A Shade Of Black (That’s The Way It Is)

Love is not for me, tufia kwa. I’m not going to fall in love. Not
like Uncle Sam and that girl he always called ‘Obim’. Every
time she came around she would wrap herself in him and
they would whisper whatever into each other’s faces with
their legs interlocked and their hands hung over their
shoulders while leaning on his car outside. She would wear a
very broad smile on her small face. Anytime I remembered
her now that was the way I saw her, a big broad pretend
Uncle Sam quarreled with Mama over this girl ‘she has
bewitched you’ Mama said when Uncle told her he wanted to
marry Ada.
‘Mama, I love this girl so much and she loves me too, it is
not a matter of being under a spell or anything of that sort’
Uncle Sam would answer in his educated accent. He chose
not to speak Igbo with us after he came back from the
University. Whether he did so to prove we were all illiterates
or he was just used to speaking English, I didn’t know and
didn’t bother to ask when he took me to the city with him. I
let him speak English to me. He and that his ‘Obim’.
Mama had dreams and her dreams always came true. One
time she dreamt that Papa had gone to De Nnwana’s hut and
had eaten kola, he choked and choked till he died. Of course
Pa did not believe her because De Nnwana was his bosom
kinsman, they had had their initiation together and they had
seen each other’s nakedness. Nonetheless, Pa died a month
later, he had gone to De Nnwana’s house, they had eaten
kola amidst greetings and felicitations and when he came
home in the evening he sat in his obi and never got up. Mama
wailed at his burial and showered the blame on him. He
should have listened. She dreamt of Uncle Sam and his girl.
In the dream, as Mama narrated it, Ada pulled Uncle by his
big ears, she was strong and no matter how Uncle kicked and
struggled in the dirt she held on to the ear. She dragged him
all the way into a pool of mud, the mud was sticky like snail
slime and Uncle couldn’t get up till he started sinking in. Ada
stood by until he was consumed in the dark thick pool. Then
Mama would pull her ears and say ‘agwagom gi’.Uncle would
sigh and tell her he believed none of it, that all her
premonitions was old school, moreover he went to church
and he prayed. Love was stronger than whatever revelation
she thought she had.
Uncle Sam made her move in with us in his apartment at
Ogba, Ikeja. I thought it would be bad like Mama said when
she found out but it wasn’t. The first few months made me
like her. Apparently she was comfortable with a thirteen year
old boy lying on top of her; we were alone in the sitting room
one evening, she tickled me and I jumped on top of her. Her
breasts were big and soft like water balloons, I could feel them
under my chest and I remained there basking in the moment.
She called me her small husband only when Uncle was not
around; when he was she was indifferent to my existence.
She let him yell at me for not doing the dishes on time, not
sweeping the parlor neatly or not cooking enough food for
The mud would come. She got anything she wanted out of
Uncle’s pocket. I imagined him with an ear to ear grin,
standing like a dummy while she ruffled through his pockets
picking out bundles of money and flinging them into the air.
He never bought anything for me but her? She received all his
love. Even in the nights I heard them; her soft moans, his
muffled grunts would go on for hours through the night and I
imagined those soft breasts bouncing up and down like those
of the women in the films I saw in my friend’s place. When the
man started thrusting, they would give out those soft moans
with their eyes closed and pleasure all over their face and I
would wonder how they managed to enjoy themselves even
as they seemed to scream in pain. I’m sure it was the same
way with Ada and Uncle.
I overheard her, on one of those evenings when I found
comfort on those soft water balloons and pretended to have
fallen asleep, she received a phone call and she rolled me off
her. It was quiet and I heard a male voice.
‘I’m still working on him’ she said ‘I’ll be with you soon.
Stop worrying’
The fellow at the end of the line said something that sounded
like ‘ok, I love you’ or ‘that’s ok, be careful’ but I didn’t hear
it well and she hung up.
Uncle came back later that evening. She kissed him as soon
as she opened the door and I retired into the room. If I told
him my speculation he’d fall out with me like Mama. I heard
them talking in the living room, the night was quiet, the power
had been out all day, neighbor’s generator’s revved
indistinctly. She reminded him about a business plan she had
told him of sometime ago and that she was still interested in
doing it, he said he knew and he was gathering the money.
‘Why don’t you just take a loan?’ There was silence for a
moment. Surely Uncle Sam wouldn’t be so stupid
‘We’d have our money as soon as the goods come in from
Dubai’’ she persuaded’
‘Well, I guess it could work. But I don’t know if they can give
me so much loan’ she whined
‘I can supplement it with the much I have in my account’ he
added and she started to jubilate.
The moans that night were stronger, her way of showing
Two weeks later she travelled. Uncle Sam took her to the
airport. The mud would come.
That same evening he came back from work and tried calling
the number she had given him, It didn’t connect and he
looked worried. I watched peer over the phone, dialing and
dialing again. After a while he would cry out in frustration and
finally concluded that she may not have gotten there yet. The
next day it was the same thing; he sat in the living room, he
didn’t go to work, he dialed and dialed and I heard the
operator saying the number was switched off.
Days passed, Uncle didn’t go out. He sat on the living room
floor cross-legged and staring at his phone like a juju priest.
It had been four days since Ada left, he harbored the hope
that the phone would suddenly burst alive with her call but it
didn’t. Uncle Sam gradually started to grasp reality.
‘Ada has duped me o!’ he would cry every evening. I never
mustered the courage to console him.
‘3 Million Naira. 3 million. All my money, she has carried
everything. Everything! I have no dime on me. The bank is
going to come for my car next week. Ah! My rent’ he talked
‘She has duped me. Ada has duped me. Didn’t she say she
loved me? Didn’t she?’ among his mutterings I found that he
didn’t even know her at all. He hadn’t thought about it, it
hadn’t crossed his mind to know more about her than that
she loved him. Mama had called and he didn’t answer, he
was too ashamed to face Mama. Ada had dragged him into
the mud and he was sinking.
I would not fall in love for a million cedes. I would not be like
Uncle Sam who is now at Mama Tee’s bar searching for
happiness at the bottom of several bottles of beer. The bank
came today and towed his Toyota Yaris. The landlord had
come a week ago and haggled with Uncle for the rent. I shall
go back to the village the day after tomorrow to stay with
Mama again. I’d listen when she has dreams about me.
Kay Ugwuzor

10 thoughts on “A Shade Of Black (That’s The Way It Is)” by kay (@Kay0496)

  1. And that’s just life, poor uncle Sam.

    1. kay (@Kay0496)

      Thanks for reading Amina

  2. kay (@kaymillion)

    the stupid deafness of children to their parents warning…….

    Oh!!! Sam…… sorry

  3. Oluwafunminiyi Komolafe (@Niyopumping)

    Huum nice piece and well written.

    1. kay (@Kay0496)

      Sure? @niyopumping thanks for stopping by

  4. Kosnie (@Kosnie)

    The voice of the Elders most times is the voice of wisdom, wish uncle Sam had listen but he was blinded by his desires…poor him

    1. kay (@Kay0496)

      THank you sir

  5. Ufuoma Otebele (@ufuomaotebele)

    Hmmm I got mixed feelings about this piece but it was written so well!
    Always follow your heart no matter what anyone got to say. Make the mistakes and learn from it. Mothers advice or not uncle Sam was in love. There have been cases where mama’s worries where superstition and one shouldnt hold back their life just because of a dream.

    Uncle sam, you’ve done your part let God handle rest. As for the person writing this, the younger brother I mean… running away from love just so you don’t make mistakes only guarantees bigger and worse mistakes ahead.

    1. kay (@Kay0496)

      hmmm…Aunty Ufoma…You’re right.
      Yet i believe sometimes it’s the best way to remain sane. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Folakemi Emem-Akpan (@Folakemi)

    such an interesting read. felt sorry for the two guys here. Uncle Sam, sorry for falling for that age-long scam of love for money. And for the little brother, sorry you allowed the experience of your uncle to sour your own life.
    Love, when right and true, is a wonderful thing.

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