Michael got up as early as 4am, switched on the light and sat up staring at the tattoo on Okafor’s back.
Okafor’s snore beside him was quiet. As gentle as his looks. Michael’s eyes glided over the rest of Okafor’s nude body which was smooth and mildly dark. Okafor was the first full African Micheal had shared a bed with.
The full African breathed heavily and after blinking thrice, shifted his lying posture as his hassle-free bones creaked austerely. ‘Why up so early, honey?’ he asked in a feeble voice.
‘We need to talk.’ Michael’s voice was so sharp inserting chill into the quietness of the room, raising a sort of tenseness in Okafor, who then acquired a similar seated posture.
What’s the matter..?’ Okafor’s Nigerian accent came out strong, one of the qualities Michael had fallen for when they first met in South Melbourne.
‘Who is Sue…? Sue Chong-Xuzin?’
Okafor’s eyes journeyed away from the room for a while. The expression had a handsome covering over his shame.
‘Answer me, Okafor… You lied to me…’
Okafor sprang up from the bed and both of his fingers found his face. Not for shame this time but in regret. His hissing had a depth of sorrow. His frame backed Michael whose own nudity was hidden beneath the counterpane.
After a bitter silence, Okafor slowly walked into the bathroom, and from the room, Michael listened to the shower rain softly.
Michael felt tears surround his heart. He imagined the look on Okafor’s face beneath the shower. He could not measure the hatred that was building up in him against Okafor, and it was just five weeks into their overgrown relationship.
Okafor had told him the last time he had been with a woman, was seven years ago, while Helen Xue, a journalist friend, had confirmed that Okafor had been lying and had had an affair with Sue, a 19 year old Singaporean female, two years ago.
Michael who had never been to Nigeria, but whose parents were Nigerians who had met at the University of Melbourne in the 70’s, had been so contented that someone who shared in his ancestral roots, had fallen in love with him. Michael was indeed contented, despite his actions of never intending to know what Nigeria looked like. Yes, he had heard terrible things about Nigerians. How they made good lives out of scamming people. How their leaders enriched themselves through corrupt drivings. Against the perception that all spades weren’t identical, Michael never thought it unreasonable to investigate Okafor.
Okafor claimed to have come into Australia from Britain, but Helen had documents that proved the Nigerian had arrived from Malaysia, and also belonged to syndicate of drug dealers around Asia.
Sue Chong-Xuzin was unwittingly pushed by Okafor to smuggle drugs into Japan from Singapore two years ago. The 19 year old thought she was just going for a holiday under Okafor’s sponsorship after her first year in the university. She never knew her lover had put 3 kilos of cannabis in her luggage. When she was caught at the airport in Japan, it was like the world had collapsed on her. The lady had been serving a jail term for 4 years now and here was Okafor in Melbourne trying to recruit another trafficker in a new lover.
Okafor came out of the bathroom maintaining the distant look, in addition to a sort of sore frown. His dreadlocks lay calm neatly, the only undistorted feature about him at the moment. ‘Are you going to call the police, now..?’
‘I wouldn’t call the cops. I just have a question to ask.’
Okafor started sorting his clothes out of the wardrobe, folding them into his suitcase.
Michael wanted to ask Okafor if their relationship had been based on love, as once believed. He wanted to ask Okafor why he was denting the name of a motherland that deserved a better image. But instead he asked, ‘Why do you have to choose me as the next puppet in transporting your drugs?’
‘I see you have really dug into my past. Whatever I say now, you would never believe. It is my fault that the past haunts me. I must tell you this. I really loved Sue. I wanted to marry Sue. I had her make that single trip to Tokyo so we could raise money for our lives afterwards. When she was caught, it became hell. I could not do it myself because, as you know, Nigerian passports invite troubles and suspicions… It was a choice made because she had a Singaporean passport and would not be much of a headache passing through the immigration authorities. I swear I did not come after you because you had an Australian passport neither did I come after you because I wanted you to transport drugs… I had to go into hiding after Sue was arrested. I left Singapore for Malaysia. From Malaysia, I was able to get in here… ’
Okafor went on to clear the wind on how he was unable to fall in love with any other woman. He could not declare if his love for Michael was fake or not. It was already so irrelevant in mending the issue.
Michael never knew where Okafor headed after that morning. Never saw him afterwards. When he dialed Okafor’s number four months later, the number was no more in service.