When morning comes, I will tell her the sun rises and sets in her eyes. I will tell her she is the love of my life; she always was and, probably, always will be. I will tell her I just might find no one like her again and that is why I have to let her go.
It’s not like I do not love him anymore; far from that. When you are with someone this way…you are bonded with that person for life. You cannot tell yourself apart from that person. You do not know who you are without that person. It’s just that…I’ve grown. I am just no longer the young beautiful girl he used to know.
I have known her all my life. How do you let someone you’ve known all your life go? It calls for lots and lots of alcohol, but I am supposed to be as dead as a log on the bed now. My circadian sense tells me it’s about 4am now, far too early to be awake…by her standards. She would fuss over me and eventually get worried. No I won’t get out of bed; I’ll just play dead and wait for the sun to rise in her eyes.
A cool wave of predawn chill sweeps the room, but I dare not turn to his side and cuddle him. Not while I’m thinking about leaving. That would make me the worst kind of betrayer. Besides he reads my body like a book, once I touch him, he’ll know something is wrong. I remember the first time he touched me. We were barely sixteen then. I’d been a looker in school back then, pretending I didn’t like him, then one day after night prep, he called to a corner at the dark extreme of the walkway, then he placed a plastic rose in my ear and placed his mouth on mine all of a sudden. It reeked of our evening dinner, yam porridge and I was supposed to be disgusted.
But I wasn’t.
I fought back a smile.
-You like me. He said in triumph and wonder. Before waiting for a confirmation from me, he bolted off to probably share the news with his lowlife friends. I was disgusted and yet excited and disgusted even more.
I remember when we got good at it. At first we didn’t talk, once I saw her I took her in my arms and then I could tell what was right or wrong. To her it was a mystery how I could read her body language, I mean, she jumped into my arms one day in front of my father in exuberance and when I guessed she just received her admission letter into the university, she was mystified.
I smile when I remember the awkward lovesick boy I used to be. Aargh… this woman changed me.
…in many ways than I can I could imagine. We didn’t grow up, we grew into ourselves. We shared parts of each other until we became a single whole. With him, life began to have meaning. Many nights we spent outside, while he composed poems for me with the moon and stars bearing witness, wind rustling in the melody of his words.
Those days were surreal, words failed to capture her serene beauty. I tried to show her how beautiful she was and in time, she grew under my eyes from my boyhood crush to the love of my life. It was just like the movies…
We went to the movies, honeymooned it Italy…It was like a romance novel that simply didn’t want to end. He was the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen, staring in his eyes; I felt I could become anything. And I did.
When she came home that day I was bone-tired from work and had slept off on the chair. I woke up to the feel of her hands lovingly unlacing my shoes. Without speaking, I let her remove the shoes and continued to watch as she climbed into my laps and circled her arms round my neck and planted a kiss on my forehead. A smile began to tug the corner of my lips long before I realized what had happened.
-Your manuscript was accepted.
She nodded and looked away shyly.
But I was too excited to accept her coyness that night. With a big whoop, I shot up from the chair spun her round and round in my arms out to the narrow tiled street in the cold night.
-Do you care for a walk?
She nodded, still giggling.
That evening was beautiful. The narrow streets and ancient ornamental streetlamps all screamed love in capital letters. I even stole a rose from a street vendor and placed it on her right ear, and gazed briefly at her face as I had many years ago.
-Don’t worry I didn’t have yam porridge this evening.
She exploded into peals of laughter. The evening was beautiful. How couldn’t it be, it was Paris after all.
He works for a global franchise as their general sales and branding manager, they had recruited him once he was fresh out of University, because he had the brains. He had worked so hard because he wanted to make a good living for me. But he was all I needed…whether we were in Rome or Brazil or Puertorico, he was all I needed. And somehow, he was there for me. It was like a dream I didn’t want to wake up from.
Sunlight streams through the windows, chasing my half dreams away. Time to get up. I jump down from the bed to my knees and clasp my hands and bow my head to recite the Lord’s Prayer, loud enough for her to hear. Then I’m off to the bathroom.
I sneak out of the bedcover once the door closes behind him and head for the kitchen. What country are we in? Right, Nigeria. Fried potatoes or French fries if we are I Paris. So I fry the already sliced Irish potatoes and squash some lemon into his coffee. The sun is still a warm reluctant ball looming just above the horizon. After the batch of Irish potatoes is done, I break in two eggs. He likes them half done with diced onions. He walks into the kitchen at the perfect time.
At least my smile is heartfelt. How can it not? He is as dashing as always in his three-piece ash suit as he pecks my forehead and picks up his breakfast.
He replies ruefully, reading my eyes. Left to the two of us, I would never need to utter a word in this life and he would understand.
-You know, I was about to start cooking this morning, then I realized I had forgotten which country we live in. I was wondering whether we were having chicken soup for breakfast or French fries, or let me call it Irish potatoes since we are in Nigeria.
-Thank God Irish won…the day. He replies between mouthfuls.
I bite my lower lip in distress and stare at the sun through the Kitchen window. While it seems to have overcome its timidity and plunge into the sky, I am trying to talk to my husband and…
I turn just in time to see him whip the camera into his breast pocket.
-I’m wearing my nighties! I scream at him.
-Today is my girlfriend-is-hot day at work. Just wait till they see what my wife of 16 years looks like. Who she is…
I lung for the phone almost upsetting his cup of coffee on the dining table, while he teases me with it.
-We have been married for eleven years, give me the phone!
-I consider myself married since the day I kissed you. With that, he grabs me on the waist and carries me like a baby and gazes deeply at me. He certainly isn’t the clumsy shy boy of 16 years ago.
-But my reputation of a writer…
-Only makes you hotter. You may see yourself as some old lady but this,…he flashes the picture at me and I restrain a whimper…this is how I see you.
-A 33year old strumpet? I ask sarcastically.
-My 33year old strumpet.
I sigh. We are about to have one of those Hollywood moments when he suddenly realizes he is late for work.
-You witch you… he accuses me as he grabs his suitcase.
-What did I do?
-You seduce me, feed me and this…he takes my lips in his and I sigh, he definitely isn’t clumsy anymore.
As he rushes to the car, I lean on the door and gaze longingly at him.
-I know babe, I’ll be back before you know it.
With that, he drives away.
Like I said, its not that I do not love him anymore, far from it. I think the problem is that we spent the last 16 years building our relationship on a fantasy, in such a deep fantasy we created for ourselves that we can’t tell when it is about to fall apart.
My main objective this morning was to make her feel loved. Of course my-girlfriend-is-hotter day only exist in American movies, but I do not regret taking the picture…at all.
I am Mr Communicator in relationships, so I wasn’t deaf to the tension she started building with the relocation thing we do. Her complaint is a good source of argument I can use to say adieu to our marriage, but I needed time to strategize carefully and work of course, not that I had much work to do in the office today. In fact what with my secretaries lascivious displays which I find particularly repulsive, maybe staying at home wouldn’t have been a bad idea after all. Maybe if she saw my wife’s picture, she will give up.
The day drags on slowly, like it had no hurry in the world at all. I can barely taste lunch. All I can think about is this evening. What with modern technology in building materials, there are no good old ceiling boards to count, but a white ceiling staring blandly back at me.
When the sky begins to darken and the sun starts to sink down into the horizon, I shoot out the chair, grab my suit jacket and fly downstairs to my car with my briefcase in my hands. You would think I’m about to propose to some lucky girl.
The Lagos traffic doesn’t make things easy at all. Its no surprise that Nigeria gives her the largest amount of literary inspiration; hawker of all sorts of things with their own individual stories to tell…thank God I’m not a writer!
I review my speech in my head while my car turns into the drive way. It sounds lame when she welcomes me at the door though, how can’t it not; she’s wearing one of those flowery dresses and one of those flowery perfumes.
-We move to Ukraine tomorrow. The company just gave license for franchise to some Ukrainian company there and they are experiencing challenges in marketing the product there.
-Isn’t there another person? Are you the only competent staff? She fires. We some how found our way to the bedroom.
-The only one with a family, yes!
-I don’t need this. She wails. I don’t need it at all. All I need is you.
I laugh derisively.
-Are you going to eat me? When hunger comes, what will you eat! I yell.
I read her eyes.
-No way, there is no way in hell that I’ll let you use your writing income for this family.
-But I have thousands of dollars, what I’m I to do with it? She cries out, holding the helm of my shirt.
-Mummy, I found the painting…Mummy why are you crying?
We are totally unaware of the new occupant in the room, size could be a factor.
I am shocked numb.
-Daddy! The boy suddenly yells and jumps on me. I allow his little heart beat next to mine as she stares at me in accusation. For a while, I had forgotten I had a 10 year old son.
-You’re back from the painting trip already? I ask, trying to bite his ears while he giggles convulsively.
-Yes naw. I painted something for you and Mummy. You people should sit down.
I exchange glances with her before sitting down.
He brandishes a painting of a picture we’d taken when he was 5. We were vacationing in Obudu Cattle Ranch when the photographer had taken the shot; I was sitting in his father’s laps on the grass while he called our attention to a leaf. One thing that strikes me with is the fact that my little boy has always commanded attention right from his childhood. Another striking thing was the fact that my husband had been twisting a strand of my hair, something I had not noticed before now. My little boy had painted it unknowingly I’m sure.
It is not about the accuracy of the picture, judging the quality of the work on that basis will be placing the work around average mark. But when it comes to capturing, or in his case resurrecting a precious moment we had all forgotten, my little boy had aced it. And I am proud.
-Its beautiful! I exclaim excitedly to his gratification. Nothing is okay for my little man unless I say it’s okay. He uses his arms to wrench my neck in a hug and I make a mental note that my boy is not so little anymore. In a few years he will be a ‘teenager’ and I will loose him to puberty, girls, loud music. So for now, I will enjoy the embrace of my child. My blood.
When his mother takes him to bed, I do not know how to feel. I do not know what to feel. How do I leave her?
I prop myself up on the bed and lean on the wall, rolling the matter over the engines of my mind still fully clothed. She comes in and sees the question still written on my face.
This time it is my turn to read him. His eyes say only one thing. I initially object to it but it’s probably the last time we will be able to share this kind of moment. So walk to him and take his face in my hands…
I do not know the exact moment I fall asleep but just as I’m about to, a sense of an ending creeps up my spine. Something about the way she desperately clung to me insinuated only one thing.
She was letting me go.
I feel a pair of familiar arms encircling my midriff.
-I need to hold you. She says huskily, I can tell she’s been crying.
-let me get the blanket.
-No, I want to hold you.
I let her. It takes forever before I do what my mind tells me and covers her hands with mine.
She wanted to leave me today. Just like me, she had been thinking about it, probably in italics while I did the same in bold.
But she doesn’t want to anymore. Whether it’s because of our son or the memories our picture brought, or what we just shared, I do not know. But I can sense she wants to stay.
I turn on the bed to face her, this woman I love dearly. While her hands encircle my back, I reach to stroke her moon-shone strands of hair from her face. Maybe when morning comes tomorrow, I will be able to tell her the sun rises and sets in her eyes. I will tell her she is the love of my life; she always was and, probably, always will be. I will tell her I just might find no one like her again and that is why I have to let her go.