Like an incontinent old man finally emptying his bladder after a long stretch of holding it in, the rains held nothing back that night. Only a short burst of speed in shutting the windows prevented his mattress from getting completely soaked: dry season was well and truly over in this part of the country. The accompanying winds gave him no room to pause from shivering in spite of his wrapper, and he went deep into his box, frantically searching for his D & G sweater given to him by his father five years earlier. The battle with the elements would have been made easier, had he not discovered after his futile eight-minute search, that his sweater wasn’t in that box, and in fact no longer in his possession.
Yes, he had actually parted with the prized sweater a little over six months before that rainy night. Over the years he had exercised his high-grade chivalry with it, keeping the ladies warm on cold evenings and ultimately winning the hearts of some, but by the previous August he had unzipped it off his body for good. It now lay in the wardrobe of the one called Tracy, who hadn’t needed to say so much to take it from him as a parting gift. His shivers intensified in direct proportion with the downpour, and in those chilly moments, he dwelt his thoughts on her.
He was used to bringing ladies into his thoughts and kicking them out as frequently as Chelsea’s managerial changes, but with Tracy there was something different. She was a wild one, but there was something discreetly warm about her craziness which had him sweep a permanent room for her in his mental space. He never admitted it, but he was scared that she would forget him, hence the giving away of the sweater, whose absence he hoped his father would never notice.
Their first meeting wasn’t in the most conventional of places. It had been in a public TV room, somewhere in Eastern Nigeria where he was in the heat of a one-year professional academic sojourn. His favourite club was playing a football match that fateful night, and she, a fan of the same club, had been there. Tracy had noticed that he had been tweeting for the entire duration of the match, which moved her to comment on his multi-tasking ability. There was something about her dreadlocks and skimpy black dress that night, and he told himself that couldn’t be their last encounter, leading to an exchange of contact details.
For him, Tracy’s reputation preceded her. Before his first stare into her bright eyes, he had heard all sorts of things about her, and most of them unflattering too. From excessive sex cravings to drug use, he was armed with information that should have made him bear a pre-conceived notion about Tracy, but he knew better than to judge by hearsay. He was the curious type, always loving to find out the truth for himself, and he was drawn by what should have kept him away, not bothered about whether people thought he also sought a gulp of the juice.
Sure enough, Tracy was never far off from crazy. Her weird combination of hair colours, her evening gowns known for their trademark length (or lack thereof), and her generosity with swear words lent weight to what he had previously heard. But he loved the fact that she lived her life not bothered about people’s opinion of her. Beyond her eyes, gap tooth and legs, he admired her very good sense of hearing (ear infections sometimes have a bright side), and he lived for her short laughs whenever they talked.
He couldn’t help but feel sorry for people who assessed others from what they heard or merely observed from the surface. There were mood swings, yea there were times when Tracy could really go nuts, but at least she was honest and unpretentious about who she really was, a quality hard to come by these days. Beneath the devil-may-care attitude was a really intelligent lady who knew a lot more than hair and shopping. Besides their love for Manchester United, they also shared a love for movies and alternative music, and she could also relate to his artistic side, regularly going through his works and ultimately becoming a fan of his. For him, she was one person around him he could totally be himself, say anything without trying to be prudish about it, and one with whom he totally felt at home with. Whenever he found time to pray, he thanked his Maker for getting a chance to know her better.
He wished people could take her more seriously and see her beyond whatever persona may be displayed on the outside. They had revealed much to each other, and he knew that Love hadn’t always ranked high on her scale of preference. He wished she could take out time to love. He wanted her to have less mood swings. It wasn’t so much about being her man as it was about wanting her happiness, wanting the best for her. Not that he would have minded whispering to her ears and stroking her hair on such a night when Nature was being so cruel, but she was no less than ten hours apart, and as he froze, he imagined her curled up in bed, his D & G tightly zipped around her torso.
He dialled her number and predictably, there was no answer. There was something still too ungodly about 2.20am in terms of being awake. Not like he had much to say anyway. He just wanted to hear her voice, to find out about the weather where she was, to know that she was warm. Well it was a good thing that she was too deep in slumber to pick his call, he told himself. At least she was sleeping peacefully, not being kept awake by worries or sad thoughts. As his nose began to feel the effects of the cold, he could feel it within him that Tracy was alright, and he managed to smile amidst the sneezing, as Tracy’s health was all that mattered to him at the moment.