I rest my head on my knees, curling into myself. I cannot believe that I’m in this place again, single. Single and betrayed. I was so focused on a future that with him that I hadn’t realised that there wasn’t even a present. I raise my head from my knees and look in the mirror facing my bed. I look awful!! My hair is sticking in every direction, my eyes are red and puffy from all the crying I’ve been doing since last night. I’m a mess!! My dinner from last night is sitting on my bedside table, untouched. I make to pick it up, to take it out of my room and my eyes fall on the bracelet on my wrist. A charm bracelet full of charms that we had picked up to mark our many special moments. His birthday, mine, my landing a job, his promotion, his buying a dog, my getting a bike. Important and silly things, all of which had meant very much to us. I feel the tears rushing back into my eyes and I rest my head on a pillow, taking off the bracelet. I’ve always been a firm believer in time being a healer, and also that every pain in the world was temporary but in this moment I cannot see past this pain. I cannot see a tomorrow, a future on my horizon. How had I been so blind, and for a whole year too! How had I missed the signs? The sudden and frequent ‘work trips’ and how I could never get a hold of him during such trips? The wedding ring from his late wife that he still wore? The way he never spoke about a future of us together? I was foolish and I see now that I really have only myself to blame. He lied, but I made it easy for him to do so. I never asked the questions that would have helped me get to the truth. I had accepted his half-truths and never pried further. I had just gone with the flow and not pressed for the truth, and maybe on some level it was because I had been afraid of what the truth could mean if he wasn’t who he said he was. I have failed myself today. I will sit still and hurt for a little and then when I am done, I will get up, live again and do better.
I’m sitting in a daze on my bed. I thought I had heard every useless breakup line in the world until two days ago when Nsikan, the fellow I had started dating just three weeks ago, told me we had to end it because his father had found a girl for him and as his health was deteriorating very quickly he had to be a dutiful son and at least give it a try. What a mound of horse shit!!!! I’m thirty one years old now and my mum has been on her “get Emem a husband by whatever means necessary” campaign for the last two years. I have been on dates with almost every single one of her friends’ sons, the other mums want to help my mum out of this difficult situation. My dad had never been worried about these things and so never joined my mother in her plotting and scheming to ship me off with some man. Or at least this was true until last week when he informed me that his friend’s son was “in town” and he had invited him over for dinner “Next Week friday”. It’s Friday today, and almost dinner time too. I get dressed just in time and head downstairs. The guest must be here already, I can hear my dad talking excitedly to someone. Mum is giggling her fake “let me impress this one” giggle. I enter the living room and the whole world halts. Sitting beside my dad, is Nsikan.
We take the same bus every morning from command junction to kasuwa, and I think he waits for me on the days I run a little late. Our conversations are always very short, mostly because I seem to lose common sense when I’m around him. He doesn’t push for more talk though, once I fall silent, but he smiles. It’s almost as though he understands that I’m a smarter person when we part. He likes to pay the fare. I wasn’t comfortable with this in the beginning and tried every day to talk him out of it (my mind switches back on at around this time) until one day when an elderly passenger, a man who looked to be as old as my grandpa, said to me, “my daughter, no de fight man wen wan take care of you. Allow am de pay.” I was embarrassed, and he just smiled his mischievous smile. So I stopped arguing and he continued paying. I’m running a bit late today. from the distance I see him crossing the road and I freeze as I see also a speeding car lose control and hit him clear off the road. I hear my own screams from a place I didn’t know I had and feel my body spring into a run. My shoes are flying in every direction and the only thing running through my mind, Lord please don’t let him be dead.
Elegushi at sunset, I’m sitting alone drinking vodka and coke. I’ve always been a lover of the sunset and the beach, I find that I can think there and the energy that people bring makes me feel alive. I’m sipping and people-watching when I hear a voice ask from beside me, “sister can I sit with you?” I look up to see who it is and I’m met with the most interesting view. Tall, dark hottie with a chipped tooth smiling down at me. He’s wearing a pair of bright, flowery Ankara shorts and a T-shirt that says “slow motion”. I pat the seat beside me and he lowers himself into it, dropping his bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee honey beside my vodka. It’s awkward at first but soon we’re talking about the cosmos, and cow and chicken, and the first women of the ooku, and saraki, and the Mayans and bantus, and Ed Sheeran and Bill Cosby. We have an amazing night talking and then we both get up to leave. We don’t exchange numbers, we’re very much alike. We both know we won’t call, but we will go home feeling the joy of having met a kindred spirit.
I had a dream. I wasn’t sleeping when I had this dream, but I wasn’t awake either. It was a dream about us. It was night time in this dream, 11 or maybe 12 o’clock. I was wearing tiny loose shorts and you were in bed. The lights were off and I didn’t want to wake you. So I left as quietly as I could and walked to the living room. I couldn’t sleep, I was thirsting for weird music. I plugged my phone to the aux cable and turned the volume down. I just wanted to dance. And sway a bit. And then the sultry sounds that enchant me always came to life in the living room and I danced, moving slowly one way and then the other. Then I felt you enter the room and when I turned to see you, oh lawd! Your eyes were liquid fire and in that moment I remembered why I fell in love with you. We danced. Slowly, quietly and after moments that seemed like two eternities you whispered in my neck, “You’re beautiful “… And then I woke up.
My heart is free,
I can dance again, leap in the air
Throw my hands up,
Launch my hips in the gyration of the freed soul.
My soul is no longer in turmoil,
My feet are tapping crazily,
Burning the rug with their new found excitement.
Moving in a fevered frenzy.
My spirit is finally tasting true calm,
My toes are greeting the new sun in a perfect leap,
My heels making new rhythms with the earth,
In a new dance, my fire dance.
I have no strength left to fight,
I will drown in these waves and float with the tides.
I have no more strength to fight,
Let the curtains close, and let’s call it a night.
Let the dirges play,
Soul piercing laments, as the colors fade.
I have no more fight in me,
No more smiles, no more witty replies
No more warm hugs, or passionate kisses.
I have no more, the reserves have run dry.
I have no more; nothing left, I’ve run dry.
Let the morning rain wash me away,
And the night’s breeze blow my scent away.
I have no more strength to fight,
Let the curtains close and let’s call it a night.