It was the way he watched me. He would look into my eyes as though he was seeing beyond, into my soul. His smile told me he liked what he saw.
I hadn’t known a man’s smile could make me soft in the head. He knew and he took advantage any time we argued. He complained that I fussed over him; little did he know I was doing it more for myself. Making him happy made me feel whole. I loved him. I loved the woman I was when I was with him; beautiful, intelligent, sexy as hell.
Now all I can do is hug myself as the nostalgia takes on, leaving a bittersweet chill in its wake.
He came into my life at a time I had reached the justifiable conclusion that no man would love me. I’m not one so inclined to overly dramatic tales but I had had my fair share of heartbreaks, disappointment and unrequited ‘love’.
We met at a wedding. He was the best man and I was a good friend to the maid of honor. Much later, he would tease me of the most popular crime in Lagos; ‘mo gbo, mo ya’. ‘I heard; I branched’.
Guilty as charged. I was there for one purpose; free lunch! The reception was about five minutes walk from my house and so when my friend asked me to drop by, my tummy growled in consent. With a killer pair of red shoes and a trusted cream dress that fit just right I was good to go. My friend came to meet me at the entrance of the hall and made sure I was well taken care of.
After the food, came the shame. Gathering the little I had of my pride, I slipped out without notifying my friend. Alas, I wasn’t to go unpunished for my crime. Just after the gate, the heel of my left shoe got caught in the crack of a concrete slab. I landed with an ungraceful thud to the ground, my hands supporting me. I must have been quite a sight. I heard his chuckle before I saw him. I would have given anything for his head that moment.
He circled till he was facing me, offering me his hand and smiling. The rest is well, ironically now history.
How the relationship progressed, I cannot say. From fending off his teasing remarks for not knowing the names of the newly married couple, I was dicing pineapples in his kitchen.
It had been almost 6 months since we started seeing each other when the visions began. I call them visions because I saw them while I was wide awake. I would see two women, dressed in traditional Edo attire in a tug of war.
‘He is mine;’ they would say to each other. And just as quickly as they appeared, they would vanish before my very eyes.
I knew I was the only that saw them. And the thought was the only thing that assured me of my sanity. I had to go home; I was convinced my answer was there.
I spent the weekend with him before I left. I had an uncanny feeling about this goodbye. I hugged him a little tighter; I couldn’t stop the flow of tears that welled in my eyes.
The journey was long and tiring but once I was in my mother’s arms, it was all worth it. The next day, I called him and had him speak to her and my siblings. I was grinning ear to ear. How I loved him! He spoke to them like he knew them personally. My mother seemed to be taken with him. Which was why the sadness in her eyes startled me after the goodbyes.
‘We must talk. Let’s go to my room.’ I followed quietly behind her. We sat on her bed.
‘I know you’ve started seeing them,’ she began. I gasped, unable to contain my anxiety. How did she know? There was no doubt she was referring to the two women.
Mother cleared her throat and began the tale.
A long time ago, there were two friends; Muwa-lisa and Amenawon. They were inseparable. The villagers often said they descended to earth as twins but were born of two different mothers. They both fell in love. Muwa-lisa to a rich traders son and Amanewon to a charming young prince, both from the next village. When the time came for the young prince to choose a bride, he picked Amenawon. Excited, she rushed to tell her best friend the news and promised to take her to meet him the next full moon. Just as planned, they walked hand in hand to where the charming prince would be waiting. He turned to greet them, and Muwa-lisa found herself staring into the eyes of the rich trader’s son.
She let out a broken sob before falling to the ground. She loved him though she always knew he loved another. She had only hoped to win his affections. She could never have known it was Amenawon. Dying, she clutched her friend’s hand and said; ‘he may be yours now, but he will be mine in the next life’.
She died instantly and Amenawon mourned for her friend.
After a while, Amenawon married her prince as planned and had beautiful children. But Muwa-lisa’s broken heart did not rest; taunting the prince in his dreams till she had his soul. Amenawon was left a young widow with children.
Her grief was immeasurable, yet she thought nothing odd of her husband’s death. When her first daughter lost her husband to a mysterious illness she knew something was amiss. She went to visit the village oracle who confirmed her fears! It was Muwa-lisa. She would take what should have been hers for generations to come. The only way she would be appeased was with the blood of unborn children. To have children would mean the death of any man a descendant of Amenawon married.
We were descendants of Amenawon.
I started laughing hysterically. This was the 21st century for crying out loud! But my mother was prepared for my argument. She asked me to recount every living female relative we had that had a husband alive and well with children. There was none. I looked at her as then it dawned on me. I had no memories of my father.
Mother began to speak again. ‘You may not believe me but I’m telling you now because I know you love that man. My mother didn’t tell me this truth till I lost my husband. She wanted the family blood line to continue at all costs. I never forgave her.’
I was lost. My head was spinning. I staggered out of her room into mine and I cried myself to sleep.
If this was true, I needed to get away from him. I couldn’t bear to lose him but I wouldn’t be able to live knowing I was the cause of his untimely death. I called him later that day, reciting words I had put on paper. I broke up with him.
I sit now in my room in my mother’s house staring at the wall but not seeing it. I thought it would get easier. I did not think I would still hurt this much – did not think it would hurt more than it did the past day. I miss him. So much.
I hate the sight of pineapples these days.
I did not think it was necessary to write a part three – as far as I knew, the story was done. But a dear friend told me the unresolved nature of the story disturbed her subconscious; and that she feels an explanation as to why she left is necessary. So she offered to write it.
She’s Nura; @bellanura27 on twitter. She writes to escape – and it makes her feel good to write great stuff. She’s working on her debut novel at the moment.
I think she’s single too.
Do read more from her here: http://www.itsnura27.wordpress.com. Give her your support.