The Nine-To-Five Yearning

 

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12th November, 2015.

 

The Heart (or wherever this meets you),

A Beautiful Soul,

Somewhere in Obalende,

Lagos.

 

Dear Lola,

NOTICE OF SUBSISTING VOID

Please refer to our Whatsapp conversation of 9th November 2015 and previous correspondences on the above subject matter.

It’s another Thursday morning. I know I should be glad; the day even atheists thank God for is few hours away…..but this is not about counting down to the end of a working week, nor is it about getting a two-day reprieve from hell. No, this is more like total disillusion: Mind has joined heart in turning feet away from the office, my laptop is revolting, even the case files feel like they don’t want me to touch them. The boss orders me to retrieve a document from the computer on the table to my right, and as I lay my hand on the keyboard, I suddenly don’t feel like powering up the system, because I know what, or rather, who it reminds me of. Continue reading

Elusive Skin

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Vintage Monday; long day at the office. Nearly four of your active working hours spent at the mercy of
a female judge who could scream at you for not inhaling your God-given oxygen properly in court (her cynicism is otherworldly; legend has it that
she has dressed down a lawyer to the point where he chose to give up legal practice.) You come back
to the office exhausted, and after some more lengthy paperwork, you close from the office at a time when the Sun has retired to bed.

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You negotiate through the traffic, wondering why the roads are so choked up when it’s not Lagos.
You eventually get home to supper that has long lost its heat. You take a glass of cold water, hoping for a clear head, but the result is the direct opposite. Barely managing to undress, you collapse on your lonely mattress and begin to punch at your
phone’s keys. For some reason, you decide to go through your photos for the 52nd time, and while you have seen them all before, there is one
particular one that makes you stop scrolling. You decide to spare a minute (or longer) to stare at a
lady with a very seductive pout. You can never get enough of this photo. Afterall, it’s Naomi’s face in
it.

It’s been just over two years since you first met Naomi, but if your thoughts were race tracks, she
must have run marathons on them. She is over 180 kilometres away from you though, and in your
case, the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” plays out to perfection.

You didnt like Naomi when you first met her. You had both met at law school, you had heard about
her exploits at the university (she graduated top of her class), she had this “carriage” you couldnt bring yourself to deal with, and you concluded that she was a snob. But you found yourselves in the same (imposed) study group, and like a flower which sprouts out of
concrete, a friendship begins to evolve against your will.

You find out that she used to dance ballet, and on some cold evenings you crave for private dance instructions. The nose which you once felt was too high up in the air is now the prettiest nose ever,
superior even to Cleopatra’s. You watch how she contributes to group discussions, you watch how she answers questions in class, you watch how she studies in the evenings, and one silly feeling
you cant explain keeps popping up. Her focus, her intelligence and her drive inspire you and turn you
on at the same damn time. She reveals that she
supports your favourite team,  Manchester United. You have attained Candy Crush level 5000….

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But she is so out of reach, at least in your opinion. Whether it’s a complex or just plain nervousness, you can’t say, but you just harbour the belief that Naomi can’t be yours. She is so pretty, and you are not sure if you have what it takes to beat the
competition. As far as you are concerned, she is “high maintenance”, and you dont have that financial might just yet. Then again, there is the issue of calendars; Naomi is most likely older than you (well, she attended a state university which experienced
lengthy internal strike actions.) It’s not a big deal for you, but she has a biological clock, and besides,
society has its reservations.

You have put up her photo on Instagram and BBM as your #WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday) on more than two occasions. You dont mind putting it up as your BBM Display
Picture tonight, but you are in no mood to entertain questions. You look at her pouted lips again; they look like they would taste like sugar,
and you definitely wouldnt mind trying to find that out, probably covered in rain. You come to terms
with reality however, and you sigh in the realisation that you won’t be stroking that hair, that those lips won’t be locking with yours, that you won’t be waking up next to that skin, and that you can only admire and fantasize from a distance (at least for tonight).

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CONTRITION

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(Author’s Note: This is a true story, and personal to the writer. For obvious reasons, names have been changed.)

“No answer.”

That, with the accompanying tone that follows a
call unresponded to, showed that I would not be
getting to speak with Marie anytime soon. I had ignored the “two missed calls” rule, and as a matter of fact it was the sixth time I was dialling
her number that day, not to mention the turbulent
flow of text messages from me to her. It was clear that Marie didn’t want to communicate with me.
She was justified in her decision. I really didnt deserve to be heard, no, not after what I had done to her.

Continue reading

Raindrops & Reminiscence: Idongesit

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“If two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?” – Ecclesiastes 4:11

That portion of Scripture jogs through my mind as the rains exhibit relentlessness on this particular night. My nostrils are reeling from the effect of the weather already. I have since concluded that the August Break is a climatic illusion. And no, there is no bodily heat to gain respite from. Cups of tea and old pictures of her are all I have for the long dark hours, craving for those evenings when our lips shared the fate of cakes and Bible pages did the bidding of the wind. Continue reading

Chilly Thoughts

rainy night

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.

Something About Benny

It was 1am, windows shut amidst the thick darkness and relentless May rains. There she lay next to him, his naturally sleepy eyes making out her features on this moonless night where PHCN had not been so kind. He reached for her and, gently touching her cheek with his lips, decided to hold her close. It was all he wanted to do. He didn’t know when he whispered the words, ”I could stay here forever”. Few things could be more divine, he said to himself, as he felt her heartbeat……

The daily 5am alarm from his phone jolted him back to reality. There he was, lying bare-chested on one of two beds in a lonely room. That wonderful moment had been nothing more than a dream. Another night, another dream, same lady. And this had been the pattern for the previous five nights leading up to this last one. The same effect yet again, leaving him with more intense yearning for this lady, as well as a feeling of deprivation.

He wondered why he was at the mercy of all these visitations that left him deflated upon her departure. But he didn’t have to think further; he rose up with thoughts of her each morning before saying his graces, and drifted to Dreamland with thoughts of her after the night’s shower. Benny (short form of the name Bernice) had been the subject of his thoughts lately. He could not quite place a tab on where this was all coming from, but then he didn’t exactly want to dispense with the thoughts either.

For a huge chunk of his university days, he had always harboured strong feelings for Benny. He had graduated nine months ago and she was presently in her final year, but the distance had done nothing to quell those emotions. In all his emotional attachments to other females, flirtations and erotic fantasies, she had occupied one indelible corner in his thoughts. He was mad about her, but somehow he could never bring himself to express how he felt.

There was something about the way her eyes darted around the place, about the way her cheeks danced on her face, about the way she laughed at the silliest things, about the way her skin glowed. Even a little weight issue two years earlier had failed to take the shine off the beauty that was Benny. Somehow he had maintained some sort of connection with her, which had strengthened over the years, though (sadly) in a platonic way. Her roommate had been his colleague in his first year, and in his third year the same scenario had played out, albeit with a different colleague of his. They were also of the same denomination, and he was equally familiar with her elder sister.

He remembered how he had been forced to travel home on the day he had summoned the courage to ask her out, sometime in the earlier part of his third year. And that courage was never again found after that day. It was not a case of shyness. True, he had struggled with that in the previous decade of his life, but presently he was not the type to get stuck on words, spoken or written. So what was it about Benny that made his tongue so heavy? Maybe it was the fear of rejection. Yea, there were other fish in the sea, but being turned down by Benny could cause him a nervous breakdown, he would have to leave that city, if he wouldn’t have lost his mind already. Or maybe it was the fear of that grim reality that she may have long been taken already. But then, who wouldn’t? A lady like Benny was almost impossible to find, a lady you wouldn’t want to drift away as little as six inches from you.

It was a question of what she couldn’t do rather than what she could. Her hands defined the word ‘bakery’, and he was born with a weakness for cakes. If that was all they lived on, he wouldn’t mind. He had not forgotten the fact that she could really move her body. She had been part of a dance group earlier in her university days before academic challenges forced her to re-prioritise, and since dancing was not one of his strongest points, he could use a private instructor. Baking was not all her hands were good for. He had taken a few peeps at some comics she created in her younger years, and he couldn’t help but smile. He was reminded of the way he attempted to use drawing in recreating Bible stories and Hollywood movies. Caricatures they were, but he tried to improve, until a mean Fine Art teacher back in secondary school put all his passion for drawing to the sword. She could re-awaken that, he mused each time she came to mind. Then again, she could write, a similar trait they shared, only that she wrote about herself. It mattered little, she could tell all her stories to him, his ears could be her heart’s publishing house.

He never passed up an opportunity to imagine what he would do if he and Benny had each other’s hearts. He would probably lay beside her among blades of grass on moonless nights, while they used both their eyes and fingers to separate the stars from the comets. He would prove to her how their love could be likened to yeast, making him swell and bringing out the best in him, rather than crayons, which shortened and faded thin after a while. He would scream about what they shared, from Benin City to Port Harcourt. He would go as far as writing her name in the skies…..

And yet all these right now seemed like wishful thinking. In one of their chats via Blackberry Messenger sometimes two months earlier, she had subtly hinted that she was ‘encumbered’. Only one male in the world was entitled to that 2am text message laced with the words ”I love you.” And while he didn’t fancy the idea of stealing love from any man, it was also true that all is fair in love and war. Whenever he dreamt of a lady for once, thoughts of that person had a habit of sticking for weeks. How much more six consecutive dreams, all emotionally charged? Maybe it was time to finally lighten his tongue, express how he felt, unburden his heart, say what he needed to say…….or maybe not. Maybe he was not meant to go beyond that level of familiarity. Maybe trying to start something special could lead to the ugliest and gloomiest of futures. Afterall, some things were best admired and adored from a distance.

His Blackberry phone beeped. A ping! Lo, it was her! Talk of the devil! He remembered sending her a goodnight message before dozing off, submerged in thoughts of her. Well she was responding, tendering an apology for seeing it late and dropping good morning pleasantries at the same time. He picked his phone. Taking a deep breath, he pondered on the shape their discussion that morning would take. Was this the moment of truth? To be, or not to be? Several thoughts flooded his mind as he began to type away.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Heartfelt Notes

It was the second consecutive hour since he sat on that chair, staring at her as she slept dreamily on those sheets. She had every right to be in Dreamland at that time; they had spent a larger part of that Thursday celebrating the second month anniversary of their relationship. The food had been rich, the drinks top-drawer, the words heartwarming, the kiss magical, the bonding activities serving their purpose. The night had begun to age by the time they returned to his apartment (the route to hers was dangerous to ply by dusk), and sleep was the most rational thing to do.

Not for him though. His mind was in no mood to exercise any rationality. Too much flowed in his heart to be drowned by sleep. His gaze was fixed on her, as he felt his heartbeat accelerate once more. He wondered how his emotional intoxication rose with each passing hour. He was the type who always placed logic over emotion, always put his rational mind to work, always had something to say, always philosophised. But not when the issue came to what he had for her, no.

A hundred thousand words could not quite explain what he felt for her. She was by no means his first love, but he was too far gone to even try putting his emotions in check for a minute. He couldn’t help but fix his lovestruck eyes on her once more. There was something about the way her hair fell on her face, about the way she reached for the pillows, about the way her body slowly turned. Stroking an imaginary ring on the finger of his left hand, he took a deep breath as his mind dwelt on all it could actually dwell on for most of its active hours – her!

Like Moses over rocks and seas, like Jesus over storms and fig trees, such was her power over his emotions. No, she didn’t have to lift a hand or say a word. Her eyes and the way she placed those dark soft lips conveyed scores of messages. It was still early days in terms of what they shared, but he felt like a tree on which a love-shaped heart had been permanently carved. Of course it was too early to compare what they had to a garden, but the first few flowers had certainly been fixed, and little by little, inch by inch, they could water it with what flowed with their hearts, and while measuring up to Eden would look like a lofty aspiration, there was no harm trying.

He could still recall every detail of how they met. It had been a youth conference the year before, where they had got acquainted and she had exchanged contacts with him. Usually such interactions and bonds inspired by three-day events would fade out in less than two months, but this was different. Somehow they maintained communication, somehow they got to know slightly more about each other. He had grown fond of her, but for a long while had doubted if she’d ever take him serious. Then came one evening, one casual discussion, one moment of courage from him, and now they were here.

They didn’t exactly share too many similarities. His complexion was something close to light, she was a tiny shade away from dark. He was your typical conservative reserved young man, she was extroverted and cynical with a naughty edge to her. He was born in late Spring, she came to life in mid-Autumn. His mounds of flesh, falling short of a chubby look, had come to meet her slender frame. Yet it was those differences that knit them so closely. Like opposite hues on a colour wheel, they complemented each other. Being an artist, he loved to think that the union of black and white created something much more beautiful when compared to the union of white and white.

With each passing day, the fact that a lot had changed in his life since their hearts took the Love Road was brought to the fore. It was a question of what she was not to him rather than what she was. She filled in the role of Lover, Sister, Bestie, and Muse. The start of their romance had coincided with his rediscovery of his passion to paint again. Two weeks into their relationship he had realised his first artwork in almost two years, which had garnered lots of positive reviews. Ideas kept springing up after that, and his new works reflected his new outlook to life – beautiful and worth sharing, as opposed to his older works which featured dark and gloomy impressions inspired by previous disappointments. Songs like ”Goodbye My Lover” and ”Dreaming With A Broken Heart”, which graced his music playlist, had been replaced with ”Your Love Is A Song” and ”She Is (Everything)”. For him, she was all he wanted, yet that which he never knew he needed.

”I love you”, he screamed in his mind. And just as if she could hear him, she let out a smile in her sleep. That smile he now lived for. Just as he lived for the moments her hair got entangled in his face. He looked forward to those mornings when her fingers fit into the holes between his fingers as they said their graces, and those evenings when he could just lean into her and forget the world after a long day. Nothing else mattered. With each minute came an increased yearning to be there for her in every way. He wanted her thoughts to belong to his ears, her worries to his shoulders, her shivers to his arms. Whether God approved of every single thing they did was of course a debatable issue, but he prayed to Him that everything would work out between them.

He was approaching his fifth hour on that chair. No moment on it had been wasted, not for him. When it came to thoughts or words or deeds for her, no hour was ungodly. But Nature wouldn’t be denied. After reluctantly turning down the lights, he crawled into bed, brushed her face with his lips, held her warm body close and shut his eyes, hoping to meet her in his dreams.