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.
Good morning guys!
The best bestest part of putting together Love Drops for me was going into the streets and talking to varied different people and getting their feel about love and love related stuff. Of the twenty-plus people I spoke with – only ten made the jump. It was a learning process for me; speaking to these people whose lives were as far apart as my eyes to my toes.
I like – I really like everyone of the quotes – but if I had to choose just one –
What do you think? Does the lady know what she’s talking about?!
If you haven’t – download Love Drops here now!
An arm and a leg he gave
For a truth not worth much
But who says?
Who gave an arm and a leg?
Someone else gave EVERYTHING – and didn’t find it.
What’s it worth? What are you worth?
The last line shocks me out my pretend disinterest.
“What?” I ejaculate quite loudly. “Arrogant?”
She sways over and sits astride me, shorts riding seriously up her thighs. She leans over and kisses me, lips glistening in the dying sunlight streaming through pink curtains. Her mouth envelops mine and I am reminded of the feeling – the sensation of drinking cold water immediately after consuming mint – via toothpaste or Tomtom.
Her mouth is cool.
I kiss her back eagerly – hungrily; I am ashamed to say. It has been some time I have been in such immediate intimate confines with a woman, and I find to my chagrin that my ‘self-control’ diminishes with every encounter I have with this woman.
This last part worries me greatly; and therefore makes it somewhat easier to drag my mouth away from hers.
“Where are you going?” she asks, breasts heaving, evidence of heavily stirred passions. I swallow through a throat that is suddenly quite dry and insert the journal between us. “You did want me to read this,” I say – though admittedly it sounds more like a plea.
The smile on her face tells me she heard a plea. “That’s right. I did ask you to read that.” She makes no move to leave her position. “So read.”
I take a deep breath and open again – and then I remember where…what I was saying before she interrupted.
“Arrogant?!” I ask again, indignation in every bit of my bearing.
Another morning. I brush the night dust from my keyboard. I’m about to begin again.
Somewhere on my Facebook chat indicator, a green light goes out.
Another person just left.
I see people typing all sorts of tributes and so on. I shrug mentally.
Not my cup of tea; I think. I didn’t know her.
But other people did. And that got me thinking – how many people have left my Facebook TL and I have no idea because I didn’t ‘know’ them?
And an even bigger question – how in touch am I with the people I do know?
Even though the world is closer than ever; we live in a global village nowadays, we as individuals are farther apart than ever. The same thing that brought/brings us together has driven us apart.
Do you have any idea how much information we’re bombarded with on a daily basis? Another three million people just opened another six million blogs. How many are we online gaan sef?
It’s a struggle – it’s hard enough to hold on to our sense of individuality these days; in a world where it’s become the fad to think collectively. Hard enough to hold onto the things that make you unique – not to talk about the people who matter.
People leave every day. One way or the other, they leave.
There’s nothing you or I can do to change that.
What we can do, however is insist on letting the people who matter know they matter and why they matter. We all are human – and it’s easy to forget a hug in the midst of life’s cold winds.
What we can do, is to say a ‘hi’ to a new person every day – random acts of kindness don’t really hurt.
What we can do, is to remember those people who come once-in-a-while regularly and just remind us what it is to be human, to be loved, to feel special.
What we can do, is smile.
There was a calmness about Tiwa as she started to speak, looking down at her clasped hands.
I’d like to say it was my mum’s fault – after all it was her idea. But I agreed to it, I went ahead and did it…
Did what? Segun interrupted curtly, his face close to hers as he leaned forward. What did you do to me?
Clear liquid spilled down her cheeks but she made no move to clean them. It’s an old juju concoction. Any man who had sex with me after a turn in the weather cycle – new moon; so to speak, would fall hopelessly in love with me. Her eyes met Segun’s for the first time since she started speaking. What I did not expect was the part where it would make you forget things.
Segun’s shoulders drooped, the knife he was clutching becoming loose in his hand. He looked at it as it rolled, and brought it to his eye level. Was I really going to use that on her? He asked, and cringed when he could not answer.
He looked at his ‘wife’ – quotation marks actually appearing around the word as he thought it. Wife indeed.
A small twitching caught the edges of Tiwa’s lips and for a moment Segun saw her for how beautiful she truly was. Of all the guys there, you were the one who did not like me in the slightest. And first, it was mildly annoying. And then it became intriguing. And then fascinating. And then almost obsessive.
She laughed in reaction to his lost look. Isn’t that how it works?
Maybe I wanted to show I could get you. Maybe I was getting old and kind of needed a husband. Maybe I was just selfish – whatever the excuse I sha did what I did. She paused, closing her eyes as she inhaled deeply.
To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure it would work. The last thing I had figured out was how to get you in bed with me. And then Abuja happened.
Would you believe me if I told you I slept with you that day because I wanted to?
She paused, waiting for an answer but really not expecting one. I requested a transfer – she broke off as Segun moved slightly. What? She asked?
Nothing. Go on.
She swept her braids out of her face and continued. I requested a transfer to avoid raising eyebrows and it worked – up to a point. Your mother wasn’t fooled for a minute. It was as though she saw right through to my heart where I was nursing some guilt. She only started talking to me after I had Damola…
Segun’s face was a study in fear. I don’t…I don’t know those kids…
Shall I continue?
So we got married and for a while I liked it. You were loving, doting – you were the kind of husband I always dreamt to have. But then I started to question myself. Did you do all those things because you truly loved me or because you did not have any choice?
Oh, I fought the feeling. It was just a pang of conscience. It would fade. But it didn’t. And trust me, it didn’t get any easier.
For the first time since she began talking Tiwa wiped her eyes with the back of her left hand. I’m happy you’re back. I don’t care what happens to me – will you take care of the kids?
Kids? What do I…I don’t know them!
He stood up. Nothing is going to happen to you.
Segun put the knife down on the table he just stood up from, stood looking at Tiwa.
And then he turned and walked out of the house.
At 1:32 in the am.
What are you going to do my boy?
The warmth from his mother’s hand was reassuring. Segun rubbed her palm as he considered his father’s question. What do I do?
I don’t know.
He felt like a kid again as his mother patted his back slowly. Take your time, darling. God has a way of working things out for His children.
Tiwa called her in-laws once, a day after that fateful night.
Yes, he’s here.
That’s all I wanted to know. Thank you ma. Tiwa finished and politely hung up.
Her kids were nuisances. Mummy, where’s daddy?
Dadda…? The little boy would intone, with eyes that seemed to convict her of her guilt. Daddy travelled – he had to go away urgently.
And he did not say goodbye, little Yanju said, pouting. I won’t forgive him.
Oh baby, her mother muttered, words tripping over each other as the tears began. It’s not daddy’s fault. It’s mummy’s fault. Mummy hurt daddy bad.
Tiwa closed her eyes as her daughter’s chubby fingers caressed her face gently. Why are you the one crying then?
Tiwa did not have an answer.
The neighbors did not help matters either. Where’s your husband? Where’s daddy Yanju?
The ‘travel’ explanation worked – but after weeks turned into months the whispers took on another dimension.
Maybe he’s run away with another woman. I don’t blame him jare! A woman looking like that? I’m sure she is one spoilt ajebutta girl. She cannot do anything by herself!
Well, she is sober now is she not? Mrs. Peperempe – party all over town. She don gentle!
Tiwa would smile tiredly and say nothing. Yanju heard her mother crying in her room sometimes and with a maturity unusual for someone her age she would leave the room she shared with her brother and crawl in bed with her mother, hold her gently and say
Don’t worry mummy. Daddy loves us. He’ll come back.
That only made her mum cry harder.
Life goes on no matter what.
And so life went on in the Adeyemi junior house – the house Tiwa shared with her children. The rumors and slander had died down, people had moved on to more interesting gist. Tiwa was still a wonderful mother; in fact she was more beautiful than ever. There was a sad kind of quiet around her – but there was also a calm, a sort of confidence…a growing up. She had left her job at the bank and opened a supermarket to spend more time with her children and she was thinking of becoming a style consultant.
And so it happened that she was home that day.
She was in the kitchen making dinner, her still-hot-as-ever body wrapped in a bou-bou. Her children were in the compound playing, gurgling happily over each other when she checked on them three minutes before.
She was slicing onions and humming a happy tune when Yanju’s shriek tore the knife and onions from her grasp. Oh God please have mercy on me. Please…You know these children are all I have…don’t let me shed tears of sorrow over them…
She would have given Usain Bolt a run for Olympic gold as she tore through the house and into the compound.
Yanju! She yelled as she cleared the doorway – and then she stopped.
A man was holding her girl high and her girl was screaming and laughing all at once. Her boy was clutching the man’s leg and trying to get his attention. They were all laughing.
He looked familiar. A lot.
The sun suddenly dimmed and she clutched the doorway for support as her legs became cooked noodles. Slowly she sank, looking like a newborn stork trying to stand; the only sound in her ears the loud thumping of her heart. A set of words kept repeating themselves in her mind.
Segun is home. Segun is home. Segun is home.
Finally he saw her sitting there, mouth open looking at him. His face became grim as he carried Yanju and half-carried half-dragged Damola after him he walked up to her where she sat.
It was the third month of his return and he still slept in the guest room. After sleeping alone in their bed for almost a year, it took his return for her to realize how huge the bed really was. I suppose I should be grateful he’s back, and at least he’s eating my food, she thought.
And he had called her the previous week and they’d spent hours talking about the children – how they were doing in school, how rapidly Damola was growing and so on.
But he had not tried to touch her.
She bit her lip fiercely to keep from crying. She did feel lonely.
The bedside lamp cast a soft glow over her as she turned the pages of her bible, finding comfort in the words. She did not look up as the door opened.
Yanju, are you okay? She asked. Why aren’t you asleep?
Dinner was exceptional.
Tiwa sprang up in alarm. The voice had sounded a lot like her husband’s –
The t-shirt and boxers-clad figure in the doorway looked a lot like her husband too.
That bed needs to be changed. It’s gotten a lot uncomfortable.
The door clicked shut and he moved into the room, not stopping till he was standing on the other side of the bed. May I…? He asked.
Tiwa tried to answer but there seemed to be some traffic inside her throat. Her head moved up and down rapidly. Segun allowed himself a small smile before flicking back the covers and inserting himself into the bed. Ahh, he sighed. Heaven.
Are you planning to stand there all night?
Tiwa jumped. N…no.
Carefully, she closed the bible and put it beside the lamp. And then she lifted the covers on her side and ducked under them.
Good night, Tiwa. Segun said, voice heavy with sleep.
Good night, she answered.
Reluctantly she opened her eyes sometime during the night to question where the drums beating in her ears were coming from. And then she found her head was resting on something harder and warmer than a pillow – but infinitely more comforting.
She smiled, surrendering to sleep.
In two years the young Adeyemis were blessed with a beautiful girl who had her mother’s exotic looks but, after a time, began to exhibit her father’s sensitivities and attitudes.
Three years after that, they welcomed a boy who couldn’t have been his father more had Segun spat him out. Brave, quiet and opinionated, he was the one that finally broke the barrier of silence between Tiwa and her mother in law. And for a while, Segun was a happy man.
And so seven years passed. Good things come to an end; however.
Yorubas have a saying; ‘If a lie goes on for twenty years, one day the truth will catch up with it’. The day Tiwa’s truth finally came knocking was just another day.
No one knows what happened. Maybe she forgot to do something she had done every day for the past seven years. Maybe her mother-in-law’s prayers were finally answered. Maybe God decided it was enough. Whatever it was happened.
The day started well enough. Segun spent some time with his kids, arguing with Yanju over Ben 10 and then guiding her through the most of Temple Run. After a while of her repeatedly falling and blaming it on him, he left her alone and went to walk with Damola through the house – guiding the loquacious baby past a few obstacles.
After a while the older man’s hand began to weary the younger man’s so Damola yanked his hand away from his father’s. And then, grinning happily the boy retraced his father’s steps, looking at the man as though to say You’ve been dulling me – you’re old and slow jo!
I’m proud of you; Segun said and then winced, touching tentative fingers to the left side of his head.
Are you okay darling? Tiwa asked, nuzzling his neck as she enveloped him in her arms and scent. Segun silenced her.
Sure I’m fine. I suddenly want to drive around for a bit –
A vague expression – similar to the one stuck on Keanu Reeves’ face settled on Segun’s features as he closed his eyes as though he was trying to bring something on the edge of his consciousness to the front of it. But the thought slipped away and he looked at Tiwa with clear eyes.
Do you need anything? He asked, before thoroughly kissing her again.
It was a ten-minute drive from their apartment in Shoprite. Within moments he was wandering up and down the aisles, checking a list covered in Tiwa’s flowery handwriting.
He got to the last item, and as he checked to see he’d bought it a small note caught his eye.
I don’t deserve you, Segun.
Thank you for loving me.
The opposite of a smile creased Segun’s features almost the same time a pounding migraine announced its presence forcefully. The list fluttered down from nerveless fingers as Segun clutched his head and bent over.
Suddenly he was jostled out of his pain as someone bumped into him heavily from behind.
Straightening with the wrath of Sango in his heart, Segun spun and opened his mouth to address the unfortunate ‘bumper’. But four random pieces of information leaped at him as he took his first good look at the object of his vex.
One, she was a woman.
Two, she was a very attractive woman.
Three, she was a heavily pregnant very attractive woman.
Four, she was a familiar heavily pregnant very attractive woman.
Hauwa…? Segun began but couldn’t finish before what he thought was a migraine became a hailstorm as Sango beat down the walls barricading his subconscious mind.
And then he stopped with the abruptness of power failure. And Segun looked at Hauwa as though seeing her for the first time in a long time.
Hauwa…? What are you doing in Abuja? And when did I plant that in there? He asked, pointing to her tummy, all traces of his migraine gone.
Hauwa stopped herself from speaking words expected of anyone – any woman who had ever been in her position. Instead she eyed Segun with disdain, noting how the smile dried up on his face – and then she suddenly registered the first part of his query. Abuja.
Yes na, Segun answered, smirk lighting up his face. Abuja –
Suddenly he shook himself and wiped his face like a man waking up from a bad dream. What am I doing in Shoprite?
Silently Hauwa pointed to the trolley standing at Segun’s elbow. He looked into it and flinched at the sight of all the children’s things stacked inside it. That baby’s too small to use stuff like these, he blurted.
Hauwa slowly bent over and picked up the list Segun had dropped earlier. You’re not shopping for this baby, Segun. You’re shopping for your kids – all two of them.
The hand Segun had been extending for the note recoiled. What?
Your kids. She said firmly, slamming the note unceremoniously against his chest as she walked past. Automatically he held it against his chest, eyes following her. And then he looked down at the note, blinking as the gleam of a gold band across the fourth finger of his left hand flashed across his vision.
Hauwa, hurrying quickly, scrubbing her eyes and hoping Segun did not follow her froze as she heard her name. It wasn’t as much as the call as the way it was called. It was a voice she knew yet one she did not recognize.
It was heavy with fear.
She turned on her heel and faced him.
Hauwa; the ‘old-man-croak’ came from his throat again. Hauwa, who did I marry?
Maami you look older were the first words Segun uttered when the senior Mrs. Adeyemi opened the door almost an hour later. The older woman froze, and then with a mother’s instinct understood the implication of those words. She hugged her son, tears started from her eyes. Hauwa beamed.
The senior Engineer Adeyemi’s mouth worked as hard as the Shoprite double doors in rush hour, opening and closing at will. At some point he laughed, at some point he cried, at yet some other point he just sat there as his son shamefacedly admitted that the last thing he remembered was sex with Tiwa, one lonely night during their training in Abuja.
Seven years ago.
Seven years ago! Engineer swore fire and brimstone. He called down the wrath of his twice-gone ancestors and asked Mujin the gateman to bring him his ‘pana’.
His ‘cutlass’ in English.
Mrs. Adeyemi Snr grabbed his arm and held on for dear life, tears streaming down her face. My dear, violence is not the solution now o. We have to be careful. Are you not a deacon?
Hauwa had told Segun to call Tiwa and make up a story about a home emergency, so she wouldn’t be worried no matter how late he returned. Now Segun sat in his parents’ home, looking at his children’s pictures on his phone and feeling as though he was looking at someone he was meeting for the first time.
His mother sat beside him, looking at his face like she was afraid he was going to vanish again. She talked to him about his children; how amazing and loving they were, she spoke about his wife; grudgingly admitting that she was a good wife.
But mama – I cannot remember getting married to her! Seven years of my life are gone from my memory – just like that!
In emphasis he snapped his fingers.
I knew there was something not right about the whole thing. I always assumed you were going to marry Hauwa or somebody else – so when you showed up with her I was shocked.
I took you to my room and pleaded with you not to go ahead. Next thing I know, you were in front of a car bleeding from the head. His mother sighed. I nearly died that afternoon.
Segun rubbed Hauwa’s hand gently. Who’s the lucky guy who got you?
Her lower lip trembled and she bit it deeply. His name is Maurice and he’s a great guy. It’s just been three years – this is our first; she finished, rubbing her belly gently. Segun looked away.
What do you plan to do now my son? Adeyemi Senior asked.
Tiwa was a light sleeper so she was therefore surprised when she opened her eyes and found Segun sitting on the side table looking at her. You scared me, she said. Is everything okay with mum and dad? What time is –
She broke off as a gleam from Segun’s left hand caught her eye.
It is time for the truth, Tiwa. Segun said grimly.
What did you do to me? Why am I married to you?