There are women. And then there’s her.
It’s the curse of the writer – or one of the many curses; a desire to capture, with flowery words the simplest yet most profound of experiences. Instead of simply saying I saw a madman a writer tries to show – as though anything can be more picturesque than just saying it how it is – by writing I saw a man who looked like he was both coming and going, dressed in the finest of rags, hair looking like it was cut with a hell razor –
Sometimes, simplicity is the best thing.
Now is one of such times.
I like that the lights are off, I like that the blinds are drawn. The air conditioner hums its business away – and that’s the only music we’re allowed. She doesn’t like the noise; she says. She doesn’t care much for music – she sees it only as a distraction.
I don’t care. Not much anyway. As long as I get what I want, music can go to blazes.
The cold Stout cools my tongue as I take a long sip and watch as she’s engaged in the ritual all women go through at some point, a ritual as old as the world’s oldest profession – yet as fresh as breast milk; at least to me.
I can never tire of watching women do that.
The television flickers silently; the only light source in the room. Some football war is being waged – but I couldn’t care less and she couldn’t either. I’d put the TV on when I came into the room earlier; something to distract from the passing of time while I waited for her. Now, it is busy making long weaving shadows of her movements.
I take another swallow of the cold bitter liquid as she reaches behind her to unclasp something – and then; smiling at me over her shoulder, lowers a couple of straps. I’m in a trance as she bends over – bends over to remove another piece of something the same color as the one she just let go off. A snap here, a click there – soft whisper of lighter-than-cotton material against flesh and she stands before me, naked as the day she was born – but a lot older.
I’m thankful for the last part.
I put the bottle aside and rise, hands eager to confirm what my eyes have been seeing for the past few minutes. She closes her eyes as I near her, sighs as I touch her – bites her lower lip softly – and then throws her head back, a look akin to pain on her pleasing features. The room fades into the background along with everything else that followed us into it. Now, there’s just now and her for me; now and me for her.
That’s all that matters – all that will matter – for the next couple of hours. After which we both will go on with life as it happens outside the four walls of this escape. I’ll go back to my laptop in my bachelor pad, pound out another story for my blog and leave my friends wondering if anything like this actually happened – or I’m just crazy imagining. She will go back to her greedy money-grubbing politician husband and house filled with all sorts of servants and finery; back to her socialite friends who smile at her and invite her to all their parties, but secretly hate her and wish there was a way they could invite her purse without her.
But for now, this is all that matters. She is all that matters.
Touch me; she whispers.
Even the caged bird sings.
I go over that line again and again, keeping my mind as preoccupied as my hands are, with buttoning my shirt slowly. I don’t want my mind to be idle – because then it’ll become filled with thoughts of you.
Thoughts I know are not good for me. Not right now.
It takes about – I don’t know; some seconds sha for me to realize all the buttons on my shirt are done – my fingers are just fiddling. I also realize they would be twitching like a drug addict’s the moment they have nothing to do, so I shove them in my jean pockets.
And then I turn towards the room, taking in the walls as I have many times on similar nights – knowing there’s nothing new to see but finding it easier to look at them than at you.
And I know you know what I’m thinking – because I feel your eyes bore in my back; I feel the smile lingering on your lips. I see every little detail – right up to your brown thighs uncovered by the shirt with just a button done. My sleep shirt; you call it.
I still don’t look at you.
No. It’s the green grassy veldt outside your bedroom window that has my attention. It’s the view that makes me think of you; the view that reminds me constantly why whenever it gets a little chaotic in my world you’re the one person I seek out.
You’re my peace. My calm. You make me so happy.
So why is it so hard to look at you?
Look at me; I hear you whisper.
My feet drag as I turn – and then the slow flows from my feet to my throat as my eyes arrive and loose themselves in your tangled tresses. I keep the eyes on your hair – your face in general; determined not to look at the light-colored strip of flesh so proudly displayed.
I suck in a shuddering breath. It’s not that easy.
I know you have to go; I don’t need apologies or explanations. It’s okay.
I hear what you’re saying – I just don’t agree. It’s not okay. I swore the last time and the time before that it was going to be the last time. But like a goat with his heart stuck on eating the neighbor’s grass…
…I keep coming back.
And I know it’s selfish of me. I know this – whatever this is – is one-sided. I know it’s about me and my needs – or maybe we should just be honest and call it what it is – my lust; I know this isn’t what you want or even need –
I need this too, you say as though you can hear me think.
I stand beside the window and watch the evening sun bathe you in red; highlighting the black in your hair in some kind of way I don’t exactly understand. I’m not a poet; I don’t know how to put words together in a flowery and sensible manner – but I look at you and realize; God really took His time putting you together.
I know it’s a cliché – but it’s truly true.
You uncurl your legs – legs that seem to go on for days – and stand, rocking softly with the springs of the bed. Bouncing, you make your way to the edge of it and reach towards me with your arms. Smiling and shaking my head, I walk towards you – but I’m barely there before you bounce up once – and then jump off the bed towards me.
Okay. I wasn’t expecting that – but I stay unruffled as I take a huge step and catch your arms. Like the dancer you are, you land lightly – even though most of your weight is on my shoulders. You laugh in my face, brushing the hair out of it before leaning it against mine. We kiss softly – the kisses of comfortable lovers who do not have anything to prove to each other – lovers who have drunk from the water dispenser of love-making and are sated.
For the moment.
The light dances in your eyes as you lean your forehead against mine – and to my chagrin it occurs to me that this is not about me after all; I dare to imagine that you’re actually happy.
That surprises me. You; surprise me.
I’m about to speak – I’m about to go through the motions; say those things comfortable lovers say to each other – things that really mean nothing when they go under the microscope – but we say them anyway.
I’m about to mumble a bunch of sweet-nothings – but your finger silences me. Don’ t apologize; you whisper. Don’t tell me how you wish you hadn’t come back to me with your wahala. This; you are the most happy I have been in a while – and while I wish you were still mine; I’m grateful to have this much.
I inhale through the thickness in my throat. I love you, I say simply.
You smile softly, shaking your head. You don’t have to say that; you remind me.
I love you, I insist. You do not say anything; choosing rather to keep looking at me with those puppy-love eyes. I step backwards, away from you – before turning and heading towards the door. Opening it, I step through and close it behind me – and then lean against it like they do in all those romantic movies.
It overwhelms me – this much feeling. I get to feeling like I’m a character playing out a movie – like all this is beyond my control. Like I’m just fulfilling someone else’s fantasies for me.
But I know I am responsible for my life. I am the liar, the cheat, the impatient lover too much in a hurry for – I don’t even know what it was I was hurrying after – the sucker who all but threw away the best thing ever.
I wonder why you allow me back – even though we both know I’m just around for the sex.
Or maybe that’s another lie I’ve become comfortable with.
It doesn’t really matter. I get my feet under me and push away from the wall, heading to my house – to another woman I call wife; another woman I love.
In the same way, yet very much differently.
Sigh. Such is life.
Or maybe I’m just full of shit.
And you think you have problems.
I woke up at exactly 4:32 that morning. I know because the first thing I saw was the glowing face of my bedside clock – it said 4:32 am. And it was always correct.
I woke up feeling really good. I had not felt like that in a long while – and it was an unusual feeling. If you drove a Major General around the streets of Lagos too you would feel the way I feel. It was a strange feeling…one I wasn’t used to; but I wasn’t going to knock it by questioning it.
I’m a staff sergeant in the Nigerian Army, a detail attached to Major Momoh Abubakkar. I was loyal to him; because not only was it standard military practice and therefore expected, but he had earned my loyalty. He was a good man. We also had a lot in common; our zest for life and living, we both enjoyed a cold bottle of Harp and a big plate of fish pepper soup…usually after work. But we differed greatly on personal values.
For instance, he believed in Nigeria. He harbored the opinion that in the right hands, the country will flourish. I shared the same beliefs, but with the exception that I strongly believed that the right hands did not exist. And so we would argue back and forth, never reaching a conclusion.
He also believed a man should have a family. A son to carry on his name, to make him proud and so on. He was married to a beautiful woman named Shadiat and they had a boy, a brilliant energy bundle of four named David. He thought I should be married too, had hooked me up with enough officers’ daughters and cousins and nieces till everyone in the army started to look related to me. Still, I did not think a woman was for settling with.
Of course, I did not share this sentiment with him.
I strongly believed women were created for pleasure and pleasure only. Take what you will of their bodies, and allow them go be another man’s problem. A philosophy I happily indulged in.
But I never let Major in on my indiscretions. I was always very careful. It’s not as though I was afraid of him or anything – I just felt it would be wrong of me to rub my promiscuous nature in he and his family’s faces. So I kept it as discrete as possible.
I lived with him in Ikoyi, somewhere off Bourdillon Road. I had half of the boys quarters to myself, a mini-flat. The next flat was occupied by the cook and gateman – but I did not mix with them and they did not mix with me. We were polite to each other and that was it.
I drove my boss around and I was also his official bodyguard. It was my job to protect him; with my life if need be. I didn’t think it would ever come to that, but we had been in some pretty tight spots together. So I walked and drove around with him, never relaxing, always alert.
Yesterday I drove him to the airport to take a flight to Abuja where he had a meeting with some of the top ogas – I mean the top top ones. I thought I was going with him so I had packed a small bag filled with the barest necessities. As I left my small room carrying the bag, he was already standing outside holding his wife.
“No o, you’re not coming. You’re only taking me as far as the airport,” he said as I walked up. His wife gave a small scream and clung to him fiercely. “No darling,” she said, tears welling in her eyes. “I’m not going to allow you go on your own! How am I to know you’ll be safe?”
He smiled at her. “How you wan take know say I no go safe?” he said, smiling condescendingly at her fears. I stood on the sidelines and watched, feeling a bit of disgust. That’s why I didn’t like women – at least not to the point of keeping them home. Women are clingy. They slow you down.
They shared some more tender moments – and then he signaled that we should leave. I opened the door for him and got into the car myself. I drove him to the airport and watched him leave. No long thing.
For most of the day, I lazed around watching David play in the courtyard. Around four, oga called to tell us he was fine and he had landed well and everything was safe. He said for me to come get him at the airport in two days. Ah, I felt relief. I really care about my oga o.
Around six in the evening, I headed for the mammy market off Awolowo Road for a couple of drinks and to hang out with other soldiers. It was one of the spots I frequented with my oga, and so I just blended in and had a nice evening. When it was around eight, I left there and went home. I checked on madam and David – they were fine. So I just went into my apartment and slept.
I woke up at 4:32 that morning, feeling on top of the world. I didn’t know – I couldn’t tell exactly why I was feeling that way, but it was an amazing feeling. I felt really good.
Maybe it had something to do with the dream I’d had.
There had been a woman with me. A woman so beautiful it could only have been in a dream. She was like wine; smooth and all too willing to indulge and accommodate me. It was as though we had been walking that road since forever; she felt so familiar and yet so unknown. She pleased me so much…and one would expect that I would wake and feel disappointed to have returned to reality.
Not so. I felt good.
So I sat up in bed and stretched; yawning –
And touched something warm in the bed beside me.
The light bulb was turned off, but lights from the main house streamed through the windows and I could see the outline of a body, a woman’s body.
I sat still, heart in my mouth. I didn’t bring anyone home from the bar yesterday, and no woman had my keys. She couldn’t have entered if I didn’t open the door for her and I hadn’t. I suppose it would have been a simple matter to look at her face, but I was too busy trying to figure out how she had gotten into my room, who she was…
“Good morning Sanni,” the woman in bed spoke as she stirred.
I knew that voice but I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t possible.
I turned to look at her and it was. The woman in bed with me was my oga’s wife, Shadiat.
Thank you! Have an amazing week!
Previously published on Fabolosity Reads.
Ike always recommended that his friends put their conscience in one pocket and their privates in another entirely different one. Morals and pleasures don’t mix in his opinion – best case scenario, a guy ends up with blue balls and a bad case of should have. He believed in living now; nothing was permanent to him.
Therefore, it was funny to see Ike in a moral quandary. It was amusing to watch this guy who did not have scruples where the fairer sex was concerned, struggle with trying to do what was right for the first time in his life.
It was pathetic. It was almost like listening to DMX talk about killing, raping and looting on one track and then praying to God on the next one. It was the groaning of a man who had been pushed within an inch of his endurance. His tolerance. In fact, there was a point where Ike began sweating, perspiring from his mental exertions.
A clearer picture might be necessary.
Ike was standing beside a window looking outside. He looked like a prisoner who was trying to get a glimpse of something beyond the prison walls. Something – anything to give him an indication of hope, a sign that there is life outside. But of course he cannot see far; he cannot see past the high walls of the prison; his home for God knows how long. The same could be said of Ike; except that his prison walls were made of water and something intangible. Water because the rain outside was pounding slate roofs and the wind was tearing at the trees and other movable objects. A few minutes ago he had watched a roof sail past so slowly on the river outside, and so indistinctly it was surreal.
He might as well face it. He was trapped.
But that; in itself would not have been a bad idea. But there was a lot more.
Take the sofa behind him for instance.
I wonder here exactly what image the mention of sofa put in your head…but that’s just a by-the-way. The sofa; typically a three-sitter was in the far corner of the room, partly shrouded in the PHCN/weather- induced darkness. It was a dark-green, army-regulation type green. It had brown napkins on both arms and back.
Just as you are wondering what significance the sofa has to this story…
“Ike, I’m cold.”
The speaker was a woman.
Her name was Isioma and she was seated on one side of the sofa.
It was hard to see what Isioma looked like, seated in the darkness like she was and wrapped in a blanket from neck down – like she was. But if her voice was anything to go by, she was muscular, tall and bearded.
She talked like a man.
Now why would Ike be having a crisis of conscience? After all, they were both grownups and the fact that she knew his name indicated some measure of familiarity, right?
Yes, they were not strangers. They knew each other well; had known each other for a while. But Ike had not counted on being alone with her. In fact, several minutes before this story began; the house looked like the host to a mini party. There were four other occupants and Ike had not had any worries like the ones he was having now. But slowly and yet suddenly, six had become five and then three – before the last guy; Dayo their host suddenly remembered he had to go pick up something for his fiancé on the mainland. He had driven off in Ike’s car; a full thirteen minutes before the rain started.
Now, Ike considered seriously the option of running into the rain. He looking again through the rain-streaked window; particularly at the river where the road used to be. He watched in disbelief as a goat; loud bleating drowned in the louder pounding of the rain, was swept away.
Walking into that was suicide. He was trapped by a wall of rain.
Dropping his head resignedly, he headed to the sofa and stood looking at Isi from his height. His hands were shaking – but what they were shaking from I leave to your imagination. He stood there feeling his stomach clench and unclench in nervousness.
“Isn’t that blanket warm enough for you?” he asked through a throat was clogged with nervousness, already knowing her answer.
She did not reply. Instead she threw open the blanket and shifted slightly, indicating silently that he join her. Ike had a last moment argument with his head. But blood was rapidly filling into another part of his anatomy, leaving his oxygen-starved brain with two options – continue the argument and die, or find another alternative.
The choice was obvious.
Anyways he sat beside her, inhaling her heady perfume and reclining in the crook of her embrace. She drew her open arm closed, effectively wrapping him in two layers of warmth. She placed her head on his chest and closed her eyes. The momentary storm within Ike began calming…
Suddenly and unfortunately, PHCN restored power, startling the two stars of this story awake and throwing everything into sharp relief.
Let me tell you what I saw in that moment.
Isioma’s voice was actually NOTHING to go by. The girl looked exactly like Moet; that ONTV presenter with the frustrating behind. Frustrating in that it’s on display for the entire world to see, but only a few will ever actually see it; and only an even fewer few will ever get to touch it properly like it ought to be touched.
Sorry. I was talking about Isi.
She looked like Toolz looked in that gown that started tongues and fingers wagging in offices and on twitter respectively. She looked like a nylon bag would look if filled with raw pap and then carefully molded. To say she was well-built would be an understatement.
Her lips looked like they were trying to get free of their anchor – like a pair of ripe agbalumos; local cherries if you will, begging to be plucked. Her skin had this light but obvious coat of hair on it, and while I found that to be a slight disadvantage, it absolutely worked for Ike.
They suddenly found themselves face to face in close proximity and at this time Ike had lost the battle with his head. He kissed her.
Isi responded eagerly, finally about to find out if everything she had heard about this guy was true. Their lips danced; expertly anticipating each other. For a moment I felt as though I was watching a P-Square show and the twins were just the ones on stage doing their thing. These were two people who knew how to give and take pleasure.
Ike’s hands eagerly fumbled at the gates of Isi’s blouse; gates that kept him away from confirming how much of her protuberances were real and how much of it was the work of a bra. He tried to keep kissing her and trying to open the blouse at the same time, but unless you have eyes around your chest area, opening a blouse like Isi’s while you were kissing said Isi is a herculean task.
Isi pushed him away and took off her blouse hurriedly yet carefully. She would be hard put to explain a torn blouse. But the next moment she was kissing Ike again, pushing the now-unfettered twin loaves of Shoprite Bread against his chest. Ike died and went someplace totally…
He nuzzled her neck, gently nipping the skin as he kissed his way to her neck and collarbone, Isi’s gasping sighs and loud moans silent pats on his back. Slowly he nosed his way down her chest, smiling as he felt her breath hitching in her chest, licking the tops of the loaves as his thumbs found engagement with some other parts of said loaves that felt as hard as local cherry seeds. He suddenly dipped his head and grazed the right one with his teeth, and then rapidly licking over it with his tongue…
In other words, they had sex.
And Ike, lying on his back some twenty-something minutes later, inhaled and exhaled loudly while wondering which of his over-a-hundred similar conquest felt like what he’d just experienced. He came up blank.
Whoa, he thought, imagine Dayo having this for the rest of his life.
And just like that, all thoughts of sex and related topics were driven from his mind with the force of a really terrible BRT accident, replacing it with realization, shame and self-loathing.
Still don’t get it? Allow me break it down for you.
Ike just had sex with his best friend Dayo’s fiancé Isioma, exactly five days to their wedding.
We were but strangers across a board
You sat and stared, I did not sit at all
And might have gone on but for a moment we shared
Saw something funny; laughed and didn’t care
Got to talking, you were waiting for your man
I was there for the lunch
Didn’t seem to notice that we drew stares,
I was just making a new friend, a trend so rare
Time passes; like trash in waste cans,
I was there when you went for that test – and
I was there, through those lonely nights
When you would call me, not him – cause y’all just had another fight
We were like brother and sister; Ne-Yo and Rihanna
When I heard he punched I snapped and nearly threw him under
A moving car; such was my anger
Now calm down.
Yeah, y’all made up; you made it through the worst
Funny, I did not even feel like I was hurt
I was so happy, because you were so happy is all
But that still did not stop the late-night calls
Suddenly; the dam burst forth; like the leeves broke,
We let our guards down; and it was murder she wrote
And Jaheim I quote
It was innocent enough; I mean everyone talks about sex
From the lecturers to the pastors; hell they do it best
So what was the big deal? We were just friends sharing
A little too much; all in the name of caring
Then we began to talk about this sex in excess
Sentences like ‘Is he doing you right?’ and ‘He goes on for too long’
Whoever gave me the right to make his wrong right?
And as this sad song I write,
I remember, your lips writhing, hips twisting
Pleading, for me to quench the flames my fingers had awakened
Me thinking; I just want to do a little kissing,
A little touching, a little necking
A little pleasing; that started a lot of drenching
In sweat and sweet love’s gum
In mouth and tongue moisture and nature’s _______
I wish we had not started, now I cannot stop
And the worst part? We no longer talk
Except in the sensual language of sweating bodies,
Panting breaths and groaning bedposts
Me and you together, misting up the predawn air,
Tapping it from the front, hitting it from the rear
We never ever get done, we always want more
Now I wish I could exchange that for something long gone
It’s funny how now all I feel is loss
Loss; and an incredible boulder of guilt.