I came back to an empty house; everything was gone, except for the fridge and furniture. I checked the children’s rooms too. Empty! I knew this would happen, I just did not think it would happen so soon.
I felt weak on the inside and slumped on the couch to gather my thoughts together.
Sentiments, emotional attachments, fondness. They had me rooted, captivated, held me back. Memories, sad ones, happy ones, tepid ones.
My eyes traced some of the black circles on the terazzo floor, five hundred and twenty six; I had counted each one as a child, trailed my finger along their spherical frames.
My umbilical cord was buried in the soil of this house, and then cemented in, maybe that’s why the thought of leaving terrifies me, superstitious? I know.
Lola – my wife, she hates it all, she would rather have the gloss of tiles. From the moment she got here, she had always wanted to leave.
We stayed in the middle wing of the house; while my mother stayed at the back and my two sisters in front, they had both left their husbands, perhaps, the same force drew them.
Conflicts, bedlam, blood stained terazzo…..New memories. There were few good ones and many bad ones. Shouting matches between Lola and my mother, then, she and my sisters. Conflicts that made her hate the house even more. I never sided any of them, I could not and that made her withdrawn, sullen.
There were many times she pleaded with me
“Please, let’s rent a new place, I would pay for it, I can’t stand living here”; she said with tears in her eyes.
I said nothing, how could I explain to her that the thought of leaving sent shivers up my spine. I did not even understand it myself.
I kept late nights and came back drunk many times, just to forget. I should have just rented a new place. Now, she had taken matters into her hands. Sadness welled up within me as I placed my head in my cupped open palms.
When the wave of sorrow passed I looked up and that was when my eyes caught a white paper on the centre table, my heart beat stopped for a few seconds.
I reached to pick it, then unfolded it.
“33 unity road, badore, Ajah. We still love you. We would be waiting”
I sighed, resigned, went to my room and packed some clothes, my toothbrush and and an extra pair of shoes, I would come back for the rest later. I looked around and knew it was time to leave. Even though my relationship with Lola was strained, I still loved her and I was grateful I did not lose her and the kids.
I stepped out and locked the door. My father’s home, my home, but never my wifes’. I said nothing to my mother and sisters.
It was a long drive to Ajah and leaving was not as terrifying as I thought it would be. I only wished I had not taken the step a long time ago, all the tears that rolled down Lola’s cheeks, all the times we withdrew from each other. Unnecessary conflicts, wasted emotions.
My eyes roved the numbers painted on various houses, and then I saw it, the number “33”.
I horned and waited. Deji, my first son came to open the gate and when he saw me, he broke into a grin.
I drove in; Lola came out, looking beautiful, stunning, serene. The reason for that beauty was the smile on her face; I had not seen it in a long time.
“Welcome home”; she said hugging me.
“Home”; I repeated, then hugged her back.
The water from the taps in the new house were rusty brown and the doors creaked; I hated it, but then, I remembered a time, some fifty two years ago, when the place I called home had the same features. I caught Lola’s smiling eyes as she came out of the bathroom; then I knew I would grow to like this place, eventually.