I stood in front of the picture, staring at it intently, trying to understand the inspiration behind it, my eyes desperately determining what the photographer was feeling. A monochromatic nude. The woman looked like she was in pain. Her smile forced, posture aching. My brows knitted together as I deciphered the abstract blocks of light on the canvas. The shadowing was contorted, it looked as though there were two different people in the picture. I had never seen anything like it. My mind still swimming with the curves and edges, it took me a while to realize that a man was standing beside me. “I got lost in it when I saw it as well.” He said. “It has this certain…” I said, looking for the appropriate adjective. “This certain allure ? one so rich, so melodious, so full of spirit and vivacity and, for me at least, a soaring energy ?” I looked at him then, he was still looking at the picture. I wasn’t ever gregarious enough to agree with a stranger. So I continued my examination of this artwork. I glanced in his direction. He noticed. He furrowed his brows, which drew my attention to his eyes, big and lit, like Lagos in the night. He was good looking. Well built. Rich brown skin, like a Kenyan’s. I could read his body language. He was confident. He spoke again, but this time he faced me with an extended hand. “I’m Femi.” “I’m Akin.” He smiled. I smiled.
We fell in love, and I loved Femi with a conviction as blind as faith.
Like the human that he was, he failed me. At some point, we went from soul mates to strangers. What happened you might ask ? He fed my trust to the dogs, like it was leftovers from lunch. Leftovers of my heart. Soap-Opera Dramatic, Yes?
Loving him was dramatic.
The premonition I thought to be pessimism bubbles, weren’t. The feeling of impending unhappiness was undeniable. Something would happen if we went on, our end would be tragic. What to do? Go on with him and tell myself later, I told me so? Or leave him and wonder what-if? The indecisiveness was unhealthy. And all the emotional pain that came from it became physical. I’d never felt this way about anyone. I was incapable of feeling this way about anyone, and in all honesty I didn’t even want to feel this way about anyone. I didn’t even try partly in fear that I might never find this with someone else or that the next would never compare. I loved him. I swear I did. I had never been in love, but if this is what the love feels like, I can’t blame anyone for dying or killing for it.
Sometimes the magic would wear off and I would wonder if I was the disillusioned one? Sometimes he made mistakes, and I would let my anger take control of my mind and my mouth. I would impulsively scream threats at him. “You will regret this, I promise.” I think He would be scared when I’d say things like that. It made him wonder. “I don’t like wondering.” He said to me once. But they were bottomless and foolish. What could I do to him? He was seventy-four inches tall. Weighing, 85 kilograms. Nothing.
That was what love did to you, made you scared of a teenager who was as tough as a cotton candy. Sometimes I wondered whether the love that powerful, that it also made me foolish ? Although my logic had taken slave to this love, it hadn’t wiped me of my sanity, that I was sure of. I think. Back then, time apart only made it worse, my need for him grow feverish, incessant my heart, my soul, my body wailed for him, like an angered banshee.
How other people go through relationships and leave emotionally unscarred is beyond me. How do you move on? How do you stop loving someone? After everything? Or was it that they hadn’t come across this feeling ? Was what they shared was that meaningless? Was that really love? I doubt. I’ve just never been one to go from one to the next, without leaving my mark on his heart first and his life second. It’s one of the reasons I never did like relationships and one of the reasons I’m terrible with flings. And after the bastard cajoled me into entering one with him, look where it got me. Nearing lunacy. My judgment concerning serious issues became shot and my rationale compromised. My thoughts, plans, future centered around him. He wasn’t perfect but he was perfect for me, like he was created for me. Like, he existed to be with me and no one else but. No sharing. No, not even Lynn.
His imperfections became extravagant. I came along way with him. Almost 4 years, excluding the frequent break-ups. I used to be the girl that didn’t think much of the other gender, being an extreme feminist even from a young age. I used them regardless of whatever anyone thought or what circumstance we met, it didn’t take much from me, I never struggled to. Whether I found him attractive was not the issue. It never was. I did what I liked with or without reason, to achieve what I wanted. He changed me.
I admit, it isn’t anything to be proud of, but this love thing is no better. It came with a false face, deceiving me and luring me into this state of mind. But, this false face was the face of a seraph, it was flawless. In deceiving me, it taught strength. It taught me how to love, ignore and accept flaws. And in luring me, it gave me peace of mind.
Even from the classic love stories, you realize it is ignorant to think that love has a one definition, because different people express their love in different ways. Romeo and Juliet. Bonnie and Clyde. Mary and Joseph. Me and Him. The hurtful truth I’m able to make out of our situation is that if we had another time, and another place, what we have wouldn’t be as hard as it is to deal with. But we didn’t . Everything we have is here and now. And difficult. And real. We discussed about our end and He convinced me that our love has to work because there is no one like me and no one like him so there’s nothing like us, that it was destiny, that we would persevere. Liar. I believed him. I can’t forgive him for making me feel this way for him. I hate him because he caused this. How would he do this to me? Love me and leave me. No matter what, I’d promise never hurt to him. (At least purposely). I’d never forget him. And his love for me, made me love him more, for I did not understand how someone could love me without complaint, hesitation or difficulty. His love for me was free. All he asked was for me to love him entirely in return. I loved the way he allowed me to do what I wanted, say how I felt, be in control. The memories of him would always keep me warm. The nostalgia held me firm while reminiscing toyed with my vagina on lonely days.
I knew my body through him, each time we made love, a different trip. He taught me his body too, giving space for my mistakes, calming my excitement. I explored and he let me. He never said I wasn’t doing it right. He never complained. He was gentle and slow, hard and deep when I demanded it. It wasn’t the physical intimacy that made me love him, it was his mind. When we spoke, he read my spirit, opening my mind to several ideas, rubbing off my ignorance. Watering my brain cells with his maturity. He was a wonder in himself. He was filled with stuff, things as brilliant as the sun, some things as ugly as sin. Things I was never aware. His reactions, his thoughts, his kind bluntness.
It started one morning when, I woke up, it was evening. The acid mist had cast a ghostly reflection on the city. I leaned on the ledge of the open window and just looked. Breathing in the natural warm acrid scent. I looked at the tired orange sellers, the sullen gutters and stray rabid dogs. Allowing my eyes drift casually, I noticed that the horizon seemed closer than usual and the setting sun added a russet aroma to the scenery. Lagos was a beautiful place. I picked up my canon and captured the moment. Flash. Flash. Flash. “Wow.” He said, standing behind me. “I know.” I replied, agreeing with his brief description. He moved closer and whispered, “I need to tell you something.” He lifted up my shirt, rough palms warming my sides. Flash. Flash. He tickled the skin on the back of my neck with his tongue, thick Malboro breath wafting to my nose. Hands firm on my hips, he turned me around. “I love you.” Mouth agape, I said nothing. We had been together for too long and we never voiced our feelings. Not even once. I should have been excited, I had waited for this for so long, but the minute he said it something invisible went wrong. I should have responded with an “I love you too.” Because I did love him but I just stood there, smiling, looking at him and worrying that he would read my worry. “Aww.” I wrapped my thin arms around his muscled neck and squeezed, he looked down at me, and told me how beautiful I was. I turned back and closed the window, admiring how the strands of the amber light from the street lamp passing through the stained glass created a dull sepia glow. Flash. I felt him opening and closing his mouth, willing and unwilling to say something. “Tell me.” I said, holding my camera to my face. “I’m married.” He said. I took a step back. Flash.
The bed was creaking, it sounded like it would break any minute. My attention was on the sheets, wet from sweat, and pulled over the mattress. He held my waist and pushed it back and forth until he was satisfied with my rhythm. He looked up at me, lips spread to reveal a big smile. The throbbing of his dick had irregularities, he was about to come. He arched his neck, clenched his teeth and let out a growl. Erupting like a volcano, I could feel his hot milky larva permanently staining the walls of my vagina. My legs quivered. I got off the ride and rolled over. I laid my head on his chest and crossed one leg over his. His heart sounded like a large dundun. I held his hand and rested it on his torso, I looked at the impression of his wedding band and I remembered why we just had amazing sex. Make up sex. The reality settling in, and desire fading, the guilt, the shame refreshed. He whispered, “I love you.” I kept quiet. He never disgusted me more than he did at that moment. “Akin ?” He repeated, concern in his voice. “I don’t need to say it, all 3 of us know it.” Saying that hurt me, more than it did him. His anger was quick. “Those foolish remarks don’t mean anything. She doesn’t mean anything. Say you love me.” I rolled to my side of the bed, turned off the lamp and kept quiet. “Akin.” Silence. “Akin.” Silence. “Akin.” He stretched across the bed and turned on the lamp.
“Akin, four years! It’s been four years, and you still can’t say you love me?”
“You callous bastard, you’re married”
“Is that your excuse?”
“Do you mean that?”
“Get the fuck out of my house.”
“I will leave, but you won’t ever see me if you don’t tell me what I need to hear.”
“I won’t tell you to leave again.”
I’m in love with a married man, I couldn’t ask him to leave his wife for me, Karma was real, but should I let the man who I loved so deeply go? I watched him dress up and leave, without so much as a goodbye. I wouldn’t hear from him till 7 months later. It was an invitation to his daughter’s 1st birthday party. I sent a gift.
I couldn’t understand why I’d never felt myself with any other person or rather why I fought myself for it. I used to ignore the doubting demons in my head, ignore the suspicions. My friends told me to lose focus on him, they said he wasn’t anything I couldn’t have ten times elsewhere. True. But I did not want ten times of him elsewhere. 10 times didn’t equal to a tenth of him. If it wasn’t his age, it was his intentions. What did they know ? Their opinions were cheap and ignorant. Never strong enough to wrestle my feelings away.
I had become impatient with their incomprehension. It was annoying, confusing even. Their advice and carelessly chosen words made my heart bleed. Didn’t they understand that that was what love did to you? Made you happy? Satisfied ? maybe careless? Didn’t they see it in my eyes? In my little actions? In the sacrifices I made for him ? Didn’t they hear it in my voice? When I spoke to and about him? Didn’t they feel it?
I kept myself up nights in a row, asking myself all sorts of questions, most I didn’t answer to because I couldn’t. What seemed like brilliant ideas at the time, I realize to be foolish whims, I had no idea what was going through my mind when I fell in love with this man. Remembrance made the mistakes endless. I would drift in and out of sleep remembering. I preferred to forget.
Hiding our love? Covering our problems and neglecting public scrutiny?
Giving him my body?
Letting him know anything and everything on my mind? All the nonentities and the intelligent things I thought up?
Setting feeble barriers?
Saying yes too quickly and no not soon enough?
Allowing his lies to slip through?
Not being submissive?
I only felt, after each question, regret. A regret that reduced me to a human being rather than the goddess he initially thought me to be. A regret that laughed at my decisions. A laugh that never stopped echoing. After a dull never-ending era of being separated from reality and love (as one did not exist without the other), I lost all hope of a reunion. I hated him for the pain that he caused me, At least I convinced myself I did, always crying, always wallowing in my broken heart, burning every physical memory we shared. I wished what I felt would disappear like that. My tears cursing him with the loneliness. With my pain larger than the night’s darkness. I had accepted the pain, comforting myself that there would be others and eventually it didn’t hurt as much. But after all of the attempted anger and bitterness, the lovesickness got tiring and I got over him. And for the longest time, all that was left was a huge gaping hole from a wound that nobody, nothing could fill. I still loved him.