The Letter.

Dear You,

It’s been two weeks since I last heard, saw or read from you. Two weeks. Shockingly miserable! What happened baby? Last I remember, we were on a fairly good note; despite the subtle drama that played out towards the end of December, I thought we were good… can you now riddle me this distance?

It’s hard not to think of you. Through the long walk to and from school, the slow walk down Tesco’s, the jog to and from the Gym… every fucking alley, path, signpost and landmark reminds me of you. Even the bus station. The bus station baby. Remember? Remember the first day I met you was at the bus station? I was on my way to Fratton to get my hair done, and there you was… shuffling unhurriedly towards me… well, maybe not me- but to the bus station. It doesn’t matter anyway! And I had been humming sonorously to Simi’s Tiff and you said nothing– till we got on the bus, and you sneaked out of your male ego for a second to tell me I have the most beautiful voice ever! I blushed. But I deviate– the bus station. I have loved you from the very first time I set my eyes on you. My heart raced, my throat dried, my loins tightened… and that is how I feel every time I return there. Alone, and missing something I had once found before.

Oh baby, how can I forget you! Remember “The Other Side of Cool“, “Thought Rush“, “Rebound“, “The Mishap“? We wrote those together! Entangled in the tiny couch in my living room, my head on your chest; your hands in my hair… you inspired me, led me, taught me. And ah, “About Friday Night“, that will always remain one of my favourites! Because– because we made love right after the last fullstop in that piece, for the first time. We had laughed so much and teased about it. And you tickled me silly, till we were just a kiss apart. And you looked into my eyes, while I looked into yours. It was 7pm my head warned but gravity– gravity won! So we kissed, again for the first time. And your hands roamed through my body, deliciously. My spaghetti top and bum short gave way to a mass of nerves, and skin, and tightened peaks and hollow dips… it happened. And that has since been one of the most beautiful moments of my life, every other day my eyes met yours trumping the last.

I.miss.you.

Those three words are the most magic my head can make out now. I fucking miss you. I love you! Despite the crushes, and side attractions– you remain; in possession of my heart, containing the best parts of me that I ever knew. I find peace with you. I find wholeness in us. It’s hard to function these days– nothing works! Every damn thing reminds me of your hands in mine, or my lips melting inside yours, or you inside of me… I– I just can’t function.

So is this the end? You know I had written many other letters to you in the past (which I never sent). The first one in fury, the second in misery, the third an apology, the fourth sort of a quiz, the fifth– well, point is ‘ve always wanted to get in touch, to keep in touch, to write to you, read from you. But I couldn’t! I mean, it’s not me, it’s you! You left baby. You walked out that door without a word. Why should I be the one to say sorry? Why should I take you back even if you came begging?

Yet, I have resolved to grow past my childishness, insecurities, doubts and pride; and I have written you this letter to, more than recount the beautiful moments we shared and tell you I miss you, to say I am sorry for every wrong thing I might have said– and all the right ones I didn’t say. You. You, darling, are everything that matters to a dreamer like me. The ink, the paper, and the dream.

Lest I forget, my readers miss you too. And they want to know, dear Muse, is this the end of everything?

Yours,
The Insecure Writer,
Miss Me.

**

Happy New Year lovelies!

___

© The Short Black Girl, 2016.

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The Painter.

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He is erratic, clumpsy, shy, but none of that is capable of hiding his light. He is an artist, with a bold mind. He would draw day and night, from the perching fly to the moving bus; the high and mighty, to the poor in the creeks. He never speaks, atleast I have never seen him do so. Who is he? Does he ever talk? Is he a student? What does he study? This and many more have plagued my mind all this time but I have not found the courage to go over to ask. Maybe i’ll ask him today…

I am at the cake shop now, which is just a glance away from the underground staircase where he normally sits with his canvas and brushes but I don’t see him there. I turn the bottle cover of my coke nervously with unsteady sweaty hands, stuffing my mouth with even more chocolate cake from the saucer in front of me with my other hand, as my eyes dart around, searching for him. I am high on about half a dozen feelings: happy that he is not around to caution my sugar- eating habit with his gentle scolding eyes, sad that he is not around to spare me his distracted yet disarming smile when I need it most, angry that I missed the evening performance at the underground theatre because Mimi, my roommate, had locked me out while making out with her boyfriend, confused at…

Now, he shows up and I banish every other thought to concentrate on him. He is wearing a denim short, a white cashmere top plastered with a platter of colours, and a bowler hat. He sways his hips deliciously, canvas under one arm, a bag in the other swaying hand, and his red signature earpiece dangling down the length of his broad chest to the pocket in his shorts. He stares fixedly at the ground until he is at the first step leading to the underground theatre. He stops now, and settles down. I watch him keenly, as I have done for the past one week since I first sighted him doing a painting of Martin Luther King Junior. What struck me was not the object of the painting, or how indeed beautiful the painting was, but his poise and concentration which was akin to a man tending to his woman lover with expected calm, adoration and reverence. Oh, what gentle lover he would be…

I begin to wonder what it would feel like if he held me upclose like he did his canvas, with his fingers sketching designs of forbidden emotions within me. I stir where I am sitting as I notice his eyes on me. Is he looking at me, or through me, beside or behind? I can’t really tell. Oh no, he is smiling now… at me? I wish he would not look like that, or smile like that. Does he know I am in love with him? Is he perhaps in love with me too? My heart quickens, and my throat dries. It’s amazing how he always has that effect on me from a distance. His gaze returns to rest on his canvas again, and I wish it would return to me. I want to go over to him and just watch him draw, I want to fill my nostrils with all the paint chemicals so that I may never forget him even as I breathe, I want to listen to the same songs he listens to so maybe I can smile brightly like he always does. It’s beautiful, the way he makes me feel. I make up my mind at once that I must know his name, and what’s more, let him know how much he inspires me.

In the quick tick of a few seconds, ‘m up on my feet and right in front of him, but seeing his eyes on nothing but the canvas before him, I feel like an intruder and rather than perch beside him, I walk straight past him and head to the hostel instead. ‘Coward!!’ I curse my inner mind, as I drag myself idly through the chilly night. I have thoroughly fallen in love with a shy mute painter, and it can’t be helped, at least not today. Maybe tomorrow, i’ll do something about it…

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

Red Rage.

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He came home last night. He had been away for a month, leaving me and the kids without a dime. I didn’t know whether to be angry, or happy as I heard him pull into the compound. I had been thoroughly worried about him the past days, calling and texting him without response. I feared something might have happened to him. What will I have done? Where will I have gone? He would have made the trouble much bearable if he had told me where he was going in that note he stuck to the Fridge before leaving that Sunday evening… but then, it didn’t matter. He was home. I hurried to the kitchen to rustle up something for him to eat. That’s a wife’s duty after all, to cater for the husband in good and bad times.

In thirty minutes, the table was set yet he hadn’t come upstairs. I looked through the window by the dinning room to find him seated in his car in a relaxed mood, holding his phone to his ear, laughing so gaily about something only he knew. A laughter I hadn’t heard in a long while. I strained my ears to pick his voice over the generators loud hum…

Mama, iyen o ki n se problem na. Ma to pada wa, e ma wori.

Mama? I felt a tear drop from my weary eyes. He had been with his mother all this while? Yet she gave me no clue all those lonely nights I called to seek her advice? What responsible mother allows her son leave his own home, wife and kids, to suckle from her sagging breasts after every long day at work for a whole month? He had come in now, his presence dusted with whiffs of alcohol. I shook my tears back and played the nice wife… for a few seconds.

Ekaabo.’

Ekule o. Where are my kids?’ he settled in the dinning area.

I turned to the wall-clock, it was 11:00pm and he was asking where his kids were? I chose to ignore the question. If he cared, he would have been home the past days instead.

‘I made you Eba and Efo.’ I said in reply, and turned to get him some water to wash his hands with before he asked any other stupid question.

Soon after, he had finished the food and appreciated me with a loud belch and stinking fart which both happened fast, that I wasn’t sure which came first. I swallowed it all and just mused on how a man I loved and adored so much had now turned to the insensitive bastard I could only manage to harbour. The atmosphere was laden with so much hurt and anger and hunger too. I was hungry, I hadn’t had a proper meal in a long while because he didn’t leave any money and I was saving the remaining soup that I warmed that evening, for his return. I deserved some explanation, I thought, so I broke the ice.

‘Where did you go ‘Laitan?’

He stopped fiddling with his phone and spared me an accusatory look.

‘What do you mean by where did I go? Work, of course!’ he spat.

‘Olaitan, you went to work for almost a whole month, from Sunday evening up until this Friday evening. You didn’t call, you didn’t text, you didn’t reply my calls or texts, you didn’t leave any money and you know I don’t have a job to cater to myself and the kids. Olaitan, Olaitan… is this life?’

‘Don’t start o, this woman! Let me breathe please, ‘ve only just returned.’

Tears poured down my face and my empty stomach started to wail too. It was too much to take in all at once. That was what I got for worrying over and about him for a month, in his conscious absence.

‘Olaitan, you make me cry everyday and I can’t but wish you the same kind of pain you make me feel. Olaitan, I am hungry. I haven’t had a proper meal all this time, and you know I am a nursing mother. Bolu is just 2 months old, have you forgotten? Olaitan, your children missed you. They cried to sleep every night because you were nowhere close to throw them into the air after a long day. Olaitan…’ I racked in sobs, as my voice trailed off but he just sat there wearing a stone cold face after which he stood up angrily and made to get his car keys. I crawled after him, holding on to his legs.

‘Olaitan Oribogunje, you are not leaving this house without me and my children!’ I screamed a little too loud.

‘Bukunmi! Bukunmi leave my leg. Bukunmi leave me o.’ he dragged himself on, pulling my fragile frame with him but I didn’t let go still. Toke had woken up now and was staring in horror. She cried, but I didn’t know if she was mourning her lost sleep or sad for me. Either way, I shared her pain.

‘Do your worst ‘Laitan! Do your bloody worst but you’re not leaving this house without us!’ I yelled. What more pain could he possibly inflict on me? I was numbed by weariness, too tired to feel anything more. Then he started to punch me and drag me by the hair, slapping me everywhere he could lay his palms on. I screamed to the neighbours ‘hhe…elp me! Help me from this bloody bastard I call a husband! Egba miii o!!’

‘Daddddyyyy! Daadddddyyyy!’ Toke’s screams tore at my heart and that seemed to strengthen me because only then did I start to fight back. I ran to the kitchen to grab a knife and threatened him with it. The neighbours had begun to knock on our door now but we were too absorbed in our own little world to care.

‘You’ll either kill me today or come back to your senses!’ I spat breathlessly, burning with red rage pent up from too many past years. He carried a chair and made to fling it at me, while I raised the knife in readiness awaiting his strike. That was when Toke made for the door in one swift movement because her eyes couldn’t take it anymore and like a flash before my very own eyes, she fell to the ground in a pool of blood.

Everything went stark quiet in that second. I dropped the knife quickly, and raced to my child. ‘Toke! Toke mi! Akanke! Toke!’ she wouldn’t respond. By then, Olaitan had already walked out of the house and started his car downstairs. Afraid, guilty, or ashamed, I couldn’t care why he left. The neighbours poured in now like flood, running here and there trying to revive her. But I knew she was gone, because the instant I held her, I knew she saved that last gaze for me, telling me to be strong. I wailed in my head, but I didn’t have the power to cry out.

That was a second or so ago.

I am too tired now. My soul retires. But before I slump to the ground I note that time has well passed. It is 12:00am and it is Valentines.

_
‘Mama, iyen o ki n se problem na. Ma to pada wa, e ma wori.’ – Mama, that is no problem at all. I will soon be back, don’t worry about it.

‘Egba mi o!’- Please help me!

‘Ekaabo’- Welcome

‘Ekule’- Response to welcome.

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

Him.

Wednesdays are my favourite. It starts out with a fine breezy morning, the sky a brilliant dark shade as I bow in Humility before my Invisibly Visible God for a quick prayer. The water is calm, lukewarm, just for me. So I don’t have to bother with the water kettle lest I run late for my AM classes. I smile to the bathroom with song after song pouring effortlessly from my tongue; Mr Heady, my own personal inward Disk Jokey humouring me. The scrub, wash, brush and flush is seamless. Everything agrees with me on Wednesdays.

I take my time to rub on some moisturizer, feeling my supple skin beneath my fingers. I brush my long black hair and leave it to fall down my shoulders in that way that lets the breeze caress it every now and every then. I wear my best underwear today too, the blue flowery net laced panties and its blue matching bra. I don my well pressed sleeveless flared black gown, the one that stops just above my knee, wound a red muffler round my neck and drape my red jacket and black boots on. It’s Jos and it’s cold, so it’s weather perfect even though ‘m dressed to impress. Wednesdays are my best. I smear my lips with a touch of red lipstick, and spare my face some brown powder and eyeliner. I blush. I know I look stunning, it’s Wednesday.

I am eager about class. It’s a large noisy setting. The usual. Wounded chairs, unsteady tables, broken windows and a mass of people trying too hard to fit in… And then, there’s him– the best part of my day. I pick my seat. The one by the window-side at the left extreme end of the class. It’s because that’s where I have the best view of him. He is due in 10, 9, 8… I smell him already. His signature cologne- Hugo Boss. I concentrate on it as the smell draws him closer to me. Finally at the last second, he’s there. Settled in, three seats away with his friends. Together, they are called SLEEK. Soon after, the lecturer walks in but I don’t notice until a student launches for a seat beside me before he gets the chance to shut the door to ward untimely students away. Beyond a flinch, I can spare no further emotion as I return my focus to the subject of the day. Him.

The class is over in what seems like a minute, but I don’t care. I don’t mind. The sky is a brilliant golden scorch now but its mild breeze kisses the tip of my hair every now and every then. And as I pack up my books together into my bag, I am filled with glee for what I have learnt today. It’s more than all of the pythagoras theorem and almighty formula in the world. Yes. It’s something more fun, more timeless than all of that gibberish the lecturer must have churned out while I was learning, un-learning and re-learning him. It’s how he throws his head back in graceful might when he is about to let out his sing-song laughter at something one of his friends must have said. Classic.

The day runs through after this but I don’t mind still. And as I settle in bed at night, staring right at the white round magic that lurches somewhere just above the tree outside my window, the moon, I keep my smile on for what seems to stretch into eternity. I have learnt something, and committed it to memory and when next I think to laugh, I know I’ll throw my head back in that graceful way as he does. For he is my teacher, and all I crave is to be his best student. Maybe then, he’ll notice me…

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

Alone

‘You are alone’

‘No, I am not.’

Hahaha.

She does her signature nightmarish laugh. The type from the witch pretend mother of Rapunzel in Tangled.

I ignore her. I am not alone. I don’t have to argue with anyone about something I know.

It is Friday morning, and I am on my way to the office. The traffic is light but the bus is very uncomfortable. I try for some pleasant memory or someone’s face to ease the unease in me, but I can’t find one.

‘you are alone.’ she voices again.

I ignore her still.

‘Onipanu wa o!’ I quickly yell, more in a bid to shun the voice in my head than to call the driver to a stop. The young man beside me eyes me rudely. I cannot be bothered. I squeeze past him and make it out of the bus. Half walking- half jogging, I make it to the office 5 minutes before eight. Whew! Thank God.

‘Good morning.’ I call out to whoever cares to listen. And they all respond. Well, almost all. See, I told you I am not alone.

Quickly, I set my bag down and get to work on my laptop. We have a presentation to do by 9:00am, each of us new recruits. One IFRS standard per person. Bosun, the newest of us all, comes over so I can put him through on some things. I explain quickly, and get on with my business.

Hours later, presentation is done, and we are working on a clients file. We settle in the office on the upper floor. Myself, Tochukwu, Linda, Bosun, Tope, and Leonard. We eat in today because we have a lot of work to do before COB, plus there’s an important meeting our team would have to attend at Abuja on Monday morning, so there’s so much preparations to be done. We work, eat, talk, discuss, analyse, tease and work again. It is fun, and I am laughing my heart out more often than I normally would. Thank God it’s Friday today.

My tension is almost palpable as the clocks ticks towards 5pm, that I am super excited when Mr Yinka, our team leader and Engagement Partner informs us that we have to work into the night. ‘The files need finalising, and redressing. All final corrections must be made no later than today’ he calls, ‘… Plus we would be travelling on Sunday, because the meeting is by 8:00am on Monday morning, and we can’t take any chances.. So fellas, mark your calenders!’ he finishes. The rest of the team chatter in hushed tones, as if to say some Friday night party plans just got crushed.

Who cares? Not me.

I maintain a straight face as I absorb Mr Yinka’s every detail with suppressed glee. I am not alone, I reassure myself, and I almost jump up when my head’s voice is nowhere around to taunt me. Guess she has finally succumbed to the truth.

Work’s work, but I am enjoying the chatter around. Sadly, there’s very little more miracles I can wish for by the time it clocks 8pm and Mr Yinka dismisses everyone as he is satisfied with the new state of work. Everyone says their goodbyes and goodnights. Those with cars hop into their cars, asking one or two other friends to join them so they can drop them off somewhere along their route. In twos, fours, and sixes… they all leave. But no one calls out to ask if i’ll take a ride with them. I shudder beneath my skin, hoping my head is nowhere around to taunt me with that dreadful voice.

Thankfully, she isn’t.

I think she is tired and asleep already. I tiptoe and take my good care with each step. And when I am about to enter the bus, I say a silent prayer that it would harbour some ambience so I don’t wake my head.

Traffic is light again, and so in less than an hour, I am home. I put off my shoes, leave the door open, but leave the lights off. Why torture silence with a glow? I sit in the darkness for five minutes, and I feel it coming. The mood. Oh no! Not now, please.

I search my bag for my phone, hoping to see something that will at least amuse me and send the awful mood back to hell. Maybe a missed call, or a text message, or a ping, or a whatsapp chat, or a facebook notification or a… *sigh, there’s nothing. The phone is just as it was this morning. Just then, I feel a drop of tear teasing my eye. Maybe I am truly alone, but I hate that my head has to be right again.

Just as soon, my phone vibrates. I jump for it even though it is just lying beside me. It is Linda.
Maybe I am not alone after all.
‘Hey girl.’

‘Hello Tope. Sure you’re home already?’

‘Yes, I am. Just got in. Too tired to even turn on the lights.’

‘Gee, I can imagine. Work was stressful today. Do get some rest, okay?’

‘I will. Thanks. I..’

‘Lest, I forget. Oh sorry I cut you off. You were saying?’

‘No never mind. So, what’s up?’

‘Mr Yinka said to inform you the meeting has been postponed till Tuesday. So no more Sunday travel. You have your full weekend to yourself! Yayy!!’

Omg! That’s no good news. Why so yayy-y?

‘Hello…’ she callls out. ‘Hello, shit network! Hello..’

‘Hey, sorry I lost you there for a minute. Okay, thanks! Got the information. Such a relief, no?’

‘I know right! Alright then, sleep well. Cheers.’

Tum.. tum.. tum.. the disconnecting tone rings off in my head, and I think it just awoke the devil.

‘You are alone’ she calls again. Now, the tears pour forth like rainfall in June.

Maybe I really am alone. And no one cares. And maybe, no one ever will. Because I always push them away when they try.

‘You are alone’

‘I know’ I surrender finally.

She does her signature laugh again, and this time she goes mute for real. Guess now is bed time, or maybe there’s just no case anymore. I have admitted the sore fact, and she is right again. It’s a game of the mind, and it only ceases when she takes the trophy home.

Yes, I am alone. Merry, but don’t die of glee! I spit at her, my head.

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2014.

Thought Rush.

I stand up to get my wristwatch from his reading table. It’s 5pm. Romoke must be expecting me already.

“I have to go” I announce hesitantly. He’s been such great company as always, I’m almost tempted to stay for much longer.

“Do you now?” He teases.

I mean to eye him but spare him a smile instead. He’s gorgeous and irresistible. And a gentleman too. He never makes unwelcome advances. Although if he did, they’d be welcomed.

“Your hair’s such a mess dear. People might start to think things.”

I pick up a book and throw it at him for having such thoughts. “I’ll forgive you because this is your first time of going dirty- talk on me.”

“What?!” He laughs for a good number of seconds. I am forced to join him too.

“Come here honey, let me fix you.” Before I consent, he picks a comb and brushes through the folds in my hair expertly.

“How often do you do this?” I ask because I am thoroughly amazed.

“Well, this often.” He chuckles.

His hands are tickling my scalp, and his closeness, threatening my sanctity. My heart’s pumping out loud as his breath pours out in smooth sequence, caressing my neck and everything below. Unconsciously, I lean into him and like a cue, his able arms wrap around my body as quickly as he dismisses the comb.

He turns me to the mirror.

“You like?” I am sure he is addressing my hair, but all I can think of now- in this space of moment- is his arms around my body; my back to his front; his mouth to my neck; and him lying just somewhere too close to my bum for comfort. I like what I see. I like his eyes boring into mine through the mirror in front of us. Yes, I like.

“Yes.”

Is that a whimper, or a whisper? I am confused at the sound of my own voice.

Maybe he reads my mind, or my voice gives me away, or he’s thinking the same thing, or maybe I’m just over-thinking… But he turns me to him and suddenly ‘m shy of his gaze. I turn away altogether and grab my purse and other belongings from his reading table.

“Hey” his fingers on my shoulder make me curl inside with delicious desire. No, I can’t handle another touch.

“Don’t touch me… Please.”

“Okay,” he retreats “I promise I won’t. Just look at me.” And just as soon as he says this, I start to wish I hadn’t asked him not to touch me. That would have been less threatening than having to face him. I stay put with my back to him. I can’t face him now. I might kiss him or do something worse.

“You are beautiful, you know this? Your hair, the depth of your eyes, your nose, cute small lips and the words that come from it… Everything about you is beautiful. So don’t ever for a second feel shy of anyone’s gaze. Let it empower you instead.”

Where did all that come from? Why now? Why here? A second can really make a difference. If my hair hadn’t decided to go all haywire on me, we won’t be here, on this spot.

I am melting within. His words, his voice… Is this what empowerment feels like? Because I think ‘m having a rush of it.

“I have to go” I remind him again. Just so maybe he’ll shut up, leave my way, and let me out. But no, as I turn around, I fall flat into him and I’m kissing him. Breath for breath.

For a moment, I think his mouth claims mine too. Soft, warm, whole and consuming. I feel scared. No, new. Or alive? Whatever! I feel un-me, and I think it’s fine. His body is leaning hard against mine. His broad chest teasing my nipples to glorious awakening. And I feel him swelling beneath. His hands rest on the table beside me. He isn’t touching my body. He promised he wouldn’t, and he is keeping true to it. Oh! I don’t even know what to feel now. Disappointed? Impressed? I want him to touch me. My body is quivering right now and I fear I might grow weak in the knees from this exquisite delight coursing through me. His smell. Oh, heavenly. And his chest? Broad and firm, each rib feeling like candy stick for I know when they rub against me, I’ll just melt with pleasure. It’s less than a minute, but it feels like eternity. And just when the magic is mounting within me, he pulls away. Breathless.

“We shouldn’t be doing this. I am.. I’m sorry. It’s my fault.”

He is sorry? We shouldn’t be doing this? Quickly, delight transits to cowardice. I can’t look into his eyes now. I feel too ashamed and guilty and helpless and out of control. Damn, how do I look? Ruffled? My lips, they are heavy, no? A poignant evidence that he’s been there. Oh my senses, I see them spread in disarray all over his bedroom floor. And my ego? That one walked out on me the moment I stepped into his apartment this morning without invitation.

He reaches for my chin, his long fingers tracing the edge. I dare to look into his delicious brown eyes and I don’t know what I see. Fear? Love? Or pity?

Talk about the fine line between music and noise.

Damn him. And damn my heart. I thought it was love, or at least like. I thought he felt same for me or at least half of it. The calls, the chats, the look in his eyes, the things he would say… Has he just been a goddamn gentleman all this time? Before my thoughts explode, I leave his room in a haste; walking one minute, running the next. He calls out after me, I race on ahead, half hoping he would run after me, half hoping he wouldn’t. Aching to hear him say he loves me too, wishing he’d just leave me be.

…The farther I walk, the fainter his voice. And it becomes clear, someone got careless. Either he was with his feelings, or I was with my thoughts. We were fine, before today, before a second before the second before now. But somehow, someone, sometime turned fine music to noise. And we’ll maybe never be on the same page again. Or maybe we never even were…

It hurts.

It hurts that I find myself here. It hurts that I can’t get over it. It hurts that I’ll miss him. And for the sole sake of my breaking heart, I hope he misses me too… At least.

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2014.