It has been somehow living without you. I know I say it ALL the time; and I probably sound like a broken record by now…but that does not change anything. It does not make it easier.
I can’t lie, every time someone says something about their mother my heart breaks a little.
You were my best friend for a while – and I don’t think I milked the relationship for what it was worth.
But at least we made up before you left. I’m thankful for that. Else, guilt would have killed me.
I can’t stand to listen to Tupac’s Dear Mama anymore. I just start tearing up.
I was standing in front of a bus line this evening, wondering as I always do, whether to go home or just sit and think. And then this boy came running, bumped into me hard.
I caught him in time before he careened into the street, and his mother came running up. She grabbed him from me, and screamed ‘Lekan! Why did you do that? Do you want to kill me?”
Mother and son started crying.
But you know what got to me, mum? The boy, amidst his tears said, “I’m sorry mommy. Stop crying. I didn’t mean to hurt you – I’m sorry mommy.”
Mother says, “You know I love you.”
Boy answers, “I know mommy. You love me more than anything else.”
And grown man that I am, I just started crying.
I quietly walked away – and I am walking home as I write this.
You would probably tear your hair in frustration concerning those long walks of mine. Yes, I haven’t stopped.
But I have stopped most of everything else.
Yeah. I miss you, mama. Miss you so much.
But I’m not bitter anymore. You see, God is filling the hole you left; slowly, patiently and with attention. With love and care.
And with time, I’ll go back to enjoying music and smile instead of crying. I’ll be able to watch other people play with their mothers and not feel jealous.
Tell God I finally got it, mum.
It took a while, but I got it. And I’m grateful.
Love always from your baby.
Slowly, Adaobi’s clutching fingers relax from their death grip on the soaked bed sheets. As her heaving chest slows and resumes working normally, she allows her lips slacken in a smile. Maybe it is true what they say about men – the older the better!
She watches as Eze; moonlight glinting off his naked behind leaves the room. It is almost impossible to imagine how they had made it here – when four years ago it was as though she was married to her son.
It would be better if I just tell him now.
The thought scares her more than it should, because she clearly remembers what happened the last time she’d told him the same thing.
And it’s been so good – I’m scared to spoil it.
Adaobi slowly sits up in bed and looks at the second finger of her left hand. The rock resplendent there looks like it recently swallowed a rainbow – a yellow sunburst here, a red splash there, a blue sparkle elsewhere. She blushes shyly. How did I ever become so lucky?
It is true what the bible says. Sorrow may last for a night –
“You like it, abi?” Eze speaks from the doorway.
Adaobi smiles in response. “Exactly. ‘Like it’ is right – I love you for it.”
He walks over. Now it is his belly that catches the moonlight – it looks like a well-oiled bald dome. She smiles at her own joke. Who cares for a six pack? I love this one-pack – and everything that comes with it.
She mutters a low ‘Thanks’ as Eze hands her the glass of cold juice and she drains it in one gulp. She sets the cup on the table beside her as the bed dips under Eze’s weight. She turns in time to catch his lips in a fiery kiss, bodies pressing against each other as though they had not just ended almost two hours of lovemaking. Eze reluctantly breaks the kiss.
“Chei! I for like no go work tomorrow o,” he says, idly fondling Adaobi’s limb nearest to him, which happens to be a breast.
“You better stop that if you really have to go to work,” she says, laughter evident in her voice. Eze moves his hand away, and then moves his face to where his hand was. Adaobi shudders.
“Anyway, what is it?” Eze asks, his voice sounding muffled from where he is. “There’s something you want to tell me, isn’t there?”
She shouldn’t be surprised but she is; by the connection they share. It almost as though they can read each other’s minds these days.
“I’m…um…I’m…pregnant,” she stammers.
She looks at the hands she had folded in her laps, remembering what happened the last she said those exact same words to him.
Eze’s fingers gently touch her jaw and turn her face in his direction, a somber look on his face. He can tell what is going through her mind.
“I’m sorry I hurt you so deeply – so much so you would still remember after all this time.” He paused, and then a smile steadily showed forth on his face. “I want a girl. One of Chika’s enough for the rest of my life.”
The smile becomes wider as Adaobi’s lips reciprocate and she starts laughing. “Diayen, what makes you think it’s up to you?”
Eze jumps off the bed theatrically and kneels down beside it. “I know na, I know it has nothing to do with me. That’s why I’m begging.”
Adaobi, her eyes looking like an inner sun illuminated them, says calmly. “Well, okay. You’ll get a girl.”
Eze jumps up and on his wife, tickling her till she’s laughing and crying all at once. And then he finds a reason to kiss her lips softly – and ‘softly’ becomes something else entirely…
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Thank you for staying with me!
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“How was work today?” Adaobi asked as she nervously puttered around in the kitchen. Hearing no response, she turned around in time to see Eze sneak a second piece of meat into his mouth; at the same time try to replace the pot cover quietly. She burst out laughing.
“Oga, at the rate you’re going there won’t be anything left for your son to eat o,” she said, still laughing.
Eze stopped chewing and looked at his wife with mock seriousness. “Me nko? I no go chop?”
The humor on Adaobi’s face vanished cleanly as if wiped off with a towel. “You…you want to eat…my food?”
Eze looked indifferent while inside he cringed. “Why is that news? Is it strange that a man wants to eat his wife’s food after a hard day’s work?”
Adaobi walked over to Eze and hesitatingly, touched her palm against his forehead. Eze closed his eyes, enjoying the cool feel of her hand. It felt so soft…so warm, as it lay there.
It felt like a stranger’s hand.
Her voice penetrated his closed-eyes-created darkness and warmed him gently and softly like a lover’s caress. “Nna, are you okay? Is something wrong?”
She was worried. Genuinely worried.
Swallowing the meat he was chewing, he opened his eyes and found himself looking into hers. There were a lot of things in there – things he did not recognize. Things that looked like they were running after each other in a race they couldn’t win. Suddenly he grabbed her arms and asked, “Adaobi, what happened to you?”
Adaobi shook off his hands so violently she staggered as he involuntarily let go of her. Reaching for the cooker to steady herself, she whirled almost immediately and stared at Eze angrily.
“What happened to me? What happened to ME?!” she started shouting, tears springing out of her eyes making her face look like an overfull pure water sachet. “WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?”
Eze looked away guiltily. “Why are you asking me that?”
Adaobi, her chest heaving with an emotion he couldn’t – didn’t want to identify, responded; “Are you okay? What is this – what are you doing?! You don’t eat my food, you don’t touch me – you don’t even look at me for almost…” she stopped, emotions overwhelming her. “And then suddenly…. What are you doing? Who are you?!”
Eze felt ashamed. What am I doing? What went wrong with us?
But bros – you know na. Why you dey ask Jamb kweshun?
Damn conscience. But it was right.
“You never forgave me for Chika. And though I really tried to…” she stopped, quite sobs shaking her shoulders. “You said it was a mistake to marry me…” she stopped and wiped her face with the back of her hand. The gesture oddly reminded Eze of crying children – and he thought about the last time he had seen it.
There are no kids anymore o. They grow too fast.
And whose fault is that?
When she told him she was pregnant it was like everything became dark. He had suddenly realized how empty words like ‘I love you’ and ‘I’ll always make you happy’ were – easy to say; hardly ever meant.
He hadn’t been able to see that it was his fault as well as hers – in fact it was more of his fault. He refused to agree that there was a better way to have handled the whole thing. All he could see was that he had become a father overnight; a husband over the next few weeks – something he wasn’t ready for. Sure, it had cost him his job as a business manager, but they had not died, had they?
He thought about the cliché – that one about how loving their mother is the best gift a father can give his kids. He thought about the fact that he loved Chika, loved the boy enough to do anything to protect him. But is it fair to love the gift and not the giver?
He looked at her now, the mother of his son, the woman he had stood in front of before God and witnesses and promised to love, honor and obey. Even though he had spat out those words in fury – even though he had been eyeing the bridal train as he was making those vows, should he not have tried to be a better husband?
What kind of man am I raising my son to be?
Who cares? If you know say you sabi ask redundant questions, why you no go work for JAMB?
“Adaobi, I made a mistake…but it wasn’t by marrying you. It was by not trying. See, I blamed you so much – and it’s almost as though I needed an excuse for it not to work.” He moved closer to his wife and carefully put his arms around her. The iron rod in her back remained erect for a few seconds, and then slowly it unbent and became a human spine.
They held each other there, standing silently until Eze’s body started to inform him of some biological reactions. This is awkward; he thought to himself. I finally start to fix the holes in my life and this…this shameless thing just wants to plug a hole.
Adaobi sighed contentedly, innocently moving her hips closer to her husband’s. Eze’s sudden jerk back made her head come up from the shoulder in which it was nestled. “Is something wrong?” she asked. Eze had to clear his throat twice before he could speak. “No…nothing,” he said, heart thumping like a konga drum at work. It was enough she accepted him this much. It would be better if he did not push his luck.
Adaobi looked at him – Adaobi who, somehow within the past few minutes had gone from plain to being the most beautiful woman he had seen a while; smiled at him in that way that used to tickle his ears. “Nothing, shey?” she said.
Eze swallowed and nodded. He had no idea what was coming.
Adaobi suddenly wedged her left thigh between his legs and softly bumped her hips against his groin. Eze exhaled noisily and almost fell down. His wife steadied him, laughing happily.
“Hmmm,” she said when they were standing properly again. “Seems we have a dilemma here.”
“What dilemma is that?”
“Your body is saying it has missed mine – but your mind is saying you’re moving too fast. And you don’t know if you want to go that far all in one night; you don’t know how I feel about it.” She looked like a kid with unlimited credit in the Shoprite sweet section. “Am I right?”
Eze nodded. “It’s…a lot to take in at once.”
“Well, here’s my feedback!” Adaobi said, and grabbed her husband’s most intimate part suddenly but gently. Eze’s knees became pap in a nylon bag and he fell on the kitchen floor, Adaobi sprawling across him and laughing at the same time. He kissed her throat; slight glimpse of her azure bra strap peeking from underneath her blouse testing his control.
“Mummy I’m hungry,” a voice said from the doorway. The grownups scrambled off their feet hurriedly to see a sleep-infested Chika rubbing his eyes.
“Okay baby,” Adaobi said, hurrying to the boy and hugging him. “Let’s get you eating.”
As she carried him past his father, she whispered in his ear, “I’m coming back for you, honey. Don’t think you’re safe.”
She winked at him and kept moving. Eze swallowed and smiled.
He needed a drink.
The nine year-old said “Me and Tobi have agreed. We don’t ever want to get married. Ever.’
The forty-two year old looked at the nine year-old, an amused expression on his face. “And why not?”
The nine year-old thought carefully. “Because marriage does not make people happy.”
The forty-two year old was shocked. “Who told you that?”
“Nobody. But Tobi says his parents argue and fight loudly – that his father likes breaking things and his mommy likes crying. I told him my parents don’t argue – they just don’t talk. And we both agree that both our parents are very unhappy.”
Eze turned back towards the road and gripped the steering wheel tighter, his face frozen in a smile. It shook him to his center to hear the words coming out of his son’s mouth – and for the first time in a long time, he looked in the mirror and was appalled at what he saw.
His son looked at him. “Did I make you angry, daddy?”
Eze rubbed the boy’s head. “No, Chike. You’ve made me think.”
The boy nodded and looked out of the window as the man continued driving. Out of the corner of his eye he watched the boy and wondered what today’s children were on. “My parents don’t argue – they just don’t talk.”
My God; he thought, what have I been teaching my son?
He felt ashamed to realize he hadn’t thought about his wife in a while. Adaobi. Trying to bring up her image in his head was some kind of feat; he found to his chagrin. What sort of wahala is this?
He felt a small surge of anger at his son. How dare he – but then, it wasn’t the boy’s fault. He was saying what he saw. He and Adaobi were strangers living in the same house.
A streak of cold sweat running down his back made him shudder suddenly, and irritably he pushed the AC control to max. Gritting his teeth in frustration, he pushed down the throttle.
Which kain wahala be dis? Which kain pikin be dis?
In fact, which kain afternoon be dis?
The plan was to get Chika from school, drop him off at home – and zoom off to the island for Champions League and Sandra’s with the boys. All of a sudden, after nine years of marriage he was having a crisis of conscience. He didn’t need that. Not now.
“I don’t need that now,” he said half-aloud.
“N..need what?” Chika asked his father. Eze looked at the boy to see him shivering. Feeling guilty, he turned off the AC.
“There. Is that better?”
“Yes. Thanks dad!”
Eze nodded and eased off the throttle as neared the junction to Ogudu. His turning into the road was fluid and smooth; the earmark of a professional driver – but it wasn’t smooth because he was paying attention to it. It was smooth because turning into that road had become second nature to him. He could do it with his eyes closed.
His mind was not on the driving.
Hope you enjoyed that! Please check for updates on Monday!
Have a fantastic week!