First and foremost, this post and piece of fiction is dedicated to Simeon G. Mark Cofie, also known as The NonFaLoGist (and blogs at thestudyofnonsense.wordpress.com), who has one of the most amazing minds I have ever had the pleasure of being exposed to. This post, in fact was inspired by one of his, “Like a Verbal Slap,” which I couldn’t have agreed with more. In fact, I believe I stole a line. It’s not plagiarism if I mention that it’s stolen, right? 😉
An introduction to Reciprok Eight
Humans. They think they know so much. They know of decades, centuries, millennia and whatnot, but they don’t have a clue how to measure in eleventeens. I would explain its measurement to you, but it’s difficult, complex and irregular with the human counting system. Basiclaly, every twelve eleventeens make one reciprok. A reciprok is another measurement that is too difficult to represent in the human counting system. I don’t know how to explain one other than by telling you what has previously been stated: that a reciprok is made out of twelve eleventeens.
The reason most humans haven’t noticed the existence of the reciprok is primarily because they are stupid. But apart from that, reciproks show their symptoms very subtlely and gradually. For example, the first reciprok was when girls becan to suffer so much more; periods got more painful and childbirth became more unforgiving. The second reciprok is when humans began to spread throughout planet Earth and divide themselves by skin colour and language, and wage wars against each other for no reason. Many more things happened between Reciprok Two and now, one of the most identifiable of which is Reciprok Seven, which many humans decided to recognise as the Industrial Revolution.
But now, as we enter Reciprok Eight, freakier things than the invention of giant, dumb machines are beginning to happen. This is a bit more of what you would call ‘supernatural.’ I call it nature, because the thing is, human beings aren’t happening to the world anymore; the world is happening to humans.
To explain further, the laws of the universe have changed. In Reciprok Eight, humans automatically feel the effect of most of their words or actions. For example, if one picks up 5 Cedis from the floor on the street, he will later, as he eats his dinner, feel the hunger of the previous owner of the money, who is now too broke to afford dinner. Hence, the thief eats, but is not satisfied. You might say the universe is being cruel. But I strongly disagree. Like every self-cleaning system, it is just trying to figure out a way to eliminate the germs.
A lot of funny stories are resulting from Reciprok Eight, and I’m eager to tell you one right now. This is how it goes…
INVITATIONS OF SPEECH
Ama was a moderately intelligent girl. But intelligence and smartness really aren’t the same thing and I cannot account for Ama’s smartness.
At this particular point when our story begins, Ama was having a very unprofitable conversation with her equally moderately intelligent friend, Sarah. It was something along the lines of an argument over who took the most selfies per day and whose filter made them look the most #TeamLightSkinned.
“Is it just me, or do the megabytes go so much more quickly now?” Sarah asked Ama.
“Hmm…me kraa, I don’t know oh. But it seems like everyday, my internet bundle is getting finished,” replied Ama.
It just so happened that as she was saying this, a classmate, whom she was not on unfriendly terms with, was passing by, and decided to pitch in to the conversation. His name was Brandon, and though he could sometimes be a rather blunt and unfiltered fellow, his heart was good. Unfortunately, he had not yet adapted to the commonly accepted way of dealing with humans whose personalities do not agree with theirs, which is: keep your head low and keep quiet.
Brandon chose this particularly unfavourable moment to pitch in, “Well, if anyone used Snapchat as much as you do, I don’t see how their megabytes wouldn’t get used up so fast.”
Then, incensed without practical cause – after all, what Brandon had said was true – Ama uttered the fateful worlds that would alter her life. Prepare yourself before you read them. These words are powerful. Go ahead and take a break. I’ll be waiting for you.
Are you back? Wonderful. Prepared? Okay. Well, this is what she said: “Who was talking to you?”
Just let that sink in for a bit. In fact, let me repeat it: “Who was talking to you?”
Now, see Brandon was a very intelligent guy. The problem was that sometimes, Brandon displayed his intelligence in very foolish ways, for example, in the way he fashioned his response. It was no doubt a valid one, but this stubborn child simply did not understand the whole ‘sit down and shut up’ concept for dealing with people. That is why, in response, he asked, “Are you implying that before one speaks, they require an invitation?”
In previous confrontations with Brandon, Ama had been made to look and feel stupid. She didn’t like that very much. Due to these experiences, however, she could clearly guess which direction this conversation was going in. So, she employed her favourite conversation terminator. It wasn’t a very elite one, but it was effective all the same: rudeness.
“Akwaa wei paa,” said Ama. “Nea me ka, wo nte ase? I am implying that it is none of your beeswax.”
Goodness knows how beeswax came to be a replacement for the word “business” in this particular phrase, but we have long since given up trying to understand humans. If they want to use the word beeswax offensively, let them.
It did, however, have the desired effect, and Brandon’s mood dropped so low that it was easily comparable to a disappointed dog drooping its head and walking way with its tail between its legs.
Brandon apologised for interrupting their conversation, then continued on his destination-lacking path. The poor soul.
I’m sure we, as readers, can sympathise with both sides, right? Maybe Ama didn’t feel like looking like a fool. But maybe her reaction was uncalled for. Also, mabye Brandon had a good heart and a good point. But maybe he shouldn’t have contributed where he wasn’t wanted. Sure, perhaps we see it that way. The universe, however, had a mind of its own. And Reciprok Eight is unforgiving. Reciprok Eight, in particular, recognized only one person at fault. Hence, it decided to commence its filtration process.
All was fine for a few days. But on the fourth day after the incident with Brandon, something finally happened. Reciprok Eight had taken action on its chosen offender. Much like Ariel the Little Mermaid when Ursula stole her voice, Ama’s larynx that day was as useless as a swimming pool without water. She went through the movements, alright. Open, close mouth, snap teeth, raise tongue to mouth’s roof. Purse lips, shape them in an ‘o’. Expel, expel, expel sound! But the only thing she was expelling was air. She tried and tried, she prayed, she cried, all to no avail. Reciprok Eight would not be defeated by the repentance of a prisoner who knew not what she was even repenting for.
After fetching water to bathe, she made her way back to her room and interrupted her roommate as she dressed. Try as she might, no sound would come out of her throat. She was left gesturing like a frantic person trying to get a message across to a deaf person.
The aforementioned roommate really wasn’t in the mood for any of this nonsense. “What at all are you doing? I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. Speak!” she commanded.
“That’s what I’m trying to tell you! I can’t talk!” retaliated Ama furiously. Then she froze, shell-shocked. I’ll give you a moment to grasp the absolute irony of the situation.
Her roommate frowned. “Ama, I really don’t have time for this. Please go and bath, okay?”
“Okay,” responded Ama, feeling very, very ridiculous, more foolish than even Brandon could make her look. But she picked up her towel anyway and went to the bathroom.
As she was bathing, she heard someone enter the bathroom. She couldn’t see the person through the shower curtain, but accompanying her was a cold draft of air. She opened her mouth to request that the door be closed, but unfortunately, she was back to square one with the voice dysfunction.
So, guess what she did. She suffered the cold drafts until she was ready to get out of the stall. As if she had a choice.
The whole morning progressed like this. Her voice would be Out of Service until someone asked her a direct question, and only then would her voice allow her to respond. Yet nobody asked the right questions that would enable her to give her explanation for why she couldn’t speak, because frankly, nobody noticed. It hurt her more than a little bit that nobody missed her voice, but such is life, you see. It just so happens that most of the people who ask that treacherous “Who was talking to you?” question usually don’t say anything that is significant to people’s lives anyway.
Soon, Ama lapsed into a resigned state of depression.
As I mentioned before, this Brandon child had a good heart, and despite the unpleasantness of the conversation he’d had with Ama four days ago, he still felt sympathy for her, seeing her sitting in the corner of an empty classroom, through the window. So he entered and approached her.
“Ama, what’s wrong?” he asked her.
She looked up with tearful eyes. “I can’t freaking talk, that’s what’s wrong,” she snapped.
Unlike most people who had debunked this self-disproving claim as preposterous, Brandon furrowed his eyebrows and inquired further. “But you just spoke to me right now,” he argued. “How does that work?”
“It only worked because you asked me a question. I can’t talk to people on my own. They have to talk to me.”
Brandon processed this for a moment. Then he broke down laughing. It wasn’t cruel laughter. It was laughter that held a pinch of shock and a ton of incredulousness. Nevertheless, he didn’t find it impossible to believe…
In her seat, Ama was trying to stop herself from seething, because her voice wouldn’t allow her to ask what was so funny.
Eventually, Brandon’s fit ended. Recognizing the distress on Ama’s face, he said, “I suppose you want to know why I was laughing.”
Fixing him with a steely glare, Ama replied, “Yes, that would be nice.”
“Do you remember what you said to me a few days ago, when I inserted a comment about your Snapchat usage?”
“No…wait, oh yes.” Her face contorted with shame as she remembered her rude words. “I told you to mind your own beeswax.”
Brandon smiled. “You did. But do you remember the question you asked me before that? Think harder.”
Ama was getting frustrated. Was she supposed to remember accurately every word she’d ever uttered? “Erm…I think it was something like who was talking to you…”
“Exactly,” said Brandon, grinning triumphantly. He expected her to have gotten it by now. She had not. I believe I mentioned she was only moderately intelligent. Brandon sighed, then continued to explain, “I thought about the consequences of your implication after that conversation. It looked like you believed that someone needed to be spoken to before they could speak to another. But if that were the case, who would ever be able to initiate a conversation? Do you understand me now?”
“I think so,” said Ama as she tried to fully process this information.
“You just told me, essentially, that you can’t talk unless you are talked to. I think you’re facing some sort of strange psychological rebellion, trying to make you realise something. For you see, if one needed to be spoken to in order to engage in conversation, conversation would not EXIST!”
Ama was partially mute for two more days before the universe decided she was sufficiently enlightened. Reciprok Eight had done its job.
Author’s note: That last sentence spoken by Brandon is what I have been trying to drive into people’s heads since I realised it in class five. I’m not exactly a kokonsa person, but if you want to blast me for joining a conversation, at least let your blasting be valid. But humans ehn…they don’t learn unless something tragic happens. Which is why, if I had a choice, Reciprok Eight would be an actual universe I could throw all of them into. I see much potential for Reciprok Eight. Any time I find a human trait I don’t like, I’ll probably develop a Reciprok Eight story about it, to alleviate my own annoyance internally. Also, I hope you realise the pun in the name. I can’t have come up with something like that and have no one understand it. -___-