. I’m jealous this human and her piece of tech, as the butterflies who stop by to pollinate the yellow pollen tell us, are leaving. Butterflies feature in nature shoots unlike me who hardly gets that much attention in front of the hospital.
Later, the wind brought my friend’s usual brunch whispers, the Red Hibiscus tree spirit would narrate what she saw on the inside of the peach wall. While I’d note how many vehicles recklessly drive, carrying Death unknowingly. Sometimes I’d complain of the noise but not dark clouds of carbon large, yellow, burping, danfos emit. Or which child dropped a flower they’d plucked screaming as ants run around, painfully stinging their murderous fingers– punishment for disrupting life. Today I’ll excitedly chat about being immortalised in painted fabric. Out of small, popular red hibiscus trees, it’s exotic white hibiscus cousins and dried purple hibiscus usually featured in Zobo product photography, I get chosen. And of course, the white metal box that snaps without killing!
I could still see the woman pace behind mustard kabu-kabus at the taxi park, holding the white box to her small right ear. Sighing, she’d wait three hours for a male portly medical consultant. The Red Hibiscus tree spirit told me a bespectacled, portly man waited inside the buzzing human populated, sectioned iroko-tall buildings, lush maze-like lawn and murky filled porthole General Hospital compound for her.
Her Unusual Snap is a short fiction piece of African magical realism and speculative fiction that encourages you to respect and care for flowers and our plant environment. Inspired by this unusual but beautiful hibiscus tree and it’s flowers outside the Alimosho General Hospital Igando in Lagos Nigeria. A place I had to stop a small boy from plucking the purple flowers growing at its Laboratory Block.
Image Source: AmethystShotX for Amethyst Saw