LOVE IN PARTS
(A Short Story by Poet Razon-Anny Justin)
It was a sultre afternoon. The noise of the hawkers rended the already hot air into bits. They cooed and hissed and whistled; attracting passengers and passersby to their wares.
The bus was uncomfortably hot too. It would’ve been better if she was not sandwiched between two men- a greasy one to her left- by the window and a sweating one to her right. Both-Mr. Grease and Mr. Sweats, were as fat as Elephants. But her uncomfortability did not totally come from the bulkiness around her. It was an emotional thing- a deep seated depression.
The bus had gently eased out of Itam Metropolitan Park. She was leaving Uyo. The town lay there in all its serenade- with cross-matts of neat tarmacs criss-crossing each other at different angles as they snaked into the suburbs. The greenery of lush tropical vegetation in the backdrop and cured roadside lawns made the city a paradise for the eye-tour, but its lull failed to woo her. Omenna was leaving Uyo. Maybe she will come back someday; but now, she was leaving all of it. Leaving her newfound Lover behind too- the reason she commuted to Uyo from Lagos five days ago.
She thought hard; tears formed a mist below her eyelids; her vision was dimmed by it. The screams of the bus- preacher could not distract her. Neither could his prayers comfort her too. There was no succour to be found in Words. She intermittently mopped the gathering tears from the corner of her eyes with a pink hand-crafted handkerchief (another gift of his) she clutched in her right hand, putting efforts to make it look as ordinary as possible. Nobody must know the emotions in her. Nobody had the right to know that the turmoil inside was whelling up fountains of warm tears from her lacrimea. Nobody. Not even the Pachyderm-like men besides her.
She reminisced more. His face beemed in the remote shadows of her befogged mind. She pictured it- as he hugged her the last time, looked away, strolled back on wobbly legs, returning to the Toyota Corolla sedan car he had driven her to the park few minutes before; and zoomed off.
Maybe he was feeling the same way she was feeling now. It might explain why he looked away. Maybe he had tears tucked at the corners of his eyes too.
The other passengers echoed the last Amen and the preacher settled down. The bus was calm once more.
Then came the chill. Omenna felt it once and felt it again and again. It was a feeling of uncertainty. She felt it again- same feeling she felt five days ago while coming to Uyo. Now she was feeling it on her way back.
Five days ago, it was an uncertainty of going to a place you haven’t gone before; to meet a person you barely know.
She went, she met him.
Now it’s an uncertainty of knowing what the future held for her.
“What happens after now”, she queried her heart.
Will he be able to stand the distance?
Will I see him again?
Will I be able to stay without him- now that I’ve consummated the love I felt for him?
Will he find out elsewhere about the secret?
How will he react if he does? Will he ever consider her?
She sobbed as guilt swept through her.
“Omenna! You should have told him”, her conscience exhorted.
But how could she? It’s unbelievable that it worked in the first place. More intriguing that she commuted this far South for someone she barely knew. Someone she met on an online social platform. A facebook crush.
How could she tell him? She had been love starved for so long. It would’ve been folly to tell him the truth at this stage of it. Not only would it have murked-up things, he would’ve been freaked out.
At Ikot Ekpene, the bus pulled into a petrol station for a refill. The murmuring passengers tongue-lashed the driver for not filling gas before the commencement of the long trip to Onitsha. Their time was on the tracks and racing away. Omenna didn’t partake in bad-mouthing the driver- her mind was far away. She fed her eyes on the environmental scenery. Ikot Ekpene, though a smaller satellite town was beautifully landscaped and developing. Like Uyo, it had a plaza- a recreational park that stood at its heart. Akwa Ibom state was really a beautiful place. Its people were equally fine, and the cuisines superb. She would’ve loved to stay here. He had pleaded with her to stay a bit more. “Few more days, Mon Cherie”, he had said.
But she couldn’t. The more time she spent, the bigger the temptations to tell him of her issues; and the longer she stayed, the more broken he will be if he gets to know. He genuinely loved her, and his love was deepening by the day.
She remembered the last session of their love-making. He was so caught up, he didn’t want to use protection.
She shook her head in silence as if it would clear the dark clouds gathering in her mind.
“Men always make these mistakes”, she thought.
They’d meet a woman for the first time, insist on using protection during sex; and subsequently, in no time, feeling they’d known her so well and in their bit to affirm trust, throw caution to the wind.
If she had not insisted on him using it, he would have made that fatal mistake.
But he truly loved her and meant good.
She couldn’t hold it back this time- the tears flowed like hot larva that had escaped a volcano down her cold cheeks. It soiled her make-up; creating two rivulets across her face.
She had longed to make love to him with no protection. To feel his skin as he plunged deep into her. She had wanted to scream “fuck Gold Circle”. But she couldn’t. She had to save him from herself.
She could not bear to be the one that infected such a pure loving Soul with HIV.
The bus pulled out from the petrol station en route Onitsha. In Onitsha, she will board a Marcopolo to Lagos.
She mopped the tears and her spoilt mascara.
“How am I going to tell him of my status”, she suddenly asked the Greasy man by the window. Mr. Grease turned, stared confusedly at her, startled by her questions. Omenna, smiled at him exposing a set of china-white teeth.
“O! Never mind. I wasn’t referring to you”, she offered in a manner of apology.
The bus speed away.