DEAR YOU…

Remember that wedding in July, the one where Seyi got married to Wande? Maybe it’s crazy but that moment’s forever etched in my mind. Maybe it’s because it’s the first one I’ve ever been deeply involved in – I was one of his groomsmen. Maybe it’s because of what I saw that day when the couple took their vows.

I was seated in front with the other guys when this happened. It was really beautiful watching Seyi and Wande take those vows but I wasn’t really looking at them. I saw you instead, in that resplendent white gown, looking into my eyes with nothing else but pure affection in your eyes as I vowed to love, hold, cherish and protect you for the rest of my life.

I saw our wedding that day.

So what happened? Just two more years down the line and we’re in pieces – with the shards set to cause more damage at any attempt to put them back together again – like two people in a Humpty Dumpty relationship. I was a fool and you were just plain silly at times.

You wanted me to talk more. I do talk, but I’d carved a cave where I stuck my innermost feelings, passions, fears and hopes into. That’s the part of me that you wanted to see the most and you did try. I’ll give you that; you badgered, pleaded and coaxed me to let it out. I’d almost get to that point where I finally let you in but then you tune off and disappear and the hurt of finding you at that crucial point and not meeting you waiting where you said you would made me recede even further.

So I would express myself the best way I could, by imagining how things should be – just as I imagined myself making those vows. We’d have a lot of conversations, half of them in my head but they’d seem so real that I would wonder why you still didn’t get me. To me, you should know why I’m the way I am. Why I act the way I do. Why I only keep real conversations at the simplest, most mundane level. I thought I told you so you should know. But you didn’t know; you couldn’t have known because half of what I told you about how I am was all stuck in my head.

I should have been gentler with you, more patient. I shouldn’t have treated you like you should automatically get me – like some sort of robot that I act like. You’re human, I am too but it beats me why I don’t act like one. Why I’m rarely excited or enthusiastic about anything. Like I’d been here before and seen it all so I’m bored with the world and the people in it. But I’m interested…sometimes; I just don’t know why my emotions on the inside don’t translate to my expressions on the outside…sometimes. You almost get me to the point where these two become one but you’d give up right at the most crucial moment and I’d fall back.

You would reach for me before I fall and I would reach for you just as I fell to grasp your nothing. No hands, no straws. So I got used to falling, deeper into my shell.

I could blame you for this but if there’s anything I’m grateful for, it’s a keen sense of perspective. So I could say you were lazy, not so committed or just playing games with my heart but I’m a difficult person to love as well. I’ve got no problems loving, I like imagining being loved but the thought of it happening in reality, seeing pure love radiate through someone to me scares the living shit out of me. If I’d be nice to myself I’ll just say that I’m not meant to be loved. But I’m not so nice to myself either. Put simply, I’m insufferable as fuck.

So when you told me you cheated, I was broken. I fell apart like the contents of a toppled hourglass but as hard as it was for me, I was hopeful. I felt that the fault was meant to be a shared burden. Maybe it was at this nadir that we could have finally gotten everything back on track. So I wanted to know what the problem was. Was it me? Was I not as attentive, caring or passionate as you would have liked? I probably wasn’t. Was it my inability to be really there for you? It was probably because of me. So I felt that the solution was in the knowing. To you, the weight and shame of the initial confession was more than what you could bear. Still I wanted to know, for my sake and sanity. For our sakes.

And this has always been my problem. You’ll give a little taste and I’d always want more of what you’re reluctant to offer. You still expected me to chase even when it was obvious you (and I) were going nowhere. I on the other hand expected you to keep up with me. Whatever it was, I don’t know.  In the end, we’d run off in different directions without realising the chasm we were creating would be too wide to bridge. And now that we’re done running, we’re too spent to find our way back together.

I’m not a bad person, you know this. But I’m kinda messed up. I hurt people – I don’t agree but they say I do. I wonder how. They’ll read different meanings to my intentions or motivations for leaving people alone. I think people are confused: they want to be with you and they want to be alone as well. I have this problem but my awareness of the fact is already half the solution. People always leave dear. So I wondered why you didn’t even after all this. But it’s not that hard to figure out. I say to myself that I’m done with you every time. Then I see you and just want the shared moment at that time to linger forever.

People always leave and I let them. Why you’re still in this messed up relationship, I don’t know. I don’t love you any less and I even think I’m undeserving of you. But then, it’s never okay knowing just half the story – that’s torture. Completing it is my way back to you and as much as I want to, I can’t jump that far. I’ve got to retrace this bit by bit and this tip of the iceberg that you’ve given me isn’t enough. In fact, I believe it’s sinking our Titanic. And this is why I’m doing what I’ve never done before.

I’m leaving you.

I don’t wanna hurt forever
I don’t wanna keep on feeling
I just wanna say what we both know
I’m letting you let go…

Letting You Let Go – Paper Route

Image Credits: https://twitter.com/bitters101

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ANTI-VISIT 

This was the best office party he’s ever been…

But then, he hadn’t been to many; the company he worked at before moving to Servicom was a small time tech company filled with nerds who had no idea what ‘turning up’ meant. Their idea of a party was simply good food, small speeches and randomly picking staff to tell drab jokes.

He hated that.

Now Ben was on the verge of being promoted to head the Value Added Services department the following year. He didn’t want to dwell on his change of fortunes and decided to just enjoy the wine and music.

“Nice party isn’t it? I can tell you haven’t been to one of these.” Bella said with a smirk.

He froze.

Oh no, not Bella, anyone else but this drop dead diva who treated everyone like crap.

“You can ease up Ben, it’s an awesome party and I’m not looking for a fight. Actually I won’t mind your company; the other guys are acting like total jerks.”

So they talked for the first time. He got to know more about Bella amidst glasses of wine and dessert. He couldn’t tell if it was the wine or chemistry but they even flirted and shared a few stolen kisses. Three hours later, Ben wound up in a bed that wasn’t his.

It was dark when he woke up, all he could see was the glow of the alarm clock flashing 12:07 before she pushed a knife through his chest, her other hand muffling his screams.

Ben gasped and sat bolt upright. It was only a dream but he couldn’t help looking at the alarm clock the glowing green light read 12:06.

And that was when he heard the bedroom door creak open.

Image Credit: http://www.imgkid.com

RAMMED

It so far looked like the best he’s seen his father bring in. White of hair, strong and sturdy, it had a confident look about it as it pranced royally in the pen. Yes, it’s the best ram his father had ever brought in for the Sallah celebration. Maybe dad has hit it big, Mukhtar thought. Or maybe it’s because Saheed, his elder brother was sponsored to the Hajj this time around by their Mosque. Last year’s celebration was low key, the ram was small and skinny and it couldn’t go round the people they wanted to share it with. This will surely be a good celebration, and Mukhtar was as excited as ever.

He loved watching the ram eat, as much as he loved feeding it. Mukhtar had just been promoted into his final year in secondary school so he was afforded a lot of free time. He sought every opportunity to go into the nearby field to fetch grass with his friends so they could pile the pen and watch the ram move its jaw from side to side as it ate. He even tried to eat like that once at dinner; his grandmother noticed and thought he was becoming epileptic. For three days the old woman kept staring at him whenever he was eating to be sure her grandson wasn’t manifesting signs of warapa and he couldn’t tell her the truth. Which was worse: having to explain why he was eating like a ruminant or being monitored for signs of epilepsy? He chose the latter.

Sometimes, Mukhtar wanted to untie the ram and walk it to the open field to graze but was scared he would lose control of the ram and it would run off. He had a small frame compared to some of his friends. Hamid was bigger and singlehandedly took two rams on a leash to the field every morning. All Mukhtar did was cut grass. Hamid was the brawn in his group of friends, and the only other Muslim. Their other friends in the neighbourhood practiced Christianity but always came over during Sallah, just as he went over during Christmas and Easter. Festive periods had a certain thrill about them and the boys didn’t care where they spent it as long as they were free to roam the streets, moving from one friend’s house to the other to eat and drink lots of soft drinks without restrictions.

It was during one of such feeding periods when he went to cut grass alongside Hamid who was as usual, holding his father’s rams by their leash that they overheard some other boys talk about going taking their rams to a fight in the evening. Up until then, Mukhtar always went to see fights but he never participated in one because the field where the fights took place was a far off and he wasn’t sure he could handle such a distance with a ram. So he asked Hamid,

“How far Mido, make we go see this fight?”

“Yes o, before nko. We fit even carry your
ram go.”

“Mad man, carry ram make my papa kill me abi? You no well.”

“You too dey fear sef. Your ram big naa. He go fit win fight well. You know say these two rams wey I hold for here no big reach your own.”

Mukhtar thought about it. Watching rams fight was exciting; having his ram in the fight would simply be awesome. The problem was sneaking the ram out of the house without his father’s knowledge. Mido would handle the ram but first he had to be sure his father wouldn’t be in.

“So how we go do am Mido? You know say na weekend we dey and Pop man go dey house.”

“No worry guy, dem dey go mosque for evening today. I hear when my papa dey talk say Imam get meeting with all the men. When dem don go mosque, we go carry your ram go field.

“Correct. Mido, you no sabi book but all this scammer sense full your head.”

“Sharrap there, you wey sabi book but you no fit handle common ram nko?”

They both laughed as they continued throwing jibes at each other, while they also strategized on the fights they would pick. As was the tradition, every fighting ram needed a name – something fierce and intimidating. They both had never named a fighting ram before but they knew of many names from the fights they’ve attended. There was Scarface, Hulk, Pepe Pepper, John Cena, Undertaker and a host of other badass names chosen from movies, sports, infamous criminals etc.

They settled for Shina Rambo.
********************

It was almost as if they’d walked into a trade fair for rams by the time they got to the field. There were different rings for rams to fight according to their size and estimated weight categories – lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight. Mukhtar’s ram fell into the heavyweight category and he was taken to pick an opponent. The opposing ram was called Hitler and for a minute, Mukhtar was scared Rambo would not make it through. Luckily for him, Mido had some fighting experience that belied his age. He had seen Hitler in a fight with three middleweights a day before and he knew that a fresh Rambo would scale through.

Rambo attacked like a ram possessed. Being set free for just one day in the company of other rams was like a shot of steroids. After taking three steps back and then clattering into Hitler, the opponent was already on its heels and the owner had to pull his ram out of the fight; victory.

Rambo was moved into the next round to fight one of the meanest rams in the competition. From where Mukhtar stood, he could hear spectators talk about the prowess of Awilo, the super ram. Awilo was said to be so mean that it would keep ramming an opponent even when it’s down. They said the ram was so insane that they feared for its opponent. Awilo had never been defeated and it would take something special to defeat it.

“Make the opponent better go buy SK from Sikiru if he wan win. If dem give the ram SK, he go charge well.”

SK. Cannabis. Indian hemp.

Mukhtar urgently motioned to Mido to come over. He was worried for Rambo but he also wanted to win desperately. When Mido got to him he expressed his fears and added what he overheard the spectators said. Mido agreed, a little SK would help Rambo attack without relenting. They went over to Sikiru who was surrounded by a crowd of ram owners who wanted to supercharge their champions for the next round. Mido paid N50 and got a parcel (small quantity) of SK. Sikiru advised that they only give their ram half a parcel so it doesn’t overcharged. However, Mukhtar reasoned that half a parcel wouldn’t do much considering what he’d heard about Awilo so he told Mido to feed Rambo the entire parcel.

Supercharged, they dragged Rambo into the ring to face Awilo. What happened afterwards would be on the lips of spectators for years to come. After five insane clashes of horns and heads, Awilo turned and ran. Everyone was surprised. Awilo, the champion of champions ran off, smashing into the crowd to clear a path. Mido was ecstatic, he carried Mukhtar on his shoulder and started singing.

Winner oh oh oh, winner
Winner oh oh oh, winner
Rambo you don win o, winner
Pata pata, you go win forever
Winner!

Mukhtar didn’t care about the crowd singing behind him. He didn’t care if his father would scold or flog him for taking the ram out to a fight. Rambo won. He did something daring and Rambo became a champion. It was while they were rejoicing that Rambo broke free from Mido’s loose grip and took off.

They chased.

But Rambo ran like hell.

By the time they rounded a corner into the next street, Rambo was a bloodied mess on the floor, rammed by a vehicle.

At that point, Mukhtar wished he was the one on the floor in place of Rambo.

TOUCH

So like I mentioned in my last post, I got my revenge here on my friend TJ. Next time, he’ll know not to cast me in such a mischievous way in his stories. I swear I shivered when I saw what he did so it’s nice to get one over him.  By the way, this was inspired by one very correct music video… No prizes for guessing right but I’ll love to see anyone try.

************************************

TJ looked at Sabre as she stared at the newspaper in her hands. Then he heard the spattering sound of tears hitting the paper before she flung it on the table in frustration. She didn’t look at him. She now knew what had happened and it would be hard to take. He understood. It would be difficult for not to react like she was reacting now.So far, it’s been hopeless. She wasn’t even acting like he was there, the sadness, anger and misery was all consuming so he just sat there and watched her go through the emotions ravaging her.

Sabre has always been expressive anyway, he’s the contained one. Thinking about it now, he chuckled upon the realisation that he’s never called her Tolu; or any name other than Sabre. That was the name he got when they met online. The name struck him because it reminded him of Diego, the tiger character in Ice Age and this was the only reason he added her as a friend. Once she accepted the request, she noticed his really cynical personal post and asked him what got him so pissed.

“Hey.”

“Hi.”

“Added you from NaijaPings just in case you’re gonna go all ‘where did you get my PIN?’ on me”

“LOL! Nah that’s okay, I know.I’m not that type.”

“Good, saves me energy. I’m lazy like that.”

“Thanks for the heads up. I bet you’re an angry one tho, going by your last post. Is there anyone you wanna kick to the curb?”

“Hahaha, no. I just get to think of random stuff sometimes and I put it all up. By the way, what’s behind your Sabre name, hope you don’t bite?”

So he sat at his desk in the office smiling at his phone (like an idiot) for an hour while chatting with a complete stranger.  They talked about Sabre-toothed tigers, Diego and Ice Age cartoons, and a ton of stuff he probably won’t be talking about with just anyone, much less for an hour up till the point when Sabre asked, “Hold up TJ, what the hell are we?”

“I have no idea kitty; I guess there’s a lot of time to find out.”

And find out they did, that they’re what people would readily call soul mates. It was all so wonderful till what happened threatened to destroy everything they had come through. He was still trying to go through the events when he heard the sound of a briefcase snap shut.

She was leaving.

“Don’t go. Please!”

She didn’t even look back.

He didn’t say anything else but kept repeating the same three words as he followed her down three floors.

“Don’t go. Please…”

Still there was no answer other than Sabre’s losing struggle to muffle her sobs and stop herself from shaking. She put her luggage in the trunk and got in the driver’s seat. There was no way she’ll be staying inside that house, not after what she saw inside the paper.TJ told her he was travelling to Ibadan and would call her when he got there.He didn’t call and she didn’t hear from him. She wouldn’t have known what happened if she didn’t see that newspaper. After seeing it, she wished the vendor didn’t come around that day. She’d prefer living in ignorant bliss and since that had been taken away, she felt her only remaining choice was to getaway from the pain.

People deal with pain differently; some go through it by connecting themselves to whatever remains of pleasant memories while others try to get themselves away from anything that would remind them of the pain. She didn’t want to see her pencil-drawn portrait on the wall – TJ drew it. Neither did she want to go anywhere near the kitchen because they cooked together. She’d smear his shirt just so he’d take it off and he’d do the same. It was where they played the silliest games. The couch would be untouchable because they cuddled there while occasionally wrestling for the TV remote.

Sabre wanted no memory, no reminder of what was, and definitely didn’t want to stay where she’ll be surrounded by memorabilia; she was better off leaving.

It’s a futile enterprise and she knew it. You can’t leave pain behind, especially not by vacating a location. It follows like a stray dog stalking a stranger.

“Don’t go…Please!”

She still didn’t act like she heard him.

Banishing those thoughts from to the innermost recesses of her mind for the time being, she pulled out into the street in Ogba and headed for Ojodu. As for her actual destination, she had no idea. Perhaps she’ll drive around for a bit before deciding. Go back home or stay a while with her best friend, Dotun? Another decision she put on hold.

Sabre was off now, and to stop her TJ ran after the car as fast as he could. If he can overtake her before she entered a major road, she’ll stop – except if she didn’t mind running him over.

He was too late.

She was wiping tears off her face while looking into the rear view mirror when she ran a red light at the intersection in front of Excellence Hotel. An oncoming truck hit the car broadside and didn’t stop for another ten metres. TJ screamed. In seconds a crowd had gathered to help pull the victim out of the wreckage. To the amazement of her rescuers, save for a small bruise on her forehead, Sabre was fine. A policeman motioned for her to follow him into the Area G Divisional Headquarters which was a stone throw away from the site of the accident.

That was when she saw him.

TJ stood on the other side of the road. He was still wearing the same shirt he wore when he left home. The silly smile she had become so used to was on his face. After her near death experience all she wanted to do was hug him so she ran into his open arms.Still in his arms, he finally said what he’d wanted to say all the time she ignored him back at the apartment.

“I’ll always love you, never forget that.”

“I know.”

The policeman, puzzled as to why the young lady stood motionless on the sidewalk, walked back and urged her on.In his hand was that morning’s newspaper with a short headline and passport photo of TJ at the bottom corner:

“MAN, 29, DIES IN AUTO CRASH ON LAGOS-IBADAN EXPRESSWAY.”

RUBBER BAND VOWS

There I was on a lazy weekend when I saw the red blinking LED light on my phone, it was a Facebook notification. A writer friend of mine Tarfa ‘TJ’ Benson just sent me a message: “So here’s the thing, I find people’s trouble, here’s your turn..lol.” So here it is, I do hope you enjoy it. Plus I got my revenge a few days ago. Would publish that one next.

“You can’t break up with me…” he said, reclining in boxer-shorts on the sofa.

“I can.” she said, strutting half naked to where he sat, bending down to kiss him. Her lips moved over his, easy and familiar. When his hands reached for her waist, she sprung up and rubbed her forehead like she was suffering a migraine. “It’s been a blast.” She declared to the ceiling like it held a screen that replayed summer. “But the training and workshop is over so…”

“Well like I said, you can’t just break up with me.”

“Why?” She turned to the mirror and fixed her earrings. “Because you think you are a god in bed?”

He ran a hand into his scalp. “No, because we are married.” He held up his index finger which had a rubber band wound round it. She stopped packing, covered her mouth to stifle a laugh. “My God you’re still with that thing!”

“I did say till death do us part you know.”

She shook her head and smiled a sad smile at her reflection in the mirror as she drew an identical arc on the lips of each eyelid. “And what will you tell your pastor papa when you get back to Nigeria? That you have been living in sin?”

“No.” he stood up to his full height and her breath seized for some seconds as he loped to her with the calm grace of a tiger, his cross eyes dancing at her in her negligee. His eyes always gave her a delicious sense of suffocation, free from binocular vision they probed different parts of her at the same time. “I’ll tell him that he has a daughter in-law, the child of his best friend.” He pecked her cheek. “He’d be the happiest father in-law on earth.”

She zipped her traveling bag. “So we were-” he bit her earlobe “-okay ARE attracted to ourselves and we didn’t want to break our promises to God to keep ourselves till marriage, and so we did a phony exchange of vows as our clothes fell to the ground, I wonder if we even finished reciting them sef.”

“I remember reciting the most important part, till death do us part.”

“Jesus Christ Deoye! What if we are different people at the end of the day? What if we can’t stand each other, you know attraction is not enough to build a lasting relationship.”

“We’re just ordinary people…” he sang in a mock John Legend voice. “…Maybe we should take it slow…”

She shook her head and sighed. “I just knew coming for this summer training with you will land me into trouble, I knew it!”

“You knew it was long coming.”

“And i encouraged it.” she was pacing the room now, no more in amusement. “I told myself sharing a room with you will make us look good to the company, saving lodging costs and all that.” she stopped at the center of the room and regarded him on the bed, with a scowl. “You know the only reason MD let us share a room was because we grew up together, because we are family friends.”

“It was God at work.”

She ignored his opinion. “Now that we’ve made the mistake let’s correct ourselves before we offend God again, by divorcing.”

“We didn’t make any mistake.” Deoye corrected. “We are in love, we exchanged marital vows.”

“Yes, and rubber bands.” She pulled on a dress. Then she turned sideways at him on the bed, her hands pulling her braids into a bun on top of her head. “And who will you say officiated the matrimony? Who was the priest?”

He shrugged lazily on the bed. “Jesus Christ.”

“WHAT!”

“Hebrew  says Jesus is the everlasting High Priest, Hebrews 8 verse 1 says so…” she was stunned, there was something wrong about the guy who’d worked fireworks in her body lying half-naked and seriously quoting the Holy scriptures. “More so, Mathew 18 verses 18 and 19 tell us that whatever we agree on earth will be done in heaven.”

She just watched in awe as he said these things, she couldn’t move if it would save her life.

The door flew open.

“Oops, I’m sorry…” the African-American maid was embarrassed, her glances shuttling from her to Deoye on the bed. “Just that…your boss waits for you in the lobby.” The woman disappeared back into the hallway.

She picked up her travelling kit and pulled it out of the room, as quickly as she could, before Deoye could say something again.

“So you…” he said casually, not worried that the boss waited for them in the lobby.  “What will you do when you get back to Nigeria? Will you be able to just leave everything here and continue your life?”

She shrugged slightly at the door before shutting it behind her, “Well I’m catholic; I’ll just go for a Friday confession.”